The PCS4 Americas North American Group Stage has come and gone, sending the top six teams to the PCS4 Americas Grand Finals. Along with the six teams advancing to the next stage, we also know the eight teams that have earned another shot in the Last Chance Qualifier. These teams were unable to secure a top-six placement in the Group Stage but will compete in a best of 12 against eight teams from the LATAM region to determine the final four squads that round out the PCS4 Americas Grand Final.
Groups delivered six days of endless action as twenty-four teams fought to earn their spot in the Grand Final. We witnessed some incredible performances from teams we’ve come to expect it from, but there were also a handful of teams punching above their weight class over the course of thirty matches. Residing at the top, you have the region’s heavyweights; TSM, Zenith Esports, Oath Gaming, Soniqs, and Spicy Fish. Rounding out the top-six is Ascendance Esports, a team many fans are familiar with but surprised throughout the group stage with their steady performance.
Heading into the Group Stage, I would have placed these teams above the rest, but the biggest question surrounded the sixth and final invite to the Grand Final. In prior events, we typically have been focused on a cutoff point at the eighth-place position on the leaderboard. In this Group Stage, limiting the number of direct invites to the top-six allowed for a variety of teams to potentially hit their stride and steal a spot in the final. As we watched the second half of this Group Stage unfold, we remained focused on the sixth-place position to see which team would join our big five.
GRAND FINALS BOUND: TOP-SIX TEAMS
Leading up to the Group Stage we expected the top-six cutoff to keep things interesting, but if we’re being honest, the eventual top-five consists of the exact teams we predicted to perform well prior to the start. It features a couple of former champions, each of North America’s unofficial ‘big four’, and the team that formed following PGI.S creating the most talked about roster before ESL PUBG Masters. Many of these teams would have been selected by the fans to qualify inside the top-six before the first match began. Our biggest surprise was the emergence of Ascendance Esports, which are no stranger to PCS but haven’t put together a performance quite this impressive in the past.
Maji led his team with 35 kills and average damage dealt of 245 over twenty matches. His individual performance deserves a mention, but it was the entire team of Zealot, ZRAY, and TsoK that worked to secure a top-six placement. Ascendance finished with a 26-point lead on the seventh-place team, resulting in a comfortable qualification to compete in the next round.
In their first event as a recently-formed team, Spicy Fish appeared to be ahead of schedule after their second-place finish in the ESL PUBG Masters. Coming into this Group Stage, the team was expected to play well and did so throughout their twenty matches. Sharpshot4k led his team with 27 kills, while Roth, Keenan, and Uncivil collected nearly equal numbers of kills just behind him with 23 and 24.
Considering how excited the Group Stage had been since the start, it only made sense to have it end in a similar fashion. To help put this into perspective, it’s important to remember the rosters that made their debut in this event. Obviously, this was the first series for the new TSM roster, following their signing of Shoot To Kill. The team’s first event under the storied TSM emblem could not have gone much smoother. The team was playing extremely well and earned themselves the top spot prior to the final day of this Group Stage.
At the same time, a retooled roster for Zenith Esports entered this stage of the tournament with high expectations surrounding this extremely talented roster following the signings of sparkingg and HoneyBadger. Heading into the final day, Zenith had separated themselves from the pack and built a comfortable lead on Oath Gaming in second place. In their first event together, Zenith was firing on cylinders, and their addition of sparkingg was quickly paying dividends.
To everyone’s surprise, TSM would go on to win the final three matches of the group stage, including a 15-kill win that netted them 25 points towards reclaiming first. TSM’s incredible performance sent them above Oath and Zenith to secure the first place position during the final match of the Group Stage. Once the points were tallied and double-checked by the team, their impossible comeback was confirmed.
Looking over a strong series from each of the top-six teams, Oath Gaming appears to be on schedule heading into the PCS4 Americas Grand Final. We’re moving into the ‘WWCD’ ruleset for this Grand Final and behind first-place TSM with six, it was Oath Gaming that finished with five chicken dinners of their own. If you’re a fan of Oath, you have to feel good knowing that this team had a 25% win rate through this Group Stage.
For the Soniqs, it was another Group Stage loaded with highlights from the team’s top-fragger, TGLTN. Individually, he closed out the previous round at the top of the Damage Dealt leaderboard, and second in Kills with 40. The return of M1ME restored this team’s championship roster and the play from hwinn and Shrimzy picked up right where they left off during the ESL PUBG Masters. The team is eyeing their next major victory in a format that this roster is familiar with considering their success at PGI.S under a similar ruleset.
ONE FINAL SHOT: LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER
For fans of the eight teams heading to the Last Chance Qualifier, there’s still hope that your favorite squad earns a spot in the PCS4 Americas Grand Final. This event will feature eight teams from North America and Latin America to compete for the final four spots in the Grand Final. Placing at the top of this leaderboard is going to be incredibly tough as teams fight to determine their spot.
There are a handful of teams that immediately jump out when glancing over this lobby. The top-six placement during the Group Stage ensured that we would see some predominant teams sent to the Last Chance Qualifier in this series. For North America, the biggest surprises are The Rumblers, Guadalajara Gascans, and Team Veritas. If I’m looking at a couple of teams from NA to evade elimination, it begins with those three.