paiN had no troubles in their opening playoff games

ATK and paiN lead the way in ECL Season 41 playoffs

North American teams will need to come through the lower bracket if they're to win their home division.

The playoffs for ESL Challenger League Season 41 are well underway, with ATK and paiN securing back-to-back victories to set up an upper-bracket final matchup later tonight. As for Strife and Brazen, however, they could get never get the ball rolling, ultimately falling out of the playoffs in joint last place after both suffering two, consecutive defeats.

The opening round of playoffs kicked off on Wednesday night, with paiN quickly showcasing their newly-gained tier-one experience with a 2-0 trouncing of Mythic. This saw the Brazilian squad comfortably shut down their foes on Vertigo with a 16-8 scoreline before moving on to Dust2 where an even more dominant showing allowed for Vinícios "PKL" Coelho and company to take the map 16-4.

ATK's campaign through the playoffs started with a matchup versus BHOP where the international squad swiftly showed why they deserved a place at the table with a 16-7 victory on the opening map of Vertigo. This strong start continued as Dust2 got underway, with ATK taking the map 16-6 to take the series 2-0 and book their spot in the upper-bracket semifinals.

On the other side of the bracket, the newly-signed EG.CD lineup took on Brazen with the latter coming out of the gate in the lead after snatching away Mirage 16-10. Eager to keep their playoff hopes on track, Evil Geniuses soon responded with a solid 16-7 showing on Overpass before the two teams paid a trip to Dust2 to settle things. Here, things quickly crumbled for Brazen, with Colby "Walco" Walsh spearheading EG to a 16-4 win to complete the reverse sweep.

The final matchup of the opening round saw Gaimin Gladiators square off against Strife, with the latter side suffering from COVID-19 after returning from their trip to Europe.
David "cynic" Polster's men started the series off firmly in the driver's seat by managing to snag Nuke 16-13. The game then moved to Mirage for the second map with a trip to overtime being needed to separate the two but, once the dust had settled, it was Strife who managed to reign supreme, taking the map 19-16. Inferno played host to the third and final map, and after a hard-fought battle, Gaimin Gladiators ultimately prevailed with another 16-13 scoreline to allow the side to secure an upper-bracket semifinal spot.

The first game of the lower-bracket saw Mythic go up against Brazen with the stream team coming out swinging to start things off, winning the first map of Inferno 16-5 to go up 1-0 in the series. From there, Brazen managed to stabilize to keep their playoff dreams alive, answering back by stealing Mirage 16-12 and sending the two teams to the deciding map of Overpass. All this work would prove to be for nothing, however, with Mythic barely pulling ahead on their way to a 16-13 victory to stay alive.

Elsewhere, BHOP and Strife locked horns in a game of three 16-9 scorelines. This saw Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's men rally to steal the opening map of Inferno before Strife responded with a victory of their own on Nuke. With elimination on the line, it would be BHOP who managed to find the fire in their bellies, taking Overpass and living to fight another day in the playoffs.

paiN's stellar start in the playoffs continued in their second-round game versus EG, with the Brazilian quintet blowing their foes out of the water on their way to a 16-5 thrashing on the opening map of Overpass. paiN didn't let off the gas on Nuke either, soon posting an impressive 16-7 victory to brush Evil Geniuses aside and be one BO3 away from a spot in the grand finals.

Meanwhile, ATK and Gaimin Gladiators kicked things off Inferno for their matchup, with all 30 rounds being played before ATK managed to clinch victory. From there, the two squads paid a visit to Mirage where things got even closer, with the Gladiators barely securing victory 19-17 after a quick trip to overtime. Unsurprisingly, Ancient was another hard-fought map but this was ATK's time to shine, seeing the international lineup pull away to secure a 16-13 victory and set up a third-round matchup versus paiN.

In the third-round against ATK, paiN wasted absolutely no time in jumping out to a quick 13-2 lead in the first half of Ancient on their CT-side. ATK, having picked the map, surely felt hard done by as they had a long way to climb back if they wanted to make the game competitive, and competitive they made it. Securing the second-half pistol now as the defense they strung together several rounds before falling 16-11. Once the tides turned to paiN's pick of Dust2, both sides were now appropriately warmed up resulting in a double-overtime thriller with the T-sides being the dominant force. Both sides managed to win eleven rounds, however ATK would eventually fall 22-20 sending them to the lower bracket facing the winner of Gaimin Gladiators v. EG.CD.

The next set of matches starts today at at 05:00PM are:

Lower Final

Consolidation Final

Gaimin Gladiators vs EG.CD

World ATK vs EG.CD / United States Gaimin Gladiators

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