StarLadder Major rookie: INTZ

Our second feature covering the rookies of StarLadder Major focuses on INTZ, who qualified for the New Challengers Stage via the Minor Play-in.

INTZ are one of the five newcomers in the Major circuit, along with Syman, forZe, DreamEaters and CR4ZY. With the top two spots of the Americas Minor having been claimed by NRG and FURIA, they had to go through the nerve-racking Minor Play-in, beating MVP PK in the lower bracket to secure the final spot in the StarLadder Major's New Challengers Stage, kicking off August 23.

INTZ were the last team to qualify for the Major

In this article, we take a look at INTZ's history in the Counter-Strike scene and explained how this roster came to be and how it has evolved over the course of the year. We also include a quick chat with one of the team's players and predict how they will fare in Berlin.

Line-up:

Brazil Gustavo "yel" Knittel
Brazil Alexandre "xand" Zizi
Brazil Lucas "DeStiNy" Bullo
Brazil Marcelo "chelo" Cespedes
Brazil Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe

From a non-factor to a contender

The StarLadder Major may be INTZ’s first tournament of this caliber, but the organisation is certainly not a newcomer in the scene. In late 2015, INTZ, a highly-respected name in Latin American esports, made a splash by expanding into Counter-Strike with a squad built around legendary AWPer Raphael "cogu" Camargo, who was part of the iconic mibr squad that won several international titles in 1.6 including ESWC 2006.

At the time, INTZ outlined an ambitious two-stage plan to build a team that could climb to the summit, but such expectations were quickly deflated. INTZ struggled to make an impact domestically between 2016 and 2018 despite boasting players who would go on to flourish elsewhere, most notably Victor "iDk" Torraca, Yuri "yuurih" Santos and Andrei "arT" Piovezan.

But in the summer of 2018, things took a whole new turn for the organisation. An opportunity presented itself as SK Gaming decided against signing the Não Tem Como roster, which would later change its name to NoTag after parting ways with Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Bruno "bit" Lima. With the team holding on to the ESL Pro League spot that belonged to SK, INTZ finally had a squad competing at the top, headlined by João "felps" Vasconcellos, kNgV- and chelo - three players with a wealth of international experience.

The Brazilian team exceeded all expectations in their first months together by qualifying for the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals when their goal was merely to avoid relegation. But they struggled to carry that form over to a LAN environment and bowed out of the event in Odense in 13th-16th place before ending the year of 2018 with merely a top-eight finish at PLG Grand Slam.

INTZ struggled for form during the first half of 2019

As the year came to an end, INTZ were faced with the task of replacing felps, who had expressed an interest in reuniting with his former SK teammates on MIBR. The team took that opportunity to make further adjustments, cutting ties with João "horvy" Horvath and bringing in the former Luminosity duo of yel and DeStiNy.

With a skipper with more experience in the job and a player who represented an individual upgrade, INTZ looked like a more well-rounded team than ever, but it took them a while to hit the ground running. A fourth-placed finish at the Americas Minor leading to IEM Katowice, where they were denied a Play-In spot by a struggling Envy side, was followed by a group stage exit at DreamHack Open Rio, where they were unlucky to have been pooled alongside FURIA and AVANGAR, the eventual finalists, in the group. To make matters worse, INTZ continued to be plagued with visa issues, forcing DeStiNy and kNgV- to sit out the group stages of ESL Pro League Season 9, where the team could not pick up a single map in three series with horvy and Gustavo "SHOOWTiME" Gonçalves filling in.

The less-than-impressive start to the year and the persistent visa issues left INTZ’s fans to wonder whether the team had a future and created an aura of uncertainty leading up to the second Americas Minor of the year. In Berlin, INTZ managed to top their group convincingly, but then they came up short against NRG and FURIA in the playoffs. A shocking defeat to DreamEaters in the first round of the Minor Play-In spelled disaster for the Brazilians, but they picked themselves up and booked the final spot at the Major at MVP PK’s expense.

This is by far the best moment in INTZ’s history, but it is somewhat spoiled by the uncertainty surrounding the future of the squad: kNgV- is reportedly set to join MIBR after the event, and there may be more changes on the horizon as the Brazilian scene is currently in the middle of a massive shuffle.

Lack of depth is a concern

INTZ got away with playing just four maps at the Americas Minor - Mirage, Nuke, Train and Overpass. Their map pool issues were later exposed by DreamEaters in the Play-In Stage and could come back to haunt them at the Major if they are not able to iron out these problems during the off-season.

The Brazilians are in the top 10 of the oldest teams at the Major, with an average age of 24.3, yet they are the least experienced side of the lot when it comes to tournaments of this stature, with kNgV- being the only player in the squad with previous Major experience.

