MiBR, Made in Brazil is back. The iconic Counter-Strike Brazilian brand, whose run from 2003-2012 put the country on the proverbial esports map is back. Noah Whinston, the CEO of Immortals and the Los Angeles Valiant of the Overwatch League, made the announcement at the MiBR launch event that took place in Brazil on Saturday.
The announcement, streamed live, served a dual purpose of introducing their newly acquired Counter-Strike: Global Offensive roster and explaining to fans everywhere that the MiBR brand isn’t just about one team—it’s about the blossoming Brazilian esports scene.
Whinston, now 23-years old, dropped out of college to pursue his love of esports. He became an online betting expert and used his winnings to help form Immortals with the help of investors such as Mike Milken and billionaire Phil Anschutz. The Evanston, Illinois native was also successful as an online poker player in high school and sold Magic: The Gathering trading cards which turned out to be very lucrative. People noticed his knack for numbers and business.
Being a self-starter, with a passion for what he does, it should be of no surprise what Whinston sees in the Brazilian people, esports players, and fans. Energy and passion that needs a little direction.
“I think the Brazilian esports scene is closer to something really special than any other scene in the western world,” Whinston said. “I think in Brazil, we are just a few steps away from building something much bigger than one brand, much bigger than one player, much bigger than one lineup. MiBR, they’re not just a brand, but will be the start of a social movement in Brazil that transforms the way we think about sports and that transforms the future of how the rest of the world sees this country.”
There has yet to be an owner that has so openly and aggressively shown a deep desire to embrace esports in such a way—until now. While, yes, there is an opportunity to create revenue for the CEO’s many labels, Whinston understands that growth is key to sustaining the esports ecosystem so that it doesn’t become stagnant or worse, recede.
“We need to create infrastructure here in Brazil. We need to create an ecosystem in Brazil in which the fans, the players, the institutions in this country can all participate which doesn’t just mean participating online and watching YouTube videos,” Whinston explained. “It means participating at events like this one, where you can come together in person, where maybe you might not be playing Counter-Strike today, but you come out of this event having made a new friend. You go to watch football matches together because you support the same.”
While growth as a brand is of obvious importance to Whinston, he has become a champion for the esports culture and scene as a whole. He has a tight grasp on the understanding that just liking a tweet on Facebook or Twitter about your favorite player or team isn’t enough to sustain the scene. He advocates observable engagement by being a participant in esports as a fan or otherwise. This means attending events, interacting with online content, and more. It is one of the pillars Whinston believes esports needs in order to be lifted to the next level.
“We need you not just to be passive supporters, but to be active contributors to it. We need your engagement online,” Whinston exhorted the crowd. “We need you not just to interact with our content, but to interact with your entire community and the rest of the fans that are here today and in days to come. We need you to come out in person, not just to support big events like this, not just to support championships like ESL one in Belo Horizonte last week, but to support the everyday local events that are essential to building a true community.”
Whinston has a genuine love and affection that clearly shows when speaking about Brazilian esports. This obvious affinity for the country has the Brazilian fan base believing that Whinston is there for all the right reasons.
The head of MiBR isn’t in Brazil to necessarily change the culture of the Brazilian esport fan, in fact it’s quite the opposite. He is looking to embrace the passion and fervor Brazilian’s have shown their traditional and esports teams for generations. He wants to channel that energy into a laser-like focus by bringing in resources that weren’t available before. The belief here is that by creating a symbiotic esports infrastructure, the esports economy will get a jump-start.
“In order to achieve our goals, we know that it’s not enough to just be a logo on the internet or just to be a jersey,” Whinston explained. “Tweeting in Portuguese is not the same thing as supporting a Brazilian community and we’ve had experience over the years of taking those first small steps towards working inside of Brazil. Ranging from our first Counter-Strike lineup to where we are today, we recognize that in order to truly give back to our fans, we need to do more.”
Indeed, Whinston is in Brazil for the right reasons. He’s more than just a CEO to the people employed and fans of his brands. Underneath that analytical and stoic facade lies a man who has proven many times that creating a family atmosphere is what fosters growth.
“Maybe one day there will be children born, that are born as fans of MiBR the same way they were born and became fans of football clubs here in Brazil. That’s a future that we can achieve together and in order to achieve that future, we need to strengthen what exists here on the ground locally. We can create a Brazilian esports ecosystem in which the best players are found here. They grew up here and then they stay here to represent their country.”
Hopefully, there is a Noah Whinston in every country.