This very special edition of The Pochinki Post is an end of season wrap of the NPL, where I give grades to each and every team that played in the phase. Phase 2 was a step up from Phase 1, not only in quality of competition, but also in the work of the casters and the overall broadcast itself from OGN. Phase 3 can only get better, but for now let’s look at how everyone went in Phase 2!


Blue Martini Gaming – GRADE - C
Placement – 14th
Last Phase – 16th

Surviving relegations after Phase 1, only to lose their best player to Spacestation was a blow that the team was never quite able to recover from. For all that Carbon brings to the table, he was never the right fit with BMG, and the addition of Boom has seen them make some improvements over the last 2 weeks. They finished better than they did in the previous phase, and considering the lowered expectations, it would be unfair to give them a grade lower than C. Still, they find themselves in a relegation fight again and time will tell if they can stay up once more.

Cloud9 – GRADE - A
Placement – 2nd
Last Phase – 2nd

I wrote previously about the pressure that Cloud9 had put on themselves with the roster change made for Phase 2, and while they didn’t drop any places, they weren’t quite able to make the move up to 1st that they were looking for. That said, hwinn finished the phase as one of only 5 players to deliver 10,000 damage and there is no implication that not moving up to first falls on him. Another stellar season from Kaymind (3rd in kills, 1st in damage, 10th in survival) now needs to be backed up in the GLL Grand Slam at the international level. That will be the true test of the roster change.

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Endemic – GRADE - C
Placement – 10th
Last Phase – 9th

It was a good sign that Endemic weren’t content with their 9th place in Phase 1, and they looked to make some changes to both the coaching situation and the roster as they moved into Phase 2. The positive is that the move of bringing in one of the most talented young players in the scene has worked as Relo has had a great debut season, finishing 5th in survival time while also comfortably leading his team in both damage and kills. The downside is that the lobby appears to have improved at a greater rate than this team. Their conservative style of play should have netted them more than just 10 top 4 finishes across the 40 matches, but it has managed to keep them in the NPL for the third phase of the year, so they get a C. If they want to do more than just survive, they might need to re-assess how they play.

eUnited – GRADE - B+
Placement – 8th
Last Phase – 12th

An 8th place finish may seem like a disappointment given they finished the first week on top of the ladder, however in the context of where they came from last phase, 8th is a solid position for this team. The addition of Stab has been a big boost as he led the team in both survival and damage, but what is really encouraging to see for eUnited fans is TaylorJay playing to his potential and finishing 6th in kills. As has always been the concern with this team, they need to work on their consistency if they want to make a real imprint on the competition. The manic late game comms that were witnessed on the broadcast for this team would be the first place to start looking and I’m sure that the expert coaching of Afflux will be looking to address this.

Excelerate Gaming - A-
Placement – 11th
Last Phase – Contenders

Yes, a team that is going into relegations is getting an A- and I realise how crazy that seems. This is a team that finished 9th in the contenders league last phase and while they had an outstanding relegation tournament, the expectation was that through a 40 match season they would be overmatched once they got to the this level. With the current line-up they showed what they are capable of as they accumulated the 6th most points over the final 2 weeks of competition. I think they head into the relegation tournament with probably the best chance of anyone to be back in the NPL for phase 2

Ghost Gaming - A+
Placement – 3rd
Last Phase – 8th

You could see the disappointment on the faces of the Ghost players as the scoreboard revealed that they had finished third by a single point. What if DrasseL had not lost a tyre in rotation and got stuck off the northern cliff to die to the blue in the final game? What if they had just hit one more shot on Endemic in what ended up being their final fight of the phase? The truth is you can have all of the what if’s that you like, but this team has had a fantastic phase, qualified for Sweden and they have every reason to hold their heads high. As a team, they finished the tournament with the most top 4 placements, the most damage, and the highest point total on Miramar. As individuals, all 4 players finished in the top 10 in at least one of the major statistics (survival, kills and damage) which no other team was able to do. They go to the Grand Slam in a very strong position and have every reason to expect to be in the mix to win Phase 3

Lazarus – GRADE - C
Placement – 7th
Last Phase – 4th

On the surface, a drop from 4th in Phase 1 to 7th in Phase 2 is only a 3 spot drop, however this is a team that finished second in the world just before the phase began. Additionally, the 7th place finish means that they miss the next international event. It’s a drop that hurts them and their reputation more than the surface numbers show. So what happened? We can’t say that the improved quality of the competition impacted them because they played the world’s best and finished second. They only averaged 4.4 kills per game in phase 1, so finishing just under 4 kills per match should not have had a huge impact. They had 2 wins this phase compared to 3 last phase and 11 top 4 finishes this phase compared to 15 last phase. They were previously known as the “Iron Men of PUBG” for their ability to survive, but that ability seems to have alluded them this phase. They still finished in the top half of the competition, but I think that they would be the first ones to tell you that they aren’t happy with where they are and they will look to get better for Phase 3

Pecadores – GRADE - D
Placement – 16th
Last Phase – 11th

The expectations were not overly high for Pecadores heading into this Phase. 1. They scraped through the relegation battle, then lost one of their core members to a rival squad. 2. They moved on from another player 3 weeks into the phase. 3. Their play style hasn’t gelled well with the new meta and they have struggled to adapt. 4. They are the only squad that went through all 40 matches without getting a win. But it’s not all bad and there have been some bright spots. 1. The addition of Mcluvin has seen them begin to play a style that is a better fit for the current competitive scene. 2. SMURF10Fs has consistently racked up kills in spite of the poor placements for the team and continues to be the standard that his team needs to meet in order to get back into the NPL. If they can survive relegation, some more time playing together with this squad could see them start to push off the bottom of the leaderboard.

