Flashback: The SK/LG lineup that put Brazil back on the CS map
We take a look back at the history of the two-time Major winning Brazilian lineup as the entirety of the roster heads into the IEM Rio Major on two separate teams.
Brazil was a familiar name on the map in the early days of Counter-Strike, the World Cyber Games (WCG) tournament series supporting teams from the region by giving them the ability to compete internationally and showcase their skill against the best teams in the world. No such opportunity existed by the time CS:GO came out as WCG held its last event in 2011, and Brazil as a whole was left with little to play for and almost no international event qualifiers being held in the region.
It took a gargantuan effort from Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo to keep the scene alive in those early days until the right opportunities came along, but when they finally did, he was ready to seize the moment. The region had been neglected by big tournament organizers for too long, and FalleN was keen to show why they deserved the opportunity as he set about creating a world-beating Brazilian lineup. It was a roster that came together piecemeal over a span of two years, constantly iterating and scouting new talent allowing for continuous growth, but the team that emerged from the ashes of Brazil was one that would go down in the history books. Two-time Major champions, home of the "Brazilian Terminator," and a team that inspired the next generation of talent from their region — this is their story.
Pieces of the now-famed Brazilian lineup first came together for a brief period on KaBuM.TD, the trio of FalleN, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and Lincoln "fnx" Lau uniting in the latter months of the year for ESWC 2014. That composition was short-lived, though, and only the first two players carried on together on Keyd the following year as they attended their first Major together, ESL One Katowice.
Even attending the Major in the first place was a big moment for the Brazilian side, who had few opportunities to take part in international tournaments due to almost no domestic qualifiers playing out, and a lack of funding to travel frequently to events that were not covered by the organizer. A single Brazilian qualifier for MLG X Games Aspen proved key in that regard, helping to put FalleN's side on the map after they qualified and helped to show they could have an impact internationally, beating Cloud9 at the event. The team then remained in Denver in a bid to raise money to attend the ESL One Katowice Major Main Qualifier, crowd funding their travel expenses and pulling it off successfully thanks in part due to $2,500 and $1,400 donations from ESEA and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, respectively.
Keyd immediately made a statement in Poland, beating HellRaisers and CLG in the GSL group stage to make it to the playoffs, where they were ultimately eliminated by Virtus.pro in the quarter-finals. Still, it was an important result for a team that emerged from the ashes of Brazil, and it marked a crucial turning point for the Brazilian team as they began to slowly pick up steam from that point.
Unlike most fringe teams emerging onto the scene from regions outside of Europe and North America, the FalleN-led side had shown they could compete both strategically and in head to head duels, and it was proven time and again as the team slowly began to put up results in international online leagues. A move to North America transpired so that the team could take part in ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1, with the players moving into the house of Ricardo "dead" Sinigaglia for what was supposed to be a three-month stint in hopes of making their dreams a reality.
You can hover over team names to see historically accurate lineups.
It was around the middle of 2015 when the roster moved to Luminosity that things truly began to lock into place for them, the switch to the Canadian organization coinciding with the signing of a promising young rifler scouted out by FalleN — Marcelo "coldzera" David.
There may have been questions surrounding the pickup of such an unknown quantity into what was ostensibly Brazil's top team, but it wasn't long before coldzera shut any doubters down by showcasing his skill against elite competition. Although he wasn't blasting people out of the server immediately, he performed well enough out of the gate for his new team in online competition and helped them match their Katowice result at the following two Majors, making it to the quarter-finals of both ESL One Cologne 2015 and DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015.
The team remained shy of title contention, however, and a substantial overhaul was made toward the end of the year in the hope of finally making it over that hump. fnx had been proving he still had the motivation to play on Games Academy, and he was called up to join the team alongside a promising supportive pillar in Epitacio "TACO" de Melo and the team's coach, Wilton "zews" Prado.
fnx was a known quantity for FalleN already, someone he had played alongside in a multitude of tournaments in years gone by, and he knew what he was getting on that end of the equation. What couldn't have been predicted was just how well zews and TACO would slot into the two remaining roles, and just what the latter would do to fully unlock the potential of coldzera.
