PGI.S TEAM SPOTLIGHT: TAKE THE OATH
Oath Gaming touched down in South Korea for PGI.S carrying the momentum of a successful 2020 campaign. Champions of the PCS Charity Showdown and DreamHack Winter Showdown, the team finished their season where it began -- with their second major win against the best competition in the Americas region. Oath also placed inside the top-four for each of the three PCS events between their tournament victories, adding to their list of achievements during the online period of PUBG Esports. With much of the attention surrounding North America focused on their regional rivals, those unfamiliar with the team may not have known about their strong performances last year. Oath made a case for themselves as North America’s second-best team, only behind Soniqs, for a large majority of last season.
Heading into the first week of PGI.S there was a lot made about the team’s success in scrims against the international teams. Some may have put more stock in it than others, but nonetheless, Oath had landed in Korea and the good news was already circulating. Alongside their fellow North American squads, Soniqs and Shoot To Kill, Oath actually received a fair number of votes in the Pick Em’ Challenge for Week One. After their slow but gradual start during Rank Decision, Oath would ultimately secure the top-sixteen they needed to begin the week inside the first Weekly Survival. Ten matches later, they would punch their ticket to the first Weekly Final and have the opportunity to compete in a traditional scoring format against the best fifteen teams from the opening week.
Competition in the first Weekly Final stiffened even more than it already had, resulting in a lobby where very few “easy points” were handed out to teams. The phrase “nothing comes easy” can be applied to any PUBG Esports event, but during a ten-match schedule amongst the world’s best striving to secure a top-four placement, it’s an understatement. Especially when you remember that any team below fourth misses out on prize money, opening up the door for unexpected third-party plays and hot drops from teams who are too separated from the money.
Once they entered the first Weekly Final, Oath would find some success before a series of early exits and unfortunate placements. This put the team behind the eightball heading into the later matches, but the leaderboard was so tight for most of the lobby that a comeback was easily believable. However, to the disappointment of Oath, twenty-one points across their final two matches would not be enough to lift them up into the top-four to snag any prize money.
Up to this point, we’ve seen Oath play their aggressive style of PUBG when they’re able to, but the format doesn’t lend itself to that approach for a large portion of the event. It’s counterintuitive to send the team into unfavorable situations during the Weekly Survival where keeping four members alive is most important. In other events, or during the Weekly Final where kills are incentivized, Oath’s standard approach of overwhelming teams would pay dividends considering they’re a tough team to fight off when they move in. All four players are lethal in their own right, and as long as they’re not being harassed by a third-party, I like their odds of winning a good number of even team fights.
With that said, Oath needs to balance their inclination to be aggressive without becoming apprehensive in the process. Teams are playing much different during Weekly Survival than in the Finals, there are opportunities to be aggressive, and times when patience is the best decision, determining that in-game is what separates the great teams from the good ones. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty but I believe Oath has already begun sorting out the challenges they’ve faced during the opening two weeks.
Throughout both of the Weekly Survivals, PATKAPS and Snakers have separated themselves in terms of kills and damage dealt from their teammates Balefrost and Relo. As the event continues, it will be interesting to keep an eye on this because I think Oath is playing at their best when Relo is a leader in each of these categories. Not because I think individual stats have any meaning in a team game, but because I think Oath is most effective when Relo is finding off-angles and pressuring teams with Snakers, Balefrost, and PATKAPS anchoring the team in a solid position.
The team advanced into Weekly Final #2 with another Chicken Dinner in Match 10. Over that ten-match series, they continually put themselves in a great position to secure the win and ultimately grabbed their spot in what would be the team’s second final. Oath’s play heading into the weekend led us to believe that they had every chance in the world to produce points in the final - that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The team suffered through a four-game drought where they were unable to collect a single point, entering the fifth and final match of Day One in the depths of the leaderboard. Things had gone from bad to worse, and Oath was already trailing the top teams by a substantial margin. It quickly became apparent that they wouldn’t be competing for a top-four spot during Day Two, despite their ability to collect 38 points over the final five matches.
Just to put their Day Two production into perspective, Oath didn’t win a match and still accumulated 38 points. That’s a reasonable pace for this team, and it’s without the high-kill Chicken Dinner we would expect from them. So, if they could have matched this 7.5 points per game on Day One, they would have finished near third-place with 76 points. The skill and ability are there for this roster, so it’s only a matter of time before they remind everyone why they’re one of the best teams in the world. Perhaps they’re waiting until the later weeks when the top-four prize money becomes massive? We’ll go with that.
Oath Gaming would not exit the Weekly Final before they got even with a team that had much more to lose in the last match than they did. As the plane soared over Erangel for the final time in Week Two, Oath chose to hot drop Infantry, the team who had attempted to bridge camp them in the previous match. Their response to the bridge camp couldn’t have come at a worse time for Infantry as they were actively pursuing the first-place position, just behind 4AM. The initial hot-drop wouldn’t be enough, so Oath crashed into an Infantry-controlled compound, eliminating three of their four members, dashing the team’s hopes of surpassing 4AM for the top spot.
The fighting between these two teams is far from finished, especially when you consider the team’s looting locations. In many Erangel matches, Infantry has the opportunity to bridge camp Oath on the military island. Was this enough to discourage Infantry from attempting another bridge camp, or did Oath practically paint a target on their backs for the next four weeks? I can only imagine the number of scenarios where this new rivalry will spark back up, and only time will tell if it was the right decision. Either way, I can’t for Week Three!