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Fabio | 16. January 2021

The Slow Decay of MIBR

We have now watched MIBR gradually decline over the course of many years. With the dissolution of their most recent lineup, the organization has hit yet another low point. MIBR now field a completely new lineup and their future as one of the cornerstones of international CS:GO is up in the air. How did it come to this?

July 18th, 2017. SK Gaming, led back then by Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo, were only one map away from entering playoffs at the PGL Major Krakow. BIG were the only ones standing in their way. Since 2015, no German team had made the Top 8 of any CS:GO Major tournament, so Fallen and his men very much held all the cards. The Brazilians were looking forward to a quick Inferno match – but BIG had other plans.

After a 10-5 half for SK Gaming, the Germans turned the game on its head. Suddenly, they pulled through a near-perfect CT side and closed their deficit down. When SK eventually got up to a 14-12 lead again, Fatih “gob b” Dayik led his team to a stunning 16-14 comeback. They secured their spot in the Quarter Finals and sent the Brazilians into the fourth Swiss Stage round. Maybe this signified a turning point for the SK Gaming boys. Throughout the rest of the year, they won only two big trophies and in 2018, they failed to attain a single relevant tournament victory.

csgo mibr eleague

Image via ELEAGUE

SK BECOMES MIBR

During their last few months of playing under SK Gaming, the five players struggled massively. But after their transition to MIBR, things didn’t really get better for Fallen and his men. Their tournament results gradually worsened. Soon, they decided to remove Epitacio “TACO” De Melo and Ricardo “boltz” Prass, picking out Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and Tarik “tarik” Celik as their replacements. Both of them had just won a CS:GO Major a few months back, but they failed to prove themselves alongside the Brazilians. The experiment was a failure and despite the players separating on good terms, it was clear as day that the US and Brazilian joint venture just wasn’t going to work. Stewie2k and tarik left and TACO was soon brought back from Team Liquid.

So they were back to the core four that had existed ever since the FACEIT Stage 3 Finals in December of 2015. Back then, they were playing alongside Lincoln “fnx” Lau and after his departure, they rotated new players through their fifth slot almost on a yearly basis. This behavior should ring a bell for most Counter-Strike fans.

THE NIP SYNDROME

The Ninjas in Pyjamas were the first legends of professional CS:GO competition. But after their Major victory at ESL One Cologne 2014, they started to decline in form. Eventually, they opted to replace Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson with Maikil “Maikelele” Bill. They followed this up with Aleksi “allu” Jalli, Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, and William “draken” Sundin. In July of 2017, they were finally ready to touch their core players and removed Adam “friberg” Friberg. Their unwillingness to evolve cost them years of potential progress. The problem never laid with their new players, but with their core roster essentially being deadlocked.

This is exactly the problem that has plagued the MIBR boys until recently. After the departure of fnx in 2016, they onboarded João “⁠felps⁠” Vasconcellos, just to replace him with boltz after eight months. In early 2018, TACO announced his removal from the roster, only to return upon the team signing with MIBR. Afterwards, the quartet stuck together and consecutively brought in felps, Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles and Vito “kNgV-” Guiseppe to fill their fifth slot. In July of 2019, coldzera finally broke the gridlock and benched himself, which finally tore apart the original core.

csgo coldzera

Image via ESL

For entire years, they weren’t willing to make deep changes to the lineup. Just like the Ninjas in Pyjamas, they slowly grinded to a halt and became shadows of their former selves. Over the years, their fans watched them lose relevance, descend in the world rankings, and eventually saw them being overtaken as the biggest and best Brazilian team.

DO THEY ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THE GAME ANYMORE?

With two Major victories under the belt, two ESL One Cologne trophies, and countless first-place finishes, they have more or less achieved everything there is to achieve within CS:GO. For some time, it’s been apparent that Fallen and his men haven’t really been pouring their hearts and souls into this game. Years ago, they made headlines when, in the midst of an international tournament, they chose to stream alongside football legend Neymar instead of preparing for their matches.

