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Esports: IEM Rio 2022 Challengers Stage Thursday preview

The curtain comes down on the Challengers Stage of the latest Counter Strike: Global Offensive major - the IEM Rio - on Thursday, with three key fixtures to be played.

Taking place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the major event began with 16 teams competing in the tournament's initial phase - the Challengers Stage - but five have already been eliminated in the Swiss System Format and five have already booked their place in the next stage.

That leaves six teams in the mid-table positions, all tied with 2-2 win-loss records, and Thursday's matches between them will determine which three will join the other five sides already through to the Legends Stage.

The IEM Rio Legends Stage gets under way on Saturday and once again features 16 teams competing in a Swiss System Format, with the top eight in that phase advancing to the Champions Stage, which is a straight knockout competition.

The overall winners of the IEM Rio will scoop $500,000 in prize money and will qualify for the IEM Katowice 2023 and the BLAST Premier Final 2022.

OG and Team Vitality could be tough to separate

WhatOG vs Team Vitality, CS:GO IEM Rio
WhereRio de Janeiro, Brazil
When10.00 ET, Thursday November 3rd 2022
How to watchCS:GO Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsOG +175, Team Vitality -250

The closest of the three matches taking place on Thursday looks set to be OG's tussle with Team Vitality.

All of the teams in action on Thursday have won and lost the same number of matches, but OG and Vitality are particularly close with only one point separating their respective Buchholz scores.

There is also only one point separating their round differentials with OG currently just in the top eight and Team Vitality the highest of the bottom-half sides in ninth.

Vitality are nonetheless priced at -250 to win this match, but that most likely comes down to reputation with the European outfit second in the world CS:GO rankings, having recently won season 16 of the ESL Pro League.

But they have not looked at their sharpest in this event, losing 16-10 to GamerLegion in round two and 16-12 to Outsiders in round three.

With that in mind, punters are better off backing a close game between Vitality and OG and over 2.5 maps represents decent value at -110.

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Cloud9 can continue resurgence in IEM Rio

WhatGamerLegion vs Cloud9, CS:GO IEM Rio
WhereRio de Janeiro, Brazil
When13.30 ET, Thursday November 3rd 2022
How to watchCS:GO Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsGamerLegion +333, Cloud9 -500

After a rocky start to the CS:GO IEM Rio, Cloud9 have stabilised and it is no surprise to see them rated 1/5 to get the better of GamerLegion.

Cloud9 were dealt a tricky opener in the Challengers Stage, losing their first match 19-17 to Fnatic before another narrow 19-17 defeat to Grayhound Gaming.

But they picked themselves up in rounds three and four, recording successive 2-0 wins over Imperial and Evil Geniuses to keep alive their hopes of making the Legends Stage.

Their Buchholz score of -7 has them down in 11th spot and the situation is out of their hands on the final day of the Challengers Stage, but they can do their bit and chalk up a comfortable win over GamerLegion, who were comfortably beaten by home talents FURIA last time out.

Russians Cloud9 are a big name in the world of CS:GO and know what it takes to win these kinds of matches.

They won the IEM Dallas as recently as June and placed in the top four of season 16 of the ESL Pro League and look a solid selection at -125 to win this encounter 2-0. 

Fnatic should have few problems against 9z

WhatFnatic vs 9z, CS:GO IEM Rio
WhereRio de Janeiro, Brazil
When17.00 ET, Thursday November 3rd 2022
How to watchCS:GO Twitch & Youtube channels
OddsFnatic 1/6, 9z 7/2

With a Buchholz score of +5, seventh-placed Fnatic are expected to run out comfortable winners in their final Challengers Stage contest with 9z and it is difficult to argue with that.

They began the event on the front foot with a 2-0 record after two games but fell to defeat in best-of-threes against MOUZ and Outsiders.

Both of the teams they lost to, however, progressed to the Legends Stage and they can follow suit with a 2-0 win, which is priced at -138.

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