A Tale of Two Teams: Contrasting the rise of FURIA and Luminosity

Their similar passion but distinct play style brought them to the same crossroad.

Counter-Strike: GO's Icon Stephen Chiu · 27 Jun 2019


Image via Adela Sznajder for DreamHack

FURIA fever has swept the CS:GO community. They have been to two big international LANS in 2019 and have become the beloved underdogs of the scene. The lineup of: Yuri “yuurih” Gomes, Andrei “arT” Piovezan, Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo, Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato, and Rinaldo “ableJ” Moda are now one of the big stories this year. Their play style and passion has captivated audiences across the world.

But FURIA’s rise invokes the history of Luminosity, another Brazilian underdog team that rose to international prominence in 2015. While the two teams couldn’t be any different in their styles of play, they both fought with a hunger that pushed them to do unexpected and great things.

Brazilian Hunger

"[FURIA] have this kind of, I call it the SK kinda vibe, were they all came over from brazil obviously, and it feels like they are a family and they love each other," Rory "dephh" Jackson said in an interview with RUSHB MEDIA. "And they trust in each other, and they play like it."

What dephh is talking about is something that has captured the imaginations of the CS community. There is a certain culture within FURIA that makes you remember the old KeyD/Luminosity lineups when they first moved to NA. While the two teams couldn’t play any differently, the sense of purpose that FURIA play with invokes the memory of that old Brazilian lineup.

When FURIA play, you feel like all five teammates are on the same page. They are fearless in the face of opposition. They know how each other play, and they live in the moment of victory and defeat. It is a special quality that goes beyond tactics—a hunger for victory that gnaws to the very bone. One that forced the team to experience hardship and struggle, but in turn forged them into something greater than they were before. 

The old Luminosity lineup was the same way. They grinded away for nothing, praying that one day a tournament would give out a Brazilian qualifier. MLG X Games was that one tournament, and from there, Luminosity did everything they could.

They did a donation stream to get to the major qualifier. They gave up their personal lives to move to North America to become the best team in the world. They slept three to a bed. Marcelo “coldzera” David mastered the game by putting in more hours than almost any pro. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo changed the principles of how Counter-Strike was played at the top level. Fernando “fer” Alvarenga fought through ear problems and used that pain to become a dominant force in 2017. Epitacio “TACO” de Melo became the exact role player the team needed so they could become the best in the world. All four became bonafide legends of CS:GO history.

The FURIA players are nowhere close to the legendary status of those players, but their emotion and intensity do have similarities. When I watch them play, FURIA solicit similar feelings to what I once felt from watching KeyD.Stars/Luminosity lineups back when they first entered NA.

FURIA’s loose tactical aggression

While the stories and ambitions of FURIA and Luminosity are similar, their play styles are completely different.

The first thing that draws your eye in the FURIA game is the speed and fearlessness in which they play CS. They like to take the fight to the enemy. On Inferno, you can see VINI rushing down B and trying to take the head off his opponent in the first 20 seconds of the round. On Mirage, the team often has arT rush out of B halls looking for a pick. On Overpass, they have both yuuri and arT rush down long.

The biggest example of their electrifying play is on Nuke, where you can see arT rush down vents, yuuri sneak out yard with no utility backup, and VINI rush hut looking for a pick. At first glance, it looks like an undisciplined team that plays around the individual skill of the players. But while FURIA play a loose style around their firepower, they are still a tactical team. Yuuri has said as much in the past.

“When arT joined the team, his style was a bit loose while we played a more tactical game," yuuri told HLTV. "Since he joined, we have been able to mesh those two styles."

FURIA have protocols and follow-ups that make the most of their aggressive individual duels. For instance, if arT rushes down B on Mirage, FURIA could potentially follow it up into a full out B execute. This will condition the opponent to rotate when FURIA pull out this play, but FURIA will follow that up with a variation where they have two players do an explosive contact play from palace to catch any A-site players in the rotation.

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FURIA’s playbook is filled with small, nuanced ideas made to take advantage of the fact that they have such aggressive fast paced players. This speed and aggression makes it hard for structured teams to play against. ArT noted this in a HTLV interview.

"I prefer to face teams like Astralis, who are more tactical, because our style is really effective against a structured team," arT said. "So when we get a team like NRG, who play loose, our game is not as fluid and we struggle a bit more.”

Outside of a stunning 2-0 victory against Fnatic, a lot of FURIA’s victories and losses line up with this train of thought. They’ve beaten Vitality, Astralis, and North. All three have fairly structured roles and tactics. On the other hand, they have lost to NRG, ENCE, and Liquid. All three have some loose elements in their play which disrupts FURIA's natural chemistry.

Luminosity’s Structured Late Game

FURIA’s style is in many ways the antithesis of what Luminosity came out with in 2015. While both squads required a high level of unity and team play to execute, Luminosity's style was far more controlled. FalleN built the structured role system for Luminosity, which eventually became the base of his world number one lineups. 

FalleN was the first to focus in on a fundamental concept of CS that top teams were subconsciously executing: the power play. Theoretically, if a team got into a 5v4 situation, then if the team play and tacticals were solid, then the squad with the advantage should always win the situation. This structured style also made coldzera shine, as he was the best player in the late-round and post plant scenarios. Once you combined that with FalleN’s AWP and fer’s aggression, Luminosity had a core recipe for success that made them a solid team.

While that particular squad was fun to watch and affected the meta (on Mirage for instance, they created an A-execute made to play for the post-plant), they hit a roadblock. When the initial Brazilian squad moved over in 2015, they couldn’t become the best team in the NA region. And while they could get to the playoffs of international events, they couldn’t get past the quarterfinals.

Luminosity needed to diversify their play while keeping the core identity in tact. This is a challenge that FURIA now have to face as well. 

Lessons from the Past to the Present

"For the long run, they[FURIA] are going to have to learn to play different styles" - Fallen

FalleN recently told TeaTime that FURIA would need to learn a different style. This piece of advice likely comes from his own experience from playing on the come up. A few days before Luminosity attended FACEIT Stage 3 Finals 2015, they added Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Epitácio "TACO" de Melo to the lineup. With no time to prep, Luminosity had to stick to a loose play style. That was a watershed moment, and FalleN described its impact in an interview with Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen,

“Reaching our first CS:GO final with a lineup that never practiced before opened my eyes to how good our players are and how they can adapt in a more freestyle-based game," FalleN said. "This opened doors to a lot of things for our team.” 

Soon after, that Luminosity squad combined aspects from other top teams and reimagined them in their own style. They learned Virtus.Pro’s tactics on Train, but had a higher emphasis on letting Coldzera win the postplant. They could play the loose Fnatic style, but interpreted through their unique players and roles. They learned the slow Na`Vi style, with FalleN taking the role of Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs.

FURIA are where Luminosity was near the beginning of 2015. They have shocked the world with two great performances: a top four at DreamHack Dallas and a finals at ECS Season 7 Finals. This puts FURIA at the point where other teams are starting to adapt to their play. FURIA seem to have the talent. They certainly have the drive. Now the question is if they can evolve.

Brazilian hunger took Luminosity up to a certain point. While it still drove them, they had to learn and make changes to their style and roster along the way before they could become the best team in the world.

FURIA will now have to take the same test. We will see whether they can adapt and evolve. Only time will tell whether they can use their knowledge of the other teams in the world to broaden and refine their own style of play.

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