PlayerOne Esports – GRADE - A+
Placement – 6th
Last Phase – Contenders

This is a team that came through open qualifiers, won the phase 1 NPLC then won the Relegation competition. Even with all of that winning, the expectations were that they would have trouble keeping up with the big names of the NPL. We should have known better. This is a team of winners that were not here to be intimidated. Uadavidx and Lampalot have led the way for their team and showed that they not only belong at the peak of the region, but are not far off from being an international success story. Their point production slowed down in the final 2 weeks as some of the more experienced teams stepped up their game to push for the top 5, which is a slight concern, but to call this phase anything other than a triumph would be ridiculous

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Rumblers – GRADE - A+
Placement – 4th
Last Phase – Contenders

To lose out on winning the Phase 1 Contenders league on kill points alone must have stirred something in LosHD as he has spent this entire tournament making sure he didn’t miss any opportunity to finish a player off. For a player to win the kill count so comfortably, relies on more than just 1 man. The way that this team has played with such level heads is what has seen them be able to maintain themselves in the top tier of the competition all phase. They came into the competition with plenty of experience, but they are going to need to rely on every bit of it if they are to maintain the Cinderella story at the GLL Grand Slam in July

Simplicity – GRADE - C-
Placement – 12th
Last Phase – 10th

It was always going to be rough replacing 2 players so late in the pre-season and the results bore that out. Simplicity struggled to 10th place last phase and for them to inexplicably go and remove their IGL and top fragger late in the break and expect improved results is a strange move to say the least. The replacement players didn’t do poorly and Simplicity didn’t really do much worse than what could have been expected, but I think it’s fair to say that the moves that were made at the end of the last phase by the organisation, were not really the winning moves. Nobody on the team stands out as being a problem for them and perhaps if the organisation is willing to stick with the players they will gel and come through relegations a better group, but at this stage, there is no argument that they are a bottom 6 team in the NPL

Smokin Aces – N/A
Placement – 15th
Last Phase – 7th

I’m not giving these guys a grade. There are some bad stats that I can point to (They finished with the lowest number of kills, DefineLegit had comfortably the lowest survival time per game, team with the lowest Erangel points) and there are some good stats I can point to (Shuhroo finished top 10 in damage in spite of the team’s issues, still managed to get 2 chicken dinners – as many as Lazarus) but the fact of the matter is that this team was never in a position to perform to the best of their ability thanks to the organisation that claimed to represent them. It would be wildly unfair to hold that against them, so I’m not going to. Hopefully for their own sake, they can put it all behind them and go into relegations with a fresh mindset.

Spacestation – GRADE - B+
Placement – 5th
Last Phase – 5th

After the last phase, the team now known as Spacestation Gaming had a shining hero in Hetror who fragged out over the whole tournament. It seems his teammates decided that they didn’t like being left out of the spotlight, because all three of them (including new addition Jsank) lifted their games – particularly in the second half of the phase. Bahawaka finished in the top 5 for both survival and kills, Valiate finished top 10 in kills and Jsank finished top 5 in survival. They were 1 of only 3 teams where every player finished with an average of over 1 kill per game and if they continue on their trajectory, they will be a team to watch in Sweden. However, even with all of that said, they didn’t manage to move up any places on the leaderboard from where they finished Phase 1. If they can keep this core together, expect them to climb in Phase 3

Team Envy – GRADE - D
Placement – 9th
Last Phase – 3rd

Sometimes going to an international LAN can be a hidden curse. The addition of Moody to this squad saw them start to reach their potential as they went into London on a roll, and were expected to deliver a strong result. They did qualify for the final but placed last and have never looked like the same team since. Moody has continued to play by pressing W, as he finished the phase 3rd in damage, and PATKAPS finished with the second most headshot kills in the NPL, but outside of that the team performance can only be described as disappointing. There isn’t one single solution for them either. They don’t seem to be playing with the same confidence that they had in the past. They seem to be having some trouble in transition. They seem to be having issues pushing into buildings. All of those things only need a little work and improvement to get them back to where they want to be, but the work needs to be done.

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Tempo Storm – GRADE - A+
Placement – 1st
Last Phase – 1st

Tempo Storm flew under the radar (as much as you can when you finish every week in the top 4) and needed to win the last game – and hope that Cloud9 and Ghost both don’t frag out – to jump from 3rd to 1st. In hindsight it seems ridiculous to have ever thought that they wouldn’t do exactly that. A team that is so consistent that they finished with the exact same number of points on both maps, won more matches than any other team and tied for the most kills. A team that had 3 players in the top 10 for kills. A team that has won 4 of the 5 North American tournaments this year. You cannot dispute that they are the best team in NA at this point, but where they sit on the international stage is another question. Sweden is their chance. I can’t wait to see if they take it.

Wildcard Gaming – GRADE - F
Placement – 13th
Last Phase – 6th

Aside from Smokin Aces, the biggest positional drop between Phase 1 and 2 was from Wildcard. They were the only team that finished in the bottom 6 that finished any week outside of the bottom 6, but after finishing week 1 in 6th place they dropped down at least one place every week through the phase. This team made the move to replace Xtreme after phase 1 with CAD3N in an effort to improve on their 6th place and have simply gone backwards. The thing is that it is in NO way on the shoulders of CAD3N. He led the team in survival and damage. He is clearly not the problem, but if they survive relegations, someone at Wildcard needs to work out what the problem is. If they don’t, I’m not sure Wildcard will stick around.