Another week of Console Qualifiers for both Europe and North America; one week closer to DreamHack Valencia and with it, the Console Wars tournament!
As some teams further secure their ‘top dog’ status, others battle neck and neck to determine who will have the pride of representing both their platform and their region on the international stage. The competition is heated to say the least, and this week past was certainly no exception to that.
Once again this week it was the top two seeds in the EU PS4 competition, Team CryptiK (formerly SaucySailors) and MobTown R2B faced each other in a finals rematch from the previous week, and once again it managed to go the distance!
As with last week, identical map bans of Jaguar Falls and Serpent Beach came out. The first map of the day? Brightmarsh, and unlike last week with no Acrobatics Pip on the table for CryptiK, Game 1 was dominated by MobTown. A combination of fantastic Firebomb placement and strong zone led by Inara allowed MobTown to control the pace of the game around the objective and whilst not finding much ground on the initial payload push, MobTown turned this around using momentum to their advantage to take the map 4-1.
Game 2 took place on Ice Mines this week, and after suffering a heavy loss it was CryptiK’s turn to fight back! Acrobatics Pip drafted, the supposed trump card of this squad came out to devastate the opposition. Well timed Evil Mojo ultimates in combination notably with Tempest to both deal damage and prevent further Cauterize application allowed CryptiK to not only keep an iron grasp on the capture objective, but also the payload pushes. 2-0 scorelines are a rarity on Ice Mines, but CryptiK proved to be an exception to the norm and exceeded expectations to find a 4-0 victory on the characteristically long-play map.
But, as favour and pacing so rapidly fell to CryptiK, it was Mobtown who immediately stole it back in Game 3. Frog Isle, certainly unlike Ice Mines is a map reputed for its rapid 4-0 games and here MobTown did not disappoint. Great usage of Totemic Ward Healing Totems, augmented by Outreach 3 and protected by Barricade enabled MobTown to capitalize on The Lightning Orc’s healing capabilities. Supplemented by key Dredge Anchor displacement from ItzThias‘ Makoa with specific focus towards CryptiK’s Androxus, two pushes fell with ease; MobTown to set point.
Fish Market was where Team CryptiK made their stand in Game 4 of this set; hesitant of allowing CryptiK their Pip pickup on a map with split verticality, MobTown elected to draft this away for DudeThatsBirch, and whilst it found impact, it wasn’t this particular support that dictated the pacing of this game. Instead, that largely appeared to come from MobTown’s Ying initially. Key Illusory Rift usage provided emergency sustain on numerous occasions and allowed MobTown to find themselves 3-0 with little difficulty. Late game Itemization would be the thorn in their side however, as Cauterize in combination with respawn proximity allowed CryptiK to hold their ground and stabilize, at last getting themselves on the board with a successful defence.
From here-on out it was CryptiK’s Seris, played by AkimboMistiK to start dictating the ins and outs of the rest of this game. A brawly and unrefined third capture of the game was narrowly won by Cryptic off of the back of a clutch Convergence and Seris vs Inara 1v1, however the push was stalled out entirely by MobTown in response through the utilization of a surprise Hexafire brought by ItzThias up and over the dividing properties of Fish Market thanks to their Aerial Assault legendary. Unable to gain ground, MobTown held their lead, but rinse and repeat, with capture to CryptiK, the #1 seed found themself at the hands of a repeat Hexafire play, obviously not having learned from the previous encounter. Over 19 minutes in, Team CryptiK had no choice but to capture once again to keep themselves in the series, but off the back of another well-placed Convergence they were able to do just that.
At last this series came to a close on Frozen Guard, Game 5; the Best of Five series reduced to one last map, but at least one team was far from weary from their uphill battle to reach this point. Team CryptiK were prepared here where their opponents were not, drafting Ash to aid their frontline control and Pip to once again sail to the backline, Mobtown R2B found no answer at any stage of this final game to CryptiK’s split-focus play. Their immobile backline Tyra left exposed and repeatedly run down, The War Machine demanding they be the focus of all attention, stormavatar on Firefight Viktor was allowed to run rampant for the duration of Game 5 and helped drive their team to victory in another 4-0 sweep.