Star player - kNgV-

The outspoken AWPer is one of the most experienced players in the Brazilian scene, with a career spanning over a decade. He played a leading role in Immortals' final appearance at PGL Major Krakow, and while such a story will not be repeated in Berlin - the hectic style deployed by that team no longer works at this level -, all eyes will be on him.

Statistically, kNgV- is INTZ's best player by a wide margin, with his 1.18 rating in 2019 being 10.5% higher than the team's average (the percentage goes up to 12.2% if we only consider LAN matches). He also boasts an impressive 1.21 impact, with his closest teammates being xand and DeStiNy at 1.00, while no-one in the team even comes near his 0.77 kills per round ratio.

A relentlessly hard worker, kNgV- has been able to overcome every obstacle placed in front of him with a zeal that has set him apart. His is a tale of persistence rewarded as a spot on MIBR is waiting for him after the Major. What better way to say goodbye to INTZ than with a masterclass of a performance in Berlin?

Five questions with xand

We caught up with xand, who has averaged a 1.06 rating across all tournaments over the last three months, to discuss what it means to finally reach a Major, the team's goals for the tournament and his recent individual improvements.

You were virtually unknown internationally prior to joining this team. A year later, you are about to compete at your first Major. What does it mean to you to be able to play this tournament?

It means everything to me, I believe that the Major is a dream for every player and I was able to realize mine. After this, my next dream is to win a Major. I have been playing CS:GO since the beginning but I had some breaks which really had an impact. I had the mindset to return and I got this chance [to play for INTZ]. To be able to reach a Major after playing abroad for just ten months is really gratifying.

Unlike other teams, you did not have any time off before the Major. Aren't you afraid that this will be counterproductive because you were not able to get any rest? Besides, it was perhaps a bit hard to find teams to practice with at the beginning of August.

We chose to continue putting in 110% effort to be able to go even further. Getting to play at the Major is very good, but we want more and we believe we can get more. We will have time to rest after the Major. We had some days off here in Canada, where we are living, and after the Major we will think about resting. Right now, the Major is all we care about. During the first days, we practiced against teams from lower divisions, but after three or four days everything was back to normal and we began practicing against tier 1/2 teams.

One of the biggest criticisms of your team is the fact that your map pool is quite limited. Will you be focusing on this issue during the break?

I think our map pool is pretty good. We play every map. Obviously, we have some maps where we are better and others where we are worse, but we are willing to play all of them, depending on the situation. We practice every map with no exceptions. We did not have any official game on Vertigo before the match against MVP PK and they decided to pick it. We were really well prepared on that map, just like on every other map.

What are your goals for the Major?

I believe that you need to take everything step by step, you cannot skip any steps. We are at the Major, our goal is to get to the next stage and try to secure Legend status. If we manage that, we will give our lives to go even further, and why not win the tournament?

You have been one of the biggest surprises of this team, with good performances on LAN. Do you feel this improvement? How far do you think you can go, individually?

I have always been a very confident player, and in no-pressure games I have always been able to play well individually. I do not know if it was because of my lack of experience or because of anxiety, but in LAN matches against big teams I could not perform at the same level. I and the rest of the team have been working on that with the help of our psychologist. I have been very focused to be able to improve constantly.

Writer's prediction

INTZ have their fair share of experience at the highest level, so they are in a better position than some of the other teams who also come from the Minors. They have a decent upset potential in best-of-one games, but their over-reliance on kNgV- is a major cause for concern: if opponents are able to limit the AWPer's influence, INTZ will simply lack the tools to grind out results.

One thing that sets INTZ apart from other teams is their incredibly strong mental game. Any match against them can quickly turn into a shouting contest, and when that happens they truly get in the zone and play to the best of their abilities. That was how they were able to pull off a miraculous comeback from 4-15 down against DreamEaters on Mirage to win the map in overtime.

INTZ's chances can never be written off, but their lack of tactical diversity and map pool issues will be major issues once the tournament hits the best-of-three stages. It is also important to mention that, despite the fact that the team decided against taking a break between the Minors and the Major, their preparations for the event have been disrupted by the ongoing ESL Pro League relegation. Be it as it may, the stage for this INTZ line-up's final hurrah is set, and we will all be keen spectators.

