When M80 paired up with BESTIA in the Group B elimination match at ESL Challenger Atlanta 2023, many expected the North American team to come out on top and vie for a spot in the playoffs. And that was with them having to replace IGL Marcus "maNkz" Kjeldsen with Rory "dephh" Jackson as a stand-in.
However, BESTIA, who reached the event by winning the South American qualifier, defeated M80 2-0 to knock them out of the tournament at the first hurdle. Now M80 will look ahead to 2024 where, on top of getting set to compete in ESL Pro League Season 19 and IEM Katowice, they will attempt to qualify for the Copenhagen Major in less than a month.
Following the end of M80’s run in ESL Challenger Atlanta, Mario "malbsMd" Samayoa sat down with BLIX for an interview on his experience in Atlanta, what it was like playing with Rory "dephh" Jackson, his reflection on 2023 and much more.
Playing in ESL Challenger
Pedro Romero, BLIX: It was a pretty tough way to go out in ESL Challenger Atlanta by finishing 0-2. What's going through your mind about this recent match against BESTIA?
Mario "malbsMd" Samayoa: It's sad because not only against BESTIA but I guess with VP as well, we could have won both matches but it is what it is. We're just gonna keep working and just hope that in the next event, we have Marcus [Marcus "maNkz" Kjeldsen].
BLIX: And it looked as though, in map two, you guys were going to extend it to map three with a 9-3 first half before they came back and took it away. What went wrong in that second half?
malbsMd: We had some problems on the CT side because we are more used to playing teams that are more default-dedicated but they were playing a lot with strats and stuff. The way they played was a little bit strange for us because we were used to defaults and being more reactive. Also, we didn't have Marcus and he helped us a lot with reactions from my side. He's very active and vocal, so he helps us a lot and we missed him.
BLIX: And of course, so many things can be looked at regarding this team's performance in this competition, what with dephh [Rory Jackson] stepping in for maNkz. What do you think was the biggest issue that faced M80 in this tournament from your perspective?
malbsMd: Actually, I feel like I had a little bit of fault in there because I need to be more vocal, and with Marcus not being on my side, I felt I had to guide dephh and I couldn't really do that. And it was difficult for me to almost micro-manage dephh in the situations on site. I think I was kind of guilty on the CT sides and yeah, it is what it is.
BLIX: Going a little bit deeper into that, how was it playing with dephh?
malbsMd: It was fun because we were trying to be chill and just having fun, but at the end just got a little bit tilted because we were losing some rounds that didn't make sense at all. That was a problem basically but playing with dephh is always fun because he's a funny guy and has good vibes.
BLIX: Even so, there have to be some thoughts about what could have been had M80 had maNkz, right?
malbsMd: Yeah, we definitely had those 'what ifs' but if it had to happen, it had to happen. We cannot change what happened. And yeah, I think this is just a more chill event for us and we just want to prepare for the RMR. That is the most important event for us and just trying to make it to the Major. And maybe, as I said, we might have beaten VP or we might have not, we could have just 2-0'd BESTIA, but it's what happened and we cannot change it.
Looking back at malbsMd’s 2023
BLIX: Taking a look at the year-end since this tournament wrapped up 2023 for you. What do you think was the biggest thing you had to work on in being with this team and your past teams throughout this entire year?
malbsMd: It was a big change for me because this is the first time I'm communicating in English with a team because I used to play with Brazilian teams. I feel it's easier for me to communicate in English and I feel more comfortable in it. Also getting to play with a European IGL was very nice because I learned a lot about the game. I also learned a lot playing with coldzera [Marcelo David] back in 00Nation but playing with maNkz is just an awesome experience. I love how he has his system in IGLing and it has been really nice. I need to work to be more vocal, while also expressing more of what I want to do in a round.
BLIX: I asked a similar question to dephh yesterday about the team's goals and your progress toward them. He said it was to appear in more major events and the Copenhagen Major first and foremost. Where do you view the current level of the team compared to when it first came together?
malbsMd: Since slaxz- [Fritz Dietrich] joined the team, we stepped up our game. We still need to work on other things, but I feel like we are doing well and we can do better. We are at the level that we are in the process of being one of the best teams and we are just not there yet, so like in the middle. So we're gonna keep working on it and maybe just give a surprise at the RMR.
"I love how [maNkz] has his system in IGLing and it has been really nice. I need to work to be more vocal, while also expressing more of what I want to do in a round."
BLIX: What is it going to take for this team to get to that desired level
malbsMd: We're just gonna keep grinding. For me at least, if I can be more vocal and express more of what I want to do in the round or where I want someone to do something with me, I think it's gonna change a lot because I had some problems with that and the team has had problems with it because of me, but I can just keep working. I'm just learning so we have a bright future.