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Aye aye, M80: New organisation switch no distraction for former XSET squad ahead of Invitational

M80 took a hit in Stage 3, but are refreshed and gunning for the title at the Invitational.

Fans tuning into the Six Invitational after somewhat of a break might be surprised next month when they see ‘M80’ listed as a team, featuring the former XSET players but not the XSET name. But, for the former XSET team and their coach Matheus "Budega" Figueiredo, it is business as usual under the new banner.

“We knew that (XSET Co-Founder) Marco was leaving XSET,” explained Budega in an interview with SiegeGG ahead of the Six Invitational 2023. “But… what XSET was telling us is that they wanted to keep us and we didn’t know about Marco’s plans about the new org.”

Come the end of Stage 3, though, a buyout offer arrived alongside the formal launch of M80, Marco Mereu’s new organisation. While such switches may sometimes be fraught with fears for teams, such as a sizable shift in support provided or a difference in organisational culture, the choice was easy and unanimous for the XSET team.

“Maybe because Marco was the guy who put the team down in the first place (with XSET),” shared Budega. “So, we really trust Marco and what he thinks about Siege and he wants to be a champion.”

The culture of M80, too, has been scarcely different from what Budega and his team have been used to at XSET largely because Mereu had been involved in shaping both.

“Much of the staff from XSET is now on M80,” said Budega, which he said helped with ensuring a seamless transition from XSET. The only “clear difference”, he elaborated, has been with the volume of video content shot.

The team, which has been boot camping in Brazil for two weeks now in preparation for the Invitational, has already had four Shorts and two vlogs released on the M80 YouTube channel.

“We feel at home,” finished Budega. “We’re back to talking with Marco and his staff.”

But not everything has been perfect, as leaving XSET meant that the new M80 squad did not have a team house to practise from. That necessitated a boot camp where the choice of Brazil as a location, said Budega, was obvious. Not only do five members of M80 hail from the country, Brazil is also viewed as the strongest region overall and has a play style different from that in North America.

Nevertheless, the overall smooth transition between the two organisations has meant that the M80 team has been able to keep its focus on the competitive aspect without any interruptions. Like the rest at the Invitational, they are also trying to peak right as the Invitational rolls around. 

However, unlike teams like Soniqs or Team BDS, M80 did not have a strong run in Stage 3 to get as comfortable a launchpad for the Invitational.

While they had finished in the semi-finals of the Berlin Major in Aug. 2022, they saw their form take a big dip in Stage 3. As a result, they finished in eight place in the NAL -- four points away from Mirage in fourth place.

“In Stage 3, we had lots of things distracting us from scrimming properly,” revealed Budega. “I don’t think the environment in Las Vegas was that good.”

The environment alone, however, was not the only factor that saw a drop in the team’s results. While teams usually change strategies and sometimes philosophies from stage to stage, the XSET team opted to continue without any such changes.

“We didn’t make any new strats. We were feeling kinda… tired,” said Budega, citing burnout that had affected even Charlotte Major champions DarkZero Esports and 2022 world champions TSM.

“We made a team from scratch for the first two stages … it took a lot of work, so mainly everyone on the roster was tired during Stage 3,” he elaborated. “[The Berlin Major] was the prime XSET.”

The XSET team in Berlin.

However, the poor Stage 3 performance has had no adverse impact on their morale. The M80 team is oozing with confidence that it will bounce back to its Berlin Major  heights -- if not even further. Instead, they took the missed Major as an opportunity to rest in preparation for the “main goal” of the Invitational.

With no player or coaching changes, too, M80 have also been able to practise a deeper map pool with much more combined experience on LAN and against international opposition. As such, Budega believes that his team has the capability to make a push for the title of world champions.

Catch M80 debuting under their new banner next month at the Six Invitational 2023, starting on Feb. 7.

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