A team like M80 based in North America aims for major titles but struggles to string together a positive sequence in the Six Major.
M80 was eliminated for the second time with a result well below expectations in the Six Major, but why does this turn the team's performance into disappointment? Let's understand what led the community to create high expectations for the team and the possible reason for the drop in performance.
In 2022, still under the XSET banner, the foundation of the current M80 was built. The team consists of Brazilians Lucas "DiasLucas" Dias, Leonardo "Kyno" Figueiredo, Arthur "GMZ" Oliveira, coach Matheus "Budega" Araújo, and analysts Igor "Vivas" Vivas and Pedro Fernandes. In addition to the Brazilians, there's the Canadian Zachary "SpiriTz" Dionne and the American Evan "Yoggah" Nelson.
The team blended experienced professionals in international tournaments like Kyno and Yoggah from Oxygen, SpiriTz with a Six Invitational with underdog Parabellum, and Budega from MIBR and Team oNe, with players coming from the regional second division, who played together for Arial Arise — DiasLucas and GMZ.
The team's initial performances were good considering the mix of styles, with the team qualifying via the fourth NA spot in the Six Major Charlotte with five wins and four losses in the NA league. In Charlotte, the team was placed in a group with two Brazilian teams (FURIA and Team Liquid) and the Japanese team Cyclops and secured qualification with four wins and two losses.
In the playoffs, the team was eliminated by Astralis, led by David "iconic" Ifidon, still in the quarterfinals. An important fact from this tournament: during one of the matches against Team Liquid, coach Budega was suspended from competitive play for a year due to his famous provocations during the match: "engaging in major misconduct directed at members of Team Liquid."
In the following season, another qualification by the skin of their teeth, now tying in points with DarkZero but winning on the round difference. The team sought stability in international tournaments and achieved it with these qualifications, even though it was tense and with a fight until the end. Still, they always came through for the matches that would form and give the necessary experience to build strength for the major tournaments.
In Berlin, the team had an excellent campaign in the group stage despite losing in their debut match against Rogue. In the playoffs, the team won the first match against Wolves, but in the semifinal, they were eliminated, again losing to Rogue, the only team that had beaten XSET in the competition. Rogue, led by William "Spoit" Löfstedt, later became champions against FaZe Clan in the grand final.
In the third stage of the North American League, the team was already guaranteed a spot in the Six Invitational, and the performance dropped precisely because of the team's comfort regarding the championship. This time, they finished in eighth place, with four wins and five losses.
Finally, the moment arrives for Six Invitational 2023, where the team is expected to demonstrate a much-anticipated performance. After the growth from the Major in Charlotte to the Major in Berlin, the community expects a good result, not necessarily winning the title but being one of the contenders in the tournament.
The team, now playing as M80, starts strong, they finished Group A in first place with three wins and one loss. However, in this edition, the best second-placed teams could choose which third-placed team they wanted to face, and the first-placed teams chose which matchup between second and third place they wanted to meet. Unfortunately, M80 got the worst seed among the first-placed teams, leaving them to face the winner of BDS and w7m. In a closely contested match, w7m won 2-1, sending M80 to the lower bracket, where they bested Spacestation in a the regional duel. However, in the next match, they faced G2, which was on the way to winning the competition.
The team was eliminated one match before playing on the main stage of the Six Invitational but secured a top-eight finish. The expectation for a team that could deliver great games was fulfilled, and despite their placement in the competition, it was a good performance.
After the tournament, the team replaced the two foreigners, SpiriTz and Yoggah. In their places, M80 brought in two players who were M80's rivals in the last Six Major: David "Iconic" Ifidon and William "Spoit" Löfstedt. The former player finished fourth in the Six Major, and the latter finished 5th-6th, making them big names with high expectations for the new team. Thus, a new higher expectation for M80 is formed: take the good results from earlier in the team and improve on them with the additions of two players who had gone further than M80 had previously achieved.
But after the changes, M80's performance began to decline decline, even with the player changes. In regional tournaments, the team achieved more significant results than with the previous duo, winning Stage 1 and finishing as runners-up in Stage 2. However, the team faltered in international tournaments, winning only one match, and securing victory on just three maps. During the Six Major break, the team participated in Gamers8, the main offseason tournament, where they managed to secure a second-place position, (losing in the final to Team BDS.
But what caused the lack of results? One of the possible reasons could be the absence of Budega during the matches. Even as XSET, the team achieved good results, but the head coach was absent, and his tactical insight could have been well-used for crucial moments, such as calling for a pause or making strategic reads during the map. After all, despite working with Igor "Vivas" Vivas for so long, Budega was present with the players during the match, preparing him enough to understand the game and motivate the team at the right moments.
Despite the coach's absence, good results were achieved. Still, after the changes, they couldn't replicate them, and one of the possible reasons is precisely the high expectations. When the team is formed, the view in the scene is almost unanimous: they will contend for titles. But when you put a target on a team in this way, performance is compromised because the players themselves know that they are in a team capable of competing in significant matches. Besides motivating the opponent to defeat the "Dream Team", it can make the team anxious about a possible failure in their performance.
Moreover, there are issues within the team on the server. If the performance is not achieved, something is detrimental to the performance, either externally or tactically. In any case, a player or coaching staff change is not the best idea because everyone has already shown that they can perform better than they currently are. However, how do you regain confidence? It's quite a task for the Brazilians forming M80's coaching staff to try to implement their playing style, which has yielded many results in regional tournaments but now internationally. Mental preparation for the games should be paramount for the team to at least compete for major trophies in Rainbow Six: Siege.
Currently, the team has only confirmed its return to the servers in February, when they will compete in the Six Invitational in Brazil.