MIBR (+800)

The second legend team we are talking about, MIBR. The biggest narrative surrounding them headed into this Major is their roster change, returning to their lineup from 2016 in an attempt to reclaim championships past.

What needs to go right?

Team Gels Instantly

The obvious upside of MIBR’s roster change is the familiarity. For those of you that don’t know, this roster played together for the SK org in 2016, and they won several tournaments, most notably ESL One Cologne 2017 and ECS Season 3.  These players haven’t just won on the biggest stages in Counter Strike, they’ve done it as a team.

That makes me feel pretty good about this roster. Obviously, they don’t have quite the champion pedigree of someone like Astralis, but a team that has been in the biggest spots is a team that I like to bet on. Experience can often be underrated in all disciplines, not just Counter Strike.

For MIBR to have a shot at reclaiming their former glory, they’ll need to get the band back together fast. Felps likely joined up with the team in mid-December, which would have given them a month or two to get back into shape. Two months is a pretty long time in Counter Strike, except for the fact that they haven’t played an official since BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, on the 15th of December.

That means they’re coming into the Major without an official played with this lineup since when Felps was removed, back in 2017. That’s risky business. I would expect MIBR to look a little different when we see them at Katowice. A little more fluid, a little more relaxed. I would imagine the players are going to be feeling it out, playing a little puggy as they work their way through their first couple games.

FalleN Becomes FalleN Again

One of the most disappointing things about MIBR last year was the disappearance of FalleN. One some of his earlier lineups, especially when they were playing with FNX, FalleN was the poster child for fragging IGLs, putting up numbers that would have put prime GuardiaN to shame.

He was an outsized component of those early teams, locking down outside on Train, he played Cobble like he was on skates, he was the king of bathrooms on Overpass. FalleN was feared in 2016, and he ripped through teams like they weren’t even there. Him and Coldzera were one of the most fearsome duos in Counter Strike at the time.

When the Brazilian squad added Felps, his fragging fell off, a pattern which continued with every subsequent roster addition. On MIBR with Tarik and Stewie, he hit rock bottom as a fragger, hovering around the bottom or middle of the scoreboard.

If FalleN can regain some of his firepower from his prime, MIBR will start to look much scarier. FalleN’s AWP has the potential to unlock more dimensions in MIBR’s game and open up their map pool. If he can be 80% of what he was in his prime, all of a sudden, their Train and Overpass start to look very, very scary.

What Could Go Wrong?

Remind Us Why They Broke It Up

This lineup has won tournaments. But unfortunately, like all teams that win things, they eventually stopped. This team was broken up for a reason, so many years ago. Felps and Fer had some role overlap, it altered the team’s playstyle and setups too much, eventually FalleN and Co. decided they’d be better off without Felps.

Since being dropped from SK, Felps has (allegedly) developed his game. Think of his stint on their tier two Brazilian teams as playing in the Minors. He has learned to temper his aggression in the server, play more versatile roles, enable his teammates. He even called for a while. This new, modern Felps has been billed as a potential secondary caller, a site anchor, a support player, all sorts of things that MIBR needs.

That’s been the biggest problem with MIBR in the last year, is their roster construction. They forced Tarik onto a role he wasn’t good at, Stewie took up resources from Cold and FalleN, there wasn’t a player like Taco who could do the dirty work so everyone else could have fun. Adding Taco back is a good start to reshaping this team, but it won’t be enough unless Felps can adapt.

Fer, FalleN, and Coldzera all demand resources in game. Coldzera needs to pick his spots, choose rifle or AWP, get flashes and support from his teammates to set up his plays. FalleN needs the AWP to be effective, and there are a couple places on each map he really likes to play (Yard on Train, Bathrooms on Overpass, you get the idea). Fer is one of the most aggressive players in professional Counter Strike. He needs flashes to get in, flashes to get out, people to hold his off-angles for him, all sorts of things that enable him to play his crazy balls to the wall style that has been so effective for the Brazilians in the past.

That’s why Felps didn’t make sense. He wasn’t a player that enabled. He was a player that demanded. Now, that’s not a bad thing obviously. But it was a problem for this lineup when they played together. The saying in traditional sports is “there’s only one ball.” There are no balls in Counter Strike, but the same principle still applies. The best players on a team are going to demand attention and help from their teammates. That’s the way that it is. And when that interaction works the way it’s supposed to, you get a championship team.

 

Can’t Function the Way They Used To

The biggest, scariest potential problem facing MIBR, is that maybe FalleN and Cold just don’t have it anymore. We haven’t seen an MVP caliber performance from either of them in a while. While I certainly think they can still hit that level, it’s entirely possible that part of their career has passed them by. If that’s the case, no amount of roster shuffling will save them.

I don’t really think that’s the case, not in the slightest. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. All in all, I like them. I think the upside far outweighs any hypothetical problems with this roster. Not to mention the fact that there will be no demos available on this team. Everyone is going in blind as to what they can expect from MIBR this year.

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