Extra Salt have emerged as the VENN Invitational champions after defeating paiN 2-1 in the grand final. With today's win, the hybrid North American-South African side will be the North American qualifier representative at April's BLAST Premier Spring Showdown, and will join Liquid as the two NA representatives in the sixteen-team field.
👑WE WIN @VENNesports AND BOOK OUR SPOT IN @BLASTPremier👑— Extra Salt (@ExtraSaltGG) March 29, 2021
and @Sonic_cs going 23-0 🤯
GGs @paiNGamingBR !#SALTERS@DrTcCs @oSeecs @Sonic_cs @JTcsgo @MarkeCSGO @FaNgJC
See you in EUROPE! pic.twitter.com/JrR82NHcyo
In the first semifinal, Extra Salt grabbed a slim 8-7 lead on the CT-side of Dust2, but then strung together the first four rounds in the second half to take a commanding 12-7 lead. Triumph clawed their way back into the game and brought things back to 13-12, but Extra Salt slammed the door shut and won the last four rounds in a row to take a 1-0 series lead. Josh "oSee" Ohm led all players with 25 kills, while Triumph was led by oSee's sniper counterpart, Austin "Cooper" Abadir, who finished with 21 eliminations of his own.
Vertigo was an even closer affair, despite Extra Salt taking a much more comfortable 10-5 lead into the break on the second map. Triumph fought back valiantly in an attempt to extend the series, first closing the gap to an 11-10 deficit, then pulling even with their opposition at 12-12, and again at 14-14. The comeback effort wasn't quite enough as Extra Salt claimed the final two rounds to complete the sweep in regulation, despite a Herculean 32 frag effort from IGL Alan "Shakezullah" Hardeman. oSee led Extra Salt once again in the victory with 26 kills of his own.
|2 - 0||
|de_dust2||16 - 12||de_dust2|
|de_vertigo||16 - 14||de_vertigo|
The other semifinal match was nowhere near as close as the first. paiN doubled up ChocoCheck on their CT side of Dust2 and then shut them out in the second half on their way to a dominant opening map win. Rodrigo "biguzera" Bittencourt had twice the kill total of ChocoCheck's top frag, Zack "XotiC" Elshani, as the pair finished with 22 and 11 eliminations, respectively.
ChocoCheck kept things close in the first half of Vertigo, allowing the Brazilian defense just an 8-7 lead. But once again, paiN completely shut ChocoCheck out of the second half and rattled off eight straight to close out the sweep. Rafael "saffee" Costa led the Brazilian side with 29 kills, while Christopher "cJ" Jones led ChocoCheck with 16 kills in the loss.
|0 - 2||
|de_dust2||5 - 16||de_dust2|
|de_vertigo||7 - 16||de_vertigo|
paiN carried their momentum from the semifinals straight into the grand final and absolutely smashed Extra Salt on their T-side of Inferno. The Brazilians broke through the Salters' defense seemingly at will as they took a 13-2 lead into the side switch, then closed out the map at their leisure. Gabriel "NEKIZ" Schenato led all players with 19 frags and Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek led Extra Salt with 16 kills in the loss.
Extra Salt picked Train, a map that Johnny "JT" Theodosiou's squad have conceded just once under the novel North American banner. But paiN didn't seem to care much for Extra Salt's alleged prominence on the map and once again jumped out to a convincing lead on their CT-side, this time 11-4.
But it was oSee who brought the pain in the second half and showed the Brazilians exactly why he entered this match with a 1.35 rating on Train in 2021. The second half was an absolute slugfest, highlighted by oSee actually having the AWP in hand. He finished the map with a server-leading 32 kills, 17 of which were with the sniper rifle, while saffee topped the scoreboard for paiN with 22 frags.
Extra Salt came out swinging on Nuke with the intent to not waste their second chance. paiN managed just one kill in the first three rounds, which set the tone for the first half overall as Extra Salt grabbed an 11-4 lead. Sonic put on a clinic as he tallied 23 kills and remained deathless thirteen rounds into the map, dropping off towards the end as paiN clawed back.
Extra Salt grabbed the first two rounds of their T-side, but then paiN strung together six in a row, decimated the Extra Salt lead, and found themselves trailing just 10-13. Extra Salt stopped the bleeding with a 5v5 post-plant win on the lower bombsite, but were immediately reset, with paiN getting to 12 rounds before Extra Salt were able to reach map, series, and tournament point. oSee and company failed to convert their first match point, but then Edgar "MarKE" Maldonado clutched a 1v3 post-plant to close out the series, booking his team a spot in the Showdown.
|2 - 1||
|de_inferno||7 - 16||de_inferno|
|de_train||16 - 13||de_train|
|de_nuke||16 - 13||de_nuke|
The final event standings for the VENN Invitational are:
1. Extra Salt - BLAST Spring Showdown, $25,000 participation fee
BLAST Premier's Spring Showdown will take place from April 13-18th, and will offer a $160,000 prize pool and two spots at the Spring Finals.