Hey kids, it’s time for that new game. The one that’s better than the old game. In fact, you may as well stop playing that old game because this game will KILL that game.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Dexerto.
And look, here’s your favourite streamers and personalities all playing that new game. Not because they are being paid or because keeping eight hours of daily content fresh demands it. No. They are playing it because it is the new game that killed the old game. Are you excited? We’re excited. And remember this game is forever because even though this new game totally killed the old game nothing can kill this game. Certainly not an even newer game that arrives with a bigger fanfare than “new game” draining our playerbase and forcing us to shut down servers just 12 months in. That simply doesn’t happen…
Hey kids, it’s time for that game…
Here we go again. Another developer is talking up their latest attempt to create a game for everyone, something that will arrive with such impact the gaming landscape will be forever changed by the crater it leaves. It will balance casual and competitive players alike and attract a global audience of viewers eager to leave every other esport behind to be at the place where the party is at. Big money tournaments, top streamers and influencers all vouching for it, multi-gaming organisations already signing players and teams. With a road map such as this, how could it possibly fail?
Valorant is Riot Games’ debut into the FPS genre.
This time around I am talking about Valorant, Riot Games first dive into the FPS genre. Given the incredible popularity of League of Legends there is little need to hype its arrival but because this is the new era of esports people are doing it anyway. The game, which only a handful of people have even been hands-on with yet, has been dubbed everything as the Overwatch killer (don’t worry, Blizzard themselves have that covered), the Counter-Strike killer, the next big esport, the first class-based shooter to have mass appeal and quite possibly the greatest FPS of its time, which you will note hasn’t even happened yet.
This, for once, isn’t a dig at Riot though I’m sure many will assume it is. I understand the hustle. This is now just the way of things. Because the release of every game is met with an endlessly whirling hype machine of empty and impossible promises, yours has to be too. If you don’t participate in it the people will assume there is something wrong with your product. It doesn’t matter that the majority of the titles before yours all fell by the wayside like some evolutionary failure just not cut out for existence. No. Those are quickly forgotten about and the prescribed method for “success,” that produces success stories you can count on one hand, is replicated ad nauseum.
The build-up is all about working in tandem with a games press that you as a developer of course loathe because 1) they truly are loathsome and 2) they will publish any old shit you say without reservation provided it generates clicks. Hell, I’m even seeing people praising that charlatan Sean Murray for still failing to provide the promises made on the No Man’s Sky marketing tour because the word consumer and cuckold seems to have become interchangeable somewhere in the last five years.
Valorant wants to be the go-to tactical shooter when it launches in Summer 2020.
The next stage after the deluge of promotion? Push out a “beta” to players and, where preferable, influencers. Don’t worry, this isn’t to actually improve the game in any way and gather feedback. Oh no. Developers don’t want feedback. They already know what’s best. No, this “beta” is just another part of the marketing phase. The game will still be released in an unfinished, broken state to paying customers, but at least they’ll have been whipped up into a frenzy about the exclusive nature of it all. “Can I get in” they’ll ask and the answer is “almost certainly, if you’re one of the percentage of arbitrary handouts our company makes in a bid to try and establish a playerbase prior to its full release.” But no, you’re special for sure.
Influencers have changed the landscape somewhat. Where YouTube critics were once an alternative to the games press clique that sold their soul for goodie bags and free T-shirts, increasingly the zoomers take their cues from influencers and avoid the “alternative media.” A good thing they do too since as we all know anyone taking views and attention away from corporate-owned media are part of a sinister, Russian controlled cabal of “alt-right” Svengalis that want to overthrow America.
The problem? Well, influencers sell their influence and developers are very much in the market to buy it. Now every game release is met with a coordinated campaign of taking as many top YouTubers and live streamers they can round up to a secret location and lavishing them with VIP treatment, incentives and access. Even if one influencer isn’t deemed “brand safe” enough for the developer in question, they also know that they’ll probably have to play the game once it’s out anyway. If they don’t they lose views to their competitors.
