Too Good: Reflecting on KSCERATO’s Six Years With FURIA

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Six years ago, FURIA added an 18-year-old Brazilian rifler to their competitive lineup. A Major semi-final appearance, two ESL Pro League podiums, three top-tier online titles, and four consecutive top-20 placings on HLTV’s year-end rankings later, that youngster-turned-superstar has been the organization’s best player through all the highs and lows.

So where did it all begin?

KSCERATO at the PGL Major Antwerp Americas RMR; Copyright: Joao Ferreira, PGL

Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato first burst onto the scene with FURIA in 2018, a time when a team of five Danish players was considered the best in the world and their only real competition was themselves. Back in those days, FURIA were not yet the giants of South America they have established themselves as today. Their events mostly consisted of local tournaments within the Brazilian community and regional competitions on the continental stage, but rarely did they ever have a true presence internationally. KSCERATO’s addition to the squad also resulted in a steady change of fortunes for the organization as reaching the finals of regional events became a common occurrence. The change didn’t bear fruit right from the start, but the then-18-year-old wouldn’t take long to settle in and become the star man on the team.

In his first five months on FURIA, KSCERATO never dropped below a 1.00 rating and only ever had a negative K/D ratio in one out of the 18 tournaments he participated in. He was their best player statistically in four of those events and often shared the spotlight with Yuri “yuurih” Santos, another player who joined the team around the same time. Though FURIA still struggled to get their breakthrough internationally, KSCERATO’s extremely consistent, high-level play was a positive sign for the young lineup’s future.

At the start of 2019, the fruits of their labor were starting to show as FURIA qualified for the organization’s first-ever Major after finishing in second place at the Americas Minor for IEM Katowice. Though their run in Poland would end quite early after a 1-3 record in the Challengers Stage sent them packing, it was a first for both the organization and KSCERATO himself who was among FURIA’s best players across their four matches. KSCERATO also started to place his name alongside the most tenured and renowned Counter-Strike players in the world with standout performances in the second half of the year. His play at the ECS S7 Finals, DreamHack Masters Malmö, and StarSeries i-League Season 8 earned him three EVP medals which are currently the most he has received in a single year. He was also recognized as Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s bold prediction pick at the end of 2019, which was certainly high praise coming from the second-best player in the world then.

KSCERATO playing at the 2019 StarLadder Champions Cup; Copyright: Igor Bezborodov, StarLadder

Podium placings for FURIA at DreamHack Masters Dallas and StarSeries i-League Season 8 along with second place at the ECS Season 7 Finals were the highlights of the Brazilians’ year, who gained a much-needed wave of momentum heading into 2020 and the much-anticipated ESL One Rio. But, with the world now better or worse for it, 2020 did not go as anyone expected it to.

Come March 2020, the whole world was put on hold as lockdown restrictions were introduced following the rising amount of COVID-19 cases across the globe and competitive CS:GO was forced to shift online. Some of the world’s best teams such as Astralis were negatively affected by the sudden change in lifestyle early on, but some truly found the spotlight in the online era. FURIA was undoubtedly one of those teams. The Brazilians slowly but surely gained steam as the months went on, having their best run of form towards the middle of the year. KSCERATO was not yet hitting the individual numbers he put up in the back half of 2019, but his consistency proved to be a tremendous game-changer for his squad.

FURIA finally got a third-place finish at ESL Pro League Season 11 NA, and what followed was eight top-four finishes in the next nine competitions that the team competed in, including DreamHack Masters Spring 2020, ESL One Cologne NA, ESL Pro League Season 12 NA, and IEM New York NA in a run that kept them amongst the top ten teams in the world. Over those six months, KSCERATO didn’t put a foot wrong and averaged a 1.15 rating while constantly finishing each tournament as one of FURIA’s three best players. Though the team’s overall form dropped after IEM New York in October, KSCERATO kept up his world-class form and was recognized as the 18th best player in the world by HLTV — his first appearance on the top 20 list.

