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Esports: CS:GO IEM Rio Friday match previews

Rio de Janeiro is the destination for the latest major event on the Counter Strike: Global Offensive calendar, with the IEM Rio in full swing.

On Friday the playoffs get underway with two quarter-finals, as FURIA tackle Heroic and BIG clash with Team Vitality for places in the final four.

The S-Tier event has a prize pool of $250,000 and the eventual champions will book their place in the IEM Cologne 2023.

Home talents FURIA could pull off shock

WhatFURIA v Heroic
WhereJeunesse Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When11AM ET, Friday April 21
How to watchESL Youtube & Twitch channel
OddsFURIA +150, Heroic -200

Heroic were surprise runners-up to Outsiders in last year's running of the IEM Rio, but the Danish powerhouses could struggle to repeat the feat at this year's event in Brazil.

Heroic won their opener in the upper-bracket in Group A, seeing off 9INE 16-12, but were beaten 2-1 by BIG in the semi-finals, knocking them down to the lower bracket.

They then edged past The MongolZ 2-1 to make the lower-bracket final, in which they prevailed 2-0 against Ninjas in Pyjamas.

It was not the most convincing group campaign, though, and they are worth opposing against home talents FURIA in the tournament's quarter-finals.

FURIA lost to Heroic 2-1 in the semi-finals of the Champions Stage at last year's IEM Rio, but since then the disparity between the sides has shrunk and the Brazilians are this time worth backing to come out on top.

FURIA had a challenging run in Group B but avoided being knocked down to the lower bracket, easing past Fnatic and FaZe Clan in their first two matches to make the upper-bracket final against Cloud9.

Having finished as runners-up in season 17 of the ESL Pro League earlier this year, Cloud9 can be a tough nut to crack and, although FURIA lost, they pushed them close in a 2-1 defeat.

Indeed, in that loss to Cloud9, FURIA actually managed to win 45 rounds across the three maps and were convincing 16-9 winners on second map Vertigo.

FURIA look ready to emerge as real title contenders in this year's IEM Rio and are a decent bet at +150 to win this match.

Alternatively, a bet on FURIA to win over 32.5 rounds in this match could be worthwhile at +110.

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Team Vitality can get the job done

WhatBIG v Team Vitality
WhereJeunesse Arena, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When2.30PM ET, Friday April 21
How to watchESL Youtube / Twitch channel
OddsBIG +225, Team Vitality -300

While the first quarter-final at this year's IEM Rio could produce a shock, the second encounter between BIG and Team Vitality may be more predictable.

Team Vitality are favourites to come out on top with underdogs BIG priced at +225 and that looks about right.

Although Team Vitality had to play their way through the lower bracket of Group B to reach the playoffs, they overcame three handy opponents in MIBR, FaZe Clan and OG to qualify.

It is also worth taking a look at the bigger picture.

Team Vitality are a top-five outfit in the HLTV world rankings, having finished 1st-3rd in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups in January and they were crowned ESL Pro League champions only last October.

They also managed to secure a top-three finish in the competitive BLAST Paris Major 2023 European RMR B earlier this month.

As for BIG, they are down in 19th spot in the same world rankings and have failed to make much of an impression in the bigger events in 2023, failing to even qualify for the IEM Katowice.

BIG deserve credit for what they have achieved in Rio de Janeiro this week, having beaten MOUZ and Heroic to come through the upper bracket and make the playoffs.

But they were comfortably beaten 2-0 by Natus Vincere in the group's upper-bracket final and a win by the same margin for Team Vitality is worth backing at +120.

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