We haven't seen them for awhile, but FURIA is coming out swinging at IEM Katowice with a huge win over Astralis - but how much further can they make it? We take a look at that as question arT as to FURIA's position amoungst the top teams.
FURIA Esports have seen little action on the server since the PGL Stockholm Major. In the meantime, however, they have brought in AWPer Rafael "saffee" Costa from paiN Gaming to replace Vinicius "VINI" Figueiredo. The team participated in ESL Challenger #48, however, giving us some insight into their form. Despite victories over the likes of ORDER and HEET, Furia was unable to defeat the other top-tier threat in the tournament: Virtus.Pro. Heading into Katowice, FURIA's ability to rival premier European competition was more-or-less unknown.
Clearly, the FURIA squad is aware of the questions surrounding their position among the top teams. In-game leader Andrei "arT" Piovezan, however, is not worried:
arT: The HLTV rankings got a little weird, because we didn't play tournaments for some time. I do really think we are very close to the top 5 teams right now. We still need to get more practice together - since saffee joined, we have only had less than a month to try stuff. Every time we change roles, we need time to adapt and I would say it should hopefully be sorted by halfway through the year and we can be top 5 again.
Their first test would be Astralis, who qualified through the play-in stage after defeating MIBR and BIG Clan consecutively. Despite looking warmed up heading into the group stage, the Brazillians were quick to knock Astralis down a peg — and down to the lower bracket, thrashing the Danes in a 2-0 affair. Kaike "KSCERATO" Cerato performed brilliantly on both maps, his performances matched by saffee on the opening map and arT on the second.
With the win, Brazil's only remaining representatives at Katowice move forward through the upper bracket of Group B. Next up on FURIA's list is Natus Vincere, who held off a feisty ENCE squad threatening to upset the CIS giants in a back-and-forth 2-1 matchup. Na'Vi is still the best team in the world — on paper. In actuality, a rough start to 2022 has exposed a chink in their armor, and FURIA would be the perfect team to pounce on it. Most wouldn't have had FURIA advancing from such a competitive group, and especially not through the upper bracket. However, FURIA has all the tools they need to make exactly that happen tomorrow, provided they can repeat their performance against Astralis.