And then the release, usually with some form of early access for those who have paid money for other products somewhere down the line, just to encourage one more milking of the old cash cow before she is given the bolt to the brain and carved up into cheap cuts of meat. That first month is everything and you will very quickly know whether you have a hit on your hands or not. A flop can kill a studio stone dead, a breakout and you’re free to do it all over again once the well runs dry. Yet in time even almost all of the winners meet the same fate, a dwindling player base that prompts the developer to unplug the life-support of the servers and let the game fade into memory. Remember the good times, not how it was at the end. It’s kinder this way.
I’m glossing over the actual development of the game but that’s OK because so does everyone else. Let us instead focus on this endless boom and bust of excitement and disappointment that has become the norm and ask ourselves the most important existential question of all time; “when are we going to learn?”
Valorant features an economy system not unlike CS:GO’s.
Not any time soon it seems. Already people are out there desperately trying to get in on the ground floor of a building that hasn’t even been built yet. Twitter accounts posing as being loosely affiliated with the game dupe people into retweets and gain tens of thousands of followers in hours. Commentators commit to being the voice of the game before they have access. Influencers, despite having agents and managers for these things, talk about how they are desperate for access and upload jump-cut heavy reactions to gameplay videos to their YouTube channels. It’s the same shit every time.
We exist in the universe where people seem to have forgotten about Cliff Bleszinski’s endless protestations about Lawbreakers being a gamechanger, and it receiving solid critical reviews, the game was dead on arrival for a variety of reasons. Other options from bigger studios, a weak marketing campaign, endless tiresome clickbait headlines generated from the quotes of someone who has become more meme than man. By October 12th, 2017 the game achieved a laughable 10 peak players.
Always trying to be mindful of any of my own hypocrisy I must point out I myself have done this too and for a game that spectacularly bombed. Valve’s Artifact had all the hallmarks of being something special. The Dota 2 intellectual property, an integrated way to purchase cards because of the Steam Market, design by Richard Garfield the genius behind Magic The Gathering and Netrunner (also lowkey Jyhad, his Vampire The Masquerade card game, was the shit in the 90s according to my nostalgia addled brain) and the fact it was a Valve game should have made this a slam dunk for success. And man was there excitement about this, the groan-inducing reveal at The International notwithstanding. Valve were so confident in its success they announced a $1 million prize tournament for it, which of course never happened.
Yet the game went on to be Valve’s biggest flop, one of the biggest gaming failures of all time. Why? Well, a bunch of reasons. It is well established behind the scenes that influencers who had access spent too much time fawning over the product rather than provide honest feedback for some of its key balance issues. They were worried about offending the developer and not getting access to other games in the future. There was no mobile edition. The fact it wasn’t free-to-play was also a terrible move and showed how Valve were behind the curve of what expectations were in the modern gaming marketplace. The prices for cards didn’t help that, with packs costing $1.99 or you could pay $3.75 for event tickets to win cards from game modes, or failing that buy them directly. Of course, in that first week prices had spiraled out of control and buying an at the time imbalanced card like Axe cost more than the game itself. Balancing the game was itself going to be a nightmare. How could you fundamentally change cards that people had paid real money for, without offering them something in return? I guess we’ll never know.
It also didn’t help that Garfield, even if he was speaking truthfully, was publicly providing a message that could be distilled down to “the consumers are idiots.” The complaints were that the game gouged them financially and was too RNG driven even by card game standards. “A lot of the issues the players have, that there have been complaints about, there’s demonstrable information to the contrary” Garfield was quoted as saying. “So, for example, when players complain about the luck in the game, there is demonstrably more skill in this game than in any other digital trading card game as measured by the Elo rating that players achieve. So there’s this complaint but there’s this black and white contradiction to it. For people complaining about the price, there’s a complaint about how much money it costs, but there’s a black and white contradiction in the sense that if you want to be competitive in a game like say Hearthstone or Magic, you have to pay far more.”
