Luminosity Gaming is competing in MAX5 Invitational, a CS:GO tournament involving the top teams from South America and being organized in Brazil’s first dedicated eSports arena, the X5 Arena.
With a surprising 2015 season, Luminosity Gaming has been acquiring a lot of experience on the international CS: GO scene. Back in Brazil, Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo gave an interview to the Draft5 team in the midst of fans looking for photographs and autographs.
Fallen is Luminosity’s main AWPer, in-game leader and also an entrepreneur. Besides being a high-level player, he runs Games Academy, a website with the purpose of teaching CS:GO, wich made of him a big name in the CS:GO scene.
(Original Interview by Draft5’s Rafael “Rafo” Veiga. Translation by Draft5’s Pedro “PedroFTW” Rodrigues)
You had a great year with LG last year, making Brazil a known region in international CS:GO again. Were you expecting this kind of success? How was 2015 in your opinion?
I wasn’t expecting it. To be honest, in the beginning of the year, I couldn’t imagine that all of that was going to happen. Counter Strike was moving slowly here in Brazil, even though we were trying to promote it, investments always take some time to flow around here, we love this country, but it’s hard to make things happen. When the year started the team had no perspective of reaching the place we’re in right now.
A big championship was organized, the MLG in January, that financially shipped us out of the country. The organization paid our trip, hotel and everything else. That helped us a lot, in a time we had no structure. That was the championship that put our team into the world’s radar. Logically only going to the championship it’s not enough, you need human material, a quality team that can draw the attention.
We were able to get all of that, went to the championship, beat an American team ( Cloud9) that was the strongest on the region and from that moment on, all eyes were on us. Bit by bit, with the help of the community, we started to trail our path to this point. This year was really nice for us.
You mentioned the community’s help. A crowdfunding took place for you to go to Poland, to attend ESL One Katowice 2015. How big was the pressure on the team knowing that you had the challenge to represent Brazil internationally, a community that supported and believed in you? What was going trough your mind leading those players into the tournaments?
Well, I’ve been playing (CS:GO) for a long time, I know how to handle this situation in a better way than most. Imagine this, you are out there, in a country you don’t know, without the money to go to a championship and you take the risk of staying there, hoping that the community will understand your need and they will help you. When it comes to this, our team can trust the (Brazilian) community, especially because they are with me since the beginning of my career within Counter-Strike. I always kept them close to me and I’m grateful for that. The community is my greatest gift. The fact that they like me and support my projects.
When we set out to play the Major qualifiers we were under a huge pressure, every eye in Brazil was locked in us and they were thinking “We sent them there, let’s see what they can get.”. So it wasn’t just about us, it was about the guys that funded us as well. We wanted to do that for them. I think I was able to help my team in that championship and we managed to get the, so long dreamed about, spot in one of the biggest championships in the world.
When you compare the FalleN right now, after a season playing in the USA, with the FalleN that left the country last year what are the main differences in terms of skill, tactical knowledge, and leadership?
I’ve been evolving as a player, as a leader, even as a person. I think I’m learning a lot as time goes by, meeting new people, new ways of thinking. Each person that is or was a part of my team is different, and I’ve always had a great group of people around me. Today, I have the most talented Brazilian players by my side.
When it comes down to skill, to be honest, I was good, I was way better than what I am right now. I’m still doing my part for the team, I’m still important in a lot of matches but I remember that in the past the team was dependent on me showing up and not always winning. Winning it’s our real goal. I don’t want to be a star, don’t want to be the top fragger. I want to lead my friends, and if we can leave with the victory, for me, that’s what matters. I’m not really worried about skill. Now that we’re coming back from vacations I feel like I’m a little bit behind, missing a few shots, but I’m conducting the team well, we’re getting our victories here at MAX5 and that’s actually being a good preparation for Starladder, wich we’ll be playing next week.
Luminosity’s team was always calm, tactical, planting the C4 in the last seconds of the round. With the addition of fnx, Taco, that are aggressive players and your new coach zews, do you think your playstyle will change or it just expands your tactical options?
