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Q&A with MLG Columbus Major champion Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo

Luminosity Gaming made history Sunday by defeating Natus Vincere to win the MLG Columbus Major. The Brazilian club became the first South American club to win a major championship and did so in dramatic fashion. Luminosity trailed 15-6 and 15-9 in its semifinal match against Team Liquid before beating both.

In Sunday’s final, Luminosity fell behind Na’Vi 11-4 in the first map before winning in overtime and taking the second one 16-2 in a dominant turn of events.

Slingshot editor-in-chief Vince Nairn caught up with Luminosity’s Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo after the match, and he talked about the team’s rise, overcoming struggles and what this win means for an entire region.

Vince Nairn: First of all, how do you describe this week-long tournament and being able to claim the championship?

Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo: It feels amazing to have won this tournament. We have been working very hard. I think it’s almost two years already that I’ve been working with Fer, since Kaboom. I’ve had a lot of old teammates. We’ve been through a lot. There was times where we didn’t have money to go to the qualifier to the major, and the community helped us. There was times we didn’t have a good organization to pay things for us in order to compete, and we had to move from Brazil to US to play good tournaments. It’s a long road, and I’m very happy that finally we reached the big spot.

VN: Twice yesterday and again today in the first game against Na’Vi, you fell behind pretty significantly. How did you guys keep your composure in all those tense moments?

GT: I think it shows our team’s resilience. We have been through some tough games. We didn’t lose our hope. We had to change some setups when we arrived because it wasn’t working, our default strategy on CT, and it paid off. I’m not a religious guy, but I think with everything that happened for us this tournament, we had a good upper hand from someone upstairs.

If you looked at the game against Liquid, you’d see a lot of wrongs. We made it happen, but a lot of wrongs that were so little or so close and we would have lost both games. So I think it’s deserving. Our team deserved it a lot, and it paid off.

VN: Yeah, how did you regroup after last night and just kind of refresh and refocus?

GT: As soon as we finished against Liquid, we just forgot about that match. We talked about some things that happened. But just because you don’t win convincingly against somebody who is (seen as) worse, doesn’t mean it’s going to be harder the next game. That’s something people are wrong, when you read people talking on websites, they think, “Oh. They had a bad game against Liquid. They’re gonna lose to Na’Vi.” It’s a different approach. Different teams playing. So that doesn’t mean anything at all. almost beat us. It was very close. They were playing awesome. So we just forgot about the match and kept our focus. We got a good night of rest (Friday) because we had to play two BO3s on Saturday, which is a lot. We got a good rest and came back to the finals.


VN: Counter-Strike has been thought of a predominantly European game. You guys are the first South American team to win a major championship. What kind of pride do you take in that?

GT: It’s a big history. Part of, if there was someone to blame because of it, it’s because I don’t think the tournaments themselves work enough to make it global. I think they are getting better and better from the rest, but if you look at CS:GO from the beginning, when they started doing tournaments, they were focused in Europe. They had a lot of European tournaments and of course because North America is such a rich region, they had tournaments as well. They never thought to look in South America. They never take a look in the Africa region. They never took a look in Asian region. They started taking a look into it now. So what I expect is one day I’ll be able to come back to Brazil and play those tournaments in my country and region instead of going to North America because I’m far away from my family, I’m far away from my girlfriend and everything. So I hope that makes more exposure and success, people start looking into South America because there are a lot of players that are patient players and it would be awesome to play the same tournaments we play in our region (there).

VN: Thinking about a team like Tempo Storm, they’re kind of coming up. To have an example like you guys as a champion, what does that do help motivate other teams in South America and give them hope?

GT: Tempo Storm’s history shows what I’m saying. I was one of the guys behind what made them possible to go to US as well. We only made that because we knew of the potential. We knew they were playing on a scene and what was feasible. They could play on a very good scene. They showed there’s a lot more potential in their scene, not only Tempo Storm but there are other great teams in Brazil waiting for opportunities. Let’s hope in the future there are gonna be changes.

VN: Do you think you winning this tournament could lead to that?

GT: Definitely. I’m the guy who needs to talk about this. Because if I just stay in America and say we’re completely fine, it’s not true for our scene and for my country mates because they don’t have the same opportunity we have. Not only gaming, but in life, you need to have opportunities. If it wasn’t for MLG last year, they gave a spot for a Brazilian team to play in MLG Aspen. They paid for everything for a Brazilian team to go there. If they didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here. So it’s about opportunity. I’m only here winning this major because MLG take a step and paid for a Brazilian team one year ago. So it’s all about opportunities.

VN: Thinking back to all the sacrifices, coming to this country, not having anywhere to live, not having money to get into tournaments. How much sweeter does it make reaching the top?

GT: It’s just amazing. Being honest, I don’t think I really understand what I’m achieving right now. When I go back and get some rest and stop my head on the pillow, I’m gonna think way better because right now, it didn’t drop for me yet. But it’s the best thing we could ever achieve, and I’m so proud of my teammates winning. Very proud.

Photos by Robert Paul/Major League Gaming