All irrelevant now as Artifact has achieved “dead game” status, just 155 peak players this month down from the 46,456 from its release. It is another high-cost entry into the games graveyard, resting eternally now alongside APB, Evolve, Battleborn, Duke Nukem Forever, Haze, Rift, H1Z1, Godus, Star Wars Battlefront, Mass Effect Andromeda Fallout 76, Atlas, War Z, Anthem… It’s a long list and that’s before I even get started on the shit I don’t buy, like people are still playing Apex Legends and Overwatch in droves. Time will tell on those fronts.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of games that arrived to a comparatively modest fanfare and have slowly and steadily continued to grow, building dedicated player-bases and competitive scenes along the way. Warframe, Rocket League, Rainbow Six, Path of Exile… Even the titans of esports that we know today started out quietly and slowly grew over a period of many years. There remains no formula for success that can be replicated. It’s not even a case of “if the game is good, it will succeed.” Quality, perceptions, social convention, societal trends, other cultural phenomena that are occurring at the time of release… Not even Paul Atreides could figure out the golden path in the games industry.
Rainbow Six Siege released to a somewhat muted reaction, but has naturally built a large and loyal playerbase.
That said, it’s clear that developers and consumers consistently set themselves up for a fall, the former by propagating impossible to meet promotion and the latter by continually believing it despite examples that prove such faith to be foolish. There is a worrying hubris about public quotes such as “being good at playing a certain character in a video game is valuable, but I think I’ll take the 200+ collective years of professional game design experience” when discounting feedback from players. Finding the balance between pandering to your players and executing a creative vision you believe in is another factor that can dictate success after the post-honeymoon period wears off.
From what I’ve seen so far Valorant wears its influences on its sleeve. It is very clearly trying to court disillusioned Overwatch and Counter-Strike players. The list of early assurances – 128 tick servers, pioneering anti-cheat, removal of peekers advantage – is a laundry list of Counter-Strike complaints that will all peak disgruntled players’ interest. Beyond that, the gameplay footage released so far has been pedestrian and derivative of other established titles. Proceed with caution and don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of your own publicity would be my advice. Tempering expectations now wouldn’t be a bad strategy. After all is said and done people have less patience than ever before and will give less time before they depart for the next thing that is bigger and louder than yours.
The second part of an exploration into MiBR’s legacy and their core players who were once the unquestioned faces of competitive CS:GO, but had their prestige eroded by skirting conflicts of interest, consistently poor performances, and more. (You can read the full first part of this post here)
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by Dexerto.
Where we left off last time we were about to segue into another reason why the MiBR core had gone on to become so disliked by common fans; and that was their litany of excuses they come up with to explain away defeats. However, in the few days between publishing this second and final piece, something extraordinary happened.
The team’s long-standing coach and manager, Ricardo ‘dead’ Sinigaglia, was given a six-month ban from participating in ESL competitions for using an in-game bug to ascertain information about the opposite team. The offense, ESL said, took place during the Road to Rio competition places the violation squarely in the same timeframe as the team went off the deep end with public allegations made against Chaos and their young players, going into an apoplexy that ruined the reputation and compromised the safety of two young and upcoming players.
Of course, Singaglia went down the predictable route of feigned confusion and denial, claiming he had been sent a clip from the CS Summit 6 event that showed the bug in action against Triumph. The clip he made public was, of course, edited to make it look like it was a simple error that garnered them no advantage at all. When the full clip was posted it showed Singaglia not only following Triumph players around on a crucial pistol round but also his teammates then lying about the coach being AFK after the round was won.
Beyond The Summit took the decision to ban Singaglia from the next two of their events and retroactively disqualify MiBR from the event. Valve have also subsequently stripped them of all Regional Major Ranking points, which is less of a punishment as CS:GO Majors have been canceled for the foreseeable future.
With these latest sanctions issued against MiBR they are the only professional team in CS:GO history to have been caught and punished three times for cheating at major events. The timing of these revelations is too perfect and underlines everything stated in the first part: these players think rules do not apply to them while publicly masquerading as the only honest competitors in a rotten scene.
