Destination North America: Brazilian players and teams who have left home for the U.S.

Luminosity Gaming, with a roster filled with Brazilian players competed at the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals in London. Provided by Helena Kristiansson/ESL

This story was originally published by ESPN Brazil and translated from Portuguese.

Although the esports scene is growing in emerging regions, North America, China, South Korea and Europe have the most established competitive scenes and offer the most promising opportunities. Not surprisingly, teams from smaller regions often consider moving to the United States for opportunities in esports.

Being the closest region to Brazil, the United States is the go-to destination for Brazilian teams that want to grow in the international Counter-Strike scene. Players from Brazil have caught the attention of American organizations as a source of talent, not only in CS:GO.

In this story, we look back on the migration of Brazilian teams and players to North America, and below are some examples of this successful partnership.


It was in competitive Counter-Strike that the idea of leaving your home country to become a better player -- or team -- began. The first step taken by a Brazilian team abroad had some assistance from fans.

In 2015, KaBuM.TD, with Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, Lucas "steel" Lopes, Ricardo "boltz" Prass and Caio "zqk" Fonseca, had the dream of competing and qualifying for the major ESL One Katowice. In order to achieve such a dream, they started a collective financing campaign that managed to raise 20,000 Brazilian reais (approximately $6,000), including a donation of 4,000 Brazilian reais from Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, former Fnatic player. During the qualifying phase, the Brazilians secured a spot in Katowice, changed their name from KaBuM to Keyd Stars and finished that major in the 5th-8th spot.

They asked Ricardo "Dead" Sinigaglia -- a Brazilian who lived in the U.S. -- for a place to stay after securing a spot in the ESL Pro League Season 1 final. They did well in the tournament and caught the attention of Luminosity Gaming. They signed a contract with the Canadian organization in July 2015.

Also in 2015, other Brazilians were thinking about making the trip to the U.S. -- Epitacio "TACO" de Melo, Gustavo "Shoowtime" Goncalves, Lincoln "fnx" Lau, Henrique "Hen1" Teles and Lucas "Lucas1" Teles. They became the first lineup of the Nao Tem Como team.

After that, Brazilian rosters in the U.S. went through some changes. In November, fnx, TACO and coach Wilton "Zews" Prado went to Luminosity, while Joao "Felps" Vasconcellos and Ricardo "boltz" Prass went to Games Academy.

After the move, Luminosity conquered the world by winning the MLG Major Columbus in April 2016 and continued to perform well by winning the DreamHack Open Austin 2016 and the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals. Meanwhile, Games Academy was acquired by Tempo Storm in February 2016 and was runner-up in the same DH Open Austin 2016, before those players were signed by Immortals, the third international organization that bet on Brazilians.

From 2016 to 2019, there were a lot of roster changes in CS:GO. The Luminosity lineup was acquired by SK Gaming in June 2016 and won the major ESL One Cologne 2016, IEM Sydney 2017, DH Open Summer 2017, the ECS Season 3 finals, the ESL One Cologne 2017, the Epicenter 2017 and the ESL Pro League Season 6 finals -- all with a lineup that saw the departures of TACO and fnx and the arrivals of boltz and Jake "Stewie2K" Yip.

After SK Gaming, the Brazilians and Stewie migrated to the Brazilian Counter-Strike team MIBR in June 2018. In the meantime, boltz was replaced by the Tarik "tarik" Celik, but things didn't work. Both Americans left the team for TACO and Felps. Recently, Felps left MIBR on loan for Luminosity's Lucas "LUCAS1" Teles.

Meanwhile, other Brazilian organizations decided to try the American dream. In 2016, Dai Dai Gaming announced its trip to the U.S., but the team ended up losing its players in February of the following year. Also in 2016, Father Gaming hired AlienTech in Portugal to travel to the U.S. and compete there, but the relationship only lasted until January of the following year. In 2017, Gorilla Core was also created with Brazilians abroad, but the team does not currently have a lineup.

In early 2018, three large Brazilian organizations made the transition. Team oNe migrated in February 2018, followed by Furia in June and INTZ in September. Out of the three, Furia is the one that has had the most success by winning the American division of ESEA Season 30, finishing second in the DreamHack Rio, 3rd-4th at DH Masters Dallas and reaching HLTV's top 10.

Paving the path for other games

It is not only in Counter-Strike that Brazil and North America have united. The same thing has happened in games like League of Legends, Overwatch and even Rainbow 6.

In League of Legends, it first happened in 2017, when Big Gods Jackals featured a lineup that included Thúlio "Sirt" Carlos and Gustavo "Baiano" Gomes. They reached two playoffs but could not stay in the region with the transformation of the league into franchises -- when the "Challenger" became an "Academy" of franchise teams.

The past few months have seen a new American investment in Brazil. In December 2018, mid laner Rafael "Rakin" Knittel was signed as a streamer and member of Team Liquid's Academy team at LCS. In February 2019, it was it was Flavio "Jukes" Fernandes going to the U.S. In addition to its broadcasts, Jukes has joined C9's Academy lineup and even played a game with them that brought in more than 50,000 viewers.

Other recent Brazilian signings with U.S. teams have happened in Overwatch and Dota 2. After the Overwatch World Cup, Renan "alemao" Moretto -- the "Brazilian German" -- drew international attention, did well in the tryouts and was signed by the Overwatch League's Boston Uprising in December 2018. Otavio "Tavo" Gabriel is "undergoing tests" for Complexity in Dota 2 since May this year after Chaos released him.

We cannot fail to mention Brazilians who are in North America but continue to defend their home country's flag. Juan "JSchritte" Passos left Brazil and became a champion in Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm. Unfortunately, the developer ended the HOTS competitive scene, but JSchritte did not give up. The Brazilian is investing his time in Dota 2 and Teamfight Tactics.

Diego "Kelazhur" Schwimer remains the most prominent Brazilian representative in competitive Starcraft ll. In addition to representing Brazil in the WESG 2018-2019 finals held in March in China, Kelazhur is already guaranteed a spot at the WCS Summer 2019 SCII, to be played in July in Ukraine.

And finally, it is worth pointing out that not only are Brazilians making the trip to North America, but U.S. organizations have decided to invest directly in the Brazilian scenario. Both Immortals and FaZe Clan have assembled teams from Rainbow Six and are playing at the highest level in the Brazilian scenario, while Lowkey and Team Clarity play in the South American Overwatch Contenders league with mixed Brazilian and Argentine teams. Lowkey also has Brazilian teams in Rocket League and Paladins.