dead: "flamie was at the airport when s1mple said he did not want to come; we wanted NiKo and shox at first" *
MIBR manager Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia has shed light on the roster changes that the team almost underwent at the beginning of 2018.
After a disappointing start to the year that culminated with a group stage exit at the WESG Finals, the Brazilian team, who at the time were still playing under the SK banner, set their sights on Na`Vi duo Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and Egor "flamie" Vasilyev as they looked to build an international star-studded roster.
The deal eventually fell through, with s1mple - who would go on to be named the best player of 2018 after performing at a level never witnessed before - stating that "it is not time to leave the team".
In an interview with Mais Esports, dead has now revealed just how close the Na`Vi duo came to joining the team, even though they were not even the first names on the list of targets as the Brazilians had first plotted moves for Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Richard "shox" Papillon.
"We had not thought about s1mple at first," he said. "We had thought about Niko and shox, but shox could not come because of his wife. He was still flattered by our offer.
"Then, it was Niko and rain, but rain did not want to come, and, without him, Niko would not come. Then, we thought about s1mple and KRIMZ because KRIMZ's contract with fnatic was about to expire, but it did not work out.
"That was when s1mple said: 'What about flamie?'. We had some talks, we met with everyone. s1mple said: 'I'll go, I'll go'.
"For you to understand how close things got, flamie was at the airport when s1mple said that he was no longer coming. I understand Na`Vi's point of view, the guy was their entire team and they did everything they could to hold on to him.
"Then, we wanted Stewie2K and autimatic, but autimatic did not want to come."
After just a few months with four Brazilian players and one North American in Jake "Stewie2K" Yip, the team, who by then had already signed for Immortals to play under the MIBR brand, opted to make another change, this time replacing under-fire Ricardo "boltz" Prass with Tarik "tarik" Celik.
"tarik is a very cool guy, he was not what we wanted at the start of the year, but we saw that the situation was so bad, even for boltz, that bringing in tarik was better than what we had," dead explained.
"We did not think about anyone else. We were so traumatized by what had happened with s1mple and by all the negative responses that we had got that we thought: 'This guy wants to come, and his buyout is okay'.
"tarik had just won a Major and his buyout was lower than that of some Brazilian players."
The international experiment would not last. By mid-January, MIBR had already returned to their roots, bringing back Epitacio "TACO" de Melo and João "felps" Vasconcellos to recreate the all-Brazilian lineup that had won five international titles in 2017.
And while TACO's transfer was handled in quick fashion, the same cannot be said for felps' signing. The 22-year-old, who at the time was tied to INTZ, was one of a trio of players MIBR had their eyes on to fill tarik's shoes.
"felps was the second player on our list," the MIBR manager revealed. "First, we thought about kNg, but, because of certain things it did not work out. The third option was kscerato.
"We negotiated at the same time with INTZ and FURIA. INTZ were very clear: 'This is felps' buyout, that is how much we want for him'. Our thought process was like this: 'felps has already played at a high level. He knows what that is like and he will not be affected by pressure.'
"If we were to bring in kscerato, we would bootcamp with him then play a Major, something he had never done before. What he played in Katowice was not a Major per se, the difference between what FURIA did, which was great, and what GamesAcademy and Tempo Storm had done was that they had stickers. They did not play at a Major, they only played at the qualifier. That is the reality.
"The pressure of playing at a Major is ridiculous, and we know that we always go far at Majors. And we thought: 'What if we bring the kid and he shits the bed?' And then, after the Major, we would play at BLAST Pro Series São Paulo, with eight thousand fans in our face.
"We thought that kscerato represented a much greater risk than felps but we could eventually have more to gain from adding him. So we told FURIA: 'We know the kid is good, we would like to have him. We know that he has a buyout, but, because he does not have much experience and is not a proven player, we would like to have him on a year-long loan.
"We could not reach an agreement on the price and things were much easier with INTZ. If INTZ and FURIA had said yes at the same time, I do not know what we would have done.
"For us, felps was a ready-made player. kscerato is someone who can grow a lot, we do not know his ceiling. And if it were today, in my opinion, we would no longer go for kscerato, but for yuurih."
The Brazilian manager also commented on his team's fallout with SK Gaming. Ahead of ESL One Belo Horizonte, questions were raised about a potential conflict of interest as the German organisation was believed to have a deal in place with the Não Tem Como roster. This would represent a breach of the tournament's rules stating that an organisation can only have one license per tournament as Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo's team was still playing under SK and was also in attendance at the event.
At the time, ESL did not identify an ownership conflict between the teams, but dead believes that the tournament organiser failed to do the basic due diligence when looking into the matter.
"SK got the Brazilians guys, they had contracts and all," he said. "It is silly and naive to think that they were not tied to SK. We know they were, even though SK will deny this to the death.
"They were practicing in Cologne, from SK's office. ESL asked SK: 'Do you own them?', and they said no. Then it was like, 'SK said they do not own the team, so they do not own them'."
UPDATE: flamie contacted HLTV.org to deny that he was at the airport when the deal fell through. According to the Russian player, he had a plane ticket to join up with the rest of the SK squad and "that was it".
The full interview, conducted in Portuguese, can be seen below: