Brazil came to reach the top of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) scene with great players. The highlight is undeniable and is marked in the history of esports, but little is known about the national CS:GO scene in the international media. Even Brazillian team FURIA eSports is based in the United States, while the famous multi-champion roster with Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo de Alcântara Sguario and Marcelo “Coldzera” Augusto David played under the banners of Luminosity Gaming, based in the United States, and SK Gaming, an organization based in Germany. Even today, the team MiBR (Made in Brazil), formed by Fallen and Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, is owned by the American organization Immortals.
Efforts to develop the local CS:GO scene have grown in recent years, with the esports market development company Gamers Club creating the CLUTCH Circuit (which is in its third season), and the foundation of the Brazilian Counter-Strike Championship (CBCS) in July by producer DC Set and Grupo Globo, the largest communication channel in the country,.
Pedro Sancha, director of esports for the Brazilian Counter-Strike Championship (CBCS), spoke to The Esports Observer about the start of the league and its impact on the structuring of the scene: “We were born implementing a franchise system, which was new in Brazil. This allows us to professionalize all teams and players with rules and protocols for a better training structure, gaming house, office, studio, face-to-face games, attractive awards, international opportunities, etc. Today we see that this is a trend, since we have several championships adopting the franchise system.” The Brazilian Championship of League of Legends is also adopting this structure.
CBCS stands with established organizations in the national esports scene such as Santos Hotforex, INTZ, Black Dragons, and PRG Esports. FURIA also manages a team in the championship under the name of Furia Rivalry. However, newer organizations have also secured their space in the competition such as Evidence Esports, a team that was born in 2018.
Evidence Esports was founded by three professionals from the financial sector, who realized that “with rare exceptions, there was very little professionalism in the electronic sports scene,” Diego Pagano, one of the organization’s partners, told The Esports Observer. He said that the founders decided to “use their expertise to help develop the scenario, bringing the professionalism rooted in their culture.”
Pagano also recounts the team’s entry into the CBCS: “We seek to create links with entities, organizations, and figures in the scenario that we believe to share the same values and objectives. In one of these conversations, we had the opportunity to participate in an embryonic meeting on the CBCS. Since that first conversation, we understood that the vision and goals of the creators of CBCS were aligned with ours, and that is why we decided to follow the path to the championship.”
Even for the new teams, the franchise structure was viewed with good eyes. Pagano says that the CBCS structure “opens room for organizations that have great ambitions and work in a professional manner, focused on the long term. In addition, it brings security for the investment that other championships, with demotion and access phases do not allow.”
CLUTCH Circuit works in a different way than CBCS and has access divisions to reach the main competition. However, both competitions are considered to be the elite of the national CS:GO scene. CLUTCH also features traditional Brazilian organizations in the competition, such as Vivo Keyd and RED Canids Kalunga.
Camilo Martins is the founder of Neverest Esports, a one-year-old organization that disputes the access division of CLUTCH. He told The Esports Observer his perception of the current scenario: “CS:GO in Brazil is undergoing very rapid evolution, as we see an increasing professionalization of the teams driven by the formation of CLUTCH and CBCS. There is still a journey to be taken to fill the gap in professionalization, but it was highly demanded of organizations to be structured and adapted. That is why I believe that the current moment is the best that the Brazilian CS:GO has ever lived, and it should continue to rise.”
The structuring of the CS:GO competition within Brazil can also be seen in the emergence of initiatives such as the Versus Code, which, like Evidence Esports, is also founded by professionals from the financial sector. The company provides a system for collecting in-game statistics, so teams can gather and analyze their game performance in a practical way. It started its operations in 2019 focusing on CS:GO. Co-founder Eduardo Meyer told The Esports Observer some of the reasons that led him and his partners to invest in the scene:
“The reason for starting with CS:GO is the maturity of the scenario. There are almost 20 years of history and the community is super engaged, and it seemed to us a more mature, more professional scene”. Meyer also highlighted the freedom Valve gives to external developers, something Riot, for example, is not known to be open to. “It seems to us a more favorable and friendly business environment,” he says, adding that, “CS:GO also enables us to extract more data through the model we have created. We were able to extract more data than any existing platform today. To extract the same volume of data from the League of Legends, for example, we would have to send Riot a detailed description of how we do it, so that they would authorize us to monetize the model.”
