Laudable Luminosity, Sublime SK & Brilliant Brazilians

The story of the Brazilian rise to dominance, their maintenance of said dominance and their continued international presence is a magnificent story. Of course, it started before Keyd Stars, with each individual player and their development, but the main story and development of Brazilian dominance started in Keyd Stars, and then escalated from there.

On the 17th of July 2015, the Brazilians made the choice to leave Keyd Stars. Eleven days later, on the 28th of July 2015, Luminosity signed FalleN, fer, boltzz, steel and coldzera, as zqk had split off from the side to join a team called “Project Revolution”.

The new iteration of the Brazilian squad would then go on to compete at ESL One: Cologne 2015 under the Luminosity banner. They were able to get out of groups with a split 1-1 record, winning the second group stage with an overtime win over FlipSide, only to get knocked out 2-0 by Fnatic on Mirage and Train.

At Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015, their result at that major mirrored the result from the Cologne major.

After a close series at IEM San Jose, Luminosity were knocked out 16-13 on Mirage and 19-17 on Overpass.

November 23, 2015 was the day for the side. They had removed steel, boltzz and nak and added TACO, fnx and and zews from Games Academy. This side had come close to glory, placing 2nd at the FACEIT Stage 3 Finals, but could not replicate the same performance at the Pro League Season 2 finals, where they were knocked out in the group stage.

Luminosity had kicked off 2016 in a phenomenal fashion. They placed in the top 4 of the StarLadder i-League StarSeries Finals and then followed it up with back to back 2nd place finishes at Dreamhack Leipzig and IEM Katowice.

They would go on to do something that was unexpected, but a welcome change – they would go on to win the first $1,000,000 major at MLG Columbus 2016. It was a historic moment for Counter-Strike, and for the Brazilian side.

A minor hiccup would quickly follow their major success, and it was in the form of a group stage exit at Dreamhack Malmo at the hands of the Chinese side, TyLoo. The hiccup was quite literally minor, as they were able to go on and win Dreamhack Austin 2016 and the Season 3 Pro League Finals, as well as placing 2nd at the ECS Season 1 Finals.

There was then an organizational change. On the 1st of July 2016, their contracts to Luminosity expired, and they were signed by SK Gaming. As a result of the organizational change, they were disqualified from ELEAGUE Season 1.

SK Gaming’s next event was ESL One: Cologne 2016. They got off on the right foot in their pursuit of a second consecutive major title, beating G2 16-11 on Cobblestone and beating FaZe 16-6 on Cobblestone to go through 2-0 in the group stages.

Their first knockout round opponent was FlipSide Tactics. The Brazilians would beat them 2-0, 16-7 on Mirage and 19-17 on Nuke.

They then would go on to meet the veteran Polish side, Virtus.Pro, and would play them in a series that stretched over three maps. The Brazilians triumphed 2-1, and it looked like it was going to be back to back major titles for this side.

It was as if it was written in the stars, the MLG Columbus semi-finals match would reoccur in Cologne. This time, it was in the finals of the major. Liquid were looking for redemption. After heartbreak on both Mirage and Cache at the Columbus Major, North America’s last hope were looking to take this away from SK Gaming.

Both teams headed into this match looking to make history. For the players in SK Gaming, it would be back to back majors, and for Liquid, it would be the first major for North America in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and it would break a North American trophy drought.

After a close first half on Train (8-7), SK Gaming would run away with 8 consecutive rounds to seal the deal 16-7. The following map, Cobblestone, was a slightly different story. SK dominated their CT half, winning 10-5, and then secured the last 6 rounds (6-1) to win 16-6.

This secured the second consecutive major for the Brazilian side, and they had cemented themselves as legends.

Then, for about 10 months, SK stopped winning. Their form did not decline until much later on, but after winning the major final, the winning ceased. The offline tournament following ESL One: Cologne 2016 was ESL One: New York. It was here, that VP were able to extract revenge on SK for eliminating them in the major by beating them 2-1 in a best of three semi-finals match up.

The tournaments afterwards saw similar results for SK Gaming. A top 4 placing at EPICCENTER, a 2nd place finish at the ESL Pro League Finals in Sao Paolo and then another runners up finish at IEM Oakland.

It was not down to a lack of anything on SK’s part, but moreso the fact that the competition around them was heating up, and it started showing at these events. Around SK’s era of “major dominance”, the “era of all” was beginning to form, where, aside from the majors and the few tournaments SK had won under the Luminosity banner, teams were winning around them. The game was moving away from a one team era of dominance, such as the Fnatic era, and moving towards a competitive era. Overall, SK’s consistent international presence throughout 2016, even during the time of inner issues was frightening.

ELEAGUE Season 2 playoffs would be the last international tournament that SK would play with fnx, with the side revealing that, due to internal issues, that they would be benching him effective immediately and bringing in fox as a stand in.

SK headed into the ECS Season 2 Finals with fox, and it was safe to say that they surprised many. They were able to get through groups and managed to get into the semifinals. SK with fox initially looked shaky, especially at ECS. However, they would impress many at the ELEAGUE Major.

