ECL Champions decide to make a change
With the player break just around the corner, paiN have decided to get a change in early, with longtime paiN player Gabriel "NEKIZ" Schenato announcing in a Twitlonger that he has been benched by the Brazilian organization. This may come as a shock to those who have been keeping a close eye on the team recently, as paiN have just been crowned ESL Challenger League Season 41 champions in which NEKIZ was the team's third-highest rated player with a strong 1.21 rating.
As mentioned, paiN are not in a situation where they have been forced to make a roster move due to bad results; in fact, they are actually proving themselves to be a dominant force in the Americas, even starting to compete against some of the bigger fish in the pond. It is true that they did not do well in the IEM Cologne Play-in but this was not through a lack of trying, as they took quarter-finalists, MOUZ, to overtime in a best-of-one.
Aside from paiN's domestic successes, the squad has also had some impact internationally, qualifying for the BLAST Premier Spring Final in June after besting Liquid and FURIA in the Spring Showdown. At the BLAST Premier Spring Final in Lison, Portugal, the team exited in last place after a tough group stage.
For NEKIZ, he is saying goodbye to a team that has been his home for just over two and a half years, not including a brief stint back in 2017. He has been a consistent force for the Brazilian side in all that time, posting a 1.08 rating across 445 maps. He's seen the highs and lows that Counter-Strike has to offer, especially in recent times, as he played in the PGL Stockholm Major and then just fell short of qualifying for Antwerp. Regardless of how things ended between the two, he's proven himself to be an integral part of the team's history.
With NEKIZ's benching, paiN's roster is now:
Rodrigo "biguzera" Bittencourt
Vinicios "PKL" Coelho
Wesley "hardzao" Lopes
Gabriel "nython" Lino
Bruno "bruno" Lesnik (Coach)
Henrique "rikz" Waku (Assistant Coach)
Gabriel "NEKIZ" Schenato (Inactive)
With this move seemingly coming out of nowhere, it will be interesting to see where paiN goes from here and what new member they will pick up. NEKIZ will certainly be an interesting prospect for squads in the Americas as teams begin their player break shuffles.