by Ty Brody

The PCS2 North America Grand Final is slated to start tomorrow when sixteen teams descend onto Miramar for the first four matches of the tournament. Yesterday, we unveiled the first part of our Week One Power Rankings for the Grand Final. Today, we’re revealing the top-eight teams in Part Two of our opening week Power Rankings.

Cases could be made for a majority of the teams on this list to be ranked higher or lower. That said, based on their play exiting the group stage and considering the challenging matchups that lay ahead, here are the top-eight teams of our Week One Power Rankings.

  1. Houston Hardshifts 
    Group Stage: 9th Place – 188 Points

As they competed throughout the PCS2 Group Stage, it was tough not to notice the talent and firepower up and down this roster. The Houston Hardshifts enlist an aggregate of distinguished players from the days of the NPL. The team’s success stems from excellent in-game leadership and ability to consistently attain points via frags or placement.

The Hardshifts finished the Group Stage in ninth but break into the top-eight of our Power Rankings thanks to their collective experience and the value it can have during the Grand Final, as well as their ability to bounce back from a difficult outing in Week 2 of the Group Stage. Individual talent isn’t a question for this team, so during the Grand Final, I would love to see Houston Hardshifts take the next step in their game and secure a top-five placement. The potential to be one of North America’s best teams already rests on this roster, they just need that tournament to prove it.

  1. 303 Esports 
    Group Stage: 7th Place – 207 Points

Unquestionably the breakout player of the PCS2 Group Stage, 303 Esports’ Joe “HoneyBadger” Haylock collected 53 Kills over the team’s thirty qualifying matches – placing him fourth overall. Leading the team in Kills and Damage Dealt, 303 Esports is going to be much better off if “HoneyBadger” is able to emulate his Group Stage effectiveness over the course of the Grand Final.

The team maintains their Group Stage standing in Week One of our Power Rankings, but 303 Esports have earned their spot on my “teams to watch” list heading into the Final. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Voxsic” and “LANdooon” lighting up the kill feed on Thursday, assisting their team to a top-eight placement.

  1. Soniqs 
    Group Stage: 6th Place – 212 Points

The Soniqs have played well since their noteworthy roster change following the PCS1 Grand Final. What the team may have lost in world-class experience during the change they gained back in pure talent and skill. James “TGLTN” Giezen is one of PUBG Esports’ most exciting players, with incredible in-game knowledge and an ability to make highlight-reel plays at any given moment. He’s surrounded on this roster by players who have elite knowledge of the game and can fill multiple roles. Everyone on the roster is able to either sit back and play as support or take charge when needed.

I’m expecting the Soniqs to be well-within reach of first-place as we get later into the Grand Final, but they’ll need more from the team as a whole if they hope to dethrone the suspected top-team. Soniqs might have coasted into the Grand Final following back-to-back weeks of impressive play, but I’d expect them at their A-game once Thursday rolls around.

  1. Comets 
    Group Stage: 4th Place – 220 Points

Comets were driven through the Group Stage by the team’s leading fragger, Philip “DTreats” Ross, whose Kills accounted for 20% of the team’s point total. This production accompanied by the team’s roster adjustment prior to the PCS2 Group Stage has certainly pointed Comets in the right direction.

The team welcomed in Monte “Monte” Dewa before PCS2 got started, adding another skilled player to their roster before the Group Stage. Comets finished the previous stage in fourth-place, but land at number five on our list when you consider the competition they’ll be up against in the Grand Final. With less teams to collect some of the easier points off, and because everyone stiffens up when the Grand Final gets started, I’m eager to see if Comets can continue their run on Thursday.

  1. Team Veritas 
    Group Stage: 5th Place – 216 Points

I’ll be honest, placing Team Veritas at fourth on our Week One Power Ranking doesn’t feel great. This is the same team that pushed Shoot To Kill to the brink but lost to a tie-breaker after winning three matches straight on the final day of the PCS1 Grand Final. Rolling out a dangerous roster that’s made up of Jeremy “Keenan” Traverse, Andrew “pentalol” Franco, Jonny “Jazza” Mcvea, and Daniel “Sharpshot” Hernandez.

Team Veritas could very easily be your PCS2 Grand Final Champion if they’re able to play to the team’s full potential. It may have been underneath another team name, but this roster has proven that they’re capable of contesting the best teams in this region. If they’ve learned anything from the last Grand Final, it’s that they shouldn’t sit around and let other teams determine their placement. As long as Team Veritas plays their style of PUBG, I’m expecting them to have a massive opening week.

  1. Oath Gaming 
    Group Stage: 3rd Place – 228 Points

Oath Gaming announced the addition of Patrick “PAT_KAPS” Kaplan to their PCS2 roster just before the start of the Group Stage. And while the news caught many by surprise, the decision was made and Oath has stood beside it. Across Oath’s thirty qualifying matches, the team won four matches and closed out the Group Stage in third place.

The team hasn’t appeared to have lost a step since making an adjustment to their IGL role; however, the PCS2 Grand Final is sure to test Oath Gaming and their team’s chemistry when it matters most. For now, the team earns their third-place standing on our Power Rankings thanks to their Week 2 play and a “good enough” outing to end the Group Stage in Week Three.

  1. Radiance 
    Group Stage: 2nd Place – 252 Points

Prior to Week Three of the Group Stage, Radiance had positioned themselves within the top-ten of the leaderboard after a modest display during the previous week. Their play over the next ten matches would improve their Group Stage standing by numerous places and proved to everyone that Radiance is a legitimate contender entering the Grand Final.

The team was led by Lari “LosHD” Hopiavuori and Kevin “Miccoy” Linn during the Group Stage but saw substantial contribution from the team’s newest member, Laurynas “GAXY” Rudys. Acknowledging that Radiance was able to match the point production of Shoot To Kill during the third and final week of the Group Stage, it’s going to become much more difficult to gather that number of points in the Grand Final. That said, Radiance earns themselves a spot at number two on our list thanks to their massive Week Three performance during the previous stage.

  1. Shoot To Kill 
    Group Stage: 1st Place – 315 Points

Undisputed as North America’s best-in-class, on a mission to defend and replicate their PCS1 Championship, there was zero-chance Shoot To Kill would land anywhere else in our Week One Power Rankings. The team dominated throughout the PCS2 Group Stage, flexing their strength on the twenty-four team lobby and accumulating an absurd amount of points towards the end of the stage. An aspect of Shoot To Kill that deserves more credit is their balance throughout the roster. The team has the luxury of devotedly relying on their IGL “PurdyKurty” for all decision making, and if for some reason that goes awry, the team points out the enemy and “Luke12” handles it from there. Additionally, “Uncivil” and “aLOW” contribute massively to the team’s success and played a major part in their Group Stage performance.

Coming into Thursday’s matches, it will be interesting to see how STK adapts to playing four-straight games on Miramar. The Grand Final map schedule could impact any of the sixteen teams, but STK amassed 60% of their Group Stage points on Erangel. That percentage is actually just another testament to the team’s ability to secure points in any scenario.

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