SK progressed from the group stages with a 3-1 record. Beating the likes of HellRaisers, FaZe and Astralis and losing to Na’Vi.

SK Gaming met FaZe in the quarterfinals of the tournament, and ousted the European mix side 2-1 in a best of three. SK looked strong. Despite recording a loss on the initial map (16-7 on Mirage), SK bounced back to win 16-3 on Train and 16-5 on Overpass.

They then would meet Virtus.Pro in the semifinals of the major, in what seemed like a repeat of Cologne. The two maps, Train and Cobblestone, were both hotly contested. However, it was VP that would emerge victorious with a 19-17 and 16-14 scoreline on Train and Cobblestone respectively. This would put an end to SK’s rather impressive run in the major with fox.

The addition of felps occurred on the 5th of February 2017, after swapping fnx for the young Brazilian. Their first event with him was exactly two weeks after his addition, at Dreamhack Vegas, where they placed 2nd after losing out to Virtus.Pro in the finals of the tournament in a hotly contested best of three series, which ended 2-1.

There was a brief, yet concerning dip in form for SK, which occurred over the stretch of two tournaments – IEM Katowice and the StarLadder StarSeries Finals. In these tournaments, SK were eliminated in the group stages.

An interesting note – in these tournaments, despite the regular monster performances from players such as fer and coldzera, SK still lost. The dip in FalleN’s form was something that stuck out during SK’s dip in form. As mentioned previously, despite monster performances from fer and coldzera, the consistency from felps & TACO, it looked like FalleN’s form affected SK’s form.

This dip, albeit short, was rather concerning, because it bode the simple question of “What happened?”. How was it that, so suddenly, a team that had an insane level of consistency dropped off, and so hard? Regardless, SK gave us some kind of answer at cs_summit.

cs_summit was the first Beyond The Summit event for Counter-Strike, and it was something different. It also marked the return of SK – a return to form, and a return to their winning ways. Throughout the duration of the tournament, SK remained in the upper bracket. They made light work of EnVyUs with a nice, clean 2-0 win in the quarterfinals, they bested Cloud9 2-1 in another best of three, beat Gambit with ease 2-0 in the semifinals, and then beat Gambit 3-1 in a best of five finals.

If that was not convincing enough, SK followed this first place victory at cs_summit with a victory at IEM Sydney. They were able to pass through the group stages with a 3-0 record and met OpTic in the opening semifinals match at the Qudos Bank Arena. They made quick work of OpTic and booked themselves a slot in the grand finals vs. eventual opponents, FaZe Clan. FaZe were on their own hot run of form, and it made for an interesting match up. Eventually, SK would win 3-1 to earn themselves another international title. This also emphasised the fact that SK were back, and that they are here to continually assert themselves at an international level once again.

SK were able to continue that level of consistency we saw throughout 2016 by placing in the top four of the Pro League Finals in Dallas.

The rise of the Brazilians since MLG Columbus up until now also sparked an investment in other Brazilian players. A prime, and probably the closest example is the former Games Academy roster. This team, which was HEN1, LUCAS1, SHOOWTIME, felps, boltzz and peacemaker (c), was acquired by Tempo Storm. They saw peacemaker depart and zakk arrive. The roster was then acquired by Immortals. Another investment in Brazilian CS:GO is the former WinOut-now-Luminosity roster.

The dominance and high level of consistency from the Brazilian side also allowed for the emphasis on the ridiculous consistency of individual talents such as coldzera and fer. In victories and in losses, the performances of coldzera and fer are always on another level.

It is naturally harder to show just how good somebody is if they are on a team that either under performs, or if they are on a team that is inconsistent. It is possible to say that a player deserves a better team because they perform on a higher level than their teammates. A prime example of this is NiKo. A player that was a tier above the rest of his teammates, who was able to move to another team and find almost instant success compared to where he was beforehand.

The consistent success and high placing in tournaments for SK adds that emphasis on fer and coldzera’s performances, because those performances can be looked at after the fact, and the conclusion can be drawn that “fer and coldzera were the main catalysts in the victories”. Fer is an incredibly solid rifler and coldzera is a monster with both rifle and AWP. Having an incredibly strong rifler in the form of fer and a lethal hybrid player in the form of coldzera is always frightening.

The fact that they have a solid team around them is a statement that should not need to be said, but is almost forgotten at times. FalleN is a fantastic in game leader that is able to utilise his players and his knowledge of the game is simply outstanding. His tactical depth and ability to read situations is something to be in awe of, and his AWP prowess is outstanding. Meanwhile you have players like TACO, who is one of the most selfless players in Counter-Strike, in terms of willingness to entry frag. His ability to open sites up, blow rounds wide open or even make an impact when necessary should not go unnoticed. Finally, felps is just a player that you can rely on. Simply put, he is an incredibly reliable and consistent player.

The development, construction and rapid improvement of the Brazilian side that started out at Keyd Stars and ended up as SK Gaming is something that is quite phenomenal, and something that will go down in Counter-Strike history. The side boasts some of the best, consistent and intelligent players in the world. The development process, albeit drawn out, has cemented the side that played since Luminosity’s MLG Columbus win until now as legendary.

 

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