In the Contenders Season 1 South America finals, Brasil Gaming House Brasil Gaming House Contenders SA Rank #1 met Isurus Gaming Isurus Gaming Contenders SA Rank #2 . The two competitors met each other in the group stages; that match was a 3-1 in favor of Isurus. This time would be different. Brasil Gaming House won 4-1.
"[Winning Contenders] was great, especially because we won [in] the finals against Isurus," BGH DPS liko said. "I think we dominated the scene for like a year, year and a half, and they came in and dominated for like half a year and that was our first major win on them."
In March of 2017, Brasil Gaming House picked up the roster of Black Dragons e-Sports, the best squad in South America. For the next several months, the roster dominated the region and won tournament after tournament. In fact, they didn't lose a single set to South American competition between the time they were picked up until late September.
They team they finally lost to was KARMA, a squad born out of Argentina's World Cup roster. The two lineups would trade both matches and tournaments with each other, frequently meeting in the grand finals of competitions.
However the victories tended to favor KARMA. BGH finished second to the Argentinean squad in the South American Overwatch Circuit: Season 2, HammerDown Cup #1 and HammerDown Cup #2 before finally besting them in the South American Overwatch Circuit: Season 3. Just before Contenders, KARMA won the South American Open Division title and then beat them in the group stage under their new organization, Isurus Gaming.
With their Contenders title, Brasil Gaming House are once again on top in South America. After being atop the region for so long, maybe Isurus was the opponent the Brazilian squad needed in order to grow.
"We can't really get much better, you know. We only play teams that are worse than us and if we wanna play teams that are better we gotta play teams [while we have] 180 ping," liko said. "So it's kinda awkward because we feel like we're stagnating, but we try our best to always keep improving."
liko played for Brazil in the 2017 World Cup. Image credit: Blizzard
The roster of BGH has gotten a taste of playing against higher quality opponents. liko and his teammates were selected to represent Brazil as a team in the 2017 World Cup. They went 1-2 in the group stage at Santa Monica, getting swept by both the United States and Taiwan.
"After dominating for so long and then having people stomp you and laugh - they're sitting right next to you and they're stomping you and laughing - it kinda makes you want to try harder, you know," he said. "You wanna study the game and try to beat them."
The team does what they can to stay ahead of their competition despite their situation. They've adhered to a strict practice schedule, normally several hours at night after players have come home from studies or work. liko believes it's difficult for most teams to practice as much as BGH does.
"It's kinda demotivating for a lot of teams because we've been at the top for so long and we don't get too much investment from Blizzard," he explained. "For example, the Contenders that we have is the lowest prize pool [along with Australia's], and also we don't even have a LAN or LAN finals. So people don't try as hard as they would, I think, if we had a bigger prize pool and stuff."
An Overwatch League franchise in South America, should the region get one, may also help reinvigorate the region. With an opportunity to go pro and play full-time right around the corner, it's hard to say it wouldn't boost the confidence of local players and coaches.
"It gives you a more tangible chance, you know, given that they don't fill it with Koreans," liko said with a chuckle.
liko is confident the fan support would be there for a Brazilian Overwatch League franchise, too.
"I think people would cheer a lot. I think in Brazil we're really patriotic. So the right move, in my opinion, if there was ever a team in Brazil fill it with Brazilian players, maybe one or two strangers. I think the fans would really enjoy that."
liko got to see some of that fan support first-hand, even while in Santa Monica. Image credit: Blizzard
However, he doesn't think a Brazilian, nor a mixed South American team, would be able to compete for a title upon entry into the league.
"Right now, [a South American OWL team would be] definitely bottom of the pack. [The Overwatch League teams] are like kinda in a bubble where they're just practicing against each other and getting better and better," he said. liko believes all Contenders players across the world would enter Overwatch League at a disadvantage to the league's veterans, and that South American players would be no different.
While he is unsure (but optimistic) how he or any other South American would fare in Overwatch League with time to grow, he is confident that he and other top South American players could do well within Contenders North America.
"I don't know how much I would get better, but I think I could get considerably better because I think I have the mechanics, I just need to grind the fundamentals," said liko. "That's what I think makes NA so much better than us, for example, because they know the fundamentals so well. So I think if that's something we built on South American players, we definitely could fight for a top spot [in Contenders NA]."
For now, however, his focus is on defending Brasil Gaming House's title in Season 2 of Contenders South America.
"I think we're in a pretty good spot. I think we're practicing pretty hard and we're able to stay at the top of our game, and I think we're gonna be able to show that in Contenders."