With the conclusion of the 2019 Paladins World Championship and the crowning of HiRez Expo Champions Ninjas in Pyjamas – it’s easy to become lost in the offseason with anticipation for roster mania. However, some standout moments linger, such as Flashpoint’s performance in the losers bracket of the Paladins World Championship Qualifiers (PWCQ), or the Pittsburgh Knights upsetting Natus Vincere in the quarter-finals – but before these highlights subside to the offseason, let’s review the lessons each pivotal moment taught us.
During the 2019 Midseason Invitational (MSI), Cyclone (Xbox EU) had proven that PC teams could be scathed by taking Hype Unit (PML NA) to a full 5 game set before being eliminated. MSI was the first tournament that pitted the console elite against their PC cohorts in a crossplay bracket, and the results were otherwise unimpressive. Those small glimmers of greatness Cyclone demonstrated at MSI, culminated to a Flashpoint come PWCQ 2019. Though relegated to the losers bracket after a tough set against Spacestation Gaming, Flashpoint (Ps4 EU) was determined to show not only could PC be wounded, but they can bleed.
Once in the loser’s bracket with backs against the wall, Flashpoint managed to clean sweep All Business (PML EU) in a dominant 3-0 fashion. Throughout the set Flashpoint displayed a firm grasp on their metagame, and a superior understanding of the draft. They acquired Strix in their first two games and identified circumstances that enabled the infamous console special – Grohk & Grover. While Flashpoint cleared the first hurdle impairing console’s reputation up until that moment, their next battle with the Pittsburgh Knights would be far more formidable.
The Knights entered PWC sporting a 6th place finish over the course of their PPL run, and many console faithful were brimming with confidence for console’s last hope. While the first game was a clean 4-1 victory for the Knights, the next three games became far more contentious. After their initial defeat, Flashpoint selected Shattered Desert where they accrued a two-point lead over their opponents – but the Knights fought back voraciously to win game two 4-3. Migrating to Ice Mines for game three resulted in a Flashpoint victory over the PPL representatives 4-2. Finally, the set came to its climax on Warder’s Gate where despite a valiant effort, the Knights felled their PCL foes 4-3.
At first glance, a 3-1 set victory in favor of the Knights could appear an old narrative rung true – PC teams will ascend above their console counterparts – but Flashpoint resisted the storyline even in their loss. The same Knights who rounded out their PPL season in 6th place proceeded to go on an unprecedented tear through the main stage of HRX 2019. During quarter-finals, they unseated PPL’s number 1 team in Na’Vi and advanced to the semi-finals where they usurped last year’s HRX champions in Team Envy. With a stellar run to finals, the Knights would inevitably be taken down by an in form Ninjas in Pyjamas and were forced to settle for second place.
All these accolades are absolutely impressive, and it serves to bolster an important observation – console shouldn’t be taken lightly anymore. Flashpoint challenged the second-best team at PWC, taking them to 3-3 in two games, and stole away a map win too. While onus still falls squarely on the shoulders of console natives to silence their detractors, this is one gigantic leap in the right direction.