A new Latin American team has been created. Based in Miami, the Flamingos have acquired players from Argentina, Colombia, and Chile to compete in North America. To get a deeper look into the team, we talked to Jonathan “JonY BoY” Muñoz.
In a migration started more famously by Brazilian teams such as SK,Immortals, and other Brazilian teams, the Miami Flamingos will move into a gaming house in the United States where they will try to find opportunities to display their talents.
The team, which initially was going to feature three Latin American players and two North American players, finally opted for a fully South American lineup with three Argentines: Jonathan “JonY BoY” Muñoz, Guillermo “guishorro” Areco, and Matias “tutehen” Canale; a Chilean, Cristian “Proxure” Rojas; and a Colombian, Juanes “sickLy” Valencia.
JonY BoY celebrating after a win at TWC 2016 with Flamingos coach kam1kaze
When asked about the beginnings of the project, team manager Lucas Noya responded it all started when he was looking for a sponsorship for his team in Argentina, Guerreros del Mouse. After finding some Argentine and North American investors, the idea was to mix North American and Latin American players. After several talks, though, the idea of giving some of the region’s most notable figures the platform they crave arose.
As the organization dots the i’s and gets its Visas in order before the team travels North, we spoke to JonY BoY to get his insight into Miami Flamingos’ inception, what the team’s move means for the region, and what goals they have for the next six months.
Let’s start with the last time we heard of Argentine players on a main stage, which was at TWC. There, you and tutehen got a second place which is more than most people expected. What has your time between then and now been like?
As you said, we exceeded expectations. Our own and those of the Latin American community in general. After that we made it to the WESG offline qualifier in Brazil, but there we weren’t able to repeat our performance. That somewhat sentenced us, because a lot of the people that were keeping an eye on us to help us, be it financially or with a gaming house, to keep growing and living off of this fell through.
So would you say that bad result at WESG is what broke that team?
I’m not sure if it’s what broke the team, it just broke the expectations some organizations from, for example, North America, had. We still believed and wanted to play out the rest of the year together. We get along really well and we have really good chemistry, but we couldn’t let this new opportunity [Miami Flamingos] slip away.
Where did the opportunity to create this team come from?
I got called up a couple weeks ago. I was told there was a new project which was aiming at integrating Latin America and the United States, which makes sense in a place like Miami. The initial idea was to mix North American and Latin American players. The two Argentine players were going to be guishorro and myself, and a third player would be from Brazil or another country in the region, and two players from the United States. Finally, it was a Chilean player instead of a Brazilian as we found Proxure, who I really like.
After some more talks we reached the conclusion that we could just make a full Latin American team, so we brought tutehen and sickLy on board.
Having players from three different countries, how well do you know each other? You know your countrymen well, but what about the others. Have you played much with and against them, or are you just going to get together and figure it out?
I know both Proxure and sickLy from having played against them, especially Proxure since we’ve played several tournaments against each other. I met him personally at WESG, same as sickLy, although I only played against the latter at WESG. We play a lot of mixes together, though. We also watch streams together and we actually spend a good amount of time together and we share a lot of similar views about the game, so even if we haven’t played much together we do see eye to eye on a lot of things.
As far as all five of us playing together, it’s all going to be new. It’s going to be the first time we see who’s going to play with who and all that, so it just comes down to working it out.
Lately guishorro has been playing with the AWP a lot, and you play it as well. How are roles going to be divvied up? Who’s going to lead?
As far as I know I’m going to be the team’s leader, but we need to figure out who’s going to be calling the shots in-game. I’m guessing it will be sickLy since he’s currently leading his team. I’m going to be the primary AWPer and guishorro will be secondary AWPer, especially on CT side. Then we have tutehen who will be playing support, Proxure who will be entrying with guishorro on the terrorist side, and sickLy who will play as a lurker.
It seems a lot of people really liked players from the Argentina team like Straka, nbl, or tomi, perhaps even instead of guishorro. What are your thoughts on the organization’s decision to bring him on?
Yeah, that was one of the first decisions the organization made. From the first moment when the idea was to have two Argentine players, a third Latin American, and two North Americans, the two Argentines were going to be guishorro and myself.
This also has a lot to do with something that a lot of people in Argentina don’t understand, which is that it’s not all about playing, and guishorro knew how to sell his brand, streaming, etc. Yeah, sure, I think the players from the national team were perhaps playing a bit better but he can demonstrate that he can be, like he has been, a big name in Argentine CS.
He’s an experienced player. Perhaps that can be advantageous?
So tell me a bit about the goals. You have six months, right?
