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Explaining Brazilian dominance: How one country rose to the pinnacle of Rainbow Six Siege

2021 was dominated by Brazilian teams. Here's how it happened, in their own words.

Image via Ubisoft

The year of 2021 of Rainbow Six Siege was completely marked by the green and yellow colors of Brazil’s flag. For the first time in history, a Major and Six Invitational were won by the Latam region.

The recent success came in all shapes and forms, with different players being determinant to each international title. In 2021 Brazil had 10 different players winning EVP’s overseas and also all the 3 SiegeGG Event MVP awards. The Brazilian firepower, regardless of the team, was dominant during last year.  

In order to understand the reasons behind this whole Brazilian dominance, we interviewed players and coaches who were part of this victorious 2021.  

Growth

According to Matheus “Budega” Figueiredo, former MIBR coach, the construction and growth process that triggered the Brazilian success in 2021 began in 2019, the year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“2019 was a really crucial year for the Brazilian Rainbow Six (...) because there was the arrival of a lot of important players that are the best in the world nowadays”

According to the ex-MiBR coach, 2019 marked the beginning of a revolution in the Brazilian scene. The entrance of Murilo “Muzi” Moscatelli, Gabriel “Pino” Fernandes and Luccas “Paluh” Molina at the end of 2018 stamped the beginning of a successful era.

In the early 2019 days there was a big revolution in the Brazilian tactical aspect. “The tactical counterplay and the mid round [adjustments]” were two new things added, according to Budega. “We brought this game style from G2 Esports (...) we got the European and North American way of playing and played it in a Brazilian fashion.”

Since then, the current MIBR, former Team oNe, as well as the Ninjas In Pyjamas, brought this aggressive, adaptive way of playing, always trying to impose their style of play. On the other hand, one of the LATAM powerhouses, Team Liquid, played in a completely different way.  

“Liquid plays with a ‘wall’ game style, where they hold tight and defend until the very end of the round, waiting for the opposite team's mistakes”, Budega affirmed. With these two main approaches the Latam region started to consolidate, creating a huge mix in the Brazilian scene with Liquid, Faze, MIBR, Furia, Team oNe, and NiP.

Just like this, with these two “ways of playing” very well defined: one more aggressive and adaptive, and the other more defensive, waiting for the enemy’s mistakes, Brazil grew. “These two styles got well founded with a lot of different teams, unlike Europe and NA, where there are few teams with a defined way of playing, in Brazil we’ve got 6,7 teams with a consolidated game style”.

The Pandemic

With Brazilian supremacy in 2021, right after a year hiatus, the question that won’t go away is, “What happened in Brazil during the pandemic?”

The Covid-19 and the impossibility of LAN tournaments helped Brazilian teams to consolidate their structure and own way of playing, according to Marlon “Twister” Mello, Furia’s coach. “I believe that during the pandemic and the lack of international tournaments only closed all regions inside themselves, and the one the showed the biggest internal growth, taking advantage of the situation was the Brazilian one.”

However, even though from the outside it might look like everything started during the pandemic, the first signs of hope began before that. In order to remember this, we should look to the last two international tournaments before the pandemic, Pro League Season 10 Finals and Six Invitational 2020. Since these tournaments, Brazil already showed a “decent level” of performance, as Marcus “Sneepy” Matos, a Brazilian Tier 2 star comments. However, in Japan, with both Brazilian teams without their complete rosters because of visa problems, their performance left a lot to be desired.  

The paradigm shift truly came in the 2020 and 2021 Invitationals, where NiP was the runner-up and Champions, respectively. Both events showcased the powerhouse Brazil would become and gave hope of a better future for the whole region.

The Ninjas In Pyjamas showed the world signs of dominance during their impressive lower bracket run in the 2020 Six Invitational. As Budega stated, NiP brought an evolution of the G2 way of playing. Their shocking Cinderella run, that ended in the Grand Final, was only the tip of the iceberg.

NiP winning SI made other Brazilian teams look up to them. The Ninjas made the region’s meta evolve, generating a complete Brazilian growth. “I give all the credits of Brazilian growth to NiP”, added Team oNe superstar Karl “Alem4o” Zarth.  

“What influenced the most was NiP almost winning in 2020, that demonstrated to all Brazilians that it was possible to win it all”, said Gabriel “Ask” Santos, Team Liquid’s youngster.