Conflict Of Interest Violations
Speaking candidly I was surprised that ESL took action at all given that there was an even more egregious violation of competitive rules enacted by the Brazilians. On the 23rd of April 2020, in the North American Road To Rio competition for the Valve sanctioned CS:GO Major, MiBR took on another Brazilian team simply called “Yeah.” The brand name is another throwback to Counter-Strike 1.6 and thanks to some investors they were resurrected at the start of 2018. Now here for the potential to play in the biggest tournament in the CS:GO calendar, they were taking on MiBR for the first time since their return to action. This sounds like a great story, right? Well, if you look a little closer you’ll find plenty that will make you realize that this match should never have happened and would not have happened in any other professional sport.
Let’s start with those investors. Can you guess who they are? As the kids say “it’s ya boi” Epitácio ‘TACO’ de Melo and the aforementioned and freshly banned Singaglia. Both of them are in for a 25% share each, giving them essentially a controlling influence in the team through direct ownership alone.
MiBR and Yeah Gaming played a qualifier match in April for ESL One: Road to Rio.
You might recall that back in November of 2019 Valve said they were going to have a big clampdown on conflict of interests in the competitive CS:GO space. This came after years of work from beat journalists, myself included, having to catch multiple moneymen with their hands all the way in the monopolistic cookie jar. I’ve been doing it for years and at great cost to my bank balance, sanity and hairline (still not insisting broadcasts allow me to wear a hat yet though.) “Finally,” I thought reading this blog, “I have dented the financial membrane of Valve and got them to care about the thing that matters most to any competitive pursuit; its integrity.”
I must have temporarily forgotten I was referring to a game developer, which is easily done with Valve at times. In the grand scheme of priorities, the top three of which are all variations of “add gold to the hoard,” the matter of allowing player-owned teams to compete against the players that own those teams are so way down it’d give you vertigo to look at them. Combine that with the usual lack of communication (Valve’s philosophy is “we’ll tell you when something happens we don’t like or if it upsets China.”)
Incredibly this game was scheduled despite the fact that the players had disclosed ownership in writing prior to the competition. And to be fair, it was no secret to begin with. Yet there is something beyond distasteful about a team who have spent so much time complaining about how they are victimized by big tournament organizers seemingly oblivious to just what was being ignored here. Oh, and it gets worse.
The parent company of MiBR, the Immortals Gaming Club, are such suckers for all things Brazilian they’ve either bought all the businesses their players own or created working business relationships with them. So it is that the parent company of MiBR pays an annual fee to Yeah that enables them to buy any two players they wish from the organization at “an agreed-upon price.” This means that Yeah is in essence the academy team for MiBR. And they played against them in a qualifier. For the Major.
MiBR beat Yeah Gaming 2-0 in their opening match on the Road to Rio.
Incredibly the result still stands to this day and neither team has been disqualified. Valve completely bottled the issue when, in a statement to HLTV.org, they went back on their previous stance and instead said: “The sole requirement for ESL One: Road to Rio was that participating teams disclose existing conflicts of interest and that those disclosures be made public so that the community can have an opportunity to discuss them.”
I’ve been covering Counter-Strike now for over fifteen years. I’m qualified to say this. The average fan doesn’t even understand what a conflict of interest is, let alone grasp why it matters within the context of a tournament. While there was discussion in the CSGO community, these were punctuated with the usual moronic arguments; “why does it matter” or “are you saying that Yeah would throw a game just because they were told” or “But Yeah are so bad they can’t beat MiBR anyway.” That last one becomes especially hilarious when you consider their recent defeat against the team ranked 64th in the world Wisla Krakow.
So, even though there are multiple pathways in which a match between these two teams could be compromised, the “resolution” was for Valve and ESL to come to an agreement that as long as MiBR divest themselves before the Major itself in November (which, let’s be real, isn’t happening anyway) it is perfectly fine for any matches prior to that, such as qualifiers for that tournament, to be compromised. Man, people really do pick on those MiBR guys, don’t they?
Why Does Everybody Pick On The MiBR Guys?
There are few groups of players as humorless as the core of MiBR who’ve shown themselves to be over their careers. Despite the numerous examples of clearly preferential treatment they have received over their careers they seem to remain utterly convinced that everyone is out to get them. The record shows them to be some of the most widely praised players in the history of the game, their dominant era seeing them rightly showered with plaudits. By the same token, there is a significant blind spot in the community when it comes to behavior that would see other entities “canceled” in the current environment. I won’t get into the fact that the players have openly supported Jair Bolsonaro because, frankly, we should all be tired of playing the very American ‘gotcha game’ that the Twitterati have made a national pastime. However, there are some actions that usually carry consequences.
Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, the Black Lives Matter movement gained significant momentum in carrying its message to a much wider global audience. This brought with it a wave of corporate statements keen to capitalize on positive messaging at this time. MiBR were no different. On the 1st of June they posted a message to their official Twitter account in both Portuguese and English. It read: “No to fascism. Yes to respect. No to racism. Yes to diversity. Killing? Just in a game. In real life, just life. The only acceptable supremacy is respect for our differences. The differences unite us, and the respect doesn’t separate us.”
Não ao fascismo. Sim ao respeito. Não ao racismo. Sim à pluralidade. Matar? Só no jogo. Na vida, só vida.
Fernando ‘Fer’ Alvarenga streams on Twitch regularly by professional player standards. During a broadcast just two days after MiBR’s statement about respecting differences and rejecting notions of supremacy, Alvarenga made comments to a viewer that his straight hair was “good” and that the viewer’s Afro-textured hair was making them angry. This also has significant cultural overtones given Brazil’s long-standing history of racism towards the country’s population that are of African descent, including a period in their history where they implemented eugenics to increase the European descended population. The message in and of itself is horrendous with this analysis but the timing of it, the way it actively contradicted MiBR’s public stance, meant that it would be almost impossible to ignore. Almost.
MiBR’s response was to put out an apology only in Portuguese, one would assume to avoid the wider world noticing their acknowledgment of the player’s culpability. There was nothing directly from Alvarenga.
As is the usual strategy for the organization their statement went to great lengths to explain how words can sometimes be divorced from intent. “We all know, sometimes, language or phrases have, if taken to the extreme, a set of implications or meanings disconnected from the speaker’s intention” their apology read. “However, it cannot be an excuse to hide behind it. Fer knows and recognizes this type of language feeds a narrative that is wrong and deeply damaging. Instead of hiding, he faced the problem and apologized.” The story did the rounds but, despite it being the worst possible thing to say at the worst possible time, nothing really came of it. Weird, given the extreme amount of bias and hostility that the players believe they face.
So, I’ll just state it plainly: had this been someone from any other team, broadcast or media company, they would have been fired and on an indefinite vacation. Inflammatory, racially dividing statements at a time when people were addressing systemic racial inequality would have been, rightly, viewed as inappropriate for any other professional. When you factor in that Alvarenga had been banned from Twitch previously for using racial epithets to describe who he was playing within America it’s hard to fathom how MiBR players think they have anything other than an incredibly privileged position in the esports landscape.
Despite MiBR’s claims that the player had been fined and warned it doesn’t seem that the player learned any significant lessons about expressing bigotry on his platform. The same month, following the aforementioned dispute with Furia, Alvarenga went on a tirade about the Furia players that made some charged comments about “taking it in the ass” and “not being a man.” This was ignored by all parties.
kNg – The Law Unto Himself
Vito ‘kNg’ Giuseppe is a relative newcomer to top tier Counter-Strike. He has, however, wasted no time in establishing himself as belonging squarely in the company of his fellow teammates when it comes to both talent and consistently unprofessional behavior. There isn’t a single person in the Counter-Strike scene who isn’t aware of his meltdown at DreamHack Montreal while representing Immortals but I’ll provide a summary. The Brazilian roster, then a top ten team in the world, was late to a competitive match against CLG. The admins gave them a warning but took no further action. They won the match and made it to the final where they would face North. Having a few hours of downtime between matches they went back to their hotel rooms and somehow managed to sleep through the call time. This being their second late showing the admins made them forfeit the first map. They would go on to lose to the Danes.
Now, as a point of information, it was widely stated by many attendees at the event that three of the players from the squad, Giuseppe being one of them, had been seen out drinking late the night before. The sheer volume of people claiming this never gave me cause to doubt it as being true but if you harbor any doubts in your mind the team captain at the time, Lucas ‘steel’ Lopes, said that while he didn’t think they were partying hard or that they went to a club, he said they were at the hotel bar late the night before.
