MIBR Adds Stand-in Trio
MIBR has signed three stand-ins for the remainder of 2020, following the benching of FalleN, fer, and TACO.
MIBR has recently announced the signing of three stand-ins as well as a new head coach and manager ahead of BLAST Premier Fall 2020 and Flashpoint 2. The news comes following the benching of Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, Epitácio "TACO" de Melo, and Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia, with the latter being released by the organization. Shortly after, team captain Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo requested to be benched due to his discontent with the news, leaving MIBR with only two active players in the form of Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe and Alencar "trk" Rossato.
MIBR has had a very rough 2020, especially in the latter half, as the team suffered losses to PACT, Galaxy Racer, and Copenhagen Flames during the team's bootcamp in Serbia. Following the subsequent benchings, MIBR only had kNgV- and trk on its active roster. While those names might not be as iconic, they're still good pieces to build around. While he may not be as experienced as FalleN, kNgV- took over in-game leadership within the roster before the roster changes. He also has ample amounts of experience, being a Major finalist himself, and it's fair to say that he was MIBR's best and most consistent player this year. Even though AWPers tend to have higher ratings on average, kNgV-'s impact on the server is always felt, and he's one of those players that can take over a game and set the pace of the match.
On the other hand, trk certainly isn't as notable or experienced, but he has been a part of MIBR for a few months already; thus, he has gotten accustomed to playing alongside the newly-promoted captain. While he may not be performing as well as he did on Team One, trk is still a very capable rifler and could perhaps return to his former glory under the new system being built by kNgV-.
A familiar face
While he may only be joining as a stand-in at the moment, Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles is no stranger to MIBR, having played with the organization for six months in 2019. Furthermore, he also played alongside kNgV- in Immortals during the team's iconic run at the PGL Major Kraków 2017. He may not be in his prime anymore, but LUCAS1's experience will be invaluable to kNgV-, as the captain wouldn't be able to lead a roster of upcoming players alone. LUCAS1 has had a relatively quiet 2020, with only 26 maps on record, 4 of which as a stand-in for FURIA Esports, with the remaining being during his brief tenure for Imperial e-Sports.
Having been away from the top level of play for a while, LUCAS1 will certainly have an adaptation period, but his role within the roster won't be that of a star. Instead, LUCAS1's role will be to create room for the young guns, making sure they can shine brightest. While it may not be the most exciting duty, it's one that he is familiar with and, quite frankly, excels at, as proven during his time in Immortals. If you were to compare this MIBR roster to that of mousesports, LUCAS1 would be to kNgV- what Chris "chrisJ" de Jong is to Finn "karrigan" Andersson, in that he will be a guiding figure for the new players.
Lurking beneath the surface
On loan to MIBR from Sharks Esports, Leonardo "leo_drk" Oliveira is arguably someone who should've been given such an opportunity much earlier. Sharks was an exciting team to watch in 2019 as the roster climbed into the HLTV top 30. The team would notably attend DreamHack Open Rio 2019, ECS Season 8 Finals, and ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, but would virtually fall off the map in 2020, only playing 66 maps this year. Still, Sharks had a resurgence in the past month, with second-place finishes at ESL Pro League Season 12: South America, Tribo To Major, and CLUTCH Season 3. While the likes of Raphael "exit" Lacerda and Luca "Luken" Nadotti have both been exceptional standouts on Sharks, leo_drk shouldn't be underestimated as he's a very capable rifler. Alongside LUCAS1, leo_drk will open up bombsites, setting up the rest of his for success. Having been on Sharks' books since 2017, leo_drk has flown under the radar for most of his career, and while 2020 was slow for him, this is the perfect opportunity for him to jumpstart his career and show the world what he's made of.
The top dog
Every so often, the Counter-Strike community gets blessed with the emergence of new talents, people who are so amazing at the game that they feel like "one in a generation" prodigies. Names like Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, Nicolai "device" Reedtz, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, and, more recently, Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut come to mind as players who are head and shoulders above the rest. Brazil has been very fortunate in that the country already has Marcelo "coldzera" David as one of those players, someone who makes the unthinkable seem effortless. In recent years, Vinicius "v$m" Moreira has showcased the potential to be the next big name in Counter-Strike.
