Brazil is no stranger to the esports scene, but the Mecca of South American Dota has always been located adjacent to the Pacific, not the Atlantic, and its name is Peru. Now, however, it appears to be the time for a new South American team to shine. Pain Gaming as an organization can be traced back to 2010, when it was founded by Arthur “Paada” Zarzur – an ex Dota player. The birth of Pain Gaming came with a merge of players from GameWise and CNB, for which Paada used to play. Paada found some success as his team won various national tournaments and achieved some decent placements at minor international tournaments; all of this prior to Dota 2. The shift came when Paada received the keys for the Dota 2 beta for him and his team from icefrog himself. It was an era of transition for most of the notable Dota players in the world and despite being behind the European and Asian esports scene by miles, Dota was always popular not only in Peru but all of South America, Brazil included.
Pain Gaming might have a rich and long story in the Dota scene, but this particular squad hasn’t even celebrated its first birthday yet coming to The International. Despite that, the members of this team aren’t nobodies; Kingrd and Tavo played together at CNB HyperX back in early 2014, while later that year Tavo played alongside hFn on Vivo Fibra Keyd Stars. Duster is the newest player in the scene and hence the youngest member of the squad; a particularly interesting fact given that he plays the sacrificial pos. 5 role, usually reserved for more experienced players. Last but definitely not least is w33ha, a player that knows The International and the Pro Circuit better than anyone else in this organization. Being a foreigner in a distant country, one could wonder if this team might have achieved even more in their short time together if w33 knew the language better.
Likely to be considered the big underdogs of this International, one must recall that Pain Gaming defeated Fnatic, Mineski and Liquid in their latest LAN at ESL ONE Birmingham. This came not only as a surprise for the Dota scene but also as a big breath of fresh air for a squad that at the beginning of the year was only looking to get some international experience by scrimming against top teams every chance they got. The arrival of w33 changed things – a bit. Yes the Romanian super star brings another level of play to the team, but it also brought a new problem for the squad: the language barrier. Football players say that football is a universal language; this is no different for Dota, but these language barriers always got mixed results on the Dota scene. This makes the arrival of Misery more doubtful. Misery and w33 know each other pretty well and one cannot deny Misery’s experience, but will his coaching widen the gap in the team or will it be the key element that this unproven “South American EG” is missing to claim such a title?
Despite all the obstacles and doubts, this team has a lot of pressure on their shoulders. They are by far the South American team with the strongest pre-TI performance yet to play on this event. Getting anything below Infamous Gaming previous year’s run – assuming they count with w33 and Misery – would be painful for this Brazilian squad and a step back for the South American scene.
Nowadays most people either label a team as “aggressive” or “defensive” depending on their play style, but Pain Gaming does not truly fit into either category. The team usually approaches a game in a unique yet standard fashion every time they have the chance. There’s no “joga bonito” in Pain’s game but there is a lot of movement, a lot of dancing around their lanes that evokes dribbles from Football players; these dribbles can easily set up success or end up calamitously for their early game. These movements aren’t random though; Pain has their pairs already arranged: w33 will always side with Duster anytime he is ditched to the offlane or given a more comfortable safalane if hFn is the one taking the solo matchup. On the other hand if w33 is taking mid, hFn will replace him as the pair for Duster. This has a good reason; Pain puts the tasks of pressuring the enemy safelane on the hands of tavo and Kingrd, two of the players that know each other for the longest on this squad.
The requirements for a strong Pain performance relies, draft wise, on their 3 core players. If w33 is playing on the mid lane, hFn is allowed to play one of his two stronger heroes, and tavo get his hands on a strong meta offlaner, the chances of Pain Gaming winning increases significantly against any foe. This reveals their biggest weakness, their somewhat limited hero pool. Duster has a wide hero pool of strong laners like Warlock and Bane, or a more farmed oriented Leshrac, or the ever stable Witch Doctor. His effectiveness on these heroes is strong, and while Kingrd’s Sand King sounds more like a liability than an asset, more gold-effective heroes like Tusk, Rubick or even Windranger are available for the captain of the team. Tavo’s hero pool brings stability to any lineup Pain can come up with; strong meta heroes like Underlord, Beastmaster and Doom are in his over 50% win rate zone. (Maybe during TI all his practice with Pangolier will finally pay off, as he is the player with the worst win rate in the top 5 users of the hero.) Meanwhile, w33 and hFn will constantly switch their position on the map but not their farm priority. w33 is your classical post-TI5 player, with a strong effectiveness on both Lina and Death Prophet. You could be tempted to praise w33’s Ember Spirit but most of his recent victories were during the SA TI qualifiers, making his stats a bit more unreliable on the hero. Despite that, we should be reminded that he and his coach are two players that were only a couple of games away from victory in that TI6 final against an unstoppable Wings. To back w33 on the carrying is hFn, who has one of the best Lunas on the globe. With teams likely to ban it, hFn can then jump onto some more standard Gyro, Lifestealer or Terrorblade picks; unless the enemy drafter uses two consecutive bans on him however, a highly rated Morphling and a trademark Slark may catch the enemy team off guard.
It is important to point out that Misery joined the team after they earned a spot at TI, this could change things quite a bit for this team. Despite having some nice pedigree for a South American squad, Pain is not a stranger to over-extensions, throws and questionable plays that are usual for teams with less top tier experience. Misery might be fundamental in cooling down the ever-hot Brazilians during moments that require less excitement – maybe w33 too.
Those of us unfamiliar with the South American Dota 2 scene were probably quite surprised when we first saw hFn play. His Slark is among the best in the world and easily cut through Mineski during the ESL One Birmingham Major. While many South American teams seem to have an unrefined playstyle and farm suboptimally compared to their international counterparts hFn makes full use of the space his team gives him. Perhaps it is the influence of w33 joining the team and bringing with him an outside influence, but hFn has definitely been a stand out player during the inaugural DPC season.
Editors: Ceribai, Sn0_Man
Graphics: Valve, Julmust, Exitiums
Editors: Ceribai, Sn0_Man
Graphics: Valve, Julmust, Exitiums