KSCERATO carried his run of form over to the new year, however, the same could not be said for FURIA as a whole. Henrique “HEN1” Teles’ departure in January 2021 was a big blow to the chemistry the team had built up over the past year, even if he was replaced by an equally capable AWPer in Paytyn “junior” Johnson. Even though the team’s results and overall performance continued to keep them outside the top four at multiple events, it became more evident that KSCERATO was undoubtedly one of FURIA’s greatest assets. His status as a reliable player at big events only grew after earning the highest rating of anyone on the team at their three biggest tournaments to start the year namely BLAST Premier Global Final 2020, IEM Katowice 2021, and ESL Pro League Season 13, the latter being the stage where he’d win his fourth EVP award.

Consistent trophies or even high placements were still something the team struggled with in the months before and after the player break, but KSCERATO never faltered and pulled off one of the best multi-competition stretches in his entire career starting from the Elisa Masters Invitational and stretched to the PGL Major Stockholm. His consistency showed even on the grandest stage in all of Counter-Strike as he led FURIA to a quarter-final appearance, the first of his career and for the organization as a whole. KSCERATO would once again make HLTV’s year-end ranking at the 15th spot, this time as the only Brazilian and only member of his team making him by default his nation’s best player.

KSCERATO poses on the PGL Major Stockholm stage; Copyright: Stephanie Lindgren, PGL

Both 2022 and 2023 would be a low point for FURIA in terms of results, placing worse on average than they did in the past and getting beaten out by fellow Americas region teams more often than they’d like. Despite all this, KSCERATO would continue to outperform what the general public would often think the team was capable of and, in turn, garner the best numbers of his career thus far. A severely disappointing 2022 was partially saved by FURIA’s semi-final appearance at Brazil’s first-ever Major, IEM Rio. In front of the roaring home crowd and immense pressure brought by the Major stage in general, it was KSCERATO again who would maintain his superstar status and deliver the second-best performance of the event with a 1.33 rating, receiving his fifth and final EVP award to date. His career-defining year would earn him the ninth spot on HLTV’s 2022 ranking which made him the first Brazilian to break into the top ten since Marcelo “coldzera” David back in 2018.

2023 was yet another challenging year for FURIA, especially with a dismal 0-3 record at the Paris Major Challengers Stage. Failing to reach the playoffs at IEM Dallas, missing out on IEM Cologne entirely, and struggling to finish in first place at a handful of smaller tournaments started to make even their most faithful of supporters worry. Amidst all the troubles, KSCERATO was still performing at the same world-class level fans had come to expect from him, but so did the concerns that his talent was being wasted in FURIA. Online spaces were filled with discussions about whether or not KSCERATO would opt for a move elsewhere considering that he is just hitting the prime of his career, but those theories were quickly shut down when October rolled around.

After Liquid signed Felipe “⁠skullz⁠” Medeiros as part of their roster rebuild, it was revealed by that the organization had originally wanted to sign KSCERATO as the final piece of their puzzle. FURIA’s star rifler, however, declined their offer and later explained that he loved the team and felt like it was the most ideal place for him. KSCERATO stayed on top of his game as an individual for his last string of events in 2023 and earned a fourth consecutive year-end recognition from HLTV as the 19th-best player in the world. It’s worth noting that 2023 was one of FURIA’s biggest years in terms of changing the way they play, switching to a less aggressive style, and now taking calls from The Professor himself, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well as they’d hoped. We might not even be halfway through 2024 yet, but even more cracks in FURIA’s lineup have already started to show. They fell short at the IEM Katowice Play-in, got swept at the PGL Major Copenhagen Elimination Stage, missed out on another playoff appearance at IEM Chengdu, and bombed out of ESL Pro League Season 19 in the group stage. In the four tournaments considered failures for the team’s standards, KSCERATO has been their only shining light, especially at the recently-concluded EPL where he put up an astonishing 1.35 rating that completely eclipsed the production of his other teammates. FURIA’s co-owner André Akkari admitted back in April that changes need to be made within the team. Andrei “arT” Piovezan has since been benched, and it is still unclear as to what direction the organization will go from here on.

Maybe it’s time for him to move on, maybe not. But at this point, KSCERATO is simply too good to have too few trophies to show for it.

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