As always what was fed back across the internet was likely an exaggerated version of the truth. Equally, these players, despite claiming it was jet lag that made them late, clearly weren’t feeling those effects bad enough to have an early night before must-win matches.
Anyway, CLG’s in-game leader Pujan ‘FNS’ Mehta tweeted a joke that it sucked to lose to players who were hungover and Giuseppe lost his mind. In a tweet that has now gone down in Counter-Strike history, he resorted immediately to death threats. “You’ll prove it or I’ll kill you” he said. It would transpire this wasn’t a quaint turn of phrase. Giuseppe was actively seen trying to find Mehta with the intent to assault him.
CSGO pro KNG’s response to FNS. The tweet has since been deleted.
While this ultimately set of a chain of events, that not only saw him removed from Immortals but also ended up having a huge negative impact on the upcoming Major, there was never any formal action from DreamHack. For a company that is on the record publicly as having stated that everyone must feel safe at their events, when a competitor tried to assault another one they took absolutely no action nor even addressed the matter publicly.
Of course, if they were being consistent, the player would have been banned from attending their events for a period of time and, in line with the code of conduct guidelines in the handbook, would have forfeited a percentage of his winnings. Instead, he was issued with zero penalty from the tournament he disgraced.
Hello Violence My Old Friend
We can all agree that there is no place for violence spilling over from what should be a spirited competition. Giuseppe’s Montreal incident is widely regarded as the worst of its kind, although Singaglia and de Melo threatening Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev’s life over a throwaway in-game knife could just as easily be brought to the discussion. However, what isn’t talked about as much publicly is when one of the Brazilian entourage that was brought to the PGL Major in Krakow actually assaulted a professional player at the event’s after-party.
Although I wasn’t personally in attendance the story has been told to me many times by those who were. It has mostly been covered up due to the combination of embarrassment and obviously the fact that there should carry some form of reprisals. Removing any embellishments from the story, here are the consistent facts that all present parties have repeated independently.
Esports after-parties generally tend to take place before the event has finished because it’s cheaper to do so. In this case, the event took place the day before the final, which featured the Brazilian team Immortals taking on the Kazakhstanis of Gambit. Markus ‘Kjaerbye’ Kjærbye, then playing for Astralis who had beaten the other Brazilian team of SK Gaming 2-0 in the quarter-finals, approached the group of Brazilian players from both teams who were together.
He made some seemingly disparaging comments that downplayed the likelihood of Immortals playing in many more finals in their careers, a comment that is often paraphrased as “enjoy the final you probably won’t play in many more” and a fracas ensued where one of the group assaulted the Danish player. This is widely accepted as a brother of one of the SK Gaming’s squad, although in the subsequent squabble it seemed even Kjærbye himself was unsure of who had done it. It is also worth noting that depending on who you ask the assault varies from a full-blown punch to the face or a finger being poked close to the eye of the player.
A now-deleted tweet from Kjærbye confirms the incident as having taken place, although due to his reputed intoxication it seems he aimed the tweet at a German racing driver. Fellow Dane Mathias ‘MSL’ Lauridsen also made light of the incident with a tweet at the time, with some fans who claimed to have witnessed the incident responding to him.
When it comes down to how I should view this incident, I am conflicted. I’ve been around sports my entire life and I’ve seen how quickly adults can behave like children when emotions are running high. Mix alcohol in with that and we all know what it can lead to.
I was raised on legends from the Welsh rugby team tours of the 80s and 90s, the insane antics of American wrestlers, and the rivalries of the golden age of the Premier League. As such, a part of me wants to file this story away on a mental shelf next to all of these, something to be saved for an esports speaking tour or a book. Yet by the same token, I know that violence is completely inexcusable and has no place at an event.
