This article is part of our CS:GO series.
The IEM Rio Major is in full flow as 00Nation and Imperial have already departed their hometown major while Bad News Eagles and MOUZ have already progressed to the Legends Stage. With that in mind here's a look at some players to target and fade for the end of the Challengers Stage and start of the Legends Stage.
Players to Target
s1mple has had a quiet few months, at least by his standards. By any mere mortals standards s1mple has been in career-defining form. It's worth taking s1mple while his "poor" form might get you a discount because at the end of the day s1mple is either the first or second best player in the world. His floor is an invaluable fantasy asset and his ceiling is untouchable. s1mple and Na'Vi sit with a high seed in the Legends stage, likely giving them favorable matches throughout.
Twistzz and FaZe Clan are the reigning major champions from PGL Antwerp and despite some mixed results in the RMR, qualified with relative ease. This roster has firepower in every single role and has no issues taking over maps against anyone. Twistzz might not have the ceiling of some of the snipers available, but he's never a dud and will always show up in the toughest matches. Twistzz and FaZe Clan will likely play a Challengers stage team in the first round giving the entire roster easy upside.
xertioN and MOUZ as a whole have been a sneaky upside roster for the past two months, but the secret is out now though. With a 3-0 Challengers stage and one of the highest ratings in the tournament, xertioN is looking like the superstar he was always expected to be. You won't get a massive discount on xertioN, but anything less than absolute top dollar is a steal for someone who has potential to be the top rifler in the entire Legends stage. MOUZ finished with the top Challengers seed, giving them the easiest matchup possible for Round 1 of the Legends stage.
Players to Fade
apEX and Vitality have struggled mightily in the Challengers stage and sit on a precarious 1-2 record. The in-game leader has been awful throughout and has failed to get anything going in any of their series to this point. apEX finds himself in the red due to the fact Vitality is facing an uphill battle to even qualify for the Legends stage, let alone do it comfortably. Vitality as a whole have been awful outside of the usually brilliant ZywOo, who still appears to be the best player in the world.
Qikert and the Outsiders face a similar story to apEX. Though Qikert is in the 2-1 round, he's been one of the worst players individually at the major. Qikert has the chance to bounce back, but in reality he simply doesn't offer enough on the map to be a worthwhile option in the Challengers stage, and especially the Legends stage. Outsiders remain one of the toughest teams to rate as they've shown cracks against weak opposition, but have also shown world-beating highs. Qikert and co. take on Fnatic with a chance to qualify at 3-1, a matchup that is tough for the CIS side, at least on paper.
Aleksib is the new in-game leader for Ninjas in Pyjamas and has landed on his feet, with the roster clicking and storming to a 3-0 record in the RMR. The auto-berth into the Legends stage is a great boon for their placing, but it raises concerns for Aleksib and co. about the limited number of competitive matches this roster has played together. Of course they have time outside of official matches to scrim and gel, but jumping straight into the Legends stage could be a big leap for this roster. Aleksib isn't known for his individual performances and will need to step up in a big way if NiP want to make a deep run into the Champions stage.
Stats courtesy of HLTV.org