Week 2 of the NPL has come and gone and in a lot of ways things are no clearer than they were after the first 8 games. The dominant teams from the last phase have been inconsistent and nobody else has really made their stamp on the competition yet but a couple of things HAVE been established.
1. Rumblers Are Not One Round Wonders
After a solid first week in the NPL for the team previously known as Mustache Dave, there were concerns that it may have just been a flash in the pan and that order would be restored the further that we got into the competition. Having established players such as Moody and CAD3N playing with the team through phase 1 seemed to play a big part in helping this team make their way into the top tier competition, but the team has come out in week 2 and showed that finishing the first week with the final Chicken Dinner wasn’t a fluke. They started by winning the first match of the second week, giving them back to back wins to propel them to the top of the leaderboard, and that is where they still sit 16 games in to a 40 game competition. Their style of play seems suited to this lobby where players are increasingly over extending themselves to secure better positions and increase their kill count. They stick together as a 4 man squad, pick off players where they can and find their way to the late game by whatever means their position requires. It sounds simple, but a lot of more experienced teams are struggling where Rumblers are excelling. There are only 15 points between 1st and 8th, but at this point, the team with most controversial logo in PUBG are showing that they deserve to be at the top
2. Pecadores HAVE to Change
At this stage, the only explanation can be that they haven’t learnt the lesson. When their passive play saw them fall into relegations in the last game of Phase 1, I thought it would be the wake up call they needed. When they played in relegations and didn’t dominate the teams as they should have, I thought it would be the impetus for them to reassess how they were playing. Losing Hwinn to Cloud9 was a blow that I assumed would lead them to enlightenment. Yet we are currently 40% of the way through Phase 2 of the NPL and Pecadores have the least amount of kills and are sitting in last place. If they haven’t learnt the lesson yet, I don’t know when they will. They simply HAVE to be more aggressive. This is a team of highly skilled, very experienced players that are averaging 2 kills per game as a team. That’s less than LosHD is averaging by himself. If this were a matter of the players just not being good enough I would happily leave it alone and let them go about their business, because I am not here to put the boot into anybody. The fact is this team is better, but if they don’t change their mentality and approach they won’t get another chance to show it.
3. The Cloud9 Pressure is High
With 1 game to go in week 2, the ever popular, always aggressive and consistently competitive Cloud9 found themselves sitting in 9th place. They weren’t far off the pace in points, and 9th isn’t even a relegation position, but such is the pressure on C9 that it was noteworthy enough for the analysts and casters to begin speculating what was going wrong for the team. This pressure comes from a couple of different places. The first is that the Cloud9 organisation is one of the biggest and best in all of esports and they demand a high level of play from their teams. Which brings us to the second. In just 2 years the C9 PUBG team has had over 15 different players, so it was not out of character for the organisation to make a change just prior to Phase 2 beginning – as they had done when moving on from Moody shortly before Phase 1 began. The manner in which they did it came under heavy criticism and even the way that it was handled by the remaining players was also the subject of some derision, but the kicker in this case was that Cloud9 had finished 2nd in Phase 1 of the NPL. For the team or organisation to be unsatisfied with second place, means that unless the new team is able to take out 1st place in this split, the move can only be considered a failure. It is an unbelievably high bar for them to have to meet, but it is of their own making. Of course, such is the way with teams like Cloud9, they came out and won the final game of the day to catapult them into the top 5 and the concern is alleviated for another week but they can ill afford many more missteps if they want to show that they made the right decision.
DrasseL is an all-around PUBG star
This Phase of the NPL has seen the production focus on 3 main player stats* between games to get a fair spread on how well someone is playing. Survival Time, Damage and obviously Kills. Now of course different teams are set up in different ways with certain players having specific roles, so by no means do I think that having low scores in these statistics necessarily means that you are playing poorly, but I DO know that having good results in these 3 categories means you are playing well. At the end of Week 2 Ghost Gaming’s DrasseL is 1st in damage, 2nd in survival time and while I don’t have the final numbers at the time of printing this, leading into the final game, he was in 4th place for kills. To be performing at such a high level in all 3 categories shows how well rounded of a player he has become in this Ghost line up. When you add to this that he is already one of the most popular Pro PUBG streamers on Twitch, as well as within the scene itself, you have the makings of a genuine star on the rise. He has put a lot of time and effort into making his way back to the top of the game and it is great to see it all coming together for him.
*With a special shout out to Porosaurus for the wildly specific stats he has been pulling out. Keep them coming, I love it!
LosHD is always looking for the Finnish
Finland are a dominant force in PUBG at the moment. They accounted for 10 of the 16 players that qualified for the Faceit Global Summit from the PEL last month and now they have the kill leader in the NPL with LosHD. Not just by a little, not even by a comfortable amount, but by A LOT. With 34 kills in 16 games he finds himself well ahead of TaylorJay in second place. LosHD isn’t a fresh face on the scene having played for the likes of Totality, Nova and even Tempo Storm in the past, but he seems to have found something in this competition, in this team, that has seen him clicking heads at a rate that we haven’t seen from him before. When I asked him about the team’s preparations coming into the new season he said “There is no room for slacking or rookie mistakes anymore” and he seems to be taking it upon himself to hold the other teams to this philosophy. If he keeps this form up, the question will have to become if one of the PEL teams can make room for him to join their roster and be a little closer to home. The other question would be if that’s what LosHD would want, or if he would rather stay in North America collecting scalps. Time will tell.