The end is upon us! The fast-moving Group Stage at IEM Rio 2023 is about to come to a close, with the Group A and B Upper Bracket Finals due to take place later today.
IEM Rio 2023: Group A and Group B Upper Bracket Finals Schedule and betting odds
All four teams competing in today's Upper Bracket Finals have already qualified for the Playoffs, which will begin on April 21 with the Quarterfinals.
And while none of the teams are facing elimination today, there's still plenty to play for: The winners of today's matches will qualify for the April 22 Semifinals, while the runner's up will move on to the Quarterfinals as the High Seeds.
And we're just hours away from finding out how the Playoffs will take shape, with the Group A Upper Bracket Final match between Natus Vincere (NAVI) and BIG due to take place later today at 18:30 GMT.
After a relatively disappointing 2022 season, NAVI seems to be working their way back to their glory days. At least, that's the hope that their Rio run has inspired so far, with the Ukrainian superstars having dominated the competition so far - earning a 16-9 win over The MongolZ in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals, before securing a 2-0 victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas in the Upper Bracket Semifinals. NAVI doesn't have any 2023 tournament wins under their belt just yet - but could that be about to change?
Not if BIG has anything to say about it. Despite arguably being outmatched by many of their competitors, they've had a promising run through Rio so far. They kicked off the tournament with a decisive 16-6 win over MOUZ in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals, before pulling off a 2-1 upset win over Heroic in the Upper Bracket Semifinals. It's a promising run for a team that has hardly covered themselves in glory recently - with a 13th - 16th result at IEM Katowice in recent memory, but can they keep it up?
The odds are in NAVI's favour here, at 1.26 vs BIG's 3.40.
FURIA's had an absolutely incredible run through Rio so far. And while their 19-15 win over Fnatic in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals was impressive enough, what came next was much more unexpected. Defying the odds, FURIA were able to pull off a shocking upset win over FaZe Clan in the Upper Bracket Semifinals, defeating one of the strongest teams in the tournament through a 2-0 victory. That win has put FURIA on excellent footing ahead of today's Upper Bracket Final - but will it be enough for them to defeat Cloud9?
Cloud9, meanwhile, have similarly had a strong run through IEM Rio - though they've arguably had less competition than FURIA has so far. They kicked things off with a 16-8 win over the now-eliminated MIBR in the Upper Bracket Quarterfinals. Since then, they've claimed a decisive 2-0 victory over OG in the Upper Bracket Semifinals, who are now fighting for survival in the lower bracket. Cloud9 have had a strong 2023 season so far, with a second-place result at ESL Pro League Season 17 sitting heavy in recent memory, and fans will have high expectations for their performance in the Playoffs.
The odds are in Cloud9's favour here, at 1.52 vs FURIA Esports' 2.35.
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