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As the first battle royale game to form an esports league, the National PUBG League has had to work on creating an entertaining and balanced product to sustain viewers on both a regional and global level.
The first three weeks of NPL Phase Two are finished, which led to a combination of the top teams in the league and contenders rosters competing in the seasonal Royale event.
Team Envy, a top three finisher in Phase One, struggled early on this time around, sitting at 11th in the standings heading into the Royale. For the Royale, they started things off with a fifth-place finish before dominating the second round with 10 kills and their first win of the event.
From there, they placed third twice and fourth once as they dominated the kill count and brought home the Royale win. They pocketed $40,000 for their victory and are looking good moving into the second wave of Phase Two.
Envy’s Nick “Interrogate” Raposo and Patrick “PAT_KAPS” Kaplan talked with Dot Esports about Phase Two, their mentality going into the Royale, and different aspects of making strategies on the fly.
This Royale wasn’t a part of the regular season, but it must feel nice to have such a dominant performance. What does this showing mean moving forward into the second portion of the phase?
Interrogate: I think it is going to give us a lot of confidence and some momentum heading into the rest of the phase. Right now we are definitely on a high note with our team. We were kind of in a slump at the start of the phase and even before that at the FACEIT Global Summit, but it really feels like we are figuring things out now and getting everything in order. So yeah, I feel good, I think we are all feeling good and for these next few weeks, I think we will keep doing what we have been doing and keep being consistent.
PAT_KAPS: I agree, I think we are going to try and ride this momentum. We needed a boost and with this, I think we can really focus on trying to finish the season out strong.
It was a slower start to this phase for you guys, but you have still had strong showings, including this little break in the normal schedule. What are you going to try and focus on as you jump back into the regular flow of matches?
Interrogate: I think our main focus will be on replicating what we have had success within the past few weeks. We just kinda changed a few things while adjusting our strategies and playstyles so trying to keep the good things we had going for us while adapting as we go seems to be what is working for us right now.
As you adapt those strategies to better match up with your opponents, is there one team that you feel gives you more trouble than the others or is there a specific squad you think could give you a lot of trouble in an isolated teamfight scenario?
Interrogate: Currently, I don’t think so. We have run into a few issues against Pecadores because we want to take some of the buildings they tend to loot and they don’t want to leave it. But it’s nothing too big. I would say, if we ever ran into Lazarus in a four-vs-four, it would be a pretty good fight because they are so good with their grenades so they don’t always have to peek or show themselves to get knocks. Things like that can be really tough to fight sometimes.
PAT_KAPS: I agree with that. Lazarus can be really tough to fight against in specific scenarios. Like if you are caught in a building or stuck under them, their playstyle becomes really hard to fight against.
There has been a lot of talk this season about favorable drops, with commentators and players mentioning middle drops provide the best positioning. What’s your take on best drop points or is it situational most of the time?
Interrogate: For sure, especially in this newer kill-focused meta, drop location can mean a lot. Before the current meta and how things have changed within the pro league setting, you used to be able to get a lot of points by snaking, even as a solo player in the end game. But now it’s really important to try and keep all four players alive and get the best possible positioning to clean up kills and place as highly as possible
The spawn location matters so much because, for example, let’s say Cloud9 is in Pochinki. That’s so good for them because they can quickly rotate, get good loot, and you could potentially have your full four-man team controlling the center of the circle. That just helps you set up for so many potential circles and scenarios where other teams that might loot in bad locations are stuck coming in from the edge and are being forced into crazy rotates to get into the circle. Especially in such a kill-focused meta, other teams are punishing stuff like that way more now.
PAT_KAPS: When you loot central on a map, you never really have a bad plane path so you can get anywhere relatively fast. With the faster circles, every second really matters and being in those central positions tends to just let you rotate into those closing circles faster. They just let the good teams get set up way better and you really don’t have those games where you go deep into your loot spot and you have to rush for the next circle. If you are centered, it tends to ease the tension and give teams less hardship.
Both of you mentioned how the strategy has changed with the addition of the pro league and the meta focusing more on kills. Is there something that translates from pre-NPL gameplanning where you might have been able to focus on surviving to now when you’re two seasons into playing with a focus on kills?
Interrogate: I guess you could say now you just have to play so much more carefully because the small mistakes matter so much more. Before you might have been fine, but now if you lose one or two guys here and there, you are going to be so weak later on against the teams who are still four strong. Now the kills mean so much that teams are always going to be a little more aggressive, and if you are down one or two players, other teams can just come in and clean you up. Whereas before, when you could play more passive and go for placements, now everyone is committing to fights and just trying to wipe out teams to get as many points as they can.
PAT_KAPS: In situations where you would go for placements, teams used to send one player toward the center of the map to try to hide in prone. But now if you get into a bad situation, it is more common the team decides it is time to try and get as many kills as they can get. So instead of the more passive games of the past, now there is definitely more aggression.
If either of you were in a position where you were the last player on your team, what do you prioritize? Is it trying to find a way to survive longer or is it trying to position yourself to where you can get maybe two more kills before you finally get taken out?
Interrogate: It is definitely to get kills. Like say we were in a military circle game and I am the last one alive, I would set up somewhere like maybe the bridge, for example, so I know if a car comes past I can pick up one or two kills or if I see someone swimming in the water, those are easy kills to pick up. Whereas before, you would try to drive across the bridge, reach the forest, and go prone, now take a stand and try to pick up as many rotation kills as you can. Usually, as a solo player, you are going for those rotation kills and catching the people driving off guard.
PAT_KAPS: Everything is definitely more kill heavy, but if you are in a situation where you have positioning and the game is toward the end, it is absolutely better to remain hidden and wait for your opportunity to strike. That is a way better option than just shooting at whoever you see. But if you are in that solo situation early on, it is better to just go for the kills rather than wait until there are fewer teams left when the circles really start closing in.
Knowing that the standings look much different from last season, what was your mentality going into this side event? Was there a specific thing you wanted to do going in?
Interrogate: The main thing is we knew we had to be ready for anything. Especially with all of the contenders teams, we didn’t know how everyone plays, so we already knew we were going to play slightly more reserved than usual. We were trying to focus on staying together rather than how everyone plays in the NPL where they can pull some crazy stuff because everyone knows what the other teams are generally doing. Our main thing was staying together, supporting each other, and trying to stay alive as four, which is really big in these tournaments where you don’t know how every team will play.
Now that you know things are going to heat up with teams trying to get out of relegation or getting into the top placements so they can compete in the next series of events, is there one area you feel your team has nailed down or is it just time to focus and get better as a whole squad?
Interrogate: I think we still have to get better in almost every aspect. I don’t think there is anything we really excel at that we can get lax on. We are kinda just focusing on a bit of everything like survivability, IGLing, positioning, rotating—just everything that could help us become better as players and a team because we are nowhere near perfect in any aspect.
PAT_KAPS: We don’t want to slow down on anything at all. We want to keep improving in every way we can and work on anything we view as either lacking or in need of improvement so we can continue playing at a high level.