Three years ago, Brazil turned into a household region in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It had not gone particularly bad for them in 1.6, as MiBR had done it all in order to keep Brazilian CS relevant, but no mighty enough team from the region had yet appeared in the newest version of the game.
In 2014, however, Gabriel “FalleN”
Toledo started to create the core of players, then under the KaBuM! e-Sports banner, that would go on to become some of the most legendary to ever touch the game. Two years later, this time playing for Luminosity and SK Gaming respectively, they would assert their dominance by winning two consecutive majors, MLG Major Championship: Columbus and ESL One: Cologne 2016.
The ultimate move would arrive in 2018 when Immortals Gaming Club purchased the whole SK Gaming roster and made them represent the most representative Brazilian CS brand, Made in Brazil. FalleN and co. were expected to rise to the absolute top once again, and turn, as such, the most famous organization in the country into the best organization in the world. Things, however, do not always go as expected.
Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo. Photo via: DreamHack.
Not only the results but also the image of the Brazilian core have, as of lately, fallen off a cliff. They started to experience a consistent decline in their performances as soon as they went to MiBR, and that trend has not stopped since. Nowadays, they are no longer a real contender, and the millions of Brazilian fans that hoped for them to bring glory to the region once again have been shown nothing but upsetting results. Initially, one could think that Brazil has now been left without a team to follow, without any players to look up to in the current scene.
Nothing is further from reality. There is a team that has unexpectedly made his way to the top of the standings, just as FalleN did years ago, in order to keep Brazilian CS alive, and that is none other than FURIA Esports. Their story is one of surprise and innovation, but coming into Cologne, they are the country’s main hope. The question, however, is if they will manage to keep shocking every one of their rivals for much longer. The Lanxess Arena is going to be their proving grounds. Is their success simply a fluke, or do they really have what it takes to be the next SK Gaming?
THE RISE OF FURIA
Photo via: ESL.
Amazingly, what is now a mix of youngsters started being nothing but a reunion of CS 1.6 veterans. Names like Guilherme “spacca”
Spacca and Arthur “prd”
Resende may sound familiar to connoisseurs of the pre-2012 competitive landscape. Despite their lack of upcoming talent, they were not a bad team at all, at least considering how good Brazilian teams used to be, but the organization wanted to chase bigger goals.
By February 2018, spacca was the only one left from the original iteration of FURIA. In came Kaike “KSCERATO”
Cerato, Vinicius “VINI”
Figueredo, Yuri “yuurih”
Santos and Andrei “arT”
Piovezan. Nicholas “guerri”
Nogueira changed from player to the team’s coach, as he correctly figured out that he would be way more useful helping the boys from behind. arT now piloting the team in-game, new heights were certainly reached, but it was not enough.
FURIA went on to win a handful of South American tournaments, including GG.BET Ascensão, ESL Brasil Premier League Season 5, and Aorus League - Invitational. Furthermore, they qualified for the Americas Minor against all odds. All this success made the managers realize that staying in Brazil was not ambitious enough. The whole roster moved to North America, where, apparently, they would get both better practice and more opportunities to raise their level even higher.
After a disappointing last-place result at the Minor and with the fear of stagnation still in the back of their minds, however, spacca’s days in the team were numbered. On October 2, the ultimate change took place: out went spacca, in came Rinaldo “ableJ”
Moda. Surprisingly, this seemed to be exactly what they needed to, at last, ascend to the upper echelons of the competitive landscape.
MIBR were going through a tremulous moment, as they did not know which players to sign in order to desperately try and preserve their status. Amidst all of this, everybody starting paying attention to KSCERATO, who was dubbed “the next Brazilian prodigy” by anybody who casually got to watch any of the multiple online matches his team played at the time. MIBR would not be able to secure his services, in the end, due to FURIA’s owners asking for deorbited amounts of money.
KSCERATO stood with FURIA, but little did he know at the time that this had been, without any doubt, the best decision he could have possibly taken. FURIA was not on everyone’s radar just yet, but, after the IEM Katowice Major came to a close, FURIA’s rise would, once and for all, get underway. Having qualified for the major was already enough of an achievement, the Brazilian fans thought, but they were about to experience a sentiment they had not felt since a handful of years ago.
It all started with a second place at DreamHack Open Rio, where they succumbed in the finals against Avangar. It looked like a decent result, but it was certainly not up to par with what was about to come. At DreamHack Masters Dallas, a top-tier tournament in the calendar, they defeated NRG, Fnatic, and Vitality in order to make it to the semifinals, only faltering against ENCE in a close 2-1 affair along the way. Team Liquid was too much to handle, and they ended up going out in third place. Throughout the tournament, though, they had continuously awed the spectators, who, all of a sudden, had them as rightful contenders for international tournaments.
