During this week, between April 17 and 23, Rio de Janeiro became the venue for the Intel Extreme Masters. A total of 16 teams participated in this tournament, between classified and invited teams in order to find the best team in one of the biggest Counter-Strike tournaments.
In Meristation we were invited to this important tournament and this is what happened during the three days of competition in which we were spectators of the last rounds.
The democratization of Esports
It sounds like a broken record to say, but Esports have become an extremely important event and the Intel Extreme Masters is a benchmark in a global circuit that takes place 4 to 5 times a year around the world in conjunction with the ESL. The Jeunesse Arena, one of the Olympic venues during the Rio 2016 Games, became the venue for this Esports tournament. From being the space where the Olympic gymnastics competitions were held, it has now become the place for the finals of this tournament.
But before we go any further, let’s explain a bit about how these competitions are run for those who don’t know the rules. The matches are made up of a total of 30 rounds, the first to reach 16 wins wins the match. In the event of a tie, the teams enter “Overtime” where the best of 6 is the one who finally wins. Since there cannot be a tie, other rounds are added until there is a winner. The team that wins two games is the one who goes to the next round.
The visual section of the competition makes the viewer aware of the important statistics. The main stage presents a central screen where the match is showing the different players, both from their perspective, and in open cameras that show players, trajectories of shots or grenades, in dynamic shots. On the sides of this screen, we have the card of the 5 team players, where in addition to their photograph, the lower part shows the statistics of murders, deaths and assists. To make the show more graphic, every time a player is eliminated he saw his card “break”. On the other hand, on bomb maps, once a bomb is placed, a visual timer with red lights starts showing a time bar filling up for the bomb to explode.
Quarterfinals and local support
Team Vitality vs BIG Claw was the first finals match we witnessed, where the first team showed dominance on both maps played on, and while BIG came close to coming close on the scoreboard, both matches ended with a score of 16 – 12 in favor of the yellows.
The second match was a very special one, as Furia, a local team from Brazil and special guest to the tournament, had managed to qualify up to this point in the tournament. The fans, with a bar that had been playing and singing since the previous game, as well as strong support for the locals, made themselves felt at the Jeunesse Arena. This was noticed during the first match, where Furia showed the locality and won 16 – 12. Unfortunately, and despite two very close matches, the Danes from Heroic managed to turn things around winning 16 – 12 and 16 – 13 the next two rounds, thus going to the semifinal.
A close semifinal
The first semifinal was between Team Vitality and Cloud9, with the first match being won by the blue and white team. During the second game, the second team continued to dominate by a score of 10 – 1, but the comeback began by the yellow team reaching a surprising 15 – 15, taking it to overtime. In the end, Team Vitality was victorious with a score of 19 – 17. This allowed them to turn the game around and Team Vitality became the first runner-up of the evening by winning the third match.
The second semifinal pitted Natus Vincere vs. Heroic. Both teams had a close first match, and although the seconds were about to lose, they managed to go to three overtimes with a first victory for Heroic with a score of 25 – 22. For the second round, Heroic found himself with a completely NaVi unmotivated, crushing them in the first half of the match. Although, NaVi started to grow for the next few rounds, it wasn’t enough, as Heroic won 16 – 9, moving on to the final.
Team Vitality vs Heroic: The Grand Finale
Finally, the day of the final arrived, with Team Vitality being cheered, and Heroic being booed by the home audience. During the match, the first team began to dominate, but after a short time the rivals reacted, but it was not enough as Team Vitality managed to win 16 – 13.
During the second match, the same story was repeated, where TV managed to reach the first half of the match with a score of 10 – 5. Upon return, Heroic stepped on the accelerator, achieving a tie at 11 on the score, however, Team Vitality managed to shake off the enemy reaction, reaching a score of 16 – 12 and with it, becoming the winners of the Intel Extreme Masters Rio 2023.
More than just Esports
In addition to the main event, Intel had a pavilion just outside the arena where they showcased hardware for the general public. From gaming laptops and PCs of all sizes and colors, what really stood out was the opportunity to test its Intel ARC graphics card, with which it seeks to position itself as a third-party graphics card developer by democratizing some of the technology for those looking to have this component on your PC at a more affordable price.