Participating in international ventures is a must for an esports organisation with global ambitions. That’s why Riot Games’ new VALORANT Champions Tour partnership programme is key to FURIA’s ongoing expansion strategy.
The Brazilian organisation is one of the most prominent brands in global esports, known especially for its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team and for its identity as a culture-focused brand. Now, the ‘panther’ is exploring a brand new habitat.
Esports Insider spoke with the organisation’s Co-CEO Jaime Pádua to learn what FURIA’s game plan is following its acceptance into VCT Americas.
FURIA is no stranger to big league partnership programmes. It is a member of the Louvre Agreement, a group of top CS:GO teams that participate in and govern the ESL Pro League. It is also part of the Brazilian League of Legends Championship (CBLOL), a franchise league managed by Riot Games.
Still, the VCT deal is highly valued by the organisation. “An organisation that works every day to be among the biggest in the world needs to make a name for itself in the biggest events and the best games,” Pádua said.
“That’s why our strategy on VALORANT followed the same direction as we did with LoL and CS:GO. With the entry into the VCT, FURIA consolidates its strength in the world of esports and takes this opportunity to [pursue] its international expansion in a sustainable way.”
Like the Louvre Agreement, the VCT programme involves organisations representing multiple countries. But the main contrast between the two is that while the former is an initiative led by teams and an independant tournament organiser, the latter works directly with the game’s publisher.
Such a difference, Pádua said, has a direct effect on how the internal dynamics of the association works. “This direct and straightforward access to the publisher allows major decisions to be made more quickly and for everyone’s interests to be clearly aligned.”
Alongside competing for titles, business and brand objectives are front of mind for FURIA in the VCT. The organisation wants to use the circuit to consolidate its international expansion and visibility. “The VCT will be critical for FURIA to strengthen the business base we already have in the US. The growth potential there is very interesting,” Pádua said.
All partnered organisations in VCT Americas must set up training facilities and housing for players in Los Angeles, California — which fits perfectly into FURIA’s US expansion plans.
The organisation, which already has a facility in Boca Raton, Florida, announced the construction of a new venue in north Miami in August. FURIA has also launched brand activations around the country such as ‘FURIA Live’, an event organised in New York in partnership with HyperX in March. In fact, Pádua revealed, expanding to Los Angeles was already on FURIA’s schedule. “We had this move planned, and now we are working on executing this plan.”
The organisation’s expansion is moving at a fast pace. In an interview with Esports Insider in August 2022, FURIA’s Co-founder André Akkari disclosed its intentions of reaching even further than Brazil and the US and obtaining venues in ‘each of the biggest cities in the world’.
It’s the latest ambitious plan for an organisation already known for stretching boundaries; between 2020 and 2021, FURIA signed athletes in poker, chess, mixed martial arts, and motorsport.
Each of its rosters — inside and outside of esports — run differently, Pádua said. “Each game has unique features. Even so, the work of managing a VALORANT team is very similar to what we do with an FPS team from another [title]. There are similar challenges, but obviously, the circuit has specific characteristics and different learnings in each game.”
Despite making it to VALORANT Champions 2022 Istanbul, FURIA is still yet to prove its prowess in international events in Riot’s FPS title. The organisation pulses with a strong competitive vein and wants to reach as high as winning the world title, like its fellow Brazilian team LOUD did in Istanbul.
But for now, the panther is looking at the prey, studying its moves and setting an action plan. In February, when the new VCT season starts, we’ll see if the chase is successful.