While SK Gaming has been one of the best CS:GO teams in the world for some time now, it’s been a decently long time (at least in the eSports timeframe) since they were called the unequivocally The Best.
Even though the team had some good results since they have reached the pinnacle of their performance and ESL One Cologne 2016, finishing 2nd in the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals, coming in 2nd at Intel Extreme Master XI Oakland, and making it into the Semifinals of ELEAGUE Season 2, the reported clashes between Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, the Godfather of Brazilian CS:GO, and Lincoln “fnx” Lau, one of the team’s players, reached the point of no return, resulting in fnx getting thrown out.
His spot will be taken by the Portuguese Ricardo “fox” Pacheco, who’s known for his time at FaZe Clan, where he played for a bit, not really making much happen before being replaced. The player is intended to serve as a temporary band-aid at the ECS, after which a more permanent solution will have to be found.
The trouble in the SK Gaming camp goes to show that even when a team is is at the pinnacle of their careers, friction happens. Especially when big sums of moneyz are involved, as they are in the CS:GO scene, where the prize pool for a tournament can be more than $250,000. With the great pace CS:GO pros work under, with the schedule full of tournaments you don’t want to miss, there’s no wonder that small pebbles of discontent can snowball into insurmountable problems.
While teammate’s disagreements could be solved if caught early enough in most cases, that relies on that actually happening. While League of Legends teams often invest a lot into their coaching staff and psychologists to avoid precisely that problem, this doesn’t seem to be the case in CS:GO. That could be because of the different culture FPS players live in or the nomadic nature of the CS:GO scene, where they have to go from tournament to tournament with no home base.
We don’t know yet what the problem was exactly, however, it is clear that it will be hard for SK Gaming to find a player of fnx’s experience and skill if they do not get away from their Brazilian roots. With several of their players not speaking very good English, they are kind of shoehorned into getting a player who’s fluent in Portuguese. That leaves them with limited options of getting a player from Brazil or Portugal. Chances are that their permanent roster member will be a Brazilian. Also, he will probably not be as skilled as fnx. This is a sad state to be in, both for the SK Gaming players, their fans and the CS:GO scene. Everybody would have been better off if the internal strife in SK could have been averted entirely or at least fixed.