The 21-year-old has been plying his trade for DETONA Gaming since July 2018 and was also loaned to MIBR by his organization. While the opportunity was already fantastic for the likes of leo_drk, it's doubly so for v$m, as he is in a very peculiar situation: he has a VAC ban. Cheating is still a bit of a grey area within the community, as many think that cheaters should be permanently banned, while others believe in redemption. In the case of v$m, he received his ban at the age of 13, which will stop him from attending any Valve-sponsored events such as Majors. Given how much time has passed since his ban, v$m can attend events hosted by ESL, DreamHack, and most other tournament organizers, so it's still very possible for him to have a professional career.
Still, his opportunities will be much more limited, as the Majors are the biggest events of the year. Over in Finland, ENCE signed AWPing sensation Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen, who also has a VAC ban attached to his name. The Finn also received his ban at a very young age and has tried taking legal action against Valve, but the game developer's policy has always been life-long bans, and once a player was found guilty, nothing could change that. While the Jamppi case isn't closed, the way things have gone doesn't bode well for v$m. Still, it would be a tragedy to see someone with his levels of potential go to waste. Jamppi is part of ENCE's active roster, and the organization uses a stand-in for RMR events, so nothing is stopping MIBR or any other organization from doing the same. As this is the chance of a lifetime for v$m, he will be bringing his A-game to BLAST and Flashpoint. There's no doubt that he will be the star of the show for MIBR; set up by LUCAS1, leo_drk, and trk, allowed to play his best roles, pick up the secondary AWP on CT sides, etc.
The last change to MIBR's roster comes in the form of a new coach and manager, with the role being filled by non-other than Raphael "cogu" Camargo. The legendary Counter-Strike 1.6 player's addition to the roster feels only fitting, having been one of the original players to play under the MIBR tag in the early 2000s. Despite having plated all three of the CS titles, cogu actually has minimal experience coaching, with only a few months as Falkol e-Sports' coach under his belt. Still, there's no denying that someone with cogu's experience wouldn't be a huge asset to any team, especially considering that leo_drk, v$m, and even trk all have rather limited experience. LUCAS1 and kNgV- have been around the block, of course, but it's hard to step into the shoes of someone like FalleN, even if he hadn't been in the best of forms in recent times.
With cogu behind them, the new MIBR players will be well on their way to developing their potential. Furthermore, with cogu's help, kNgV- should be able to build the next era of MIBR, creating a new team culture essentially from scratch. It's always hard to quantify exactly what a coach brings to the table, especially when they have a short track record, but it's clear that experience would be required as MIBR brings in fresh blood, and experience at the top level is exactly what cogu brings.
Was a change needed?
It was clear that MIBR was in need of something new, a breath of fresh air. FalleN, fer, and TACO are legendary players, and there's no doubt that they'll bounce back and find new projects. FalleN and fer had been playing together since May 2014, and while the duo won countless titles, including two Majors, their era of dominance is in the past. TACO previously left for Team Liquid in 2018, and coldzera joined FaZe Clan over a year ago, but in general, the MIBR/SK Gaming/Luminosity Gaming core has opted to swap one or two players at a time. While drastic changes aren't always required, it became clear that there were deep-rooted problems within the team and that a change in the core would be necessary. It seemed as though MIBR was initially hoping to rebuild with FalleN, having him develop a new generation of Brazilian talents as he once did with TACO and coldzera, but those plans obviously fell through.
Still, the roster MIBR has assembled is very solid, especially considering three of the players are stand-ins. One would think that the next few tournaments will serve as trial periods while MIBR figures out what direction it wants to head towards. Is this roster better than the previous one? It's hard to tell, of course, but I do believe so. There's a good mix of experience and firepower, and with three players only being signed until the end of the year, it'll be easy for the organization to make changes moving forward. Brazil has a huge pool of talented players, but MIBR created something genuinely exciting despite losing the huge names associated with the brand.