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Malvinas Gaming went from zero to hero this season. The team wasn’t taken as a serious threat for their neighbors but ended the year defeating the Mexicans and putting the Brazilians between a rock and a hard place.
One of the keys behind the team’s recent improvement lies in the addition of inexperienced but talented Brazilian coaches and analysts — and that’s not only on Malvinas' end.
In fact, the best teams in the region have signed Brazilian coaches and analysts at some point in the season, with the most notable case being in 9z Team, whose coach César “Dark” Adriano signed later on for FaZe Clan.
Malvinas appointed Lucas “RuleS” Thiago for the third stage, which was a complicated moment for the team. The roster had to spend time training with two different players, as their sixth player back then was underage.
The best was yet to come.
Tomás "TomHagen" Otañi spoke about his team's season in a SiegeGG interview and admitted that "with RuleS, it was easier to scrim against Brazilian teams." Not only that, but he also went a step further and compared both regions.
Said ThomHagen: "I feel like here everyone is in its comfort zone, with R1CK [9z Team's coach] being the only exception. Brazil has more people, more professional players, and overall, more people eager to make history and to not let through any chance, with RuleS we improved a lot in terms of practice and tactics."
Many people don’t see this, but there are players to look forward to in South America. Brazil is the only thing on the radar for international viewers, and that’s okay. But the truth is that the region players share servers with the Brazilians, so when a South American player makes a name there it is because he deserves it. Richard “blk” Rodríguez, Malvinas’ sixth player throughout the biggest part of the third stage, is the best example.
The Paraguayan made his professional debut on Week 6 of the Sudamericano, as he stepped up in the main line-up once he was 18. Two weeks later, the wunderkind was rated as the best player at the Copa Elite Six Stage 3, just ahead of the likes of Luccas “Paluh” Molina, Diogo “Fntzy” Lima, or the eventual Sweden Major champions, FaZe Clan.
"Brazil knew about blk before the tournament started because he has a good relationship with the region. After what he did, I think that Série A players have him in mind. However, I don't see him in Brazil. I don't see him going to Brazil to compete for a team that's not a potential Top 5 in the region. Let's say, from Black Dragons and onwards. And I don't think these teams will call him," the Argentinian commented.
He’s a clear example of the close relationship between South America and Brazil. If Brazil is the best region in the world now, South America must head down, take notes, and improve.
"After those results, more BR6 teams wanted to scrim us. One of the teams we scrimmed the most was FURIA Esports," TomHagen admitted.
But not all that glitters its gold. The playstyles differ from region to region, and that's something that has sometimes caused problems. The barrier between the South and Mexico is real and high enough to not be climbed overnight.
Added TomHagen: "Some teams don't like our playstyle. We had an argument with a Série B [Brazil's Challenger League] team, they didn't like us to play so aggressively."
Following their great performance at the CES Stage 3, the team woke up from the dream to live a nightmare in their own region. Malvinas Gaming went from impressing the whole continent to losing its semifinal series of the South American Finals against the fourth-placed team Newstar.
Part of that problem was in Franco "Franzeta" Molina, the team's substitute. The player had to step in, as "there were some internal problems with people that didn't want to play," commented TomHagen.
"Franzeta is good at shooting but lacks team play skills, game knowledge, he can defend himself with aim, but when coordinating him at doing other stuff I had to be explaining him everything. It was also his first LAN, he was nervous... it just went wrong," he admitted.
Now the team wants to put things back on track.
Malvinas Gaming started the season as a team that wanted to gain experience, and after a year of doing so, it is time to capitalize on that. The Argentinians are now the Hispanic countries’ favorites to defeat the Brazilians; and this time they aren’t facing la crème de la crème but the middle-table teams… from the best top-flight division in the world.
"I am hopeful, I really want this to happen. But the truth is that it depends on the player you ask this question," TomHagen said. "It's the best chance I've ever had in this game, so I've spent a lot of time practicing. When I am not playing Siege, I am practicing aim. However, some of our players are on vacation. It's been two weeks since our last training together. It's a shame but we are going to give our best, everyone knows this is a huge chance for us, it's just that everyone sees it differently."
Malvinas Gaming competition will begin on Jan. 15, as the Argentinians have been drawn in a group stage alongside Atheris Esports, Black Dragons, and Furious Gaming. If they surive the group stage, the team will face MIBR or Fenix Esports in the semifinals.