Bringing Brazil to the Major: How 21 players fought their way to the biggest stage
Brazil will have 14 new players at the Major and more representatives than any other country at PGL Major Stockholm. But how did their scene get here at a point when they are missing a true title contender?
The PGL Stockholm Major will have the most Brazilian representatives in Major history. At 21 players, this is 6 more than at StarLadder Berlin, the tournament which previously featured the most Brazilian players. When it comes to the top 16 stage, Stockholm has not yet passed the highest number of participants, but considering only half of those teams have been decided and we are already over halfway there, the odds are that this Major will see the most Brazilian attendees any way you slice it.
But how did Brazil get to this point? At the very top level, the country has actually dropped off quite a bit from where it was a couple of years ago. The old MIBR core featuring legends of the game had been declining for quite a while and eventually disbanded, the once competitive Immortals team met its demise years ago now, and reunion attempts with those players have not found close to the same success. FURIA were then the next top-level Brazilian team to arrive and had quite a long time of sustained success, until their drop off after the departure of Henrique "HEN1" Teles.
While Brazil at the very highest level had fallen off, the grassroots and sub-top scene has been booming, with more and more teams and new players emerging all the time. At the time of the StarLadder Major, there was of course the old MIBR lineup, which Marcelo "coldzera" David had just left. There was also FURIA, who, following their disappointing result at the Major, replaced Rinaldo "ableJ" Moda Junior with HEN1. ex-Luminosity had just disbanded, with the different players going their own ways. In NA Premier we had INTZ, who had just added Ricardo "boltz" Prass, and TeamOne, who still had Alencar "trk" Rossato, Bruno "BIT" Fukuda Lima, and Bruno "b4rtiN" Câmara on the books.
There were many other notable teams competing back in Brazil, and two of them would go on to become two of the teams that qualified for the PGL Major. Now I won't go into a detailed history of every single one of the notable teams from the region, but examining these old lineups through the lens of the Stockholm teams allows us to see that many of the seeds blooming in October of 2021 were sown many years ago.
The strong and well-developed scene within Brazil is what has allowed the country to thrive and grow each year even though they haven't won as many tier-one trophies. This kind of regional scene is imperative to creating a healthy scene in the long run and is what the community has observed happening in Denmark for many years now. It's also what has allowed for Poland to have its first newcomers to the Majors in three years and also what has hampered places like Sweden and, yes, North America. Since London's Major in 2018, Sweden has only had four new players play at Majors, three of which are from Ninjas in Pyjamas at Stockholm. The United States has had five, and only one at Stockholm, and Canada has had zero new players since London 2018.
Setting tangents about how to keep a healthy regional scene aside, we can touch on some notable moments in the thriving Brazilian scene in the past two years and look at the stories of the teams who qualified to see why and how they got to where they are now.
Andrei "arT" Piovezan (FURIA)
Yuri "yuurih" Santos (FURIA)
Vinicius "VINI" Figueiredo (FURIA)
Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato (FURIA)
André "drop" Abreu (FURIA)
Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo (Liquid)
Vinicios "PKL" Coelho (paiN)
Rodrigo "biguzera" Bittencourt (paiN)
Wesley "hardzao" Lopes (paiN)
Gabriel "NEKIZ" Schenato (paiN)
Rafael "saffee" Costa (paiN)
Epitacio "TACO" de Melo (GODSENT)
João "felps" Vasconcellos (GODSENT)
Bruno "b4rtiN" Câmara (GODSENT)
Eduardo "dumau" Wolkmer (GODSENT)
Bruno "latto" Rebelatto (GODSENT)
Jhonatan "jnt" Silva (Sharks)
Fillipe "pancc" Martins (Sharks)
Lucas "Lucaozy" Neves (Sharks)
Antonio "realz1n" Oliveira (Sharks)
Romeu "zevy" Rocco (Sharks)
It would be best to start where it all began, with the old MIBR team. The death of that old core marks the biggest shift in the Brazilian CS landscape since the rise of FURIA in 2019. Each of the players went their own way, and for some, it seems to have been for the better. After the departure of TACO, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and FalleN, the remaining two players in Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe and trk built the lineup which went on to become O PLANO. This team opted to not stick with the MIBR organization and now plays for 00NATION, but they were unable to qualify for Stockholm from North America.
But FalleN and TACO both took quite different approaches to the next stages of their career, with both finding their own kind of success. FalleN took the plunge and joined a North American team in Liquid, reuniting with former teammate Jake "Stewie2K" Yip. Despite some troubles early on with in-game leadership duties and a couple of poor performances, Liquid has looked promising going into Stockholm.
