boltz: Back to the Promise Land

The CSGO journey of Ricardo “boltz” Prass has been a tumultuous one. He began his CS career in 2013 but really came to the forefront of the scene in 2014. Since then he has come up and seen massive successes on the current SK Gaming lineup. However, the success did not come easy. His achievements have only come after years of failures, turmoil and uncertainty. Despite all the misfortune, boltz has persevered to finally reach the promise land.

boltz w/KaBuM.TD at ESL One Katowice 2015
boltz w/KaBuM.TD at ESL One Katowice 2015

Rising Up

boltz first came up in 2014 on KaBuM.TD with the first big Brazilian CSGO lineup under the godfather of Brazilian CSGO, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo. This same lineup would go on to become Keyd Stars and then eventually Luminosity Gaming. This lineup was known for its upset potential in best-of-ones, being able to compete with any team on the international level and even taking games off elite teams in best-of-threes. Through his preparation and leadership FalleN was able to get the most out of what he had, which was a team of smart players who could run great tactics but lacked significant firepower.

On Luminosity, the team finally got the firepower they were seeking in Marcelo “coldzera” David, who may go down as the greatest CSGO player of all time. However, the team did not really become top tier itself until they removed boltz and Lucas “steel” Lopes from the lineup. Right when the team was getting good and building itself up, boltz was removed from the lineup in favor of more talented and experienced players.

At the time of his removal, it was obvious that boltz was just a role player on the team but was lacking in skill. His removal was justified at the time, and was even further justified was Luminosity/SK would go on to win back to back majors. He would then join the second best Brazilian lineup on Games Academy. This lineup would go on to become Tempo Storm and eventually Immortals.

Down But Not Out

boltz w/Tempo Storm at MLG Columbus Qualifier 2016
boltz w/Tempo Storm at MLG Columbus Qualifier 2016

boltz went on to join the second best Brazilian lineup of Games Academy which became Tempo Storm and then Immortals. This lineup was believed to have massive potential, with Henrique “HEN1” Teles as a streaky but flashy AWPer and João “felps” Vasconcellos who eventually developed into a legitimate star. While on this lineup boltz developed into a much more consistent rifler, and the solid base that he had developed while under FalleN made him a very smart clutch player. At times, he would even in-game lead for the lineup, showcasing his development and value even further.

While boltz was never considered to be the best or flashiest player on Immortals, he provided a solid foundation and was a consistent presence. The team would eventually pick up steel, reuniting the two after being dropped by FalleN earlier in their careers. While Immortals as a lineup was eventually able to make it to a major final, boltz’s time on the lineup was littered with drama and fluctuation. In-game leadership changed hands multiple times, with HEN1 and boltz trying it. For a few months, the team picked up former SK coach Wilton “zews” Prado as an IGL but his individual performance made it difficult for the team to compete. He was removed for steel who also alternated with boltz as IGL.

A Bumpy Road Back

steel & boltz at Americas Minor 2016
steel & boltz at Americas Minor 2016

The lineup also lost its best player, felps, as he was picked up by SK and traded for Lincoln “fnx” Lau. fnx was benched on SK for his attitude and inner turmoil between him and the team. Those same problems seemed to carry over as he was eventually benched on Immortals as well. The team replaced him with Vito “kNgV-” Giuseppe who turned out to be a surprising talent for the team and helped them reach the final at the PGL Major in 2017. kNgV- may have been the team’s best player, but he turned out to be much more trouble than he was worth.

Immortals at PGL Krakow Major 2017 final
Immortals at PGL Krakow Major 2017 final

Rumors began circulating that some of the Immortals players had gone out drinking the night before the major final, which Immortals lost. Similar issues arose at DreamHack Montreal where on multiple occasions some Immortals players were late for matches. The first time it occurred the team was issued a warning, but it happened again during the final of the tournament forcing Immortals to forfeit the first match of the best-of-three final, which they subsequently lost.

These were two back-to-back finals in a row that boltz had lost in due in part to the unprofessionalism and immaturity of his teammates, all the while he was being a consummate professional. The now infamous drama around kNgV then happened with him threatening Pujan “FNS” Mehta because of a joke on twitter. The reports then followed that kNgV- was actively seeking out FNS at the event to fight him. Because of his behavior kNgV was suspended, but in a move of solidarity among the troubled players, LUCAS1 and HEN1 were also eventually benched for refusing to play without kNgV- during online matches. With only boltz and steel on the active lineup, Immortals struggled to field a competitive lineup. This left the future of boltz and steel hanging in the balance. steel was eventually transferred to Team Liquid while boltz was sent on loan to SK Gaming. The SK lineup seemed to have trouble with felps, despite their early success with him, and decided to give boltz another try.

Long Awaited Wins

SK winning EPL S6 finals 2017
SK winning EPL S6 finals 2017 (Images from HLTV.org)

Since boltz’s return to the top tier Brazilian lineup under FalleN, SK Gaming has won EPICENTER 2017, Blast Pro Series 2017, and the ESL Pro League Finals. That makes three big tournament wins in about two months. They also made the semifinals of IEM Oakland. The SK lineup looks more formidable than ever. With boltz on the lineup, SK has someone who can fulfill the roles similar to fnx. boltz is a consistent rifler who is great at teamplay. He is able to make the sacrifices and play the positions to put SK’s stars in position to succeed. He is also very smart and is a good player in clutches. In boltz, SK has gained the role player they once had in fnx without all of the attitude problems, as boltz has shown over his career to be nothing but professional. In SK, boltz has finally found the success that has eluded him all these years.

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