Number 15 on our top 20 ranking powered by EGB.com is Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, who is debuting on our list. The 25-year-old makes the cut thanks to his incredible consistency, which was pivotal to his team's successful period at the two Majors and in between.
Fernando "fer" Alvarenga is one of those cases of players who have enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence; after all, he has been playing at the highest level for less than three years – far less than some of the veterans in the Counter-Strike scene, including his teammate Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo. But he makes up for his lack of competitive experience with talent, which is all the more incredible if you consider that he is already 25 years old and that most of the top players are past their peak at that point.
fer burst onto the competitive Counter-Strike scene in early 2013, when he was recruited by playArt to replace veteran Bruno "ellllll" Ono, who had just retired from gaming. Handpicked by FalleN, who praised the newcomer’s "potential and dedication", fer now finally had the chance to prove himself on one of Brazil’s top teams.
"I started playing 1.6 in 2012 and soon joined a good Brazilian team, so I learned how to play competitively very quickly. I even played at two CrossFire events just because there were no CS tournaments in Brazil at that time.
"FalleN and I have a funny history. I hated him and everyone else on playArt. My goal was always to beat their team, until when they picked me up. After I joined them, I saw who FalleN really was. I truly believe that our friendship has helped me to get where I am today, but I think that, as professionals, we think alike and we know where we want to go.
"I love him like a brother, and it is amazing to conquer all this by his side. We have been together since the start, we have been through some many tough times and we are still together. That has made us stronger."
In July of 2013, playArt ended up disbanding as a result of the lack of competitive tournaments in Latin America, with Lincoln "fnx" Lau, fer and Vito "kNg" Giuseppe joining Afterall Gaming. FalleN stayed behind and linked up with ProGaming.TD, the only Brazilian CS:GO team that had attended international events at that time.
At the start of 2014, fer would join ProGaming.TD together with Felipe "fbm" Mengue as FalleN and Rafael "zakk" Fernandes were on their way out. It seemed like the dynamic duo were not meant to be together again, but they would reunite months later on KaBuM, the first Brazilian team to qualify for a Major, ESL One Katowice 2015.
"I think the defining moment was when we got invited to play the qualifier for the Major. I really wanted to go, but we had no financial support, so I told the team that if we could not raise the money (through donations and streaming sessions) I would stop playing. And when they decided to keep me on the roster and try to go, I realised that I wanted this for myself."
It was only up from then on, as the team went on to finish top eight in Katowice, while playing under Keyd Stars, and also won the iBUYPOWER Summer Invitational, establishing themselves as the strongest team in the Americas.
Before attending ESL One Cologne and joining Luminosity, the team added more firepower by picking up Marcelo "coldzera" David, one of Brazil’s hottest prospects. As many had predicted, the former Dexterity member fit in perfectly, and fer has no problems to admit that the new player took the spotlight off him.
"At the start of 2015, I was the star of the team because I think every team needs one. At the time it was me, but that is not something that I ever sought. It just happened, and everything I wanted then, and still do, is to do my best for the team to win. Things change, today we have cold as the big star."
With coldzera on the roster, Luminosity repeated the top-eight finish from Katowice in Cologne and Cluj-Napoca. It seemed like the team had stagnated, so before the end of the year fnx and Epitacio "TACO" de Melo were recruited in an attempt to break the threshold. A runners-up finish at the FACEIT League Stage 3 Finals in their very first tournament was the prelude to what would be an amazing seven months for the Brazilians in 2016.
But it was not all plain sailing for the team, who took some time before actually getting their hands on a big trophy. After winning the MAX5 Invitational, a domestic event, the Brazilians travelled to Minsk for the StarLadder i-League StarSeries XIV Finals, taking third-fourth following a 1-2 defeat against fnatic in the semi-finals. For fer in particular, this was a somewhat disappointing tournament as he was ranked fourth in the team with a 1.05 rating.
Just one week later, Luminosity found themselves in Leipzig for that city's DreamHack ZOWIE Open stop. This time around, the Brazilians placed second, losing to Na`Vi in the final. fer, who had a very strong series against FaZe in which he was the joint leader with a 1.50 rating, ended the event with the third-highest rating of his team (1.10) and with an impressive 84.3 ADR, securing his first EVP award of the year.