It wasn't a pretty start to the new roster by any means. Their first official match together at the FACEIT League 2015 Stage 3 Finals at DreamHack Winter got off to a brutal beginning as fnatic laid waste to them on Dust2 with a 16-0 battering. The Brazilian side refused to roll over though, and in a display of sheer tenacity and willpower they fought back into the event, beating the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams in the world, Envy and TSM, as well as No. 6 ranked Ninjas in Pyjamas en route to the grand final before ultimately faltering to the Swedish supersquad for a second time.
Luminosity's title duck wouldn't be broken until 2016 despite a number of deep finishes in events in the following months, including a runner-up finish to Natus Vincere at DreamHack Leipzig that showed that the result at DreamHack Winter wasn't a one-off by any means. coldzera was a fearsome force even during that stint, always managing positive ratings and being a key factor in the team's continued rise to success.
His performance was part of what led Luminosity to their first big title at MLG Major Columbus, a historic Major in that it was the first on North American soil, and the first to boast a prize pool of $1,000,000. Luminosity had well established their style at this point, being a team known for their strategic approach to the game, rifling aggression from fer, combat AWPing from FalleN, and most importantly, their incredible consistency at pulling off almost unimaginable bombsite retakes on the CT side. It took all of that and more, including coldzera's miraculous quad kill hold in the semi-finals against Liquid, for Luminosity to claim their first Major title, defeating Natus Vincere in the grand finals in a two-map series.
From there, FalleN's men truly began to hit their stride. They either placed deep in tournaments, made runs to the grand final, or ended up taking the trophy in the end following strong performances across the board, but particularly from either FalleN or coldzera, who were the two stand-out pillars of the team.
The latter player was coined the "Brazilian Terminator", a nickname given to him due to his consistently impactful presence and ability to multi-frag in matches during the late round. While riflers in the new age of CS:GO might find positive ratings and impact through a mix of aggression and passive plays, coldzera was often found in the back lines, playing off his teammates to perfection and almost always capitalizing off mistakes from his opponents while making none of his own. He was also Luminosity's second AWPer and a fearsome one at that, ending up a key part of the team's impeccable streak of 17 wins on Train that very year thanks in part to his undeniable prowess at holding ivy on the CT side.
Ahead of ESL One Cologne 2016 and amidst their run of form, the entire lineup completed a controversial move to SK, a change that was marred by contract disputes in the months leading up to it before coming to an amicable resolution. The conflict did not put a halt to the team's momentum heading into the Major though, and they were successfully able to defend their title and become the second-ever team to win back-to-back Majors, following in the footsteps of the once-dominant fnatic lineup of 2015.
SK would go on to fail numerous attempts at clinching another crown that year despite remaining a title contender, managing a handful of grand final appearances but faltering at the last hurdle. Notably, the lack of titles came after zews parted ways with the team to return to a playing career, and soon after murmurs emerged of internal problems brewing with fnx, who ended up on the outs ahead of the ECS Season 2 Finals toward the end of the year. Ricardo "fox" Pacheco briefly stood in for the team for both that event and ELEAGUE Major 2017, helping the team to a semi-final finish at the latter before taking his leave.
Thus, the SK lineup entered its second iteration and era, adding João "felps" Vasconcellos to make up for the loss of fnx. coldzera continued his streak of dominance, but the team didn't maintain their world-beating form — at least, not from the onset. It took a handful of events for them to figure out the role clashes between fer and felps, a problem which they never quite resolved in their time together but somehow managed to make work for a number of months in the middle of 2017.
From cs_summit Spring 2017 in late April to ESL One Cologne 2017 at the start of June, SK won five trophies, netting wins at both of the above events as well as at IEM Sydney, DreamHack Open Summer, and ECS Season 3 Finals to once again hold claim to the status of the best team in the world. It wasn't long before those role clashes resurfaced, however, and within months the team began struggling to fight for titles again. A 5-8th finish at PGL Major Krakow gave way to further early exits at ensuing events, and soon the pieces began to crumble for the once historic lineup.
