Over the course of almost two years now I’ve become quite fond of watching competitive PUBG. From the early rotations (teams moving between positions on the map) to the building intensity as the circle draws ever inward leading to some truly nail-biting final moments.
The squad-based format is now the staple after some early experiments with 100 player solo events. Typically 16 teams of four compete over a number of games, scoring points for placement in each game and bonus points for each kill.
With PUBG Corp. now fully committed to the competitive side of things, after a staggering eight weeks and 96 games(!) Season 2 of the PEL (PUBG Europe League) recently wrapped up with a spectacular final day for one team in particular.
Whilst one of the hotly tipped favourites, FAZE Clan, secured a solid victory in the season overall, the only team people were talking about on the final day was Pittsburgh Knights.
The team, comprised of Carl “Draedon” Birgersson, Marcus “Realzx” Vining, Alexander “Zhnark” Hammar, and Mads “wan7ed” Jacobsen, stunned everyone with a surging comeback, winning 3/4 of the final days games and catapulting them not only into the money half of the scoreboard but also snatching the coveted 5th spot from TSM who’d held it for most of the season.
We caught up with team member Marcus “Realzx” Vining to chat about the teams’ experiences during the season, and how that final day played out.
Ed Willey: Going back to the start of PEL Season 2, you came in with a new roster which was announced shortly before the start. How did the new team members, Zhnark and Wan7ed, come to join the squad from RYE? And how much prep did you manage to get in pre-season?
Marcus Vining: No prep at all, we didn’t find out until it was almost 2 days before the roster lock what our roster was going to be. Considering we had to move and stuff this left us with really no time to play and practice, we had to use the Kick-Off cup as our main source of practice in the earlier days of the team.
EW: Given the new roster, what were your personal expectations, and the expectations of the org coming in?
MV: I felt like the team had potential but at the same time I was a little sceptical. I was just looking for us to stay out of relegation when we first started playing. But as we carried on a bit more it was clear we were getting better and we raised our expectations slightly to top 6 realistically.
EW: I believe I read that you don’t currently have a dedicated IGL? How do you manage the decision making during a game and does this put more emphasis on the coach to analyse and come up with strategies between games?
MV: We don’t have a dedicated IGL and I think everyone is getting used to that concept and enjoying it. That’s why I think it’s been working well. When people say you don’t have an IGL it makes it sound like you have no player on your team making any calls, which is the opposite of what is happening. We are all making calls and we all have an equal responsibility to find the right balance point of making certain calls at the right times.
EW: You had a rough start to PEL Season 2, how do you keep morale up when the games aren’t going your way? How do you spend your time between the match days each week?
MV: It can be hard to keep morale up, especially when you’re a new team and still trying to find your footing. But we also used us being a new team as motivation to practice and improve day to day. We spend our time by just practising and playing in our own time but also socialising and making sure we get out of the house and reset from PUBG on certain days or weekends.
EW: What was the turning point, and what changed in the team that suddenly shot you up the board in week 4/5?
MV: I’m not sure if I can pinpoint one thing that necessarily changed, I think it was more of a slow process where it just eventually came together. A mix of good decisions, good shooting, good communication and some good circles lead us into what happened on the final day.
EW: On to that final day! You guys were in 9th coming in, one spot outside the money. What was going through your heads at the start of the day? What was the game plan coming to the final 4 games?
MV: We just wanted to have a good day and weekend really, we wanted to stay in the top 8 and get some money in our pockets. Also avoiding relegation - we would have been happy with that. We were really just focused on our own game that weekend because of how many teams were close to us in points and I think that helped our mentality and gameplay.
EW: When you realised 5th was within reach, and you could make it to GLL Grand Slam, did the pressure to catch TSM help or hinder you? How did the momentum of back-to-back wins fire you up?
MV: After the first win we were excited, but not really thinking about 5th place. We were thinking that’s just the kind of start we need to hold our spot in the top 8 and maybe even get into 6th. It only really hit us that we could make 5th when we got the 2nd win in a row then we really started feeling like we could do it.
EW: The final game was a rollercoaster, with Zhnark jumping on a bike and making a crucial push for the central compound at the end. What do you remember of those final moments? Who made that call for the push?
MV: I remember it really well and it comes back to us not using one guy as our main IGL. For example, if Zhnark maybe asked somebody before he went if he thought it was a good idea then maybe someone would have told him ‘no, it’s not a good idea’ and he wouldn’t have done it. But he didn’t ask, he saw it, told us he was doing it and executed it alone thinking to himself it was a good idea and that’s what the team needed at the time. Which worked out perfectly and is a good example of how not having an IGL has helped us. That’s what PUBG is all about.
The moment @KnightsGG secured their spot for the GLL Grand Slam: PUBG Classic! ?
What an INSANE day from the Knights with 3 Chicken Dinners to their names, completely stunning us all and rocketing to 5th place! ???#GLLSlam #PUBG pic.twitter.com/yG0Sp6Akzw
— GLL (@GlobalLoot) July 7, 2019
EW: Did you know you got the most HS kills in PEL Season 2? 85, beating Liquid by 1!
MV: No, I only realised on the day after we finished and it was a really great stat for me personally to finish over 100 kills and to also have the most headshots in the whole of PEL against some of the best players in the world it was such a great feeling and boost of motivation for me.
EW: Looking ahead, after you’ve taken a well earned few days off, what can we expect from GLL and PEL Season 3? Are you experimenting with new strategies based on public servers already? Any gas can fun to be had? 😉
MV: Even now, we have a few days off and I said to myself I wouldn’t play PUBG for a couple of days to just reset. But I’ve found myself playing almost all day since I’ve been back home playing in a super comfortable setup. After having a weekend like we did, you really get a nice drive to keep it going, especially with GLL coming up so soon.
We haven’t been experimenting with anything just yet but I’m sure we will. And of course, we will see some gas can fun to be had in the near future :D
Catch the Pittsburgh Knights in action in The GLL Grand Slam when it kicks off 18th July on Twitch.