Brazil’s no stranger to competition. Their overwhelming success in traditional sports shows just how rich their competitive culture is. Such is the case with eSports. Their regional league, Circuito Brasileiro de League of Legends or CBLOL for short, is without a doubt the most popular one in Latin America. The Riot Games Brazil Twitch broadcast averages approximately 2.5 million views monthly, whereas other Latin american broadcasts (like Liga Latinoamérica Norte and Copa Lationamérica Sur) average less than 400 thousand views a month.
But viewership is not the only place where Brazil stands out from the other regions. Since the introduction of International Wildcard Teams to the League of Legends World Championship in 2014, brazilian teams have managed to qualify every time. Not only that, but they consistently upset against other, more skilled, teams. At Worlds 2014, KaBuM! e-Sports took down Europe’s first seed Alliance. A year later paiN Gaming secured two victories in the group stage against NA LCS Champions Counter Logic Gaming and the LMS’ Flash Wolves. Last Worlds, INTZ e-Sports defeated what many thought was a strong contender for 1st place, China’s Edward Gaming.
However, as is with all Wildcard Teams, their success is seen more as a fluke from their opponents rather than a display of higher skill from themselves. If a Wildcard team wins against another more established team, fans typically blame the other team for “choking” or simply playing extremely poorly. The format is also very prone to these types of upsets, being that they are Best of One series. One slip up, one misplay, one over aggression can mean a loss for a very prestigious team.
Nevertheless, this perception of Wildcard teams has changed recently. In 2016, Albus NoX Luna was the first IWC team to ever make it past the Group Stage in a World Championship. Even when they inevitably lost in the quarterfinals, they still showed Wildcard teams have to be taken seriously.
Now, with the changes to the international tournaments like the Mid Season Invitational and the World Championship, other regions have a higher possibility to gain more experience and elevate their skill level. Even if regions like Brazil have a long way to go in order to match Premier leagues, they have proved time and time again that they are growing and that they can be competitive.