During the Paladins World Championship, we saw some incredible play from teams across all regions of the world. But one region in particular stood out from all the others — Europe. With an all-EU finals match and 3/4 of the semifinal teams being from Europe, players from this region have gone above and beyond what we’ve seen from other parts of the world. But what is it exactly that’s allowed these players to excel and given the EU what it needs to succeed?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. There are a number of factors and circumstances that have probably led the EU region to the upper echelons of the Paladins pro scene. But if you ask me, a perfect mix of previous competitive experience, intent focus on practice, and a unique strategic approach have skyrocketed teams like Natus Vincere and Fnatic to the top.
First of all, many EU players have a long history in competitive gaming prior to Paladins. Ranging from shooters to MOBAs, most of the European players in the scene have experience playing several different games at the pro level — and we’ve seen how this expertise has impacted team formations and the roles player gravitate towards. Most of those who came from games like CS:GO are seeing success as DPS or flank players, while the players with MOBA backgrounds fit well into the tank or support role. To put it simply, these shot-calling players are coming from other highly competitive games and have been able to find Paladins roles where they can really make an impact with the skills they’ve developed.
Most of these pros have a talented streak that allows them to excel right off the bat, but they also put in an impressive amount of work to match. While most regions put in a lot of effort and practice, European players take it to the next level. If you watched some of the games during the Paladins World Championship, you probably noticed that several of the players’ faces were dead serious every moment they were in game. They showed excitement or frustration occasionally, but for the most part they were focused intently on what they were doing and how they could win. This demeanor indicates how much practice the EU guys have put in — and that they’re focused more on figuring out why they are losing and how to adapt rather than getting caught up in the loss itself.
This is one of the true keys to success in Paladins: the ability to adapt to whatever your opponent throws at you. And it seems like the EU region has taken every advantage possible to build that sort of adaptability. When able, these players would participate in tournaments like the ESL Go4 Cup to get as much practice as possible against other high-level teams. From each practice match and every community tournament, all the way up to Premier League events, thees players treated every game seriously and learned all they could from each match so they could put new skills into practice going forward. Though winning tournaments and earning prizing was definitely a priority, it seems like these teams were also willing to take risks and try new things in an effort to understand and shape the Paladins pro meta.
Speaking of the meta, Paladins is laced with teams that play various compositions — solo support, triple tank, double flank, etc. The teams we’ve seen dominate recently are those who can not only adapt to these various strategies, but who can also bring in several of their own to combat their opponents. But doing so requires a lot of flexibility in play style and a wide champion pool — both of which many EU players have in spades.
Like I mentioned before, these teams take their practice opportunities very seriously. As such, they ensure that they can play as many champions as possible. During Dreamhack Valencia in 2017, Europe’s squads fell behind in terms of adaptability and champion pools and were subsequently beaten out by Chinese teams. After such a disheartening defeat, our EU players vowed they wouldn’t let that happen again — and now we see teams like Virtus.Pro crating metas that have dominated at LAN events. This EU hotstreak that ran from the PPL Fall Finals to the PWC at HRX 2018 was made possible by the culmination of the many traits this region’s players have been cultivating: experience and commitment at a high level of play, dedication to practice and growing champion pools, and an adaptable strategy that allows these teams to counter, flex, and play to whatever needs they have to in order to find success.
Ultimately, Europe’s success in pro Paladins this year doesn’t boil down to a single characteristic these players have, but a fusion of them all that’s been a potent recipe for success. The hunger these players have to continue getting better and dominating the scene drives them to push themselves further with each match and improve their level of play. As we’ve seen, more and more regions are beginning to push themselves to the same level of performance we’ve seen from the EU region this year — and time will tell whether or not they can find the same success. But as of right now, Europe is reigning supreme as the Paladins world champions. With a new season coming up, we look towards our other regions to see if they can rise to the challenge and meet Europe’s determination and success…and maybe even prove themselves to be the next world champs.