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Fortitude: A Boltz story

Boltz is the heart and sole of Immortals' CS:GO team
Photo courtesy of DreamHack.

When looking at the Immortals Counter-Strike roster all the way back to when that core group of Brazilian players were Games Academy, one can tell they’ve always had talented stars. Players like Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, Lincoln “fnx” Lau, Henrique “HEN1” Teles and Vito “kNg” Giuseppe have all come through the roster at different points of time. But if I had to pick one player critical to the team’s success, it is Ricardo “boltz” Prass.

Boltz along with Lucas “steel” Lopes were among the initial five players in the Luminosity squad that moved over from Brazil to North America to accomplish their dreams of becoming professional CS:GO players. During his time under Luminosity, Boltz learned the strength of tactical CS:GO — unlike any the Brazilian scene had ever witnessed — under Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo. They consistently upset teams with their tactical prowess, but it wasn’t enough. Competition demanded more and at the end of 2015, Boltz and steel were cut from the team.

For Boltz, it was devastating. He had finally accomplished his dream of making CS:GO a career, but he wasn’t good enough. Luminosity made the difficult decision to remove him. At this point, Boltz did not know if he would continue.

It took a miracle for the first Brazilian squad to move to NA and it didn’t seem likely another could rise. Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu thought otherwise and convinced Boltz to keep playing. Peacemaker believed Boltz had more to show as he couldn’t play his best role on Luminosity. On top of that, Boltz was good friends with HEN1 and Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles. That was enough to convince Boltz to give it another chance.

It was a small episode in his overall CS:GO career, but an important one. Back then no one knew how big CS:GO was going to become. But it was also an event that showed the character of Boltz as a player: someone who was willing to get back up and continue his dream of being a pro, no matter how many times the circumstances knocked him over.

The gambit by Peacemaker worked out as Boltz became the most consistent player on the team, and Games Academy became the second best Brazilian team. This was fortuitous as FalleN held a tournament where he would pay for the next best Brazilian team to move over to NA. Games Academy won and from there, the team was signed by Tempo Storm.

The move to NA greatly helped up the team as it quickly improved both tactically and as a roster. It culminated in its first tournament win at CEVO 9 in 2016. It was a landmark event for Boltz as he was one of the star players of the team and was in-game leading at the event. The team wanted to move away from Peacemaker’s style of calling, so Boltz took it up in his stead with Peacemaker helping out.

Afterward, Peacemaker moved to Liquid, leaving Boltz to in-game lead full time on his own. It was too much as Boltz had to be both leader and star player. Eventually the team, which by now was under the Immortals banner, recruited Wilton “zews” Prado to be the leader.

This didn’t work out. Zews wanted to bring a structured, tactical style to the team, and the team rebelled. Despite good results, the team decided to go in a different direction and zews left (and eventually became the coach of Team Liquid).

In his place came steel, and this is where the team took its next step. Steel became the in-game leader and ran a loose style. Although Peacemaker and Zeus were correct in their tactical approach to bring teamplay to the roster, it was an idea the star players seemed unwilling to embrace. Instead, the inclusion of steel as a support player helped stabilize the teamplay aspects and allowed the loose style to have consistency. And the reason was because of the combination between Boltz and steel.

Boltz and steel could give strong teamplay elements that covered what the star players wanted to do. It makes sense as both players had a good understanding of tactical CS as they had played under FalleN together with Luminosity. Both understood teamplay and how to facilitate the stars of the team, fill in the gaps when needed, and still impact the game.

So when the team continued to cycle through different star players from felps to fnx to kNg, the team continued to rise. Each star player gave the team a different type of style around which to play, but the foundation of the roster never changed. Boltz and steel continued to facilitate the stars of the team.

Boltz then took it one step further as he became the in-game leader again. In this way, he was able to facilitate steel to become a more impactful player on the server and further increase the firepower of the team. At the same time, Boltz’s own fragging power did not go down as he was able to consistently contribute from his role. This style eventually led the team to the finals of the Krakow Major. And though kNg was Immortals’ best player, it was only possible because of the base foundation Boltz laid out for the team when he first joined Games Academy at the end of 2015.

And the reason Boltz is such a strong foundational player is because of his fortitude. The support role is as much about your skill as it is about your character. There is nothing that can stop a star player from becoming a team player beyond character. After all, aim and firing technique is useful no matter where you play on the map. But it takes a willingness to sacrifice for the team, a willingness to help other players shine on the team as you take responsibility others are not willing to. This is why I consider Boltz the most important player of the Immortals squad and the foundation on which the entire team rests.

And now Boltz faces his harshest test. After the incidents at DreamHack Montreal, the Immortals team must rebuild around him and steel. The others having left due to excessive poor behavior, and now he must rebuild the team from scratch.

Yet I don’t doubt for a moment that he can do it. Players like kNg, HEN1 and LUCAS1 are talents, but other star players will rise. Brazil has proven to be a hotbed of skilled players, but what it lacks are team players. Players that have the drive — the fortitude — to come out of any obstacle to fulfill their dreams. Boltz is one of those rare players, as is steell. Boltz is a player who moved to NA in hopes of fulfilling his dream of becoming a CS:GO pro. He achieved that, but was then cut from that team and forced to pick himself up again. He rebuilt his game and came out the other side a better player. No matter how many times the roster has changed, he has molded his own game to try to push it to it’s highest level, whether that be as a star or support or leader. One day Immortals will rise from the ashes and it will do it because of the character and skill of a player like Boltz. Someone who has survived every bad hand he has been given and had the internal strength to get past it regardless.

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