The rise and fall of vsm, Brazil's newest sensation
The news hit the scene like a bomb. vsm, widely regarded as one of the most promising young talents in Brazil, was in November handed an indefinite ban by Valve following an investigation launched by ESL into an old Steam account with a VAC ban allegedly owned by the player. He remains eligible to play in all ESL competitions and will make his Pro League debut tonight, but the VAC ban is a stain that will not wash away and that came at a time when he was being courted by some of Brazil’s most prominent teams, including some of the ones competing abroad.
The 19-year-old burst onto the competitive scene in 2017 and quickly turned into a much sought-after commodity, especially because of his heroics in pug matches with the country’s best and brightest and with community figure Alexandre "gAuLeS" Chiqueta. Before long, vsm was the nickname on everyone’s lips and he drew inevitable comparisons with Marcelo "coldzera" David, who had set the scene alight immediately after leaving Brazil in 2015.
vsm required some convincing to leave his team of friends, but he finally did it. After previously snubbing DETONA twice, he accepted an offer from the organisation in July 2018 and immediately made his presence felt, helping the team to secure promotion to the main division of the Gamers Club league and then, weeks later, to win the main tournament after they beat Isurus in the final.
In the months that followed, he continued looking superb, putting in consistently solid performances for the team in every tournament that they attended. But just days after announcing their plans to move abroad in the near future to continue their evolution and take things to the next level, DETONA were rocked by the news of Valve’s ban, which keeps the player out of the Major circuit indefinitely.
Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and Epitacio "TACO" de Melo were some of the high-profile figures who were caught in the heated debate on whether the punishment fit the crime in this case: vsm’s VAC ban dates back to 2013, when he was just 13 years old; is it reasonable to punish him for the rest of his life for something he did in his early teen years?
Despite the blow, DETONA have been steadfast in their backing of vsm. After the ban was announced, the Brazilian organisation immediately appealed against the decision, which they believe to be unfair. Almost six months have passed and there have been no updates on the case, but DETONA and the player remain hopeful.
"Ever since I started playing CS, I have always wanted to play the biggest tournament," he recently told Mais Esports. "CS:GO then came out and since then my dream has been to play a Major. I believe it will happen someday."
Life has not been easy for vsm since the ban came in. He has often struggled to find the motivation to carry on, in part because of the constant taunts he has had to endure. After his team won the Aorus League 2019 Finals, last month, in São Paulo, he breathed a sigh of relief as he hoped the title would help to silence some of his critics.
"I was able to prove that I am not what people say," he told Mais Esports after the tournament. "Everyone keeps mentioning the Valve ban and a lot of people are just talking shit.
"That is bad for me, but we managed to win and I believe people will not talk as much as they used to. They will believe in our team more."
TeamOne are just one of the Brazilian teams who have kept vsm on their radar, even fielding him as a stand-in in an open WESG qualifier, at the end of last year. So far, every suitor has seen the ban as an insurmountable obstacle, but it begs the question: at what point will a team get so desperate that it will be willing to sacrifice the Majors in order to have a player with such potential in its ranks?
DETONA are currently in Los Angeles to compete in Group D of ESL Pro League Americas. Facing Isurus, Denial and Infinity is hardly the same thing as competing at IEM Katowice, but vsm will grasp this opportunity with both hands to remind his suitors what they are missing out on and that there is more to life than the Majors.