Competitors shouldn’t need to worry about being assaulted over trash talk or banter, which Counter-Strike fans agree is a part of what makes our esport stand out from the more sanitized, developer-controlled ones out there. It also cannot escape my attention that the most notable incident of an assault at a sizable Counter-Strike event just so happened to involve players who have actively threatened to assault other players. The fact that everyone with knowledge of the incident has a silent agreement to essentially never speak of it again may very well show a sensible maturity, but what would we say if another incident were to happen involving the same figures? We’d probably ask why they hadn’t been banned.
The answer to that is simple. We have collectively agreed to treat those with a certain level of status in our scene preferentially. As I can attest to personally, as someone who has been publicly smeared and castigated for five years over an act of self-defense, not all of us get to feel that benefit.
Excuses By The Bucketload
Another thing happened while I was working on this article. I was sent a thread from the forums of CS:GO’s leading coverage site HLTV.org. It was an update of an earlier thread that hadn’t attained much notoriety entitled “MiBR excuse list.” While I had planned to address some of the excuses as another example of how the players had tarnished their own legacy, this thread did include a few that even I had forgotten about. Sure, the thread does include some unsourced claims that I wouldn’t take as being the gospel truth but it shows that the fans are becoming increasingly cognizant of the lack of accountability the players display. After the latest round of drama, the thread has now been updated an additional five or six times.
Rather than rehash a forum thread here let me simply select some of the choice examples that have come from the team’s in-game leader Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo. Like a lot of great former champions, he seems to have fallen into the trap of believing in his mind that there are always explanations for losses that go beyond simply understanding that you weren’t good enough. Right now, you would hope that they would be waking up to that reality as, at the time of writing this, the team has lost matches to rosters that fall outside of the top fifty ranked teams in the world. This includes a loss to Copenhagen Flames who are ranked #75. Few excuses have been forthcoming lately but let’s take a look at some of Toledo’s greatest hits.
There’s the obligatory reminder that he claimed players were cheating when they lost to Chaos worth repeating as his fans peddle the lie he never directly accused anyone. At the 2018 Boston Eleague CS:GO Major, the schedule meant one team would have to play twice in one day. It was randomly attributed to his team. He peddled a conspiracy intimating that Eleague had somehow been biased towards his team, relating it to their disqualification for moving organizations partway through the inaugural season.
3 blatant aimlocks in the same series? that way? 😮
When they lost to Astralis at IEM Katowice 2018, it was because the PCs were randomly tabbing out in-game. At the same tournament, he said the headsets were so uncomfortable it was unplayable. After having gone on a poor run of losing pistol rounds around this time he publicly said that one pistol in particular, the CZ, was too overpowered and should be removed from the game. Even though there was nothing stopping them from using it too, it wasn’t a gun that their squad naturally gravitated towards. Just a coincidence.
Ggwp astralis sick second match, unfortunately PCS were randomly alttabing and opening prompt come window and last round it happened to cold in the clutch situation. 0-2 we play gambit or tyloo tomorrow
During the FACEIT Major in London, where they had an early scare by losing against TyLoo, he complained about the tournament PCs not performing well despite the spec being in line with what most tournaments use. When they lost to TyLoo at the Asian Championships in 2019 it would be the flu, not PCs, that was to blame. Oh, and most recently, when they failed to beat Mad Lions after they choked in the finals of the Flashpoint League earlier this year, the reason they lost was that the tournament system didn’t give them more of an advantage for having been undefeated prior to that point. This is especially hilarious given the caliber of the team in the league and the fact that it was the easiest lay-up in the world for them to take the title.
How can a 1080 + i7 7700 3.6ghz have a bad performance and 220fps or less during encounters? The feeling is just awful. Hopefully the tournament real pcs will be performing better
We need better advantage for winner bracket team on finals. Second tournament we play there is barely no advantage. I have seen on the past: bo5 where winner bracket team has 1 map advantage, bo3 of bo3 (lower team needs 2 bo3 wins), map pick before veto.
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means and only spans the last two years. It is also only Toledo’s excuses and, take it from me, the other players on the roster have all learned from the best when it comes to explaining away defeats as being circumstances beyond their control.
It’s good to see the wider community recognizing it for what it is. No sports fan likes competitors that can’t be gracious and humble in defeat. This is because in many ways it is the ultimate insult to the victor, a way to strip their moment of its luster and make it about yourself. Whatever you do though, don’t ever criticize them publicly about this or imply they might have lost their hunger.
