When people hear about Brazilian League of Legends, they will mostly remember Kabum upsetting Alliance in 2014’s world championships or Pain Gaming’s surprisingly good run in 2015’s worlds group stage. Or they will remember memes from the Brazilian community to forums like Reddit and Twitter. But there has been one team in Brazil that has dominated the entire scene since its entrance to the Copa Brasileira de League of Legends (CBLOL) in early 2015.
INTZ Esports isn’t necessarily a new organization to Brazilian Esports. Its first lineup came to be at the end of 2014, where it managed to qualify to the CBLOL, Brazil’s equivalent of the League of Legends Championship Series. INTZ has played six finals since 2015, has won five and so far hasn’t lost one best-of series in which Gabriel “Revolta” Henud was the starting jungler.
Slingshot’s Alexandre “DrPuppet“ Weber had the opportunity to catch up with INTZ’s Coach Alexander “Abaxial” Haibel while they bootcamped in Berlin, Germany. They talked about Brazil as a region, their bootcamp experience and if Brazil is ready to be a major region.
Alexandre “DrPuppet“ Weber: How are you doing Abaxial?
Alexander “Abaxial” Haibel: I’m doing great. I’m having a good time here in Berlin.
AW: Where do you like it more: Sao Paulo, Berlin or the States?
AH: I prefer the United States — sorry Brazil — but I think I like Sao Paulo more than Berlin.
AW: From the last six splits you guys played since you joined the CBLOL, you won five and dropping the one last year to Pain Gaming. However after winning the first split of CBLOL this year, you guys struggled at the wild card in Mexico. Now in the second split you started out slow and still with some struggles, but by the time the playoffs arrived, you guys packed it up again and sky rocketed. Did you change anything between both splits on how you coach or structure the training?
AH: I wouldn’t say we made large changes. There has been some small changes. Like we have a team fight emphasis, like we always focus on winning team fights, have a better comp and know what are our goals and stuff like that. Other than that, sometimes when we struggle, and it is a communication issue, and the team has a problem maintaining the communication on the needed level. That happens when we haven’t learned enough together, but I think the overall method stayed basically the same.
AW: However you changed one thing: You added multiple analysts to your support staff. How did it work out for you, did it impact on your coaching style or did you just have more help?
AH: I got to do a few things that I used to do in greater detail. I got to delegate work and split work with my analysts. We didn’t change anything, we just did what we always wanted to do, just better.
AW: Looking at your whole career with INTZ, this is the first time you will be playing for a spot at Worlds. Is this a motivation for the team?
AH: People are motivated. We are very secure in our place in Brazil right now. There have been other dominant teams in Brazil before, but none has held the same level we manage to maintain for this amount of time. Also I don’t think there was a Brazilian team that has managed to win both splits in one year. Yes it motivates (us) a bit more and even in the case we do not perform again at wild cards, we can say there was nobody better than us in Brazil. That said, we are confident going into the wild card (which starts Tuesday).
AW: Why do you think INTZ is a step ahead of the other teams in Brazil?
AH: I think I have very pro active players when it comes to evaluating their own play. They are constantly seeking outside help either from myself or my analysts. Also, another thing I think we have in our favor is actually solving the problems. I bring some thoughts to macro play and team fights that other Brazilian teams didn’t bring to their teams. In my and my analysts’ cases, we were lucky to be exposed to those ideas through outside sources. I think most of what we do is to come up with ourselves, or we watch others do it, but occasionally we have other sources that help us. Usually that really helps us a lot. I don’t want to sound offensive, but I think we just have some macro, micro and team fight aspects in our team that others simply don’t have.
AW: How big is the gap between INTZ and the major regions’ teams?
AH: Very early in the split, EU looked very terrible, but I think right now it looks a lot better. Right now I would even say EU is better than NA. I think we are about a mid-tier LCS team. We have a few consistency issues that prevents us from breaking into the top. We have most of what we need to get there, but not all of it. We have a problem of being consistent and part of that is that EU teams play a lot faster in the early game, which challenges us a bit more. We can keep up, but when we can keep up we sort of forget what we wanted to do at the same time, so it’s tricky to balance both. Keeping up with the pace of the game mechanically and also keeping in mind what is the plan of the game.
AW: Do you think other Brazilian teams should take the same road and bootcamp to catch up to you guys?
AH: I think it could help, if they have the ressources. It is not easy to do this. I have to thank our sponsors for that. The experience is definitely good.
AW: In the beginning of the year you guys already bootcamped here in Berlin. Did you guys change your approach and how you structure the bootcamp?
AH: We are more relaxed now. There is less pressure on the players now. Last time, we had to balance between just playing to learn and playing to prepare for the playoffs. This time we can be a lot more long term, more experimental, since we don’t know which patch we will play at IWCQ. So we are just trying to master most of the styles. I think we are pretty diverse right now. I like it.
AW: As you already experienced the Brazilian fans are very demanding in terms of results. Since you guys didn’t have a great appearance at the last wild card, the Brazilians started to meme a lot and put pressure on you guys. How are you guys dealing with the community and their criticism and hate?
AH: It gets to us. It is a complicated thing. Sometimes it feels that we are held to a higher standard than other teams that would be given more benefit of the doubt if they screw up. On the other hand, we do say that we are the best, we do on a certain degree put that pressure on ourselves, so maybe it’s right that we get this criticism. It’s complicated. Yes the disappointment of the fans does reach our ears. Yeah we do feel bad when we let them down.
AW: Looking towards the rest of the bootcamp, what are your plans and how have been the learning curve so far?
AH: I don’t think we have any special plans. 6.15 will be coming up soon, so we will just adapt to the meta and, you know, lane swaps being gone and turret changes. We will see how teams will change and adapt, so we will be going into IWCQ with a good idea of how to read the meta. So right now we can focus on finding out what we want to do at the wild card and what not. Slightly different focus there, but there shouldn’t be more changes than that. Maybe we will do some trips one day or two, but mostly we will be training.
AW: Due to past performances at worlds, like Kabum and Pain Gaming, both were able to upset some teams and make a name for themselves. Adding to the amount of growth the region had in the couple of years, the community has been demanding to have the right to be called a major region or at least to get a direct seed to worlds. What do you think about it. Do you think Brazil is ready?
AH: I think in terms of viewership and production, they are absolutely the equal to a major region. In terms of player base and skill, it’s complicated. I think we are certainly able to rival NA and EU teams, where in terms of other teams going internationally it is hard to say. There is talent, but is it going to be used well? Jell in the same team? I don’t know. But if we do well at worlds, I would like to see Brazil getting a direct spot.
AW: So Abaxial thank you very much for the interview. Do you have any shoutouts left?
AH: So I would like to thank our sponsor Nvidia for allowing us this opportunity. We are doing our best to make the most of it. Also I would also like to thank our fans for their support, and we will do our best at the wild card and hope to finally fulfill your expectations.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.