This article is part of our PUBG series.
While PUBG has yet to get full-blown, main stage tournament treatment, the second PUBG Invitational -- this time at IEM Katowice -- showcased some high-octane play all throughout the two days of competition. In the end, AVANGAR stood tall, taking home the $25,000 top prize.
Before diving into the meat of the tournament, the unique ruleset bears mentioning. Through a system of both invites and qualifiers, 16 teams (six from North America, six from Europe, three from Asia, and one from South America) from all across the world were in attendance. Over the course of the two day competition, the teams played eight games -- four on Saturday and four on Sunday. Points were rewarded for both placements (starting at 400 for the winner and going all the way down to 23 for the last-place finisher) and kills (each kill was worth 10 points). Whichever team had the most points after eight games was deemed the winner.
AVANGAR rake in the Chicken Dinners
While the CIS-based team managed to take home the top prize, few could have predicted the final result looking at the opening game alone. Getting caught in a rough situation early in Game 1, AVANGAR came in dead last with just a single kill and 33 points to their name. That point total was the 10th lowest (of the 128 individual game scores) across the entire weekend.
AVANGAR showed off some incredibly resilience, however, bouncing right back to pick up a chicken dinner in the very next game. Not only did it get the win, but it racked up an incredible 17 kills (yes, they killed nearly a third of the server by themselves) along the way. While another chicken dinner didn’t come until Game 6, AVANGAR added in 10th (one kill), 5th (nine kills), and 4th place (seven kills) finishes for the intervening three games. That allowed them to never fall out of the top-three for the second-half of the tournament. Not to mention that their Game 6 win came along with 16 kills, which was good for the second-most amount of kills in a single game in the tournament.
Despite taking a fairly comfortable 412 point lead into Game 8, the wheels on the AVANGAR hype train flew right off the edge of Erangel almost immediately. Just as in the first game, the Russians came in dead last, and this time they didn’t even get a single kill. That meant they had to sit and watch OpTic Gaming ran roughshod over the competition, pulling in 12 kills, tied for third-most all weekend, to almost win the game. Thankfully for AVANGAR, OpTic came in third and ended up a mere 75 points short of the tournament win.
Despite the small hiccup at the end, AVANGAR laid down a blueprint of how teams can win tournaments. Two chicken dinners with a staggering amount of kills were the difference between first and second in Katowice.
North America proves that it’s here to stay
When it comes to most professional esports, North America tends to lag behind the competition. Whether it be a lack of strong talent in the region, a lack of practice, or a multitude of other reasons, the region always seems to be gasping for air. When it comes to PUBG, however, North America was represented to the fullest extent.
At the forefront of this North American surge was none other than OpTic Gaming. While OpTic is a name that holds an incredible amount of weight in the esports world, their PUBG roster didn’t exactly enter with a similar notoriety. The team failed to qualify for the first PUBG Invitational at IEM Oakland in November, which gave it a bit of a dark horse status coming into Katowice.
OpTic didn’t let that get into their heads, however, as they opened the tournament with a chicken dinner to set the tone. While they finished 10th and 6th in the next two games, their play in Game 4 led to one of the most exciting moments of the entire tournament. Taking a solid position during the final circle, OpTic managed to outlast all of LGD Gaming, with Michael “hypoc” Robins picking up the final kill to secure his team the win as the zone was closing in on the bunch.
The final day didn’t exactly start out according to plan, however. The team finished in 12th, 7th, and 9th in the first three games of the day, while only tallying five kills. Still, they were slotted in second place in the overall standings with over 400 to make up going into Game 8. With overall first place standees, AVANGAR, eliminated first in the final match, OpTic knew it had a golden opportunity to win the tournament. This translated into a blistering performance that saw OpTic cutting through the opposition like butter. It maneuvered its way into third place in Game 8 while picking up 12 kills along the way. While the herculean performance in the final game didn’t garner enough points to overcome AVANGAR in the overall standings, it was a statement that OpTic is here to stay.
OpTic wasn’t the only North America team that flexed in Katowice, however. Cloud9 (3rd), Noble Esports (5th), Ghost Gaming (7th), and Team SoloMid (10th) all made their way into the top-10 at this tournament. Such a strong presence from the region this early in the esports’ career bodes well for the longevity of North America’s competitiveness.
Fans won’t have to wait long to whet their PUBG esports appetite, as StarSeries i-League 2018 kicks off this Thursday.