FURIA founder and co-CEO Jaime Pádua explained to Dexerto why their new League of Legends team represents the start of a new era for the Brazilian organization in the esport.
When people talk about Brazil’s League of Legends scene, FURIA is not a name that comes up in the discussion about the nation’s top teams. Aside from a fourth-place finish in the 2019 Winter Split and a third-place finish in the 2020 Summer Split, the team has not been a contender within the CBLOL, the country’s top league for the game.
In the two 2021 CBLOL splits, FURIA finished ninth and tenth in the ten-team league.
This prompted sweeping changes from the org, whose founder and co-CEO, Jaime Pádua, told Dexerto why fans can expect a new era from FURIA’s League of Legends team.
New era for FURIA
“We really took a beating in those splits. It was not a pleasant experience.” Padua said of the 2021 season. “In every chat that we had with sponsors, fans and potential investors, it was like, ‘Counter-Strike is going really well, you have one of the best streamer networks in the world, you have great brands working with FURIA, the project is growing a lot, revenue is growing every year’. But then came that damned question: ‘But League of Legends is going terribly, isn’t it? It’s f**ked’. And it really was.
“Our results in the game didn’t represent the standard of quality that we have in every other area. And that really started to bother. It’s like a stone in your shoe, you see that everything is going well but you have that Achilles’ heel exposed. Speaking with my co-CEO, I said, ‘We have two options: we either quit the game and sell our slot, it doesn’t make sense to be in a game to get thrashed, or we change everything, we go to war, we invest more money, we bring in the best professionals, the best coach, everything that is necessary for us to make a difference and put the team on the level that is expected from FURIA.’
“And we decided to go to war.”
The first move the org made in regards to League of Legends was to find a new leader. They replaced 2021 head coach Edward ‘Edward’ Abgaryan with Lucas ‘Maestro’ Pierre, who had coached fellow CBLOL team INTZ to two Worlds appearances during his tenure with the org.
Then came the new lineup.
It was a team full of players who have all won or contended for titles in the CBLOL.
Top laner Francisco ‘fNb’ Natanael came off a 2021 season where he saw top-four finishes with Vorax Liberty. Filipe ‘Ranger’ Brombilla won both CBLOL titles in 2018 and attended Worlds with KaBuM! e-Sports. Bruno ‘Envy’ Farias also has two CBLOL titles and went to Worlds alongside Maestro in 2020 with INTZ.
2021 Split 2 was the first in the CBLOL for Lucas ‘Netuno’ Flores, but he still managed a top-six finish with Flamengo Esports. Ygor ‘RedBert’ Freitas is FURIA’s most decorated acquisition, having won three CBLOL titles and attended Worlds twice.
“I’m sure our team is very strong and has all the conditions to fight for titles for many years,” Pádua said. “There are many great players out there, the Brazilian scene has other great teams, but our team is indeed very strong.”
According to Pádua, the new approach quickly changed the perception that Brazilian players had of the organization.
“Players were afraid of playing for FURIA. ‘I don’t want to play for a team that is not competitive, for a team that is in the bottom half of the table’. That was the reality of our team,” Pádua revealed. “From the moment we put our strategy in place, we showed our project and our intentions, we didn’t have such difficulties anymore.
“After hiring a coach, assembling the project, and revealing our ideas, what happened was that players sought us. ‘Jaime, I want to play for FURIA, I want to be coached by Maestro, I want to be part of the project.’”
But a new roster is not the only thing changing in FURIA’s approach to League of Legends.
More money for FURIA LoL
“The League of Legends team now probably represents the second biggest investment in FURIA,” Pádua explained. “League of Legends is still a very relevant esport, it’s a tier-one game in terms of audience, competition, and a number of players. Given this, we needed to step up our investment.
“We are practically spending twice as much as we were to put FURIA on another level. Not just in terms of players, but also staff, bootcamp, and everything else.”
Brazil’s League of Legends scene is comparable to that of Korea and China in terms of its insular nature. Of the 61 players who competed in the 2021 CBLOL Split 2, 52 were Brazilian. Because teams prioritize homegrown talent, the competition for those players is fierce.
“I believe that our investment is very high because we have a problem in Brazil: we have 10 teams in CBLOL signing players but we don’t have 10 top talents for every role. You have like three, four, five great players who are wanted by 10 teams,” Pádua said.
The hope is that the increased investment will translate into long-term, sustained success for FURIA.
“Our goal is to take a step in our evolution. Are we going to win the next CBLOL? I don’t know. I hope so,” Pádua said. “But we want to set the foundation to show that FURIA is also a winner in League of Legends and to create a legacy, not just for the next CBLOL but for the following years. That is our goal.”
Preparations for the 2022 season are already underway, with the team headed to Katowice in Poland for a pre-season bootcamp.
“We believe there is a very big talent pool in Brazil, but in League of Legends the learning curve is much steeper than in other games because there are many details involved,” Pádua said. “We have a problem in Brazil: In Europe, you can play solo queue against the best players in the world, and in a single day you can play 15 matches. If you want to play solo queue all day in Brazil, you won’t play 15 matches, but eight, nine or 10.
“Exposing our players to a more competitive scene and to a bigger volume of quality practice matches is fundamental to reduce the gap between our region and other regions.”
But the org’s founder is not letting expectations run away from him for the 2022 season.
“I think we need to do the basics first,” Pádua explained. “We need to do our homework, grow as a team, win CBLOL, a very tough league for a team that has just been assembled, and from then get exposed to the international scene. We can’t skip any step. I think we have a very strong team.
“If the organization keeps doing what it has been doing and the players deliver, I am sure that we hope to reduce the gap between Brazil and the rest of the world. And who knows, perhaps next year we can represent Brazil at Worlds. That would be a big dream.”
FURIA have assembled a team full of Brazilian talent. Whether the roster will translate into tangible success, only time will tell. Last season saw RED Canids come out of nowhere and take the CBLOL playoffs by storm to reach Worlds.
Perhaps FURIA will be the league’s next surprise story. But whatever happens in 2022, FURIA Esports are ready to make themselves a name in Brazilian League of Legends.