FURIA crush ENCE; fnatic edge out NIP to kick off Legends Stage campaign
The Brazilians harnessed the energy of the crowd as they join the 1-0 pool for the Legends Stage.
FURIA hit the ground running with a commanding win over ENCE to kick off their run through the Legends Stage of the IEM Rio Major. The Andrei "arT" Piovezan-led roster, who relished in playing in front of their fellow countrymen, showcased a deadly level of form in the server, where they made light work of their foes en route to a 16-6 victory.
Over on the B stream, fnatic sent Ninjas in Pyjamas down to the 0-1 pool of play after nearly fumbling a 10-5 lead on Inferno. William "mezii" Merriman was instrumental in getting his team over the line, with the captain's 1.23 rating and 82% KAST being enough to nab his side a hard-fought 16-13 opening-round victory.
The action on stage between FURIA and ENCE played out on Vertigo, with FURIA jumping out to a 5-1 lead on the T-side, much to the delight of the Brazilian audience. ENCE wasted no time in pulling themselves back into the conversation, though, as multi-kill rounds by Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer and Pavle "Maden" Bošković on the CT-side allowed the European mix to bring things to five rounds apiece. FURIA quickly hopped right back in the driver's seat, however, chaining together five rounds on the bounce to make the crowd erupt and lead 10-5 at the break.
The Brazilians turned it up a notch at the onset of the second half, laying down the law with five quick rounds to run away with things and reach match point uncontested, 15-5. A one-round statement by ENCE kept the European combine in with a chance, but FURIA answered right back with another quick round to lock in a 16-6 victory and move to the 1-0 pool. Yuri "yuurih" Santos and Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato were key components of FURIA's success in the opening half, combining for 40 kills by the end of proceedings.
Ninjas in Pyjamas and fnatic's backstage matchup played out on Inferno, where the black-and-orange quickly got off to a strong 5-0 start on the T-side, spearheaded by a 1vs3 clutch from mezii in the fourth round. It took until the eighth round for Ninjas in Pyjamas to finally get on the board, doing so on the back of a fabulous ace hold on the B site by Fredrik "REZ" Sterner and his trusty AWP. The Nordic roster was unable to fully get themselves back into the game in spite of this, though, dropping a further three rounds by the half's end to trail 5-10 by the side swap.
fnatic continued their winning ways once on the defense, overturning a two-round spree by their foes with three of their own to extend their advantage even further, 13-7. Ninjas in Pyjamas refused to roll over, however, as a sequence of round sprees enabled the Swedish-majority roster to bring the score all the way back to 13-15, a resurgence in form by an unusually quiet Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin being key in getting the Swedes back in contention. Alas, fnatic were able to pull ahead as the map reached the dying stages, clinching the final round they needed on the back of a force buy to steal away the map 16-13 and go 1-0 up in the Legends Stage.