A Fundamental Inability To Accept Criticism
As a public figure, criticism will come your way. Not all criticism is valid. A lot of it is coming from people that aren’t in any position to offer informed critiques because they are profoundly ignorant as to what they are talking about. Think the sports fan who is absolutely adamant about how they can fix the team they support without knowing anything about how the players train or interact with each other. They express themselves as you’d expect… Red-faced morons whose ignorance is only eclipsed by the confidence that they are right. You’ll have to hear those people, but you don’t have to listen to them.
However, in sports, there are those whose job it is to critique what you do. Many players feel these people are as equally clueless as the angry fans, and that is true in some cases, but certainly not the majority. Commentators, analysts, pundits and journalists religiously watch the games and are also privy to information shared behind the scenes. We know when a team is breaking down due to in-fighting. We know when in-game leaders are looking for someone new to add to the squad. We know when contracts are expiring and when players want to get a better deal. We know when orgs are shopping around a star player they can no longer afford. All of this gives insight and perspective that players sometimes don’t take into consideration when it comes to putting out an opinion.
Most players do understand that it is part of the business though. The MiBR guys have consistently lashed out at anyone either criticizing them or even making lighthearted jokes at their expense. It was this behavior towards Chaos, a team containing a young player whose reputation has been ruined by their claims, that was the last straw for me. The MiBR core enjoy an unbelievably privileged position in the esports landscape. They are, seemingly regardless of how badly they act, national heroes. They bring huge viewing numbers whenever they play, meaning tournament organizers and broadcasters will look to accommodate them in ways that other teams do not have the luxury of. They are paid a huge salary, one of the largest in Counter-Strike, without even the expectation to achieve results commensurate to their reputation and ranking. There is no oversight when they step out of line. Their coach is a lifelong friend and business partner. Their employer is also in business with them on several projects. They are completely untouchable and can act with impunity.
Because of all this, it leaves an especially bad taste in the mouth when you lash out at a young social media manager for implying that, due to bad results, you might be missing a legendary former member of your squad. It is beyond petty to take to Twitter to lash out at a broadcaster who says that you appear to have lost the hunger you had in 2016 (which would be an understandable reality by the way) and whine endlessly about how hard you work. The truly mean-spirited would point out if you’re working so hard and failing so consistently it might be time to quit. There were no such suggestions here because people still remember the Brazilian core of old.
Easy to come with smack talk and say we lost hunger and that is why you don’t see us succeeding anymore, as said today by @OnFireSemmler on a interview. You have no idea how much we work and how much we invest ourselves on trying to be the best.
We remember the team that came from nowhere to shock the world and win the country’s first CS:GO Major. We remember the style and swagger, the never-say-die attitude that meant until 16 rounds were on the board you could never be counted out of a match. We allowed the gamesmanship because it came alongside a healthy dose of showmanship. And we remember the gestures of giving back to the scene such as streaming to raise money for South African team Bravado because of their desire to come from a scene hampered by a lack of economic opportunity but go on to be among the best mirrored your own journey.
Since joining MiBR this has become a distant memory. Now what remains is a group of players too egotistical to see their own faults and labor under the delusion that everything else has changed while they remained the same. You’ve shown spite to your fellow pros, including youngsters who aspire to be like you. You’ve cheated while accusing the innocent of cheating themselves. You’ve diminished the achievements of teams that right now are better than you. In doing all of this you have taken a brand that should be a source of national pride and turned it into a bad joke, one that will never recover from the reputational damage you have all done to it. When your old colleague Lincoln ‘fnx’ Lau said “if MiBR comes back it will be a joke in my humble opinion, they will ruin a name that was once well represented” he couldn’t have known how right he would be.
Regardless of whether or not this farce is allowed to continue by the people that sign the checks after two years, it is too late to change what you’ve turned your legacy in to. It could have been one of the greatest stories esports had ever seen. Instead, it has become the all too typical one about unchecked power, ego and greed, and we had plenty of those already.