With this, despite the best and well-fought efforts of MobTown R2B, Team CryptiK gained 1st place in the competition for the fourth week in a row and further accelerated their lead in the EU PS4 standings, a full list of which can be found here.
For the EU XB1 side of things, something a little different. GankStars, the #1 seed was challenged by the #4 seeded PuR Esports this week, and whilst they’d certainly done well to make it this far, a clear skill gap was demonstrated between these teams throughout the set.
Stone Keep and Timber Mill banned, Serpent Beach was the location of the first game, and GankStars put on an absolute frag-clinic as they took the game 4-0. Very little Cassie had been observed in high level competitive console play prior to this, but GankStars’ Naaaarrrrk running the Exaction Legendary demonstrated that not only was this a viable console strategy, utilising side-to-side dodge rolls to maintain mobility and suitability rather than the characteristic forward-and-through style more familiar to PC players, but that it was devastating when used correctly. Highest streak in the game of 25, highest multikill of 4; this player and Champion together made for a deadly combination.
Game 2 on Brightmarsh fell in a similar fashion. For the second game in a row, PuR Esports drafted a Mega Potion Pip alongside no Offensive Itemisation. Whilst both of these are strategies that at times can find victories, against a team of GankStars’ caliber the off-meta decisions only further provided roadblocks which limited PuR’s ability to fight on the same level as their opponents. Whilst PuR Esports did manage to achieve a successful capture in this game, they were unable to convert on any ground during the payload phase, instead forced back to their spawn at times by GankStars, and ultimately it was GankStars that took the last capture of the game with ease, finding a 4-1 victory.
Game 3, one last chance and an uphill battle for the underdog; Frog Isle the battleground’s location, GankStars elected to forego their Cassie here and instead drafted Bounce House Buck for Naaaarrrrk. Triple kill acquired within the first minute of gameplay, it was rapidly clear the direction that this game would take. Rapid 4-0, GankStars proving without mercy why they deserve to be the European XB1 team currently set to qualify for DreamHack.
Four weeks, four victories. Undefeated still, GankStars top the EU XB1 standings, a full list of which can be found here.
It wasn’t just EU PS4 that saw a rematch this week, NA PS4 saw the return of Invigorate Gaming vs Coastal Mayhem; only 10 points between them in the standings, this week’s outcome would determine whether Invigorate would set themselves as the team to qualify, or whether CoMa were able to draw them out to the wire in Week 5 of the competition.
Serpent Beach and Timber Mill banned. Game 1 began on Fish Market, and whilst close with Invigorate finding victory with a 4-3 scoreline, CoMa sold themselves short in both their champion draft and itemisation this game. With only one hitscan Champion on their team, Grohk, who itemised into Chronos rather than Cauterize, CoMa had no easy anti-heal application for the duration of Game 1. This deficit into a Ying/Ruckus/Barik draft from Invigorate, the combined effects of multi-target healing and a Damage Reduction Aura proved too much for CoMa to handle.
Game 2’s map was Frozen Guard, this time the deployable nightmare strategy employed by CoMa, and whilst Invigorate’s draft brought plenty of good Cauterize application to the field it was lacking in AoE Damage which was where they found their downfall. Deployables controlled the capture objectives, and combinations of King Bomb and Hexafire for CoMa’s payload push, 4-0 in under 10 minutes, Coastal Mayhem seemed fully in control.
Similarly, Game 3 on Frog Isle found a similar fate. Knowledgeable Evie play from CoMa’s Grappleee helped drive a wedge between the front and back lines of Invigorate, and an overall divide and conquer strategy drew focus from Object1on, who on Firefight Viktor cemented themselves as CoMa’s hard carry, netting themselves a quadrakill with penta barely denied, and assisting their team in finding a successive 4-0 victory.
