March 7, 2022
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Imperial, the Brazilian Counter-Strike team formed by Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, has been quite the trend since it was just a rumour. The squad, often nicknamed as “Last Dance”, received both positive and negative comments upon its official announcement. Independent of that, it seems that the project is definitely going to make waves as the team already caught some impressive viewership numbers right from their first matches.

However, what exactly is the “Last Dance”, and why it’s such a big phenom in esports? Let’s take a quick dive below to understand this project.

BY FALLEN

Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo has been a household name in Counter-Strike for a while now. While he has a long history with the series, his notoriety was raised after he won two Global Offensive Majors back-to-back in 2016. The Brazilian 30-year-old failed to keep his momentum in the following years, and played along with multiple teammates. For the better part of 2021, FalleN played for Team Liquid. He joined the North American roster as their AWPer and later on, their captain.

Unfortunately, FalleN’s journey with Liquid didn’t last more than a year. After being unable to find consistent success with the team, he left the squad at the end of 2021. By then, rumors of his new venture were already widely known: a team with his old Brazilian teammates from the Luminosity Gaming era. Nicknamed “Last Dance”, this team is supposed to FalleN’s last hurrah as Counter-Strike player.

The reception to this project was always mixed. Some believe that it’s a waste of time, especially for a young player such as Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo, the youngest and the outlier of the team who has never played with FalleN. These critics become even more common after Marcelo “coldzera” David refused to take part in the project to instead build a new team in 00 Nation, mixing veterans with young guns from South America.

However, this project clearly has a solid amount of support, too. For some, the possibility of this being FalleN’s last project alone is worth following. Furthermore, while not much is expected from this project, each achievement and match won by Imperial will be cheered. There aren’t high expectations for this team, but there’s no denying that they will be very entertaining to follow.

STARTING ON THE RIGHT NOTE

This past Thursday, Imperial debuted. The squad attended the first South American open qualifier for the PGL Major Antwerp: Americas RMR, and they managed to do very well. Their first two matches saw them facing two mix teams from Brazil, and Imperial managed to win these with 16 – 0, and 16 – 1 score lines, respectively. On their third game, they started to face some opposition early on, but their opponents had to play the game without a player, and that match ended with a 16 – 4 score line.

To close off the first day at the qualifier, Imperial faced Beneath. The mix team managed to get a couple more rounds extra, but Imperial also won their game. On the second day, Imperial started off by winning against another mix team, but faced even more challenges on their first best-of-three series. Now facing Meta Gaming, the team started their game losing. Still, Fallen & co. managed to comeback, and win their own map pick in the series with a 16 – 14 score line. On Meta Gaming’s own map pick, their opponents couldn’t quite play on the same level, and lost the map, and series. With that win, Imperial qualified for the PGL Major Antwerp Americas RMR.

On the same day, Imperial also faced their first defeat. The team lost a match to footballer’s Carlos Henrique Casimiro team Case Esports with a 7 – 16 score line. However, that match was only played for seeding reasons, so the team’s momentum keeps going strong.

IMPRESSIVE VIEWERSHIP NUMBERS

It’s no surprise that a team featuring FalleN and his old teammates Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, Lincoln “fnx” Lau and Ricardo “boltz” Prass would see great viewership numbers. These are, after all, some of the biggest names in Brazilian Counter-Strike.

And Imperial did not disappoint in their debut. During the first day of the qualifier, Alexandre “gAuLeS” Borba’s stream on Twitch.tv – the most popular Twitch channel focused in CSGO in Brazil – which followed all of the team’s games, peaked at 204.128 viewers. On the second day, the channel saw more than 186.000 viewers. In comparison, gAuLeS’ stream of IEM Katowice 2022. Grand-finals – the first $1.000.000 event for CSGO in 2022 – peaked at 127,795 views as per TwitchTracker.

There are no surprises here, but that doesn’t make these numbers any less impressive. Again, Imperial might not accomplish much as far as tournament results go. Yet, they will bring the numbers when it comes to viewership. And with viewership, comes sponsorship. The general idea here is that, if this project succeeds – if they continue to reliable bring high viewership numbers – this team will definitely set a precedent for the esports industry.

SETTING A PRECEDENT

Sure, a “Last Dance-like” team won’t be possible in titles like Rocket League or VALORANT. However, in games like Counter-Strike, we definitely could see other teams following the idea popping up in the future. Also, yes, the idea of a reunion such as the one we’re seeing in Imperial isn’t new. Yet, how many of these came together officially under an organization?

And most importantly, organizations might become more open to teams driven by its players’ popularity in the future. Right now, it’s rare to see an organization investing on a roster that is known to not be viable results-wise. If this project turns out to be successful, we might see more teams considering the viability of a team based on players’ popularity instead of building roster aiming at results alone.

Then, organizations might also explore opportunities of fielding their own last dance-likes along with their main teams. After all, a number of esports organizations have long histories. In the same way that they hold academy team, they could also field a “Legends” team, featuring veterans of yesterday. Thanks to Counter-Strike open scene, fielding these kinds of teams aren’t that much of a far-fetched idea.

IMPERIAL IS COMING FOR MORE

If you’re an excited fan, or just want to know what’s next for this team, you won’t be waiting. Later this week, the squad will be attending FiReLEAGUE Latin Power Spring. This time, there won’t be any mix teams, so this will be Imperial’s first real challenge.

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@mjunior