First came the benching of felps, who was replaced by Ricardo "boltz" Prass on loan from Immortals. Again, SK found early success with their newcomer, winning three international events pretty swiftly after making the change and managing a semi-final finish at ELEAGUE Major Boston, but cracks in the team were beginning to show. In March 2018, TACO took his leave to explore an international opportunity with Liquid, and in turn, SK added Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and transitioned to speaking English themselves.
The team would soon move to MIBR and add Tarik "tarik" Celik for boltz in what was ultimately an ill-fated project, one that took home just one title at a mid-sized tournament. The second event under the MIBR banner also marked the end of an incredible streak from coldzera, who had recorded 84 straight events with a 1.00+ rating (58 on LAN) — from the exact moment he joined Luminosity in August 2015 to ELEAGUE Premier in June 2018.
The Brazilian Terminator remained a strong presence for the team still, recovering from the 0.99 rating he recorded at ELEAGUE with another 15 events (12 on LAN) in the green. It wasn't enough to bail MIBR out of the hole they were in though, and even attempts to bring together pieces of the former Luminosity lineup with TACO's return at the end of the year proved fruitless in their effort to regain consistently world-beating form. The inability to pick up promising talent from FURIA also added to the struggle for FalleN's side, with the new Brazilian organization fending off interest from a number of parties over the next two years before inking five-year long contracts with their players to halt efforts entirely.
The wheels began to fall off as coldzera stepped down from the active lineup in mid 2019, later joining FaZe. The magic was lost, and different roster iterations did not bring it back by the next year when the organization decided to bench fer, TACO, and dead, prompting FalleN to step down as well. The remaining players began to filter out to different teams in 2021, with fer and fnx becoming journeymen across a handful of Brazilian teams, FalleN hoping to make it work with Liquid, and TACO kicking off a new project under GODSENT in the hopes of bringing up the next generation of Brazilian talent.
A year later, TACO was the only one still finding success, and rumors began to emerge of a reunion between the former Luminosity/SK core ahead of the 2022 season — a "Last Dance." With a Brazilian Major slated to take place in the second half of the year, the team could have one last ride into the sunset together in a bid to relive the glory days, but even that didn't fully come to completion. The core of fnx, fer, and FalleN ended up reunited on Imperial as coldzera opted to skip out, but even without their star member the team defied expectations at PGL Major Antwerp, nearly making the playoffs before falling short 2-3 in the final Swiss group stage. Change followed a few months later as fnx was shifted into a coaching position and Marcelo "chelo" Cespedes was added, the team aiming to find more success in Brazil with more firepower in their camp.
While FalleN was adjusting his project ahead of the team's appearance at the IEM Rio Major, coldzera had reunited with TACO, with the Brazilian prospects project moving under the 00NATION banner. The two experienced veterans have been set on training up the next-generation of South American talent in Eduardo "dumau" Wolkmer, Santino "try" Rigal, and Bruno "latto" Rebelatto, and it has already paid off as the roster has proven they have what it takes to compete internationally.
The players from SK and Luminosity may have started out with very little to their name and taken time to become world-beaters, but since then they have flourished into much more. They are figureheads of success for the Brazilian scene. They have inspired a new generation of South American players to come forward and chase their dream, and it is evident that their historic runs had an impact as every day, new talent emerges and garners international attention — see, Lucas "Lucaozy" Neves.
The entire two-time Major winning lineup — sans coach zews — will now have the chance to play in front of the very fans and players they have helped inspire at the IEM Rio Major. It may not be from the same side of the server this time around, and they may have played events in Brazil before, but nothing quite like this. For the former SK and Luminosity members, there are few memories that will ever compare to what they are about to experience heading into their home Major, even with all of their accomplishments to look back on.