SK Gaming have been one of the strongest teams in Counter-Strike for over a year. After a brief slide from their perch around the ELEAGUE Major, the Brazilians are back, looking to take their third premier tournament in a row at the ECS Season 3 Finals.
Ahead of the tournament, SK's in-game leader and AWPer Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo took the time to answer a few questions from theScore esports during an ECS press conference.
First off, I wanted to get your take on Immortals' kNg. Is he a player that's on your radar, or has he come out of nowhere?
I played with him from 2009 to 2014 on Counter-Strike 1.6. Most of the time I was playing against him and he was always a good AWPer, always a good player, and in 2014 I think we played together on the same team in CS:GO in Brazil a couple times, but then he decided to retire and do something else with his life.
We're very happy that he's playing well, and has an opportunity to show his game again, because he has always been a talented player and he's a very good guy as well.
As we mentioned last year, he's had a chance to play for a Brazilian team competing in Sweden last time, and he said in interviews that he would be the player we would be looking for in the future, because if he had great opportunities, he could show his skill.
I think he did show that, oddly enough against you guys when Immortals had their first LAN victory against SK at DreamHack Summer. How's that little rivalry going between the two Brazilian teams?
It's pretty funny, we're very close and do a lot of things together, so I don't see it as a rivalry really in-game, because we are very close outside the game.
We are happy for them, they are getting better, but the playstyle is very different from ours. They have way more loose game, and I think the way they play, they [are] risking tournaments because it's not consistent.
About this victory itself, our team was under a not too good situation because we are very bad situation regarding jetlag, because we had just arrived one day before with not enough time to rest, and in that game specifically it looks like we were on the fifth match of a best of five.
Everyone was very tired and they just beat us down. But we don't overthink too much about it because it's just a best of one in group stage, it doesn't mean too much.
I remember when they were still part of Tempo Storm, when you guys were at the same LAN, you would almost always be behind them, watching their games, sort of as a mentor to them. Is that still the case, or have they gone their own way?
It's not a thing anymore, because the first time you saw it it's because we brought those guys from Brazil to compete right in front of our house in the United States. We gave them the old house and bought an new one, and we are helping them with the process.
After they changed from Games Academy to Tempo Storm, I think they started to be a little more separate. Because of the way that things are going, because we moved to another house, they're not attached to us anymore.
I wanted to switch topics to the apparent friendship that you guys have with Neymar, the soccer legend. How did that actually start?
Basically we have a friend in common which is Andre Akkari, he's a Brazilian poker player, sponsored by Poker Stars one of the best poker players in the world and most likely the most famous poker player in Brazil, and he was the one who introduced Neymar to us.
Neymar was a very big fan of Counter-Strike in the old days. He got interested in the game again because of Akkari. So we had an opportunity to see each other in Brazil on our last vacation, and that's when we met him. Sometimes he watches tournaments and messaging us, sometimes saying hi and just checking out that he's watching us.
That's really awesome. So you guys have played with him, so be honest, how bad of a CS:GO player is he?
He's actually pretty good in my opinion. For someone who's starting, I see some talent, yeah. Not to be a liar, I think for someone who never played before just a couple times, he's pretty decent and I'm very pleased to see it.
Do you think he picked up the AWP because of you?
I don't think so, I think it's because it's easier.
Okay. So you guys have the soccer game against Virtus.pro, what are the chances of you having Neymar as a ringer?
I don't think he's coming, that'd be unfair. If we're gonna beat VP we're gonna do it ourselves. Also if Neymar went there, they would have to be given Lewandowski.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
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