NiP’s pioneerism was crucial for the evolution of the Brazilian region, just like the interviewed crew highlighted. The pandemic, in turn, had its relevance consolidating a structure and Brazilian game style, since all regions where isolated.   

However, we can suppose that the pandemic might have shortened what could’ve been a separate year of Brazilian international dominance in 2020. “The pandemic interrupted the Brazilian team's success in that time, I believe that right after (2020 Invitational) we would have Liquid, MIBR and NiP really sharp if we had LAN events”, says Budega.  

Young Stars   

Brazil’s success is also related to its capacity of always refreshing lineups and being really welcoming to the youngsters. The friendly environment to the new players has a connection with a couple factors, as the strong tier 2 scene, a thriving FPL and the mix between the young with the old stars are the cornerstones of this scenario.  

The Brazilian challenger league is well known as one of the best in the world. Its strength is showcased with the quantity of young, outstanding players that come from there. Rennan “R4re” Silva, Ask, Pablo “Resetz” Oliveira, Caio “Neskin” Szazi, Juliano “Levy” Andrade, Eduardo “KDS” Santos, Thiago “Lenda” Torres, are all big names from Tier 1, that arrived from the most diverse teams of Tier 2.

Our interviewed cast told us about the Tier 2 strength and the reasons behind this force in the country’s challenger league. “I believe that the Brazilian Tier 2 is overwhelmingly the best in the world. There the young talents are already slightly pruned and the environment that we call here “Jungle” is where only the strongest survive and stand out” - Arthur “TchubZ” Figueira, Team oNe’s coach.

Brazil's very competitive tier 2 environment works similar to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, in which the most well adapted organisms have a higher chance of survival. Being able to stand out in the Brazilian “Jungle”, means you have a higher chance to survive and compete amongst the best in the region.

“Rainbow Six Tier 2 improvement happened because of the willpower of wanting to be someone and chase a dream with poor conditions, this motivates us even more to go after our dreams” - Sneepy, Guidance Gaming.

“For sure, our Tier 2 is really strong when compared to other regions, this has everything to do with the superior Brazilian meta. Without a doubt this promotes a faster development of the region, since all scrims are very productive” - Alem4o, Team oNe.

Beyond those players, has a handful of stars that didn’t play in Brasileirão's second division. All of the following names “bypassed” Brazilian tier 2, because of a strong and extremely talented underage scene. Players such as Alem4o, Muzi, Diogo “Fntzy” Lima, Enzo “Rappz” Aziz, Felipe “Felipox” De Lucia, Lorenzo “Lagonis” Volpi were already known before they were 18 years old and went straight to the top teams in Brazil.

 

Alem4o commented on the process, stating, “Everything started with our line being the first ‘kid lineup’ to earn recognition from the greatest professionals at the time. Me, Felipox, Kurtz, Rappz and Lagonis in “gs”, as time passed players from the Tier 1 learnt that new talents needed space in the pro scene (...) every kid from that time already practiced against Tier 1 teams, that’s where the recognition came from.” 

Brazilian FPL

Even though it’s not a X-factor, the FPL, used a lot in Brazil, has a certain utility. This “tool” used for matchmaking is responsible for creating an interaction between Tier 1, 2 and 3 players, auxiliating the maintenance of a “gameplay floor” between the different layers of national Rainbow Six.

“FPL is good to maintain a high level in the Tier 2/1.5, I believe the repetition of certain default strategies helps players evolve," said Alem4o. Beyond that, FPL helps the exposure of a player. A young skilled player, but unknown from a Tier 2 team can interact and start a networking with the best players from Tier 1, that also are part of the league.  
“Solely entering in the FPL is something good because there you play with the best and if you try hard, give nice calls, learn, explain why you did certain play you receive a great visibility," said Ask.

“I believe that FPL can be a showcase to the players, I believe that for players that know how to use this opportunity they can get along very well,” said Sneepy.

The arrival of young players in the Brazilian Rainbow Six scene occurred in a very organic way across the years, as Twister claims, “The entrance of these new players was a natural step to the scene development”

The entry of prospects happened a bunch of times in the most diverse teams over the years. However, the ones we are looking for are the ones that took place in the top teams, mixing the new with great stars of the scene. Lucas “soulz1” Schinke, from Team Singularity to MIBR; Muzi and Pino right after turning 18; Ask from Team oNe academy to Liquid; Resetz from Black Dragons to Liquid; Paluh from Bootkamp Gaming to Liquid, among other examples.