At ECS Season 7 Finals in London, they proved that, indeed, their new status was totally fitting. Although they lost against NRG right away, two victories against Astralis, one of them in a Bo3 series, granted them a spot in the playoffs.
Again, those watching at home could do nothing but wonder what on Earth was happening. Beating those who had once been considered the best roster to ever play the game in their best map, Nuke, was no small feat, and going all the way to the finals, as they did right after, was not something to laugh about either.
They kept on with their successful streak as they secured their place at the Minor once again, this time for Berlin 2019. With such a pedigree gathered in such a short time span, people started to consider them as the reenactment of the 2014 KaBuM! e-Sports roster that ended up rising all the way to everlasting glory. They were young, they were talented, they were ambitious, and, most importantly, they were far more exciting than MiBR had been for the past year and a half. It seemed like nothing could stop them. Nowadays, that is definitely not so clear.
THE COOLDOWN AND WORRIES COMING INTO COLOGNE
FURIA’s next tournament was a rather small one, MocheXL Esports in Lisbon. Although small, however, it was nothing but an appealing prospect for any CS:GO hardcore fan, as a few teams, both promising and into freefall, made the outcome somewhat unpredictable. Regardless, FURIA were the favorites by a considerable margin, and, moreover, the crowd was all on their side.
Surprisingly, the Brazilian prodigies were not going to strike once again. They lost their only series against Kévin “Ex6TenZ”
Droolans’ GamerLegion, a roster which should have never posed a threat to the popular youngsters. Silently, they exited the Altice Arena through the back door, unexpectedly humiliated by the result. After this bittersweet end to their initial breakthrough followed a fortnight in the shadows, all the fans wondering if this had been the end of the Brazilian dream.
Coming into Cologne, the main worry is that teams may have already figured out their style. arT is, like the rest of his teammates, an aggressive player, and, as such, an aggressive in-game leader. Under his guidance, FURIA like to gamble, they like to take duels all over the map, they like to have their stars be proper stars, and win through them popping off. ableJ rotates in a way that complements the rest of his teammates incredibly well, and so does yuurih in the CT sides, where he plays almost in the outskirts of the map.
KSCERATO is an overall talented player, and yuurih, when taking on the entry-fragger role, turns into a complete beast on LAN tournaments. FURIA plays quickly - they rush sites and they let their skill speak for themselves. All in all, they defy the rules of modern Counter-Strike. Currently, however, this is very difficult to see in the competitive landscape. Thus, the teams that play this kind of style, usually up-and-coming ones, tend to be countered pretty easily by those who have already spent a good while at the top of the pyramid.
Their main weapon is their ability to surprise their opponents, and, once that ability vanishes, they are left with nothing. At ECS Season 7 Finals, for instance, they lost in pretty one-sided fashion against both NRG and Team Vitality. Just a week before, in Dallas, the Brazilians had actually beaten both of them. Preparation also seemed to matter for Ex6TenZ and co.’s upset against the Brazilians. The French legend is known for thoroughly investigating each and all of his opponents, and, when he has time to do it well, results definitely show.
Cologne will be the proving grounds for FURIA. Their success relies on being able to innovate their style once again and surprising all the rivals who thought that had them figured out. Moche XL Esports was definitely not a good look for the Brazilians, but it is in their hands to leave it as a simple fluke or have it become it the beginning of their end. What do they think about all of this? It is totally clear.
They believe in their style, and they believe that they can make it work for as long as they want. That is, at least, what arT declared on an interview with HLTV right after ECS: “I keep hearing that and there has been a lot of criticism that because our style is the way it is, everyone thinks that it will be easy to read. But I have a completely different opinion. Our game is based on a set of aggressive plays, and, in Counter-Strike, there are infinite possibilities of making aggressive plays, with different timings and approaches. I think we will have to work harder to change our approaches. We used to be able to do the same things against several teams, but since everyone is watching our games now, we will have to change our approach a little bit.”
Whatever ends up happening in Cologne, it will end up deciding the fate of FURIA. Just a few months ago, they were the new hope of Brazilian Counter-Strike, the five players chosen for the task of taking their region all the way back to the top. Now, that story may see itself reduced to shambles. Should they crumble under the scrutiny of their opponents or rise up against all odds one more time, the Lanxess Arena will be the ultimate judge, as with most things in CS:GO.
If it ends here, FURIA’s tale will still be a beautiful one to tell others. Now, however, they have to go out there and defend themselves. Alea jacta est.
Lucas "LuckyNeck" Chillerón is a vivid esports fan who loves following as many competitive scenes as he can in order to write articles about them. If there is anything you would like to discuss with him or let him know, you can do it at @lucprd.