The scoreline was 14-10 on Ancient, the deciding map of the Fragadelphia Invitational grand final. Extra Salt had just converted a force buy round, stringing together upgraded pistols with whatever utility they could muster. With their economy in shambles, paiN could barely put a buy together as none of their players had the necessary funds to purchase a single M4A1-S.
The Brazilians found themselves with their backs against the wall, a sight they are no strangers to. Going into the series, paiN had never won a series against the South African-North American squad, losing in nine straight this year alone. When it came to crunch time, nerves unraveled. Despite a head-to-head map record of 5-21, 15 of their losses lasted at least 28 rounds with a third of them going the full distance.
“We always knew that we could win games against them, but maybe the pressure of not having won any matches may have influenced some results,” said Bruno “bruno” Ono, the coach for paiN.
On the brink of defeat, this time was different for paiN. This matchup meant more than just
another tally to the losing streak. Beating Extra Salt would secure them a spot at the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown, which takes place later next week at a location yet to be announced by the organizer. The qualification represents a milestone in a long and turbulent journey that has been in the works since early 2020.
The roster was coming off a year where they landed six domestic championships, wiping out
whatever competition that Brazil had to offer. At the start of 2020, paiN announced that it would be sending its male CS:GO roster to compete in Canada, but due to COVID-19 travel
regulations, the team did not make their trip until September. With competing in Canada out of the equation, the team opted to quarantine in Mexico before traveling to Las Vegas, United States.
Vinícios “PKL” Coelho revealed that the team was confined in an apartment room for 16 days during the quarantine period. Being cramped in a single apartment room was not ideal but Ono attributed the passing of time in thanks to great chemistry.
“We have a very good environment both inside and outside the game and that’s why we took those 16 isolated days with ease,” said the coach.
On their way to Las Vegas, the team once again encountered adversity derailing their journey, as accommodation and travel arrangements were abruptly canceled.
“It was a time when everything was going wrong anyway. I remember that they canceled our ticket from Mexico to Vegas right next to the trip. We had problems renting the house and renting the car too.” Ono recalled.
It didn’t stop there as the team was forced to forfeit their first two ESEA Open Season 35
matches due to the travel. A third forfeit would have resulted in the end of the season for the Brazilians. Having finally touched American soil, paiN quickly went to work, winning 14
straight maps and cruising through the playoffs with an 8-0 record. To round out the year, paiN concluded their campaign with a few ESEA Cash Cup wins under their belt.
At the turn of the new year, the team showed no signs of slowing down, annihilating their ESEA Advanced Season 36 competition without dropping a single map. The team also qualified to DreamHack Masters Spring, collecting their first international event berth in two years. Qualifications to the BLAST Premier Spring Showdown and IEM Summer were also within reach, but the team failed to make it past the hurdle, losing to Extra Salt in the finals of both qualifiers.
cs_summit 8 marked the first-ever RMR event for the team. The team finished group play,
earning upsets over Evil Geniuses and domestic rivals, O Plano (now 00Nation). Despite their best efforts, paiN was knocked into the lower bracket by Liquid before losing a rematch to O Plano. Their efforts secured them the 7th spot in the NA RMR circuit rankings and put them just 200 points back from a Contender spot at PGL Stockholm.
This past summer, paiN solidified their place in the NA CS:GO scene, placing third in ESEA
Premier Season 37 after losing to Extra Salt. The team also nearly qualified for ESL Pro League Conference Season 15, once again falling short to Extra Salt in the semi-finals.
That was two months ago, the last time the two met.
With their tournament life on the line, paiN secured 5 straight rounds before Extra Salt snatched the 30th round, bringing the series to overtime. paiN outlasted Extra Salt, as they booked their tickets to the BLAST Premier Fall Showdown. The event would represent their first international offline event in two years and also the first for this roster.
Qualifying to BLAST Premier Fall Showdown was everything that paiN was working towards
when they announced their move last year. Their last international offline appearance took place in Shanghai, China at StarSeries & i-League Season 7, where they lost to FaZe and had two close series against BIG and Team Spirit.
The team doesn’t plan to do anything differently this time around. “I believe at the time, it was one of the best preparations we had before an event. The problem was that the team didn’t have much experience,” said Ono.
Ono believes that the team would arrive much better prepared after playing a year in North
America, but also highlighted that the ongoing IEM Fall NA RMR puts the team in a difficult position.
“We’re doing our best to arrive well prepared, but being honest, we won’t be able to make an
ideal preparation for the event. As we are going to compete in the RMR, we will travel only two days before the start of BLAST,” he added.
But for Ono and his team, they have grown accustomed to the strenuous traveling and it serves as another challenge in their journey to the top. The team is more than just happy to attend the event and are confident that they can surprise their competition.
BLAST Premier Showdown follows suit two days after the conclusion of IEM Fall and is taking place next week between October 12-15th. paiN’s opening match is versus OG Esports at 09:00 am EDT on Wednesday. The team has also qualified to the PGL Stockholm Major after reaching the playoffs at the IEM Fall RMR.