Banner Image: Ubisoft / Kiril B. @ItsKirillVision
Following the conclusion of the Six Invitational 2023 and after the end of the transfer window, M80 built what was arguably the most exciting roster of the year. With a Brazilian core and staff team, the American organization added the Six Berlin Major champion William “Spoit” Löfstedt and the former Astralis player David “Iconic” Ifidon to complete the squad.
Commanded by the highly experienced coach Matheus “Budega” Figueiredo, the roster performed exceptionally well in their home region. After winning the first split of the North America League 2023, the team was only one map away from taking home the second.
Unfortunately, looking at the bigger picture puts M80’s regional success at the second level. Copenhagen saw the boys leave after four days of action and only one victory in their pockets, a result that was followed by a winless run in Atlanta.
First M80 weeks with Spoit and Iconic
Amid esports’ volatility, people surprisingly forget Rome wasn’t built in a day. Roster changes can take months to work as expected, especially when three different cultures clash on the same side of the server.
Despite winning the first split of the North America League 2023, M80’s start to the season was quite slow. The team narrowly made it to the playoff stage after finishing in sixth place in the regular phase. It was then that the roster began getting the desired results and headed to Copenhagen as America’s first seed.
“Our team was rushed after the Six Invitational, we still didn’t know each other very well,” Budega admitted in a pre-Six Invitational 2024 interview with SiegeGG. “We still won the North America League, but in Copenhagen, we just didn’t know how to react against each other.”
The BLAST R6 Major Copenhagen was the team’s first international competition together. Following a maximum overtime loss to Wolves Esports, the team was put between a rock and a hard place after losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas. Eventually, M80 would be sent home after a win against Team Falcons and a defeat against MNM Gaming.
Differences between Gamers8 and Atlanta
Following the conclusion of Copenhagen, the team qualified for Saudi Arabia’s Gamers8 2023 after a thrilling 3-2 win against DarkZero Esports. To prepare for the competition, M80 had a boot camp in Poland, where they practiced against European and MENA rosters.
After defeating G2 Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and w7m esports, M80 secured around US$400,000. Unfortunately, Team BDS ran over the Brazilian-majority roster in the grand final. “We made a very specific playstyle to beat those teams,” he admitted.
Happy with the result in Saudi Arabia, the players and the staff were finally confident with their play style. According to Budega, the roster decided to be a bit “more passive” while also “evolving on game day and going deep and deep into the structure.” Eventually, that proved to be a mistake.
In North America, M80 looked more consistent during the second stage. The roster topped the standings of the regular phase and following a 2-0 victory against Wildcard Gaming, the team secured a spot in Atlanta.
“In that respect, we were our biggest mistake,” Budega admitted. “Leading to Atlanta, the team was very disjointed… we thought we had a good picture of what the team wanted to be but it wasn’t, it wasn’t the nature of the team, I think we were mistaken… and that comes down to me and the staff. We didn’t give some of the players the liberty to grow and do the next thing on the meta.”
“We were like teachers giving them the glue, all of the answers to the tasks,” he explained. “Now we are making everything more organic, the strategies are similar to what we had but the way we play them is very different as every player is thinking as an individual.”
Why was Kyno benched?
For obvious reasons, the expectations around M80 were ridiculously high. It’s fair to say, they still are. However, despite the individual talent in the team, the organization’s underwhelming results at international competitions have consequently killed some of the hype around the roster.
Following the conclusion of the Atlanta Major, Budega felt like the team needed a change. “It was one of the hardest decisions in my career,” the coach admitted. “I need to make hard decisions, I need to make sure that we have the best five for the best tournament in the year, and I felt like Kyno’s mind wasn’t ready for it,” he added.
While the squad still had two months to work around their mistakes, the decision had already been made. It was time for a roster change. “In my opinion, he’s (Kyno) still one of the best supports in the game… he just had a terrible, terrible season. He knows that. Most of that comes from his commitment to the game,” he explained.
Despite the toughness of the situation for both sides, the coach believes the decision was “good for him (Kyno), for his confidence, to miss out on this tournament.” “It was purely for him to work on himself and his personal issues,” he added.
The former MIBR member hasn’t closed the door to Kyno, as the coach wouldn’t be against a possible return for Kyno. “He’s still on the bench, he never left M80,” he explained. “He could still come back in the future, that’s still a question.”
Why Yoggah and potential other options
Overall, from a fanatical point of view, M80’s season has been disappointing. All the hype created following the uniqueness of the members of the team, the roster moves, and the expectations around them created an unreal picture of what M80 really was back in March: a team with a lot of potential who lacked a rock-solid identity
Almost one year later, the Brazilian-majority team has had time to make mistakes, learn, and build a synergy. Realistically, São Paulo could be where we see the team’s full potential.
It will also be the first time we see Evan “Yoggah” Nelson playing for M80 since he parted ways with the organization in Mar. 2023. “We needed new air, a new honeymoon phase for the Six Invitational,” Budega admitted.
“He (Yoggah) came on a loan and he’s very hungry,” the coach explained. “He understands everything in the system because he has already played with us, since he joined he matched like a glove.”
Just like Kyno’s departure from the starting five isn’t definitive, Yoggah’s signing is temporary… at least, as of now. However, in a sense, it’s a chance for the American to show what has the team missed out on for the last few months. “When I made this roster a lot of people asked why I dropped him, I guess I am just giving it a try to see if I made a mistake,” Budega admitted.
At the same time, Budega feels like the addition of a former player who already knows the team’s structure “is an extra boost of confidence” and adds “more security to the team” instead of having an “outsider guy.”
While the return of Yoggah to the team was arguably the best answer to M80’s dilemma, the rumors over the last months pointed out some well-known players from France and even Brazil as potential replacements. Although rumors are empty words, the fans got extremely excited.
But, how much truth was behind the gossip? Well, Budega confirmed the interest to be real, especially with a very aggressive player on the server. Unfortunately for the viewers, the deal was never concluded as the coach “didn’t want to make the commitment of having two guys with no rules in the same team.”
By the end of the Six Invitational 2024, the squad will be able to look back and tell if the move was the right decision to make. If that’s what the players and the coaching staff felt the team needed to improve, so be it – in the competitive world, results go over friendships. Only time will tell us if Bubu tinha razão (Bubu was right).
Six Invitational 2024 and group of death
M80’s Six Invitational 2024 group stage will be a difficult challenge for the roster as the team has been drawn into the group of death.
“Our group is definitely the hardest,” he admitted. “We always, most of the times, when we have a difficult bracket, we end up doing a good tournament.” The coach brought up the team’s performances in Charlotte and Berlin, where they got out of their group despite playing against some of the best rosters in the competition.
In Brazil, M80 will have to play against Team Liquid, w7m esports, Virtus.pro, and Bleed Esports. While the Bulls are the clear favorites to win the group, the Blue Cavalry and the current Europe League champions can’t be ignored. Moreover, Bleed Esports defeated M80 in Atlanta.
While we still have no information regarding the Six Invitational 2024 match calendar, we expect M80’s first game to be on Feb. 13.
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