Their motivation took a nosedive when the coronavirus hit. In the summer of 2020, when most American teams didn’t even dream of travelling to Europe, the MIBR boys went to bootcamp in Serbia. There, they completely broke apart. First, they dropped out of ESL One Cologne in the Group Stage, which wasn’t a shame in itself given the other teams in attendance. But as their tournament calendar was now mostly vacant, they agreed to play some minor online tournaments – in which they were completely dragged through the mud. Nine To Five, Malta Vibes, LOOT.BET… during all these events, they exited much too early and failed to even compete against semi-professional competition!

It was shameful to see MIBR lose to the likes of MAD Lions, Galaxy Racer, and Copenhagen Flames. The European viewers made fun of them, the players felt the pressure… until they finally cracked. Just months after signing Alencar “trk” Rossato, the lineup had already dissolved again. MIBR put TACO and fer on the bench, after which Fallen removed himself from the active lineup. Afterwards, he took to Twitter to voice his concerns with the organization’s management: “I communicate my [dis]satisfaction with MIBR in front of the decision to completely overhaul the line-up I chose to play for.

A GRAVE FAILURE OF MANAGEMENT

The players are only partially to blame for all of this mess. Particularly in recent weeks, it became clear how very little the management was interested in actually rebuilding their CS:GO division. After all, kNgV- had brought together an impressive team at the end of 2020. Alongside LUCAS1, trk, Raphael “cogu” Camargo, Vinicius “v$m” Moreira, and Leonardo “leo_drk” Oliveira, he put up great performances during their short stint in Europe. During the BLAST Premier: Fall Series, the Brazilians almost took down Astralis. Later, they managed themselves similarly well against G2 Esports, who wound up topping the entire group. In Flashpoint Season 2, they got past Cloud9, Dignitas, and fnatic. Making fourth place, they were much more successful than a multi-million dollar project. And all of this happened just weeks after the players got together!

Everything was set for a successful 2021. All the MIBR management had to do in order to retain the roster was to buy these players out of their existing contracts. But the organization refused. Both kNgV- and cogu reported that MIBR showed little interest in actually signing the players. The negotiations soon fell through. Once again, trk and kNgV- were all alone on the roster.

But this time around, they had enough. They had presented their preferred lineup to the organization and actually delivered results. Now, it was MIBR’s turn to act. When the management didn’t, the last two remaining players of took the exit and, just like Fallen had done earlier, requested to be benched.

CAN THE NEW LINEUP SAVE THE BRAND?

MIBR have an image problem now, that is out of the question. In recent months, they have burned their bridges to so many of the best and most beloved Brazilian players. Fallen, TACO, fer, kNGV-, cogu, and trk have all publicly taken a stand against the organization. Since last September, all the fans could see was MIBR consistently standing in the way of their favorites and idols.

Now, they have brought in a new lineup. Last year, the former BOOM Esports quartet had pretty much swept through the entire competitive circuit in Brazil. Daniel “danoco” Morgado, the fifth man, made headlines during his short stint with Bravos Gaming. These five competitors will now take to Europe to compete in the 2021 tournament season. But does this national success really justify the faith that MIBR have put in the players? Wouldn’t the organization have had a much better lineup at hand with kNgV- and his men?

The players have to deal with an insane amount of pressure now. One one side, there are the expectations that the fans and the company are setting for their success. On the other side, there is a plethora of Brazilian projects looking to take the lead on the international market. TACO, Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia and felps are about to construct a lineup and are already in advanced talks with GODSENT. The quintet that had most recently played for MIBR is also going to stick together and looking for a new home. Henrique “HEN1” Teles, who was one of the strongest players of 2020, is rumored to join forces with them as well. And if that isn’t enough reason to worry for MIBR, FURIA will surely make them sweat even more.

They have lost their spot at the top. Actually, this has been the case for more than a year, as FURIA have definitely overtaken them in 2020. But last fall, the fans had legitimate hope for MIBR getting back on their feet. This has now been wiped away. The new MIBR lineup will have to start from scratch and drag the brand out of its image slump. Maybe this is too much to ask from these players.