As the BLAST Fall Playoffs are underway, FURIA have survived through a grueling series against OG after a defeat against G2 Esports sent them to the lower bracket. However, the players knew what to expect: learning through setbacks.
Inven Global spoke to VINI ahead of the tournament, and the player helped shed insight regarding the team’s progression throughout the years, their mindset in 2020 in tournament play, and playing during the coronavirus pandemic without being able to visit Brazil.
FURIA wasn't a team that came out of nowhere, considering that there was work being done since 2018. You guys were ramping up slowly but surely, but it's only in 2020 when people really noticed.
Yeah. Since the beginning, 2017, [we] grinded slowly. Then we moved to the US, and we started playing in leagues on ESEA, and we were climbing, trying to grab a spot in the ESL Pro League. We went into the process [step by step] into the competitive scene. I would say our name kind of started appearing last year when we achieved in some EU tournaments; we made it into the ECS grand finals. This year, with the coronavirus, we were pouring our mind into proving that we can become the best that we can in these times, and we became the best NA team for the first and second semester.
When I look at FURIA, as of late with everyone playing from Europe, that's quite the adventure that you're going through out of necessity — otherwise, you would be playing with massive ping. But tell me about this experience.
Right now, we're bootcamping in Serbia. We're here because the last 3-4 tournaments of the season bring the best NA teams in EU to compete, so we're going to finish our season here. Next year, when I'm back to NA, hopefully things will be back to normal again with LANs and stuff like that.
The process at first was a lot of hard work. We had some losses that made us develop and become a better team, and probably that made us achieve in some big tournaments, to have our name in the big spot. Now, in Europe, we're kind of starting in a bad shape, but we made a good run in DreamHack Winter and made the semifinals. It's a big deal for us, and it's all part of the process: keep improving and see in these last tournaments.
"We aren't the same team that we were last year. [...] We are much better, and that's why we're achieving a lot."
A lot of people were wondering how FURIA was going to be doing in Europe, especially since the initial results were in NA where you might have developed your own style based on the competition there as a result. But you have competed against these people beforehand in international tournaments. What's your take on people being too skeptical or thinking you aren't ready — seems like a forced narrative to me?
People always want that to happen — to have the NA-EU clash. Not even just with us, but even Liquid and EG. The first thing that comes to my mind is that: we aren't the same team that we were last year. The style is basically the same, I would say, but everybody just got better and improved some in a lot of aspects. We are much better, and that's why we're achieving a lot.
The best part, when you come to Europe with high expectations, when you come and win a tournament but lose to some teams that you shouldn't, people are judging that we weren't going to work. But we knew that the style we play is not perfect, but it works really well against European teams that are more slow. Every loss that happens to us, we see what happens and try to improve. That's what we're doing every day.
At the same time, let's talk about your circumstances: playing in the middle of the pandemic and moving to Europe. Sure, you could count this as travelling, but it's different from travelling from LAN to LAN. Or overall, for you, a Brazilian person competing in the US, it's all quite a loop.
We вере already [training] for two years in the US, so leaving Brazil is not new for us and we kind of got used to it. Not having LANs this year was kind of weird. I would say that it made us adapt our routine because everything is online for us. It didn't hurt us that much, we just kept our routine and kept working every day. With that, it made our game be on the spotlight — there wasn't a lot of sports, but we're esports. The world was watching us, and that kind of helped us grow. [Given] the circumstances, it was a good year for CS.
Also a good year for you. Although, in BLAST, you had to make it through the Showdown to make your way back to the BLAST Fall playoffs. G2 NiKo happened, and that must have thrown you off the loop for a bit.
We knew about the rumors already before that match, and when it happened — two days before the match — we told ourselves that we didn't know what to expect. They changed their lineup, and they're probably going to play more loosely. Normally, when teams change players, people play a bit more confidently. We weren't ready before the match. But the second time we faced them, we knew what to expect and we had things to study. We came for the win.
We have another opening match against them, and we're kind of comfortable to play. We're hoping for the best in this tournament.
"We know we represent a whole country when we play outside Brazil."
That's why I brought them back up: they're playing with the same lineup as in BLAST Fall groups since they benched JaCkz. Looking at FURIA in particular, there's another team that's on the other side of the bracket, with whom you have a bit of history as it was in DreamHack. Let's talk about Astralis! You were also in the same group on BLAST.
[laughs] I would say, playing against Astralis is never easy. The first time we faced them was one year ago when we were full underdogs. I would say that they didn't prepare then as much as they did [at DreamHack]. It was a close match, and we won the first time. For the next match, we're fixing the stuff that we didn't before, and looking to fix our mistakes — I would say be a bit more ready. They knew what we were doing, and knew how to counter. We need to figure out new stuff and try to win the next match.
It's pretty much taking it one step at a time. But looking towards 2021, there's also the BLAST finals where you could still get a spot. Even if you don't win the tournament, you could get there still.
Yeah, that's a good thing for us. We don't know exactly how it's going to be. The one who wins the championship gets a spot, but it's good for us to know that we have two big tournaments to play. We know that we are invited to IEM Katowice, so it's a big thing for us. It's probably gonna be on LAN, I don't know.
The BLAST Finals: if we manage to qualify, we'll probably take some days off from our vacation to prepare for the tournament.
I would like to double back on something that we've spoken about before: it's been two years that you've been competing in the US. In previous years, you could take breaks and maybe go to Brazil. But this time around, how is it going- and how is it impacting you?
This year, we had two player breaks: one in July, and one in Christmas. We're unable to travel to Brazil. Normally, we do that: we go to our families and stay almost a month to have a real break, but we couldn't this year because of the coronavirus: all the borders are closed. We could go to Brazil, but we couldn't go back to the US [if we did.] So everybody stayed together, and we knew what we were going to sacrifice. We use that as fuel for all the hard work that we keep doing.
Now, at the end of the year, after the two tournaments in 2021, we would go back to Brazil, and everyone would stay with their families and be ready for the next season.
At the same time, granted you haven't been able to go to Brazil, but some of you might have stayed in touch with family and friends, which could be a source of motivation as well. Granted, you're living apart right now, but being able to keep up with people dear to you can kind of help get you through rough times.
It helps a lot. Everyone has a way to do it. Normally, I call my mom and dad, even my girlfriend when I can. It's always good to have someone like that.
On that front, I would only ask you if you have anything to tell to, especially, the Brazilian community since they've been following you throughout these tournaments.
The Brazilian community has always been passionate about the game. They love watching the players coming up from the bracket and stuff like that. I would like to say: thank you for always supporting us, for watching us. If we had no viewers watching the game, there would be no tournaments, and our work style wouldn't exist. We know we represent a whole country when we play outside Brazil.