First of all, the game changed recently and now we have longer rounds, we’ll see how that impacts the international teams and we’ll change with it too, in the end, we will adapt to it. Counter-Strike is really complicated, it seems simple for the fans, but if you are the one thinking about the meta-game and about what the other teams are doing, you’ll notice that it’s not so simple.
Currently, we’re trying simpler things, a more objective approach, using the skill we have. The truth is that when we’re playing internationally, we’re playing with the legends, playing with the best, but if you compare it side by side, we have the human material, the firepower to win against these teams with simpler tactics. We’re simplifying our game so that everyone’s individual skill is flowing because we have a lot of potential with that.
You had a little problem against Na’Vi last year. You weren’t able to win many Bo3’s against them and even though you managed to reach the playoffs in most tournaments you played, you couldn’t reach the title. How is Luminosity Gaming preparing itself for 2016?
Against Na’Vi, just to clarify, many of these matches were close losses. 16-14, 16-13, OT defeats, so then you think about it it’s not a huge difference because if we’ve won one more round, we could have made it. But Na’Vi is an excellent team, they ended the season as the third best in the world, it’s a team that grew a lot this year, like us.
When we lost to them we got frustrated, but they beat everyone else as well. We need to respect them, to take our hat off for them, they have good players like Flamie and GuardiaN.
Our expectation for 2016 is to achieve more than what we got last year. Keep up with our work, stay in love with the game, dedicated and keep feeling the drive to play, because when this drive ends, it’s time to stop playing. We’re going to keep focused so we can bring home a trophy, the Brazilian community deserves one.
Let’s talk a little bit about Brazil. We’re having a relatively big tournament right at the beginning of the year showing that CS:GO is becoming a bigger trend in the country. What it’s your opinion on the evolution of our teams, the competition between them and the competitivity of the scene as a whole?
This arena (MAX5), to be honest, is one of the biggest and most important things happening for eSports in Brazil right now. This championship could take place in a place without the crowd, and it would take out the fun of it. It’s really nice to have direct contact with the fans, feeling their affection makes all the difference. The arena is perfect to cast eSports in the country so that organizations from the outside can see that a high-quality championship is happening here, with a fixed venue, with the fans playing in LAN, here at the Freeplay area. This investment X5 is making here, it’s not small, a heavy investment in Brazilian eSports and I hope it achieves a lot of success. I’ll do everything I can to help these guys. We need this arena working.
Wich teams you think that can leave the country to break into the international scene besides Luminosity and Games Academy?
In this moment, we are living a process where players that were really good and had a lot of experience in the past (1.6, Source) are coming back. They are still adapting, gaining knowledge in the game again, getting back on the track. Who knows, maybe in 5, maybe 6 months we’ll see these players at their top level again. When that happens, we will see good teams. Right now, I don’t really think they will leave the country, they still have a lot to learn about the game.
Do you think that there is still the need for a team to leave the country (Brazil) to play full-time?
It’s still necessary if you want to compete at a high-level. Since the scene is heating up here, we have 5 good teams playing inside Brazil, these guys will be able to evolve by themselves, against each other they will reach another level. There are a lot of events showing up actually, that never happened in South America before. It’s really nice, because we get the chance to play in a big event. We had to go to Cologne to do that before, now it’s happening right here.
It’s heating up, these teams will have better opportunities, that LG didn’t get last year, and it’s up to them to show up and perform, after all, you need to show results, to draw attentions, and I’m sure a lot of teams will have this opportunity, wich is the key to their success.
You played against Virtus.Pro in Poland, against NiP and Fnatic in Sweeden. The crowd was obviously a difference in the game. What it’s like to come back to Brazil, play in front of your fans?
It makes a huge difference, the Brazilian fan is different. You can feel the energy coming from them. Some people traveled 2000Km to be here, people who got into a bus, who took their cars to be here. You can see that they love it. This makes me feel very proud, it makes me feel good. I try to give them back this affection. When we play here on the stage, everyone is cheering together, celebrate each round and to me, that makes all the difference in the world.