FalleN: "We had stagnated"
We caught up with Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo ahead of the FACEIT League Stage 3 Finals to discuss the latest changes to Luminosity's roster.
The Brazilian team dominated headlines on Monday as they cut ties with Lucas "steel" Lopes and Ricardo "boltz" Prass following a series of mixed results and replaced them with Games Academy duo Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Epitacio "TACO" de Melo.
The two new players will make their first appearance for Luminosity on Thursday, at the season finals of FACEIT League Stage 3, which will be held as part of DreamHack Winter. The team will take on fnatic in the first round of the group stage, scheduled to start at 19:00.
Read on to find out what Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo had to say about the latest roster changes, his expectations for the team and his thoughts about the recent dispute with Team Liquid at the RGN Pro Series Championship.
Where did the idea of changing the roster come from? Was it something that had been in the works, or was it a result of the latest results?
Fer, cold and I thought that we had stagnated for four or five tournaments. We could not take a step forward, and we tried different changes/strategies to achieve better results, but that did not work out. We were not satisfied with our recent results and we have the ambition to be the best team on the planet.
It was reported that you did not want to change the lineup and that there was pressure from Luminosity for changes to happen. Is this true?
There was not a moment where Luminosity imposed or suggested roster changes. Of course that every organisation wants good results, that is what teams and players live off, but they do not get involved in those matters, which are decided solely by the players.
steel's departure was not exactly a surprise, but the same cannot be said about boltz's exit. Were his bad displays at IEM that led to this decision?
There are several factors within the team that involve technical details that are more important than the number of kills or the good/bad performances for the team. We do not have to explain most of them publicly, there were internal talks about the key points we could improve individually, and the most important thing is that each and every one of us knows that. We will never remove a player because of one event. If that were the case, I would have been removed after the match against Na`Vi in Cluj.
FalleN believes NA CS has improved since his team moved there
What is your opinion about TACO?
He is a hard-working player who really stood out for Games Academy in all important matches during the season. We believe he will not stop here and that he still has a lot to improve, which will happen when he plays against great teams and more experienced players. We feel he is the best player to be on our side right now.
fnx is a very temperamental player, and, in your own words, hard to motivate. What made you bring him on board again?
fnx is probably one of the biggest Counter-Strike talents that Brazil has ever had, just like he is the player who has wasted the most chances. Indeed, the last time we played together he was not really committed and he did not really care about the team. I believe he has learned a lot from what hapenned. When we came to play in the United States, he stayed in Brazil, and he slowly found his way back to the competitive scene. After joining GA, he put in a lot of effort during the season for the team to achieve its goals. He has the right mentality to be the great fnx we once knew and to help us win titles.
An issue that has been raised is the fact that your team has struggled to win Best-of-three matches against big sides. What is the reason for that? Do you think that, at some point, it became a mental issue?
That is a peculiar fact that only got worse as those defeats continued to happen. To be honest, at the beginning it was hard just because we were at a lower level and we had to face teams like Na`Vi and fnatic in Bo3 matches. I do not think we lost the first Bo3s simply because they were Bo3s. In my opinion, we were not prepared.
But recently we had some Bo3 defeats that I cannot explain. We lost to Titan after beating them in a Bo3 in the very same tournament, we lost two maps against Renegades after being up by big margins. Some of those results were not down to details. Against Na`Vi, in both Bo3s we lost every map by one or two rounds. It is sad but we failed to close out important matches on several occasions. We believe that, with the new roster and with time, we can put this behind us and secure wins.
When you moved to the United States, you won several tournaments and established yourselves as the strongest team in the region. Right now, you are just top 4. What has changed?
At the beginning, American teams were not used to our style of play, and it not only gave us an edge but it also helped them to improve their gameplay. The truth is that the level of North American teams has improved a lot since we arrived. They are much better and more competitive. Still, I think we have performed well. We finished in second place in ESL ESEA Pro League and first in FACEIT. I look forward to the next season, in which our goal will be to top every tournament.
What will happen to GA's team?
Games Academy's team will continue, the remaining trio are already looking for new players and a new coach. The team will play in CEVO Professional next season and is just one step away from reaching the ESL ESEA Pro League. They have a brilliant future ahead and I will continue helping them in all I can, so that these players can have the recognition and the opportunities they deserve at the job they picked for themselves.
fnx is more mature now, insists FalleN
Are you sad with the fact that GA's team is now weaker, or happy to see that the Golden Chance project is a success and is already bearing fruits?
The fact that GA's team is weaker now is a collateral damage of the opportunity that Luminosity provides the strongest team in Brazil right now with. It is not the first time, and it will not be the last, that changes have happened in our scene. I think looking at the downside is being pessimistic.
Without Golden Chance, these players probably would not even be thinking about playing at the highest level. Today, two of them are on our team, and the rest of them are ready to play in some of the best leagues on the planet. When we came up with the project, we did not think about this possibility. Luminosity's old team could very well achieve the goals that had been proposed and no changes would be needed. I am sure that GA's team would have been very successful if they had stuck together.
What are the team's goals for the FACEIT Finals?
To be honest, we did not practice at all. We thought long and hard about whether we should change the roster and when we should do it, and we all agreed that these tournaments can and will be very important for fnx and TACO to get used to the level of play we will find when we attend international events down the road. We will use this first tournament as a learning experience, we have nothing to lose. Quite the contrary, I think we have the conditions to do as well as we would with the former lineup, or perhaps even better. After the event, we will stay in Sweden for a week to practice for the ESL ESEA Pro League finals. That will be our true test, and we want to end the year on a high note.
Going back to the controversy with Liquid. Have you made peace, or are there still some hard feelings?
We are professional and we understand that players think and act differently in certain situations. Those who know our team know that we value sportsmanship and fairplay between all teams. There are no hard feelings, we just know the kind of priorities that dictate the actions of Liquid's players.
Whose fault was it? Hiko's or RGN's?
It was the photographer's fault because he was clumsy and hit the power button on fer's computer during a 4vs4. It is obvious that there is not a rule saying that you have to keep playing when a situation like this happens. It is extremely rare and unexpected. As soon as the problem occurred, we stopped playing and we tried to find the best solution.
The organisation looked at it as a machine's technical problem, which I disagree with, and Liquid's players prioritized victory at all costs. To each his own, but I prefer to keep my integrity and the sense of sportsmanship that I have upheld since I started competing.