– The International is coming. The world’s best Dota 2 teams fighting for their chance to be forever remembered as the greatest players of all time. Each team and player bringing with them a unique story to share.
This is the International Lowdown and this is the story of paiN Gaming. History in the making. Many regions have claimed the esteemed title of world’s best, but one region, only recently, has been given the chance for glory. Last year’s International 7 was the first TI to have a South American qualifier.
And SA came with the best they had at the time. But good teams take time to make. And this year we have witnessed the birth of the region’s first superstar team in the making; paiN Gaming.
paiN Gaming is Brazil’s biggest organization, and the largest esports organization in all of Latin America. With over half a million Facebook followers and nearly as many followers on Twitter. This is a team with a nation behind it. Originally created by CEO, Paada, who played Dota 1 professionally, the org is extremely ingrained with its players.
The CEO himself has played over 1,000 games of Dota 2 with Kingrd and even stood in for one of his players this year in the DPC. PaiN is the first Brazilian organization to ever qualify for a Dota 2 International. And the four Brazilian players are the first from their region to ever qualify as well. These guys are making history with every single step that they take towards that Aegis, not only for them, but for the South America scene at large.
A scene which is filled with passion. A true love of this game, but who has never had heroes to call their own until now. Things weren’t looking good too early in the DPC for paiN though. The kids had heart, but what they lacked was a touch of class in the mid lane. That was until midway through the season when a passport issue forced one of them to need a stand-in who ended up being the missing piece that would bring the team together.
The highly experienced Romanian player w33haa. paiN began their upward swing later in the DPC season. They had to learn English instead of Portuguese, w33haa had to move to Brazil, and the team had to deal with many challenges. paiN Gaming, however, only got stronger as the year went on.
And when the time came for the International qualifiers, a year of growth and setting new records for South America came to a head. They preformed better than any South American team in history. But, they were not always the superstars that we know them as today. In fact, many of the players come from very humble origins.
Duster was a die-hard Dota fan before he ever thought about being a player. Falling in love with Dota after watching Na’Vi at the International 3, he was a Na’Vi superfan. And you could hardly ever see the kid without wearing his favorite team’s shirt. He began playing ranked very seriously, and attended, pretty much, every small community LAN that he could locally.
Even those with no prize money. He went for the practice, sure, but he really went to go see his favorite local team paiN Gaming. He would grow to love the team even more than Na’Vi, and he followed them from event to event as their biggest fan. Eager to meet them and tell them his dream of playing with them on the team one day. Now, you gotta admit, this is a common thing that esports fans say all the time, but Duster took that dream to the next level.
He continued to sharpen his skills until he had grown so large that paiN Gaming actually took notice. After TI 7, paiN gave Duster a one time trial period, and after just one week, they brought him into a tiny room, CEO looked at him and said, “You’re the one I’ve been looking for.” The players he once idolized have now become his teammates, but they’ve also become his closest friends. Now the superfan has become a superstar, and the time comes for him to play in the tournament that inspired his wild ride. Kingrd is one of the most experienced members on the team.
Being part of paiN Gaming’s very first iteration all the way back in 2010, which was before the first International. Kingrd has always had a love of this game. A love that made him infamous in the early Dota 2 days with many North American players, like Arteezy, well aware of his skill, and big fans of his character. Approachable, charismatic, Kingrd is the people’s champion in Brazil.
However, the Dota road for him has not always been smooth. He quit the game, entirely, three times, but like the rest of us, he always came back. In his case however, he came back stronger than ever.
A man that loves to poke fun at himself, Kingrd’s original name was KingFat, and his teammates always call him Gordo, meaning fat, in-game, which is why his current handle is Kingrd, a mix of King and Gordo. Look, I didn’t wanna tell the story, but King told me that I had to tell it, so I don’t know. Anyway, King has always been a player that keeps his team happy as their captain, and after eight years of playing Dota, Kingrd has made it to the world stage.
And Gordo; he’s about to feast. Tavo has a similar story to Kingrd’s, starting his career around 2014, and playing on a team called CNB e-Sports Club with Kingrd, in his formative years. He left the squad due to lack of motivation, but formed a bond with Kingrd, and when King joined paiN later that year, Tavo, he was soon to follow. The two have been friends ever since.
And, while having a stint in SG e-sports for about half a year, Tavo knew where his heart truly belonged. Outta the game, the only things I hear about this guy are highly disturbing. Tavo’s talent is the art of loud burping. Something that you might see when they’re playing the game at the International. paiN refers to this as the lion’s roar. And Tavo will sometimes roar out before one of their big plays.
Tavo has been noted to eat anything by his teammates, and he also claims to be the best Techies player in the world. We hope to see the lion’s roar in full force this year at the International 8. From a very safe distance.
hFn is Brazil in a nutshell. Originally wanting to be a pro football player, soccer for us Americans out there, he grew up in a very small town, In the north of Brazil, called Patos. He left his entire life behind, though, to play Dota. Committing 100% and giving up his dreams of football stardom for the life of a pro gamer. While he is insanely good at his carry position in Dota, like most carries, he’s not too creative.
For example, his name hFn that means absolutely nothing. He just thought it looked cool. But you don’t need to be creative when you can play as good as hFn. Frequently the top killer in his team, and the rock that holds paiN Gaming together, many games have come down to how well hFn can execute under pressure, and he has hardly ever disappointed.
Bringing hFn to the International stage, is like bringing Brazil itself to the world. And just like his plays, hFn is sure not to disappoint. The man who helped take paiN to a whole nother level, is w33haa.
Started his career as a pubstar, he was different in that he was the most notable pubstar in history. Obtaining the highest MMR of any player for some time, and the first player in history to ever reach 8,000 MMR, forming his first pro team with his friends, Balkan Bears, w33haa would bounce around the pro scene for quite some time. Eventually though, he would be discovered by the one and only Puppey, who invited him to join ’em on Team Secret, which is where his career would really explode in competitive force.
His mid Windranger, Invoker, and even his Meepo, became the stuff of legends, and he made Secret one of the best teams in the world. Secret won the Shanghai Major much on the back of w33haa, but surprisingly he was kicked from the team immediately after their victory to make room for more famous names. Undeterred, and with little time before the International 6, he would join the relatively unsuccessful team Digital Chaos and help them achieve a second place finish at the International. w33haa has said that he thrives on the underdog role. Whereas in Secret, everybody expected him to do very well, on teams like Digital Chaos, everybody pretty much expected him to lose.
And that made winning all the much more easy. Bringing paiN Gaming the experience of playing at the International, w33haa is going to be instrumental in helping the team cope with the stress of their first TI. But, we all hope that somehow, someway, we get to see that mythical w33haa Meepo once again on the International stage. He’s gonna play a lot of Windranger, but a man can dream. And that is the story of paiN Gaming. A squad of old friends, and Brazilian brothers, who with every victory make history for themselves and their region.
For many places around the world, doing well at the International is sort of a expectation; it’s hardly an achievement. But for paiN Gaming, they’re fighting for something more than just themselves. They’re fighting to give their fans, their countrymen something to be proud of. For Brazil, for themselves, and for Dota 2 at large, we’re gonna see paiN Gaming this year at the International 8.