Despite MIBR's efforts to rejuvenate their 2023 season following a dismal VCT Americas League showing, which saw them miss playoffs, they became the first team eliminated from the Last Chance Qualifier after losing to KRU Esports in the first round of the bracket. Furthermore, by losing to KRU, which by that point had been the only winless team in the region, MIBR's season was over as well, thus leaving plenty of time for the org to ponder on their next move for 2024.
Looking over at the team, one of the people who laid a notable mark throughout the season was André "Txozin" Saidel, the assistant coach who was added to the main lineup after the benching of heat at the final stretch of VCT Americas. With Txozin on board, MIBR famously defeated 100 Thieves in the final week of the group stage to deny them a spot in the postseason–with his clutch knife, no less–and allow Evil Geniuses to progress onward instead. From there, the team spent their month-long break synergizing with Txozin with the hope of orchestrating a deep run towards qualifying for Champions, though it ultimately happened to no avail.
Following the series against KRU, BLIX talked to MIBR's Txozin for an interview about what he felt went wrong in the team's short participation in the LCQ, what he focused on in the leadup to the event, how he integrated with the rest of the lineup and much more.
On facing KRU
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Commiserations on the loss against KRU. A tough way to go out, given that the result marked the end of your season. To start, I want to know what was going through your mind moments after the series ended.
André "Txozin" Saidel: We are a bit sad because, for me, I couldn't even show who I really am. I was really mad at myself. I'm still going through that. When you start the season, you'll look at something that resides at the top of the mountain. You look at the title, and everything that you want, like your entire life, depends on it. You look to the top, and you don't know what you're going to do to reach that, but we had really good practice in the last few weeks, so when we came here to play today, we had a really good feeling and really good vibes.
Especially with myself, I was feeling really confident, but when the game came through, nothing was working. Nothing was going the way that we planned--not the way we planned but the way I planned myself on how we're gonna approach the match was not working. And, I don't know, the nervous got on me. Maybe it's because I don't have a lot of experience nowadays. I was playing more back in the day, so maybe this time off has now hit me. I don't know. I'm just confused with everything that happened because I was aiming for something, and now it ends, and my brain kind of doesn't accept. I don't know, it just drives you crazy when the season ends, and I don't know what's happening right now with my mind, to be honest.
BLIX: What do you think was the main cause behind you not feeling comfortable and you having all the nerves and pressure affecting you throughout the series? Was there one cause, or was it many things coming together at once?
Txozin: I don't know. I started the game really off, I guess. I don't know why exactly. I didn't realize it, but I started the game off, and I couldn't have the feeling of the match. Nothing was working. In the first map, I barely shot anybody, I was dying from behind, I was dying from the side, and everyone was losing a lot of utilities on me. I was dying blind. I was going ahead to get traded--I never had a chance to really get in the game. I need to VOD review that because I don't know if it was a lot of mistakes of mine or if they were doing a really good job to counter the way that I play. I don't know what happened. I just couldn't get into the game. Like I said, the practice was really good, and coming into the matches, nothing worked.
BLIX: This happened against KRU Esports, who came into this event without winning a single series in all of 2023. For them to finally grab a win, speaks to the level of improvement they've had since the start of the break, but it also speaks to the struggles you've had against a team like KRU. Talking about this team, what did KRU do that made it so difficult for you and the rest of MIBR in the series?
Txozin: First of all, they didn't have any wins, but they had really good matches. Almost every single match was 2-1; they had close matches, and they struggled to end their matches. Like, they struggled to win against us as well. We almost came back in both maps, so I think they just had the struggles to end it as well, but thanks to the first matches in the regular season, they had really good matches where they hit the shots and have a good strategy. They like to pressure the opponent and don't let them play. They don't play passively. They play aggressively, so sometimes it's hard to get in the game plan and playing against that game style, and they're really good at it. Today, they were hitting every single shot, so it was hard to shoot against them. I think their aggressive way and the pressure that they made on us was really difficult for us to get out of the shackles, so it was just hard.
BLIX: As everyone knows, you joined the lineup at the end of the regular season after initially starting as an assistant coach due to the departure of heat. After playing a few games from there, you had a lot of time to reset and get up to the same speed as the rest of the team prior to the LCQ. You mentioned \how you were feeling good before coming into the stage, so what was the biggest thing that you focused on from the end of the season up until the LCQ?
Txozin: The main focus for me was to start playing the game like crazy because I was feeling behind of the others. Inside the game, I didn't have a really good aim, and I didn't have the best decisions ever. Though sometimes I was messing around and doing crazy stuff that was not consistent, I had to study a lot of the game, and as for my own gameplay, I had to practice a lot of ranked matches to improve. It kind of worked out because, as I said, for the last few weeks, I was playing really well into practice, but when today came, nothing worked, and I couldn't play. I'm just mad at myself. I kind of threw up. I don't know. I have no words, to be honest.
Reflections on the 2023 season
BLIX: I'm sure the average person would also struggle when put into your shoes. Furthermore, focusing back on you, you haven’t played competitively since a year. That said, it's understandable for you to feel this way, but I feel such struggles was expected and inevitable, given there was so little available. Would you agree to that?
Txozin: I think for today since I was not playing for a long time, my game wasn't consistent. There are some breaches in my game and gaps that I couldn't fix. For next year, if I keep playing or I be an assistant coach, I have no idea what I'm gonna do--I'm gonna improve and be more consistent. Nowadays, I feel the most trouble I have with myself is my inconsistency. I guess it's just keep playing and improve after the loss. The game today is going to teach me a lot of stuff, I'm sure of that. I just need to take some time before I watch it and be 100% sure what I should do next.
BLIX: Talking about the team's season overall, it obviously wasn't the way that anyone within the org would have wanted to go, but I want to ask what do you think is one thing the team should have done differently that could have avoided this result?
Txozin: I think our team needs to work a little more on our own mentality because when we come to the match, we could not play our own game. We kind of had a disjointed way to play the game. They made the rules of the match and not us, so we couldn't play our own game, and it was hard to play our own game. It's just tough, to be honest. It's a lot to think about, but for me, we couldn't play our own game. For me, that's what I think we need to get better at. Maybe that's why we had good matches against really good teams, and in some matches, we just could not play. I think it's all on our mindset, and we have a team that is still too young. We have a lot of guys who are too young, so they need a lot more experience, I guess. I think that's it.
BLIX: People are going to look back at your time and how you did many things, such as being the main cause behind Evil Geniuses' run in Masters Tokyo and getting placed into the lineup but still managing to perform as well as you did despite the circumstances. What do you think is the biggest takeaway from this entire year for you personally?
Txozin: For me, it's never doubting myself, to be honest, because when I stopped playing, I was doubting myself a lot when I played with paiN, who were Top 2 or Top 3 in Brazil at the time. I got really stressed with myself because I could not perform the way that I wanted to, and I could not leave that mindset. That's how everything started for me to stop playing. This year, after playing some matches and playing against the best, I proved to myself in what I'm capable of, not even as an assistant coach but as a player as well. So though today was not even close to the day that I wanted, every single player have days like this. It's hard to be the most consistent player ever, so I think I just need to go through my mistakes and get better and the lead lesson that I learned after all these years is to never doubt myself and trust every single gut feeling that I have like trusting every single play I have in my mind and go for it. No hesitation.