September 19, 2020

FalleN & MIBR – The end of an era?

Roster swaps have been a big part of the Counter-Strike culture, with teams often swapping out one or two members when things don’t go as well as they hoped. The same goes for MIBR, where the organisation recently stepped in and removed Fernando ‘Fer’ Alvarenga, Apitacio ‘Taco’ de Melo and their coach Ricardo ‘dead’ Sinigaglia. This intervention did not sit well with the remaining players however, and has resulted in the veteran Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo stepping down from the active line-up. 

Fallen is a ‘Million Dollar Man’ if you just look at all the prize money he has collected since the start of his competitive CS career. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of that success is in the past, mostly stemming from his time with the SK Gaming organisation. Fallen was the last remaining MIBR player from that era of Brazilian prowess.

The brief build-up to SK FalleN’s dominance

Brazilians have always been able to make things hard for the North American scene, and sometimes step up to do great things against European teams with their slightly more aggressive playstyle. FalleN had been contesting the European dominance from quite early on, finishing 5th-8th in all of the Majors of 2015 whilst part of Keyd Stars and later Luminosity Gaming. Their results were improving throughout the year, getting closer and closer to international wins. They seemingly learned and grew from every encounter at the highest stage of CS and a Major win seemed to be in the cards.

Exactly that happened back in 2016, where FalleN won the MLG Major Championship: Columbus 2016. He went on to win even more events throughout the year and was picked up by SK gaming, winning the ESL One: Cologne 2016 Major in one of the first performances with the organisation. During his time with SK Gaming, FalleN was able to take quite a number of big wins throughout 2016 and 2017. 

FalleN started off well in 2018 with a 3rd-4th place at the Boston Major, only to see the team’s results get worse throughout the first half of the year. This prompted a pickup of Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip just before the transition into the MIBR organisation. 

Inconsistency during the MIBR stay

The first two Majors with the legendary MIBR brand went quite well for FalleN, finishing 3rd – 4th in both the FACEIT Major: London 2018 and the IEM XIII – Katowice Major 2019. It showed promise going into 2019, giving fans hope for another strong era of Brazilian CS with possibly another Major title to be won. The big problem was that for every top four result in 2019 there was almost always a result outside of the top four to back it up. This inconsistency became more and more apparent as FalleN was only able to win the online tournament of Esports Championship Series Season 7 – North America. 

The biggest hit he had to take came during the 2019 season with their performance at the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019, only winning a single map to be kicked out of the tournament and losing their Legend status. Did this mean MIBR was done for? 

Hope in early 2020

Despite some early struggles at Blast Premier: Spring 2020 Regular Season, MIBR was able to bounce back quite strongly at Flashpoint Season 1. Finishing second after losing to MAD Lions sparked new hope just like in 2019. FalleN and his team even followed up by finishing on an equal level with their Brazilian rivals of FURIA Esports at the Blast Premier: Spring 2020 American Showdown and once more by finishing second at the American Finals later that month. Things quickly got out of hand as the ‘Online Era’ of CS continued due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

During a stay in Europe the line-up was unable to perform well against teams that were regarded as weaker opponents when looking at the world rankings. The struggles continued and the organisation felt the need to step in and drastically change the team. FalleN and his teammate Vito ‘kNgV-‘ Giuseppe have spoken publicly about their disagreement when it comes to these changes. FalleN took a stronger approach in the end also stepping down from the active roster, taking some time for himself to think about the next step in his career. In his TwitLonger he also stated that ‘The only thing I’m sure is this isn’t where the game ends for me’.

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Image Credit: ESL
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