Broadcast on Brazilian pay-TV through the SporTV channel (which is also owned by Grupo Globo), CBCS is sponsored by Lenovo and Banco do Brasil (BB), one of the largest banks in Latin America that has 52% of its shares belonging to the Brazilian government. However, this is not Banco do Brasil’s only investment in the local CS:GO scene: the sponsorship of an independent women’s tournament was recently announced.
A spokesperson for Banco do Brasil explained to The Esports Observer its thinking when entering the Brazilian CS:GO circuit: “It is a consolidated game for about 20 years, plus it has the second-largest audience in Brazil and a very loyal audience, with a profile between 16 and 34 years old, age group of strategic interest of Banco do Brasil. Our entry into Counter-Strike was due to the opportunity to raise the level of the Brazilian competitive scene in the category, through the development of new talents, the generation of value and content, as well as the building of a solid and lasting relationship with the gamer audience. ”
The taboo of displaying an armed conflict that CS:GO might experience in other regions also seems to have been completely overcome in Brazil. In addition to the TV broadcast, Banco do Brasil becoming a sponsor is an indication that this discussion has been left in the past. When asked if there were any objections within the bank’s management to sponsor it, Banco do Brasil said that “there was no internal resistance whatsoever, due to the understanding that we are dealing with a game that follows a common model within esports,” and added that “we are talking about a game in virtual reality, no reasoning in this sense would lead us to link fighting games to street fights; or car racing games to traffic violence. People’s behavior and social violence have much more complex origins, it is unreasonable to draw a connection between violent actions that happen in real life with the practice of esports.”
As a sponsor of the league, Banco do Brasil claims to have already experienced an “institutional increase with brand awareness and the development of marketing actions aimed at this segment,” and that sponsorships “have caused esports gamers and athletes to see BB as a great supporter of the segment, even being among the banks most remembered by them.”
The bank is studying new investments in the sector, according to the spokesperson: “We have plans to expand our participation to other modalities and communities, and we should have news soon.” Regarding the CS:GO scene, the spokesperson said that there are “some opportunities to expand our participation and we are studying the best way to do this.”
Most traditional organizations already bring their settled sponsorship agreements with their CS:GO teams, but new teams such as Neverest Esports and Evidence Esports do not have sponsors yet. “Great brands are looking for already consolidated organizations,” notes Pagano, “what Evidence offers is, in addition to being a symbol of a professional culture, a gateway for brands, endemic or not, that are uncomfortable with the values of large organizations but seek visibility in the electronic sports community.”
As for the prospect of attracting new investors to the scene, Sancha points out that “Brazil is the third-largest audience for electronic sports and, at the moment, a country with a devalued currency. Here we have one of the biggest and most passionate fans of Counter-Strike. Brazil, CBCS, and CS:GO are a full plate for international investors,” and projects as next steps increasing the audience and the teams that compete in the CBCS, while “creating more tournaments and producing large international events.”
Why it Took So Long to Get There
While League of Legends has held a structured competitive scene in Brazil for years, CS:GO mainly had isolated tournaments before CBCS and CLUTCH Circuit, despite being the second-largest audience in esports in the country and having respected competitions.
Sancha explains that “Counter-Strike and League of Legends work in different models when we analyze the competitive scenario. On one hand we have an open circuit, with championships organized by producers not linked to the publisher of the game, and on the other, we have a closed circuit, where the publisher is also the organizer and producer of these events and tournaments.”
Pagano adds that “the world scenario of CS:GO, until one or two years ago, was very widespread – with several unofficial championships and some ‘grand slams’ that are the majors. The organizations and promoters of these events saw this competition gap and great possibilities for the creation of regular competitions, as we see in other sports.”
The co-founder of Evidence Esports also gives his view on why the national league was structured just recently: “In Brazil, this development is delayed because there was a gap between the major titles and the need for professionalization of organizations. Thus, few organizations have been able to establish themselves in the recent past. As there is still a lot of lack of commitment and people looking at it as a hobby, the business side ends up suffering unnecessary bumps, either due to the lack of investment security, or the lack of visibility outside the community. The positive side is that some investments started to be made in the development of new leagues, such as the CBCS, and new athletes, so I believe that we will see Brazilian names at the top of the rankings in other modalities and for much longer.”
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