FURIA are putting everything on the line for Champions
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It was a warm day in São Paulo when FURIA Esports put everything on the line in the South American Last Chance Qualifier, taking Australs out in a powerful sweep. The Brazilian squad had lost to them in a close nail biter on Oct. 11 to start the tournament. The first match was close, with the difference being a few rounds on each map. The grand final was different, with FURIA eclipsing Australs.

“The big difference was that we woke up to the tournament,” FURIA player Alexandre “xand” Zizi said through a translator. “We went in a bit cold, maybe with excess confidence, maybe expecting a win because we prepared really well. It let us wake up.”

On the way to Champions

The win punched FURIA’s ticket to fly more than 6,300 miles to Berlin, Germany, where VALORANT Champions will be held. It will be the team’s first appearance on the international stage, and coach Carlos “Carlão” Mohn expressed after their Last Chance Qualifier win how glad the team will be to attend.

“It was a relief for us,” Carlão said “It was a consecration of the year-long struggle we had to get an international slot, and to do it for Champions was incredible. It was a weight lifted off our back. It was a relief. It was very emotional for all of us. We cried tears of joy.”

xand at a pc
Xand is an FPS prodigy in Brazil. | Provided by Riot Games

All five members of the Brazilian squad packed up their essentials and got ready to head to boot camp, an all out blitz of practice and VOD review to help them prepare for the biggest tournament of their lives. They headed 770 miles outside of Berlin to the Serbian capital, Belgrade. There, they’ve been training everyday in the lead up to Champions.

“We’d wake up, have lunch together, do some activities with our psychologist too,” Carlão said. “Then we’d start our warmup and practice routine, scrim block, playing the maps and VOD reviews. We spent the days on that. At the end of the day, we’d go out to get to know Serbia and do a group activity.”

No experience, no problem

FURIA’s trip to Champions is an international berth that’s been in the works for a long time. The Brazilian squad fell to their countrymen, Havan Liberty and Vivo Keyd, in the leadup to VALORANT Champions Tour Stage 3: Masters Berlin. They also missed a trip to Stage 2 in Reykjavík, Iceland after falling to Team Vikings and Sharks Esports. Xand and company have been one win away from this moment twice before.

They got some LAN experience on stage in São Paulo for the LCQ, but fans can expect Berlin to be a different type of beast.

“Those that want to be champions don’t get to pick their opponents,” Gabriel “qck” Lima said. “We’re preparing to be able to play against every team on their level so we don’t have an opponent in mind. Whoever we face, we want to face them head on and win.”

FURIA, made of players that have been competing in the Brazilian scene for various amateur squads since VALORANT first launched in 2020, have a promising record against other South American teams, boasting a 72% win rate within the VALORANT Champions Tour and Copa Rakin matches. They won’t be playing many of those teams at this tournament, though.

Sentinels will be FURIA’s first matchup at Champions, which is a steep roadblock to overcome at the very beginning of their tournament. Sentinels are one of the best teams in VALORANT, but they’ve never played against FURIA before.

“They have more experience than us because they’ve played Masters 2 and 3, but I think we can innovate a lot with them,” qck said. “They don’t know us that well, so that could be an ace up our sleeve. I want to face them head on and be superior to them.”

Agustin "Nozwerr" Ibarra
Agustin “Nozwerr” Ibarra is FURIA’s IGL. | Provided by Riot Games

FURIA players believe Sentinels are a title contender, but they also said they think Vision Strikers and Gambit Esports are poised to go on a long run. Carlão knows FURIA will have to play as well as they did at the LCQ in order to get far enough to face either team in the tournament.

“For us to make it past our groups, we have to play our game,” Carlão said. “It’s a game we’re comfortable with, that we’ve been training for a long time. If we can impose that like we did in LCQ, because it’s unique and we like to play it, we can make it past the group stage.”

Fans can watch FURIA take on Sentinels on the official VALORANT Twitch and YouTube channels on Dec. 1. It’ll be the first time for many fans and teams see FURIA on the big stage.

Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.
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