Steven R. April 22, 2019
Furia was set up for a storybook moment in front of a raucous home crowd at DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro, but it couldn’t quite get the ending right.
The Brazilian squad faced off with Avangar in the grand finals of the tournament and came just shy of taking the top prize, falling 2-1.
Furia opened with a surprise Vertigo map pick and converted that into devastating 16-2 win to start the series. Yuri "yuurih" Santos carried the team with an exceptional 26-6 K/D, but even when he wasn’t there, his teammates were able to come through with the clutches to keep Avangar from gaining even a hint of momentum.
The Vertigo pick may have caught Avangar off-guard, but once the Kazakhstani team moved to a more traditional map in Inferno, the squad reminded fans why they were the favorites to win the tournament.
Furia started strong off a successful pistol round but Avangar went off from there. Yuurih stayed hot, but the rest of Furia looked out of sorts as Alexey "qikert" Golubev and Sanjar "SANJI" Kuliev ran wild and tied the series 1-1 with a 16-8 score.
The deciding showdown on Train opened with a huge half from Vinicius "VINI" Figueiredo, who led Furia to a 10-5 lead. The Brazilian side looked ready to seal the deal after denying Avangar a conversion on a successful pistol round, but Avangar regained its footing and began leveraging the map’s CT advantage. Avangar played a solid defensive half and finally managed to take the lead at 15-14, only for Furia to force overtime with a victorious 30th round.
Overtime kicked off with Furia playing T side and putting a focus on slow pushing strategies with late bomb plants. That didn’t pay off well with Ali "Jame" Djami coming through for Avangar to score crucial kills and stall out rounds. Avangar utilized that same strategy against Furia when they were on the attack but executed it much more effectively, taking a 19-16 overtime win to close out the series.
The victory is a big one for Avangar. The team looked ready to break through to the next level during the 2019 Katowice Major, looking exceptional at points during the Challengers and Legends stages of the tournament. But Avangar’s underdog run was largely forgotten as Ninjas in Pyjamas, Renegades, and ENCE Esports each had more dramatic successes.
Avangar stuck by its team during the following roster shuffles, with the sole change being Aidyn "KrizzeN" Turlybekov stepping down and being replaced by SANJI. Its current lineup has looked solid in online play to this point, but DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro was the lineup’s live tournament debut.
As for Furia, some will continue to question the team’s decision to opt out of ESL Season 9 in favor of competing in Rio, particularly given the side's failure to lift the trophy.