Brazil 2020 Esports Recap

2020 was a strange year for all of us, and for Brazil it was weird in a special Brazilian way – because the country has a peculiar ability to somehow take “weird” to the next level. And besides the many terrible stories 2020 brought to many areas of the country, both due to COVID-19 and to Jair Bolsonaro’s government, esports in Brazil finally got to that stage many specialists pointed sometime in the last decade, saying “it will take off in two or three years.” this rocket is finally blasting off. 

If you stop to think about it, the fact that I’m here writing about Brazil, in the Esports Coverage Website of The Year according to the Esports Awards, is a signal that the world is paying attention to what is happening in the country. But what made Brazil take this big leap forward over the last year? Let’s explore the reasons.

Credit: paiN Gaming

A strong factor in the rise of esports in Brazil was Free Fire. Garena’s mobile battle royale conquered hundreds of thousands of fans in the country, reaching huge install numbers. Besides the growth of 107% of the audience in its official tournaments, it pushed the organization LOUD to be the first to reach 1B views on YouTube and the pro player Nobru to be the biggest streamer in the world in August, thanks to the accessibility of the game on low- to high-end mobile devices. This role played by Free Fire in Brazil was explained through an article about the Favelas Cup:

Credit: Taça das favelas

Such success also pushed the Brazilian esports promotion company Bad Boy Leeroy (BBL) to close a partnership with Allegra Pacaembu, aiming to build the biggest battle royale arena in the world in one of the most traditional soccer stadiums of the country:

Pictured: Willian “gORDOx” Rodrigues, Nando Cohen, and Eduardo Barella. Credit: TEO

But it was not all good news for esports in a year plagued by a global pandemic. The anticipated ESL One Rio Major 2020, which was supposed to take place in May, was postponed to November, and then got canceled due to the concerns about the pandemic in the country, which for months was considered by the World Health Organization as an epicenter of COVID-19.

Credit: ESL

2020 was also the last year before the Brazilian League of Legends Championship (CBLoL) turned into a franchise model. The main esports competition in the country had 19 known applicants, but only ten were chosen by Riot Games to form the franchise, leaving out traditional organizations such as Vivo Keyd and Team oNe. Actually, we may now consider there were 18 applicants, as esports organizations Falkol and Prodigy have merged aiming to secure a spot in CBLoL, forming the new team Vorax.

Credit: Riot Games Brazil

The announcement also brought attention to the fact that two organizations from outside São Paulo were approved in the franchise; Cruzeiro eSports and Rensga Esports, indicating that Riot Games has an interest in expanding the physical reach of the competition. São Paulo continues to be the capital of Brazilian esports, and multiple organizations have invested in new structures in the city.

But while CBLoL switched from circuit to franchise model, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournament organized by LnK, a joint company formed by the union of communications giant Globo and producer DC Set, announced it was making the opposite move. The CBCS was completely revamped, found new partners, and stopped being the Brazilian Counter-Strike Championship to become the Brazilian Counter-Strike Circuit.

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Credit: CBCS

At the end of the year, a promising initiative got the attention of Brazilian esports fans: the business group Kalunga had bought a public broadcasting concession in Brazil and was launching a channel completely dedicated to geek culture and esports. The channel, named Loading, had hired some of the top Brazilian esports journalists to be part of its coverage team and even talked to TEO about its exciting plans.

But things fell apart when, less than one week after airing the channel, the whole esports editorial team was fired by management. TEO investigated and published an exclusive report showing how Loading management gave up on talking about esports with the dignity it demands, resulting in the mass firing of journalists who are symbols of the local esports community development.

Credit: Loading

2020 is finally coming to an end, leaving a deep scar in our society. But the tragic happenings of this year accelerated some things that could be needed to push the industry forward. As home-office is finally trending due to the pandemic, the esports business has also taken this momentum to introduce itself to new people, presenting itself as a good entertainment option and also a great business opportunity for companies preparing for the future.

The Future? Remember those two or three years of predictions for esports to take off in Brazil? Seems like 2020 accelerated it, and those who don’t catch a ride on this rocket now may find it too high (or too expensive) to catch in the next two or three years.

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