There was a time when Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and his fellow Brazilians were the most feared Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team on the planet. However, as of today participating in the Blast Pro Series stop in Los Angeles, they are a team whose best player (on paper) has quit. They're using their coach and a player on loan as a stand-in.
FalleN has seen the rise and fall of the greatest Brazilian team CS:GO has ever seen. And unlike some cases where a team and its players fly off into the world of free agency to chase that big pay, FalleN believes the problem plaguing Made In Brazil was something else entirely.
“I think we got too used to winning,” FalleN sighed. “Our egos got too big, which lead to being frustrated with not being on top and losing more than we were used to.”
FalleN and his squad have some fairly good reasons to see their egos get the best of them. Epitácio "TACO" de Melo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and coach Wilton "zews" Prado are both two-time Major winners with multiple other top-tier tournament championships under their belts.
They were the No. 1 team in the world as both Luminosity Gaming and then SK starting in May of 2016 all the way until October of the same year. They briefly dropped to No. 3 before climbing back up to No. 1 for 9 out of the next 15 months. And while the team made some roster changes, FalleN, fer, and coldzera have been the constants, with Taco taking a short break from the team by playing for Team Liquid before eventually returning.
“We had a meteoric rise,” FalleN said with a look of distant memory in his eyes. “We were able to do the things we did quickly, maybe too quickly. Our egos got the best of us.”
Those elevated egos made it very hard for this team to find healthy ways to engage in conflict resolution. Basically left to their own accord, the conflict resolution struggle can be viewed as the core reason this team hasn’t won in some time.
What should truly be a surprise to many is that, while FalleN is the team’s spiritual leader and one of the best AWPers in the world, he isn’t an A-Type personality. He tends to avoid heated conflict, choosing to discuss things when arguments or disagreements have calmed down. However, looking back, he can see how this approach may not have been ideal.
“I’m the type of leader that likes to lead by example, meaning I am not really vocal but instead I let my actions talk for me,” FalleN said. “I have a hard time being the bad cop on this team, but that is something I am working on."
Match notifications, latest esports news, and more. Get the Upcomer app now.
Now, instead of waiting for some behaviors to manifest or fester, FalleN is looking to take an active approach to problem solving.
“So I think one of the mistakes I made early was not directly approaching our mistakes and behaviors right when they started,” FalleN said. “It can be hard, and it’s hard for me because that’s not really my personality. And I like the way I am, but I can see there is a need.”
At least in the short term, FalleN may not have to be the bad cop since MiBR have started working with a sports psychologist. Having never worked with a sports psychologist in the past, FalleN said he is excited to see if this new tool will help.
“We recently started working with a sports psychologist and I think it's going to be great,” Fallen smiled. “I'm very excited, and in fact I had a session with him today. I can feel that this is going be very helpful for me and my teammates.”
Having a sports psychologist is just the beginning, FalleN said. He adamantly believes his team is ready to make a comeback, due in large part to finally believing in using all the available tools out there. Grinding and playing simply ins’t enough anymore, as teams invest in coaches, analysts, online tools, video sessions, and more. He and his teammates are ready to take advantage.
“Other teams out there have a lot of structure, some way too much as they get told exactly what to do all the time,” FalleN concluded. “We want to take advantage of all the tools available out there, but we also must regain our passion and team chemistry."
It appears that FalleN and his MiBR teammates have a plan, and although that plans does not seem to include Marcelo "coldzera" David, FalleN absolutely believes they can win regardless. And they want to win for Brazil.
“I think for us Brazilians this has been very bad,” FalleN said. “It’s very important to us that we play well, not only for ourselves but for Brazil. We need to have the same mentality we had before and have a clear focus of where we want to go.”
At the end of the day, Fallen believes all of this can actually make them better than before.
“It's just a question of being able to face the new reality that comes after you win a lot of things and then you don’t. We’ll figure it out.”