FURIA's Rocket League season was turbulent. After dominating the South American region in the 2021-2022 season, the team headed to North America to look for progress, confident after a 3rd-4th place finish in the 2022 World Championship.
BLIX sat down with Mateus "STL" Santos to discuss the decision to go to North America, how that affected their season, recent changes to the team, what they're expecting for 2024 and more.
FURIA’s North American tour started with a slow pace, having notable difficulties in the first regional tournaments. But the end of the season was more encouraging for the Brazilians, winning the last regional which guaranteed, however, a timid participation in the Spring Split Major. Asked about this last season, STL summed it up as follows:
"Even though the results were not spectacular compared to the ones in Brazil, we learned a lot during that period as a team. We passed through several ups and downs, something that was not usual playing in Brazil, and we showed that we can deal with them. Our evolution talks for itself, we started the split getting bad places and qualified for the last Major as the second seed of North America."
The American Dream
What makes a team with so dominant in South America have so many difficulties in North America? The answer seems to be easy, issues of lifestyle adaptation to a new country and a whole new competitive ecosystem. STL is not ashamed to admit this, taking into account the fact that all players were under 20 years old:
"That’s something we’re not ashamed of. That move disturbed us, our older player had 20 years. This affected us, but they managed to adapt over time, all the players started slowly but they then they improved split by split.
Inside the game, the question about practices was very different. All the teams that play the regional, 16 teams, are high level so you can’t underestimate anybody. All the practices are very good there, the schedule is a bit different. In Brazil we practiced in the night, while in NA we played a lot of matches during the afternoon. Besides that, a player in NA finds in minutes a ranked game.
In tactical matters, I think the major point for us was to implement a more physical game. That’s something we knew that we needed to evolve, we suffered a bit in the beginning, but then when we were able to implement that, we had better results."
In the report confirming FURIA's new player, BLIX reported that FURIA would return to compete in South America. STL didn’t confirm FURIA's region for 2024, instead saying:
"The region we will play isn’t confirmed yet."
Changes in the "House"
Even before they made changes to the squad at the end of the season, FURIA were undergoing transitions all the way back in April, saying goodbye to coach Wesley "Kairos" Silva. The American coach and the players had some communication difficulties, explains STL, who took over the role from then on:
"That was a very needed change, because, first of all, there was the language barrier between the players and the coach. It was difficult to have that relationship between players and coach with that barrier inside and outside the server. It didn’t make sense to keep him. With me returning I managed to have an impact in game and outside game, I traveled to NA and made changes outside the game. I proved my value and I’ll stay for the next season."
Arthur "Drufinho" Miguel is FURIA's new player as the team turns the page on a season with ups and downs and STL explained to BLIX the player selection process. FURIA's coach confirmed the information from BLIX’s previous report: "BLIX knows that the only player who didn't leave the FURIA testing phase was Yan "yanxnz" Nolasco and that the decision to change would be between Caard and Gabriel "lostt" Buzon."
STL explains the changes:
"Our team was in a good phase, even though our year was not good. The season was very exhausting and the relationship between the players was frayed and then we decided to change. We put yanxnz as our pillar, he’s our best player, that’s not a secret to anybody. Then we made several trials yanxnz with lostt and yanxnz with caard and other players. I came to the conclusion that Drufinho was the best option, he has a lot of experience not only from the past season. We had a fantastic season that’s why he ended up being nominated for MVP."
STL also revealed the player's support and described what the first weeks of working with Drufinho on the team have been like:
"I have no words to describe Drufinho, I spoke with his parents and then I saw why he’s like that, so good and with that will, because he always had that support from his family."
Gap in the Calendar
With the season starting in January instead of October this year, BLIX also asked STL for his thoughts on the changes:
"I don’t think they changed the calendar thinking about teams having more time to trial players. However, they promoted these extra off-season months with several competitions in various regions. This was good for the teams, they have more time to test players, this was something that the teams complained about mainly in the fall to winter window that culminated with the end of the year, so the teams now have more time."
Back in South America at least for now, this off-season only FURIA has dominated, winning the three tournaments that have taken place so far. Does the gap talked about in the 2021-2022 season still exist?
"I think there’s a gap between us and other teams but it’s easy to say that now, NIP, Team Secret and others are still figuring out their rosters for the next season."