Also read:

StarLadder Major rookie: Syman

Brazil Gustavo 'yel' Knittel
Gustavo 'yel' Knittel
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
643
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.11
Brazil Victor 'iDk' Torraca
Victor 'iDk' Torraca
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
545
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Brazil Alexandre 'xand' Zizi
Alexandre 'xand' Zizi
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
392
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
729
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Brazil Gustavo 'SHOOWTiME' Gonçalves
Gustavo 'SHOOWTiME' Gonçalves
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
768
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
Brazil João 'horvy' Horvath
João 'horvy' Horvath
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
201
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.11
Brazil Marcelo 'chelo' Cespedes
Marcelo 'chelo' Cespedes
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
512
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Brazil Yuri 'yuurih' Santos
Yuri 'yuurih' Santos
Age:
19
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.16
Maps played:
514
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.16
Brazil Lucas 'DeStiNy' Bullo
Lucas 'DeStiNy' Bullo
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
670
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.15
Brazil Vito 'kNgV-' Giuseppe
Vito 'kNgV-' Giuseppe
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
497
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.10
Brazil Andrei 'arT' Piovezan
Andrei 'arT' Piovezan
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
499
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
Brazil Bruno 'bit' Lima
Bruno 'bit' Lima
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
443
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.14
Brazil Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
489
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.16
KNG bestest
2019-08-16 23:47
#12
cR4zY | 
Myanmar xdcc 
if starladder werent changing rules like idiots INTZ shouldnt have 3rd minor playin spot. c9 could bring 3 coaches and still would be less of a waste
2019-08-16 23:49
AXAXaxaxxaxaxaxaxxaxaxaxaxxaxa cloud9 ahahahahhahahahahacaxqgqgxafahah
2019-08-17 00:00
knrg
2019-08-17 01:10
#40
KRIMZ | 
Slovakia EvErisT 
stfu go back to silver bot
2019-08-17 00:22
#37
KRIMZ | 
Slovakia EvErisT 
+1 true
2019-08-17 00:07
Rest in peace coldzera
2019-08-17 00:21
#3
COCAINE | 
United Kingdom Kansur 
nt
2019-08-16 23:47
#4
gAuLeS | 
Liechtenstein KotoPRO 
ae
2019-08-16 23:47
#5
Twistzz | 
United States DTeeVee 
0-3
2019-08-16 23:47
#45
 | 
Estonia u3ffe 
Probably the most expected 0:3 here
2019-08-17 01:07
INTZ and Syman.
2019-08-17 13:00
#78
 | 
Argentina jert0n 
+1
2019-08-17 23:37
intz 3x2
2019-08-17 02:35
+1
2019-08-17 11:20
#88
 | 
Brazil rafaelpore 
Intz and Avangar
2019-08-21 17:16
ez
2019-08-16 23:47
#8
 | 
North America ZachS721 
They gonna lose unless kng kills the competition
2019-08-16 23:47
#18
floppy | 
United States Frotha 
KNG vs decent competition LUL
2019-08-16 23:51
#20
cR4zY | 
Myanmar xdcc 
hes not talking about ingame. unless NA also comes prepared
2019-08-16 23:52
#24
floppy | 
United States Frotha 
Ah now I get it, but it can be interpreted ingame
2019-08-16 23:54
#26
cR4zY | 
Myanmar xdcc 
2019-08-16 23:56
#34
floppy | 
United States Frotha 
Make love with your boyfriend
2019-08-17 00:06
#83
 | 
United States dabauss514 
prove it
2019-08-18 17:27
k
2019-08-16 23:47
#10
United Kingdom Res0 
Really interesting read, thanks!
2019-08-16 23:47
r u flash?
2019-08-16 23:48
#19
United Kingdom Res0 
No sir. I am Res0, HLTV user.
2019-08-16 23:51
#13
floppy | 
United States Frotha 
KNG overrated
2019-08-16 23:47
rookie ForZe please
2019-08-16 23:48
When 1st round match ups Volvo
2019-08-16 23:48
Still 0-3 though
2019-08-16 23:49
#46
 | 
Estonia u3ffe 
Can we see your widepeek demos, pls?
2019-08-17 01:07
I really wish I could find those old demos. Those were the glory days, lag compensation and hack accusations... I'm a retired widepeeker now.
2019-08-17 02:16
#66
 | 
Estonia u3ffe 