Off to Brightmarsh for Game 4 as potentially the final game of the set; the storyline? Anti-heal. Or lack thereof. Invigorate Gaming were able to achieve 81k Healing from TheKidOfAction’s Totemic Ward Grohk after one capture and conversion in under five minutes of game time. Recognizing how previously they’d found defeat by letting CoMa’s deployable nightmare become established, Invigorate denied their opponents any chance of getting established on the first capture and conversion. Whilst CoMa were able to capitalize on the back of a fantastic Seismic Crash into King Bomb to briefly wipe Invigorate, it was early enough in the round with little prior chip capture to where Invigorate were able to return, and with great coordination helped uniquestrokes on Firefight Viktor find a quadrakill on the retake. Ultimates such as Hexafire and Tempest used to hold the tempo of the game to their key, Invigorate roared back into the set with a 4-0 score of their own.
Like their European PS4 counterparts, this set was set for Game 5. Stone Keep would be its location; point hold for Invigorate with their Flux Generator Ruckus, and Point Break for CoMa with their Accelerant Bomb King. Earlygame went the way of Invigorate Gaming, but after a failed conversion attempt in which they burned all five of their Ultimates for only two of Coastal Mayhem’s, CoMa surged back in control to capture, convert, and capture again, winning the set outright!
The standings between Invigorate Gaming and Coastal Mayhem remain close after this week of competition; with 30 points separating these two teams, a victory in Week 5 assuming they both once again make it to the finals will determine which team qualifies for the Console Wars tournament. The NA PS4 standings can be found in full here.
Strictly Business, formerly Ambition following their acquisition by the org, and SetToDestroyX were once again your NA XB1 finalists for Week 4. Undefeated in the standings, SB were challenged Week 3 by STDX who did manage to take a game from them, and were ready to do so again. To no avail though. This set was over in three, and whilst STDX demonstrated good adaptation throughout the duration of the set, it wasn’t enough to take a single game from their opponents this week.
Timber Mill and Brightmarsh were the map bans of choice, and Serpent Beach up first in the draft. SetToDestroyX found a good initial opener here, but it quickly became apparently that they were relying heavily on Ying Bot‘s Viktor to be the primary damage dealer of the squad. When left unfocused, and when STDX were able to use their ultimate combinations, they were able to put up an impressive fight, and gained a successful defence and capture throughout the duration of the game, however this was too critical of a win condition for SetToDestroyX, and Strictly Business were able to exploit this with specific target focus to take Game 1 4-2.
Faced with difficulty, needing something to change, SetToDestroyX elected to go with a wildcard Champion draft for Game 2 on Jaguar Falls – Ash returned to The Realm alongside Willo. Disruptive earlygame, certainly, and with no primary counter to Willo during Fae Flight Strictly Business found it hard to fight back during objective captures, but from one airborn carry to another, the destructive power of Fusillade Drogoz proved to be more reliable for SB than an Ultimate-dependent fairy; Game 2, 4-2, Strictly Business.
Frog Isle then to make a stand; STDX had managed to adapt throughout the course of the set to better make up for their damage deficit and reliance on Ying Bot‘s hypercarry potential, and indeed whilst SB were able capture and convert initially in under four minutes, STDX fought back hard to tie the game up 3-3, heavily assisted by good Ultimate utilisation. The final capture was staggered from both teams, and everything but a polished affair. Chip capture was the saving grace for Strictly Business here however as despite retakes from STDX, their initial capture presence let them overtake their opponents and close out the game and the series to take first place for the fourth week in a row.
Another undefeated team, and whilst certainly not unchallenged, we’re yet to see them fall! A list of the NA XB1 standings can be found here.
PaladinsWorld is proud to both host and present to you the Console Wars Qualifiers for DreamHack Valencia! For more news and updates as to broadcast schedules and more be sure to follow @PaladinsWorld and @PaladinsPro on twitter!
If you’re interested in getting involved in the Console Paladins competitive scene, be sure to join the PaladinsWorld Partnered Discord Server where you can find out more information about ongoing tournaments, meet new players, and keep up to date with the latest action!