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LaXInG with Elevate isn't the first time an SI 2017 champion moved to Thailand; here's what happened then

GOSU revisited.

Gabriel "LaXInG" Mirelez has joined the APAC South team of Elevate for Stage 3, making him the only non-Thai member of the team. 

LaXInG has had an extensive history in North America, having won the region’s first title during the ESL Pro League Season 1 against Elevate in the grand-final and then their first Six Invitational in 2017’s Xbox tournament with Elevate. 

Since switching to PC, he’s played at every Six Invitational and competed on Elevate, CLG, beastcoast, Cloud9, Team Reciprocity, and Oxygen Esports, most notably reaching the Season 5 grand-final, once again on Elevate.

He’s now back on Elevate, now coaching APAC’s best team remotely from America. While this move to Southeast Asia might come as a surprise to many, we’ve effectively seen it before -- four years ago, another Elevate ex-World champion had moved to Thailand.

The player in question is Adam "FightiR" Vallejom, seen first in the lineup five seconds into the video below. While his four SI-winning Elevate teammates -- LaXInG, Skys, Bosco, and England -- each had successful PC careers following the Xbox title, FightiR struggled to reach the same level using a mouse and keyboard. 

He made a few attempts to make it into the NA Challenger League in the year after, before eventually getting his opportunity in the form of GOSU -- a South Korean organization which picked up an American-majority roster to play in a team house based in Bangkok, Thailand.

FightiR’s new teammates included the following players:

  • Matin "SpeakEasy" Yunos, a month before he would join the roster later known as Invictus Gaming, with whom he attended five global events in a row.
  • Tomas "Mas" Pansini, who had just finished fifth in NA Pro League Season 5 on BitterSweet following a 2-0 loss to LaXInG’s Elevate. This bS roster included the core of Spacestation Gaming’s first lineup, including future world champion Javier "Thinkingnade" Escamilla.
  • Ilham "Sunan" Surya, who went on to compete in two seasons of the SEA Pro League on Scypt and is the coach for Berlin Major attendees Gaimin Gladiators.
  • Richard "shinbagel" Shin, the team’s in-game-leader and general manager, who at the time had a somewhat infamous history in APAC after having left Team Envy after just one season and then having left Corvidae (after just a few games) without an announcement from himself or the organization.

FightiR and Mas thus became the very first global transfers in Siege history, 11 months before Santino "Gomfi" Meulenaere and Alex "SlebbeN" Nordlund moved across the pond to the Soniqs. This was a momentous occasion for Southeast Asia as a region:

FightiR: After winning the Six Invitational, I finished my internship with Target and started working for them full-time as an executive team leader. This career gave me little time to play Siege competitively due to the fact I worked 60-hour work weeks and had to work every other weekend. I had that career for the past two years.

Richard (shinbagel) contacted me about two months ago with this opportunity, and I did not hesitate to take it. I put my two weeks in at Target and moved to Thailand to do what I love; play Siege.

Mas: When I jumped on my PC one day, FightiR asked me if I had anything going on in my life, and I said, “Not too much, why?” He asked me a crazy question; “Are you willing to leave the US to join a team that is in the Pro League?” Shinbagel had messaged FightiR asking him to come out, and then we went over all of the rulings and got in contact with the admins to make sure that it was okay and all of the rulings passed with a six-month visa.

The signing was announced in October 2018, giving them three months before their first tournament in January, the Six Invitational 2019 SEA qualifiers. 

So, how did it go? 

Well, they won six rounds across two games and were knocked out in the very first round… and FightiR, Mas, and shinbagel left 10 days later before playing a single Pro League game.

The GOSU Twitter account hadn’t posted since November and shinbagel, the team’s General Manager, was blamed for the split as SpeakEasy stated that "both Mas and FightiR had disputes with shinbagel". Considering his acrimonious exits from CryptiK and Corvidae, this wasn’t surprising to local fans.

The team that ultimately knocked them out in a 7-2 scoreline was called “Free Agent Esport”, which at the time SiegeGG dubbed “an unknown team”. The roster since qualified for the Pro League, was picked up by Xavier and has since joined the Elevate organization. Free Agent Esport included Nattakan "Dr.Bestsiaer" Prachanban, who LaXInG is now replacing as coach of Elevate, and Adithep "DCH" Channuan, who has remained with the same team throughout. 

When you compare the hype around the change, the quality of players, and the fact it was the very first cross-regional roster change with the knowledge that the roster disbanded after two maps of an open qualifier, this is, in retrospect, the worst move in R6 history. FightiR and Mas quit their jobs and moved to the other side of the world for shinbagel’s project, which ended their careers. 

LaXInG’s switch of regions, on the other hand, has no chance of going as poorly. Elevate are the best team in their entire region right now and short of a sudden roster collapse, LaXInG will reach his seventh Six Invitational in a row behind his new Elevate teammates. Nevertheless, it’s still worth remembering what happened the last time America came to Thailand.