Need to change name my friend, as a lot of people getting confused
2019-08-17 10:15
#21
mch | 
Brazil vitoBR 
0-3
2019-08-16 23:52
kNg star? No kNg tox1c
2019-08-16 23:53
#55
 | 
Brazil parrud0www 
Coldzera is toxic, no kng
2019-08-17 02:09
The dude who wants to be on a successful team but not the dude who threatened to murder someone good logic.
2019-08-17 09:15
#75
 | 
Brazil parrud0www 
Man... FNS said that they were hung over, Kng had some reason to be nervous. What about "kill you"? Kng came from favela... Believe on me, it is normal there.
2019-08-17 18:08
Lol Brazilian third world is showing, you see in first world countries we can actually be civil and handle an argument without jumping to death threats like Brazilians like to.
2019-08-18 06:45
#84
 | 
Brazil parrud0www 
Like brazilians like to? No one like this... U say this because u don't live here, u can't understand. But returning to talking about Kng, he wouldn't kill FNS, It was Just to scare him.
2019-08-19 05:04
#85
cogu | 
Brazil leivasss 
It's just a way of speaking, we all know it wasn't serious, but that to any foreigner might seem ULTRA SERIOUS KKKK LUL
2019-08-19 14:27
0-3
2019-08-16 23:55
#27
XeqtR | 
Hong Kong wqnxy1 
Mass shoting inc : kngv vs. na
2019-08-16 23:57
#28
broky | 
Europe zTOMME 
0-3 why even make a post about it... bruh
2019-08-16 23:58
Rookie? They will destroy other teams 😎👍👍
2019-08-17 00:02
0-3
2019-08-17 00:04
0-3 intz !
2019-08-17 00:05
0-3 and disban
2019-08-17 00:06
#35
 | 
United States matteyo11 
Prove it
2019-08-17 00:06
#36
kNgV- | 
South America Natas_ 
kng will kill everybody
2019-08-17 00:07
0-3
2019-08-17 00:08
#41
 | 
Argentina Xiie 
0-3
2019-08-17 00:31
0-3 pick
2019-08-17 00:32
#43
 | 
Brazil JMB_17 
3-0 against all odds
2019-08-17 00:39
It won't be 0-3,probably 1-3
2019-08-17 00:44
#48
 | 
Estonia u3ffe 
Only if match up with CIS, except for forze Otherwise 0:3
2019-08-17 01:08
#47
 | 
Hungary IstvanHorvath 
Lose against Lazarus lol 0-3
2019-08-17 01:08
#50
 | 
Russia r4jkkYNWA 
0-3 they cant even beat dreameaters lol
2019-08-17 01:16
#51
xartE | 
Finland J3bediah 
Prove it or i’ll...
2019-08-17 01:15
#53
puTa | 
Argentina Alutobi 
KING VITO
2019-08-17 01:45
#54
 | 
Brazil MIBR_Top_One 
0-3 or 1-3
2019-08-17 02:09
Another ridiculous article about a Brazilian team that will disband by December, by miraa ofc
2019-08-17 02:15
StarLadder Major Clown: INTZ
2019-08-17 02:22
#60
Twistzz | 
Greece 1926 
you're sleeping on intz
2019-08-17 03:56
#61
 | 
Brazil P4uloVisk 
lets go intz
2019-08-17 04:17
What is kngv doing on such a shitty team
2019-08-17 08:58
0-3
2019-08-17 09:14
This can be my 0-3 pick over syman
2019-08-17 09:33
super bots
2019-08-17 10:47
#68
 | 
Germany zwet 
0 3
2019-08-17 11:01
#70
 | 
France TheKurnaz 
Thank you C9 for the free major slot
2019-08-17 11:29
#72
SS | 
Austria WaffelnSS 
They will do a great job in the major
2019-08-17 13:48
#76
 | 
Brazil ThiagoBuccos 
ez4kNg 3-2
2019-08-17 19:14
ez 0-3
2019-08-17 19:15
#79
shox | 
Canada [toast] 
1-3
2019-08-17 23:43
Sweep out of major
2019-08-18 05:19
#82
 | 
United States Fin4life 
CACA team eats CACA.....
2019-08-18 15:52
#86
 | 
Brazil CarlosDNS 
0-3 ez
2019-08-19 22:52
#90
 | 
Germany loweM 
this didnt age well
2019-08-23 23:07
#91
HUNDEN | 
Portugal saikez 
LULW
2019-08-24 19:42
BR CS LUL
2019-08-25 07:19
br cs 2 major FNX 6 wc, USA?
2019-08-25 15:21
Usa 1 fornite world cup, Br? USA 1 TI cup, br??? Br esports in 2k19 LUL
2019-08-25 17:24
BR 1 fifa world cup, usa? FNX 6 WORLD CUP, USA 1 LMAO fortnite LUL LMAO LMAO LMAO
2019-08-25 20:23
FNX WORLD CUP????????? major not world cup faggot LUL USA 1 TI BR 0 TI BR 3th world usa 1th world
2019-08-25 20:58
fnx 6 wc 1.6 2 majors 1 wc fifa 1 combat arms 1 crossfire 1point blank FPS = BR >> USA LMAO
2019-08-25 21:00
Stewie money achievements >>>>> fnx money achievements USA: 1 TI 1 Major a lot of cod majors 1 fornite world cup "crossfire" "point blank" shit games lmao ezpz usa >>> br
2019-08-25 21:10
Brazil 5 wc football
2019-08-28 20:43
Usa 1127 olympic gold medals
2019-08-29 01:10
Well done, american people really can play hockey well LUL
2019-08-30 00:12
LUL
2019-09-02 23:19
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