With back-to-back strong runs, Luminosity were slowly establishing themselves as a top 5 team, as Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács told us after the event in Leipzig. The next event on the calendar was the IEM World Championship, in Katowice, where Luminosity once again fell at the final hurdle, losing to fnatic 1-2 in the grand final. fer finished with the highest rating of his teammates, 1.10, and another EVP award, particularly due to some strong displays in the group stage, which thrice earned him the title of Player of the Map.
And then came MLG Columbus. Luminosity surpassed everyone's expectations and finally broke their duck, winning the title after a sensational run that saw them lose just one map, against Virtus.pro in the quarter-finals. fer had just the fourth highest rating of his team (1.08), but it is worth noting that his best individual performances came right in the grand final, when he was Luminosity's second best performer (1.37 rating, 99.4 ADR).
Luminosity had finally done it. They had won the biggest payout in the history of Counter-Strike, little over a year after struggling for cash to make the trip to Katowice. fer could not contain his emotion after the win and burst into tears.
"We had been battling to reach the top for a long time, and it had always been very hard. We had played at three Majors before Columbus and had to make some lineup changes, which were very hard but necessary. There were many difficult things that we had to go through: leaving our country to pursue our dream, leaving family, friends, girlfriend, etc, behind to go after something that meant a lot to us. In that moment, all the hardships that we had experienced went through my mind, and it was just too much to take."
Luminosity were then given a reality check as they went out in the groups at DreamHack Masters Malmö following a shock 1-2 defeat against TyLoo, who were still struggling to perform at an international level. fer had the second best rating of Luminosity (1.20, 12% above the team's average) and led the tournament statistics in terms of assists per round (0.20). This was also the event in which he had his highest Impact Rating of the year, 1.39.
The Brazilians went back to North America for DreamHack Austin, where they returned to winning ways, taking home the title without dropping a single map. Despite putting up a 1.16 rating, he was only ranked fourth in the team, but he still earned an EVP award (his fourth and last of the year) thanks to a 90.3 ADR and a 1.25 Impact Rating.
Next up were the ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals, in London, where Luminosity won the title as well, after surviving three close series against Astralis, Ninjas in Pyjamas and G2. fer posted a 1.01 rating, the fourth highest of his team, but he still led the tournament in opening kills and assists. The team's final event under Luminosity came at the end of June and was the ECS Season 1 Finals, in London, where they finished in second place. fer had one of his worst tournaments in 2016, with a rating of just 1.00 (the fourth highest of the squad) and an Impact Rating of 0.94 - his lowest of the year.
Now playing under SK Gaming, the team were dealt a heavy blow as they were disqualified from ELEAGUE as a result of the transition to a new organisation. Before the decision, fer was leading the team's charts with a 1.27 rating and a year-high event KPR of 0.84.
Success came knocking at the door right after. SK won ESL One Cologne, the second Major of the year, in convincing fashion and picked up their second $500,000 cheque in the space of months. This was the first time in 2016 that fer were the worst performer of his team, even though he still finished the event with a positive rating (1.08). And even though he did not put in as many kills as his teammates, he still managed to finish the event with an Impact Rating of 1.15 and a KAST of 72.3%, which goes to show that his role goes much beyond mere frags.
ESL One Cologne would be the last tournament for fer in a while. In August, it was announced that the player would need to take a break to undergo nose surgery to fix a breathing problem. The 25-year-old says that the pain is not nearly as intense as it was back then, but he reckons that he is still way off 100 per cent.
"My eardrum is still perforated, but after my nose surgery it has stopped bleeding and it no longer hurts like it did. It is far from being 100 per cent, since even after the surgery I cannot recover what I have lost. I only have 30 per cent hearing capacity on one of my ears, and that is very bad. But now I can sleep without the huge amount of pain that I was in and without bleeding. And that is good."
fer's first offline event since his return was ESL One New York, where SK finished 3rd-4th following a 1-2 defeat to Virtus.pro in the semi-finals. fer polled second on his team in terms of rating (1.05), but he must have been disappointed with his performance in the match against the Polish team, in which he was SK's worst performer, with a rating of just 0.75.