Yeah, our first contract is for six months and our goal is to play everything we can. Every open qualifier, trying to make it to the closed qualifiers, ESEA, CEVO, everything. We’ll just miss the first qualifier of the year for DreamHack because sickLy and Proxure are going to be in China with their countries for WESG during those dates, but they’ll join the rest of the team in Miami when they get back.
So where do you think you stand amongst the North American teams?
I’m not sure since I’ve never played against any of them except for some of the Brazilians like SK and Immortals, but after TWC in Serbia where we played for the first time against teams that had players from the likes of Heroic and Space Soldiers I think we’ll be able to fight and we’ll just have to adapt and put in a lot of hours and dedication.
You know, players like tutehen, for example, worked nine hours a day and then played after work when he could. If he could play well in those circumstances, I think when we can play eight, nine, ten, or more hours a day we’re going to become much better. We’ll have to see if we can play at that level but I think it’s about time and dedication and I think it’s possible. There’s not that much of a gap. The gap is more in the opportunity of making it your livelihood. If one wants to get better, he can. Only then can you see if one can become as good as the best.
So what do you think will be the biggest change going from Latin America to North America?
Yeah, what I was saying about tutehen. Here we either have jobs or we study, playing is our hobby. We spend eight or nine hours at work plus commuting and then we play a few hours when we can. In North America people play for a living, and it’s also their hobby, so they spend all these hours playing. If you’re dedicated and can play all these hours, that’s a great advantage. The second part will be the ability to play against better competition and being able to keep motivation high, because we will have a lot more opportunities to play qualifiers, well organized leagues, and so on. I just think all of this will really motivate us to practice hard day by day and to not lose that motivation.
So the most advanced region in South America as far as CS goes is Brazil, with several teams having already moved to North America. How can you compare an Argentine team or a mixed Latin American team to Brazilian teams?
Yeah, that ties in with what I was just explaining. In Brazil you have more tournaments, more organizations, more motivation to play. You know, the mentality is: “if sometime in the future one of our teams in North America need a player they may call on me.” So motivation is a huge part of it. Think about it this way, just as an example, if SK or Immortals suddenly need an AWPer the first thing they’ll do is look for one here. So for example kNg from g3x might think: “I have to play really well because if they ever need an AWPer, it could be me.” A clear example of that is what just happened with steel. Immortals needed someone to lead the team and now he’s back in North America.
So having someone representing you and knowing that maybe someday soon you could be playing there, that’s huge for the scene. That’s the mentality I’m going there with. What I really like is that we’re a mixed team from many countries, because it’s helping kick-start the scene in all these places. So maybe not so far in the future we need another player and it could be another Colombian, or a Chilean coming over. This will help these communities grow, and grow together by supporting a common team, and it will give players motivation to think: “yeah, I can make it there.”
Do you think there are chances for the scene to ever grow enough to be independent? Meaning teams won’t have to go to North America to compete, for example.
Well, that’s my objective and that’s why I want to go to the United States, so we can get exposure. But the reality is that it’s not just about esports. The region has to grow politically, economically… there are other priorities for society, and if that doesn’t get better it doesn’t matter how good the players get, they’re still going to try and get out. I mean look at Suarez, Neymar, and Messi. If it were good enough here they wouldn’t be playing in Europe. And we’re talking about football, where there’s plenty of talent. So I think the issues are more about culture, politics, and economy. The only shot we have is for the region to stay united.
Lastly, any parting words you’d like to add?
Yeah, first of all just thank you for your time. Second, I want to tell people we love the support when things go well, but it’s also important to support us when things don’t go as well. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself or say it’ll be bad, of course I’m wishing for the opposite. But if people really want us to do well, they must support us when things go well and when they don’t. Things will start to happen with hard work and dedication. It’s a huge responsibility for us to be the first team to represent our countries in North America. It’s a lot pressure for all of us. This can work in our favor—to motivate us—, but it can also play against us because people may think we’re not the right players or because we’re not trying hard enough. The thing is, I feel like a lot of times people don’t realize our rivals are also playing, it’s two teams in a server. For example, sometimes you lose a big lead and people say “how could you lose that?”, but just like we got twelve rounds one half, so can they. People will study us, like we will study them. So support is in the good and the bad!
With Proxure and sickLy attending the WESG offline finals with their respective countries, the Miami Flamingos will start playing together in January when they move into their house in Florida. The team’s starting five is:
Jonathan “JonY BoY” Muñoz
Guillermo “guishorro” Areco
Matias “tutehen” Canale
Cristian “Proxure” Rojas
Juanes “sickLy” Valencia
Eugenio “kam1kaze” Mongi (coach)