All such cases illustrate one of the most successful philosophies Brazil utilized to become the powerhouse that it is nowadays. The mix between stars, cornerstones of the scene, with young prospects carrying a huge voluptuousness of success in the game. NiP, Liquid and Faze, maybe the top three teams in Brazil, used this strategy, giving them tons of glory. “I believe this is the key point of our scene, because if you put together the experience of older players with the talent of the new ones you manage to increase the potential of these young talents from our region," said Ask.

“I believe that just as in any department a good combo of experience and raw power are necessary for a team to succeed," said Twister.

The 2021 roster shuffle

One of the most important marks of the Brazilian Rainbow six in 2021 was the roster shuffle in the beginning of the year. A big change occurred in the scene, creating new rosters, bringing tons of fresh blood.

For a long period of time the Brazilian scene was summed up with only three teams of international caliber: Liquid, Faze and NiP - however this changed. In 2018 another strong roster emerged, former Team oNe, current MIBR, becoming the biggest threat to the three most traditional teams in Brazil.

Nonetheless, 2021 was the year that really marked the competitiveness growth in Brazil, with six teams at international level. Faze, NiP, Liquid, Team oNe, MIBR and Furia all impressed to some extent during the year.

The lineup shuffle that happened in the beginning of the year was responsible for creating Team oNe’s new roster, the Mexico Major winner. Once their former players were bought by MIBR, which, in turn, had been purchased by Faze.

Another drastic change occurred with Furia, with the addition of Fntzy and R4re. Right after escaping Brasilerao’s relegation, the Brazilian organization added two young talents that completely changed the team's course. They went from a relegation battle in 2020, to the Mexico Major playoffs in 2021.

“I believe the biggest improvement came due to the constant change of players, looking to renew the pursuit to the top, I do believe that one of the main aspects (of the Brazilian growth) was the players shuffle searching for new talents” - Sneepy, Guidance Gaming.    
“The changes that happened during the transfer window (...) created new powerhouses that made the region that once had only 3 great teams and other that didn’t dispute nothing to 6 great teams fighting for each tournament," said Twister.

Community, streaming, and Razah

Brazil’s exponential growth as a potency in Rainbow Six is the result of a multiplicity of factors that go beyond the teams’ performances.

The Brazilian community, already well known in esports for being very emotional and passionate, also shows all its love for Rainbow Six.

Amongst all the growing instability of the game itself the community, regardless, has managed to keep strong. One of the biggest responsible for the maintenance and unity of the Brazilian community is the streamer Rafael “RazaH” Ribeiro, the most watched Rainbow Six streamer in Twitch for several months in 2021. One of the best when it comes down to Rainbow Six.

Beyond playing the game, the content creator still spectates Brazilian FPL, exposing the players outside the official tournaments. Another remarkable product from the streamer is the broadcast (without images) of the Rainbow Six tournaments.

Razah, in an unique fashion, is able to approach the competitive scene, the players, with the community. His friendship with the players permits the viewer to see different and closer facets of their biggest idols.

“RazaH is a phenomenon without a doubt, I attribute to him a bigger portion of responsibility in keeping the scene stable," said TchubZ. The streamer is responsible for uniting the community and bringing them closer to a reality that’s often far away, a closer and intimate contact with the players. RazaH, without any doubt, is one of the biggest responsible for the health and strength of the Brazilian community.

“RazaH is one of the biggest pillars of the Brazilian Rainbow Six community (...) when he talks with the “people” he talks in their language, not in a formal language," said Sneepy.

"His interaction with the competitive environment is what differs him from other streamers. Nowadays RazaH might be the only streamer that brings this kind of exclusive content with  a relevant number of viewers. “We could have more streamers like him, but it’s very difficult, RazaH is unique”, said Alem4o.

RazaH also has a crucial role bringing visibility to the game, the streamer is capable of creating content with Rainbow Six in the most diverse ways and for the most diverse public.
 The Brazilian dominance in 2021 was not by chance, as stated Budega: “In 2021 everyone was already very well structured and with a well established game philosophy, then (2021) was just the supremacy happening after a period of three years.”

The whole Brazilian success in 2021 didn’t happen out of nowhere, it goes all the way through the players, coaches, game philosophy to the passionate community that has its form of expression in Rainbow Six biggest streamer, RazaH.

All the multiple factors cited, combined, had a crucial role in the construction and growth of Brazil as the main region of the Rainbow Six. A region that for a long time was despised and seen as “all aim, no brain” showed the result of years of work in 2021, winning all international championships.