Virtus.pro would also defeat SK in the semi-finals of EPICENTER Moscow just weeks later, with fer getting the fourth-highest event rating of the team at 1.02. It was here that the first cracks in the SK machine began to appear as they looked very shaky on every map except Train.
"It was clear that something was different. The team was forced to play without me for some time, and we had some defeats that normally would not happen. That made us lose some confidence, which hurt us a lot."
After returning from Russia, SK got back-to-back second places at the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals and IEM Oakland. In São Paulo, fer brought in the team's worst rating at 1.01 and his own worst KAST of the year at 66.9%, while in Oakland he was the team's third-best performer with a 1.03 rating. In both cases, fer's numbers were down on their usual in the grand final - he was ranked fourth against Cloud9 with a rating of 0.80 and rock bottom against NiP with a rating of 0.88.
After finishing second to Astralis in their ELEAGUE group, SK returned to Atlanta to face another Danish team, dignitas, in the quarter-finals. The Brazilians survived a three-map game that went down to the wire but were then defeated by Astralis on two maps. In this tournament, fer was ranked third in his team, with a 1.06 rating and a +5 KDD.
For the final event of the year, the ECS Season 2 finals, SK brought in Portuguese veteran Ricardo "fox" Pacheco to replace fnx. fer put in a team-leading performance against Immortals with a 1.33 rating (the next closest player was coldzera at 1.09), but he was in the red for pretty much the rest of the tournament, still finishing as SK's second best player with a 1.00 rating.
When asked to name one tournament in particular in which he was happy with his performances, fer simply had this to say:
"My memory is terrible. FalleN needs to give me our tactics twice every time. I could even open up the stats log to take a look, but even then I would not be able to name one in particular."
Why is he the 15th best player of 2016?
Despite his aggressive playstyle, which costs him his life in many rounds, fer was the only player with a positive rating in every tournament he attended. His consistency over the year, which can be seen in the fact that he was above average in kills per round and ADR at every event, is the main factor why he made our top 20 list for the first time in his career.
fer's 1.08 rating at Majors and 1.07 rating at the other 12 big events he attended also make a compelling case for his place in our ranking. His stats become even more relevant if one considers that he reached top four in 12 of those 14 big events, which means he was thoroughly tested against top teams.
It is worth remembering that fer picked up four EVP awards, one of them at the MLG Columbus Major, largely thanks to a fantastic performance in the grand final (1.37 rating, 99 ADR). At the IEM World Championship, one of the other three events (the remaining two being DreamHack Leipzig and DreamHack Austin), he was also the team's best player.
"I have created my playstyle over time. I like to be an aggressive player, I like to mess with my opponent and to make my teammates’ game flow through information or an opening kill. This was a style that I came up with and that worked out well for the team and for the way that I like to play.
"My team is used to me playing aggressively and opening up several routes for them. Those who work hard get better, and I am no exception. I have always perfected my style, and I also try to play differently sometimes to confuse our opponent. Improvisation can be good and bad.
"You need to learn when you can or cannot improvise, but, on the other hand, only those who take risks deserve to experience greatness. My team asks me to do what I want, and if it goes wrong they will cover me.”
With a team-leading 83.2 ADR, he was ranked seventh in the world. Even though a significant portion of his damage did not lead to kills (23.4 per round, the ninth biggest "support damage"), it did result in 0.17 assists per round (the third highest), making him an important contributor all the time.
He had a worse than average 0.69 deaths per round, which speaks volumes about his aggressive playstyle, but when he did get two or more kills (which still happened more often than average), his team won 85% of those rounds - the second highest of all players.
fer fails to place higher on his list due to still being only the third best player in the team over the year and due to being more of a support player than one with a direct impact. Moreover, some of his best individual displays came at events where his team did not place that well (like DreamHack Masters Malmö and ELEAGUE Season 1).
When asked to name an up-and-coming player that he thinks can break into our Top 20 Ranking for 2017, fer mentioned two countrymen of his:
"He is not unknown, but I am sure that he will end up in this year's top 20."
"He is an excellent AWPer and he just needs a chance. If he gets it, I am sure he will take the scene by storm."