FalleN could not lead SK to a grand final appearance at IEM Oakland 2017(photo credits: Adela Sznajder via DreamHack)
At just 26 years of age, Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo already has 13 years of competitive CS under his belt, including two back-to-back CS:GO Major Championships. With new pickup Ricardo 'boltz' Prass and yet another championship at EPICENTER, SK were coming into IEM Oakland as a favorite to win it all. Unfortunately, they were eliminated from the tournament in a close semifinal matchup against the Ninjas in Pyjamas, who eventually defended their title against FaZe Clan for the second year in a row.
Elbert Nguyen (EN): It's Elbert with RealSport. I am here with the godfather of Brazilian Counter-Strike, FalleN himself. Nice to meet you, FalleN.
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo (FalleN): Nice to meet you, and hello guys.
EN: You guys [SK Gaming] finished in third place, losing to NiP in a rematch of last year's finals. How do you feel, knowing you could have won that?
FalleN: It feels really bad to lose that series; I think we could have won on both maps. We lost on Overpass and Inferno, but props to them [Ninjas in Pyjamas]. They had a straightforward gameplan and knew what they wanted to do on both maps. They surprised us with the way they played the game, and I can't take anything from their victory.
EN: Let's rewind the clock to the group stage. You finished third in Group A, and had to play OpTic in the quarterfinals. 16-2 on Overpass; you guys are known for being one of the best, if not the best, on that map, and just destroyed OpTic on it. What factors led to destroying OpTic the way you did?
FalleN: Our game against Astralis showed mistakes on our T side. In that map against OpTic, fer [Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga] and TACO [Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo] had a good series, picking up frags and gaining map control. Everything was aligned for us, and we knew what to do. Once we got rolling, they couldn't stop us.
EN: You guys came into IEM Oakland on a strong foot, winning EPICENTER with your newest pickup, boltz [Ricardo 'boltz' Prass]. How is working with boltz, knowing you've played with him before?
FalleN: Back in the day, boltz was already a good player, but it was very difficult to communicate with him about his mistakes because he wasn't paying much attention to that. After playing with different players on several rosters, I think he's changed the way he sees the game and approaches problems. He's very decisive, patient, plays the roles we need him to play, so it's easier to work him into the team than with players past.
EN: Speaking of the past and boltz, steel [Lucas 'steel' Lopes] was another one of your teammates when you represented Luminosity Gaming. He was just signed by Team Liquid; how will that pairing work itself out?
FalleN: It's very difficult for me to say anything about Liquid because I've never played with those players, but I'm happy for steel. I think this is a great opportunity for him to show off his talent, especially after the whole situation with Immortals.
EN:That's it for the interview. Thank you very much for taking the time.
FalleN: Thank you very much.