Meanwhile, TACO went in a completely different direction. Instead of joining an existing team, he created his own after diving into the depths of talent in his home country, making a lineup full of youngsters that he could nurture as he decided to take on a leadership role. He stuck together with manager and coach Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia, joined up with repeat teammate felps, and got to work building the new lineup.
Eventually they decided on signing b4rtiN and Olavo "chucky" Napoleão from TeamOne, dumau from Yeah, and latto from RED Canids, and the lineup joined Swedish organization GODSENT at the beginning of the year. Things started out pretty rough for the team as they had to work their way through countless role clashes and inexperience from the majority of the team, but they trusted the process and hit their stride at exactly the right time.
After failing to qualify for cs_summit 8 and going out in the groups of DreamHack Open June, GODSENT finally found their form come September. Over the course of the month, they easily qualified for IEM Fall, won DreamHack September in a close series over Extra Salt, qualified for IEM Winter by upsetting FURIA, and their run culminated in an impressive second place finish at the final RMR event after the TACO-led side beat Liquid and secured themselves a spot at the Major.
Over in FURIA in the meantime, the addition of Paytyn "junior" Johnson at the start of 2021 marked yet another time that a Brazilian team added American players, much like SK, MIBR, and Yeah did in the past. The move didn't work out as well as they had hoped, with junior not being able to truly fit in and fill the shoes left by the surprising departure of HEN1, who was ranked the 16th best player of 2020 by HLTV. The roster turbulence of needing to use Lucas "honda" Cano for many events saw the team enter a sort of slump during the Summer. The lineup featuring drop is still relatively new, and Stockholm will be the place for FURIA to show that they still have what it takes to compete at the very top.
Joining FURIA and GODSENT from the North American RMR, paiN are still relatively new to playing in the region, as they only transitioned north one year ago in September. The move saw the return of PKL and NEKIZ to the continent, with both of the individuals having played with Luminosity in the past.
The most impressive aspect about paiN's story is that their lineup has been extremely stable and consistent. They are the third oldest five-man lineup competing at PGL Stockholm, with TYLOO being the oldest and Gambit being ahead of paiN by just a few days. The core of PKL, biguzera, and hardzao is even older, spanning back to August of 2019. Sticking with a lineup through tough times in regions like Brazil and NA where large-scale shuffles happen regularly can be a good way to rise above the crowd, and this seems to be the case with paiN, who have been fortunate enough to retain their star AWPer saffee despite the 26-year-old being at times in conversation for a move to a better team like FURIA.
The PKL-led squad struggled early on when arriving in NA, losing many a Cash Cup to the likes of Bad News Bears, but they persevered, and what was once a 0-2 loss to Extra Salt became a 1-2 loss, and eventually the occasional 2-1 win. Once it came time for IEM Fall the roster had become a strong tier two team in the region and was able to win the necessary matches to snatch themselves a spot in Stockholm.
More South American lineups moving to North America doesn't mean that the scene back down south is not worth mentioning, however. As said before, the local Brazilian scene is stronger than ever, with the team parity being surprisingly high both in the 2021 RMR cycle and generally over the past two years. Ultimately, Sharks were the product of that, but not after a nearly year-long rebuilding cycle after their lineup, which had gained some international success at the end of 2019, broke apart as players were sold to other teams.
Building around in-game leader jnt, Sharks slowly put together their current lineup by picking up talented players from various other teams. First it was pancc who came off strong performances with W7M. Next was Lucaozy, who had played on DETONA alongside Vinicius "vsm" Moreira and Renato "nak" Nakano. realz1n was also brought on following the disbanding of W7M, while zevy joined following the death of his iteration of DETONA.
Making it to #1 on the SA Regional Major Ranking was not an easy task however, as Sharks were consistently challenged during the 2021 cycle by the likes of MIBR, Bravos, and Paquetá. It's unfortunate that only four teams could make it to the main event at IEM Fall, with the CBCS events preceding it managing to showcase far more teams with potential in a competitive format, but the difference in points between the top two teams being so small in the end clearly demonstrates the team parity in the region.
2021 is a great time to be a Brazilian CS:GO fan, and there are more options than ever for players and teams to support. With an incredibly competitive local scene, teams are pulling in new talents and sticking together for enough time to truly build team chemistry. There is a lot to look forward to in the future, and it starts now as Brazil is about to have the highest representation ever at PGL Major Stockholm.