Day 2 of the MSI 2021 Rumble stage has come to its conclusion. The underdogs of the tournament, Pentanet.GG, had a tough day, as they faced two teams who are considered to be the favorite tournaments. While they had their shining moments against one of the tournament favorites in their first match of the day, Royal Never Give Up, they unfortunately were not able to capitalize on them. Their second game against DWG KIA went very wrong for PGG right from the get-go, so PGG finished the day winless, and continued to struggle in finding their first victory in the Rumble stage.
The jungler for PGG, Jackson “Pabu” Pavone, joined Inven Global’s special interviewer, Olleh, to share a conversation about the day's matches, champion tier lists, as well as the strengths of the remaining teams in the tournament.
Let’s start off with the interview with the game that went south for you against DWG KIA. Knowing what you were going to do, DK executed a level 1 invade and answered your play.
It’s hard for me to solve my way out of it, because we have three losing lanes level 1, while they have Jayce, Nautilus, and Udyr, who are very strong at level 1. Rumble is also weaker than Udyr at level 1, so they have three lanes with priority, my jungle champion’s weaker; I also didn’t get the CDR shards, so I couldn’t play my bot level 1. It’s going to be ‘Jungle Canyon’ for sure.
What do you think was the main problem? Was it a draft thing?
It’s a bit of a few things here and there. For example, we heavily prioritized Lee Sin, but he loses lane in the first couple of levels. The bot lane counter pick was Alistar into Nautilus, which also loses early. We blind picked our two solo lanes, which got counter picked, then our two counter picks, which were Rumble and Alistar, also didn’t get priority. It is a draft problem for sure, but if we were able to get out of the early game, our composition would’ve been really insane; making sure that we can survive the first couple of levels was quite difficult.
You were the only source of AP damage, so you had to get ahead for the team comp to do well, right?
Yeah, if I’m behind, it’s very hard to play the game.
The commentators on the LCK broadcast were saying when you invaded the top side after your first death, you were playing ‘emotionally’. Can you tell us what happened there?
It’s… hard for me to say when I’m in the game, but if I played standard, I was pretty doomed. It was almost a conscious decision to make plays that aren’t super guaranteed. If we had a better draft and a better game plan, I will play more standard, but if the game is rough, then we have to take risks, and sometimes, it works. For example, against RNG, the game was really doomed, but we made some strange plays and put us in a position where we can actually play the game. Very rarely, I’ll just roll over and lose; I’d try to do something that’ll give me a better chance to win. Sometimes, that backfires and you lose in 15 minutes, but it is what it is.
You’ve reached the Rumble Stage, but you’re struggling here. What is your mindset like in the Rumble Stage?
It’s a huge opportunity for us to learn against the world-class elite teams. I do think that our game against RNG was pretty good. Of course, we did get outclassed individually, but I think that we had a favorable draft, and if we made better decisions at certain points in the game, I think we definitely could’ve won that game. The gap feels way smaller than it was before; we do get outclassed fairly regularly, but that game against RNG showcased that we can actually play the game. As long as we come in with drafts that are playable and situations that are good for us, there might be a chance that we can take some games. I’m not too pessimistic about it; at the very least, it’s a good learning opportunity.
As far as I know, this is the first time OCE got out of the play-in/group stage. Tell us about your journey.
It’s a mix of a few things. The players on this team, I think, are somewhat underrated. Also, we have an insane environment, so we come together better as a unit. I do think that VCS being unable to attend was a sizeable factor in all this, because they looked fairly strong. While we only had to only beat Unicorns of Love, which was still an upset, it was only one team that we had to beat, so it wasn’t the biggest mountain; it was only a medium-sized mountain.
People in chat were calling you Billie Eilish. Can you tell us more about dying your hair green?
It wasn’t specifically because of Billie Eilish; I just always like to be colorful, you know? Whether it’s how I dress or my hair, I just always like a lot of colors. I like to be bright, smiley, and happy; it’s just a part of my personality.
While you managed to beat UOL in the group stage, the Rumble stage is completely different. What are you guys focusing on the most?
We ended up beating UOL in the very end of the group stage, because their champion pool was exploitable with things like blind picking Zed and Karthus; they didn’t have a good answer to these things. However, teams on the Rumble stage have a much better answer to these strange picks through their deep champion pools.
Again, taking the RNG game into example, we had a good read on compositional gap. Their mid laner, Cryin, doesn’t favor long-range champions; he always opts for these brawly/short range champions. If we can get past through the early game, bot lane duos such as Aphelios-Lulu will always pay off. We need better meta reads, better understanding of the things that teams like, and drafts that will beat that. Basically, a better game plan overall.
As a viewer, I can predict PGG’s drafts pretty easily. For example, Chazz always plays AD melee champions like Zed and Lee Sin, and you fill the AP source of damage for the team, so I think it’s easy for the enemy to predict your drafts. I think that’s the most important feedback point for your team.
I guess you can call them champion pool issues. We just favor certain things pretty heavily. We also have a few styles that we aren’t super confident in playing, and there are a few things that make it hard for us to draft differently. We tend to lean on a specific style, and that makes it difficult against these top-tier teams.
In your last interview, you said that you thought of LS’ tier list. How does LS’ tier list compare to the team’s internal champion tier list? Does the two align?
In terms of Zed, I don’t think that he’s the best champion in the game, but I do think that he’s definitely underrated. There are a lot of champions that, when they are utilized to their fullest, can perform quite well. Talon and Katarina, for example, are super underrated, because in solo queue, all they do is roam bot lane and try to get leads. However, these champions have more strengths than just that; just because their playstyle revolves around roaming and punishing players in solo queue, they often get underestimated. They have more strengths than that in their kit.
Going back to Zed, for example, his laning phase is surprisingly powerful; he can always farm from range, and even against champions like Sylas, he has a lot of kill threat. He’s definitely not a ‘Z-tier’ champion, but he’s definitely underrated. There are quite a few champions that players stray away from because of preconceived notions; if they gave them a chance, they would find them quite strong.
You’ve played against many different teams, and probably played against more teams in scrims. If you would rank the teams in order of hardest to face, how would your list look like?
I think RNG is most likely going to win the tournament, but they aren’t a team that isn't exploitable. For example, they always pick Sylas, but Sylas kind of sucks; their team compositions are often too short-ranged. The way they play out their games, however, are super intelligent. They were in a really tough spot against Cloud9, but found a way to play the map that allowed them to play the game and beat them. It’s really impressive, because Chinese teams usually just beat their opponents with raw skill and brute force, but RNG is able to problem-solve better than all the other teams in the tournament.
I feel that it’s hard to rank after that. Usually, I’d put DWG KIA at #2, but they often seem to rely on the way Canyon plays the game. They always play through Canyon’s jungle lead, and it feels as if they aren’t taking as much advantage as they could in their games. We got stomped through Canyon’s jungle lead, so it is a reliable way to play the game. He usually makes intelligent decisions, but there’s room to make more aggressive decisions, and teams like RNG showcased that they’ll be diving you on cooldowns and take every advantage they can. If DWG KIA were playing at their peak, they’d not only be #2 100%, but also contest RNG for 1st.
After that, it’s really quite hard. MAD Lions and PSG Talon are a little bit better than C9, but C9 on a good day are really good. All of these are really insane, and none of these teams should be underestimated. If RNG and DWG KIA have a bad day, they’ll lose, and if PSG has a good day, then they’ll win. Overall, I’d say that RNG is in their own tier, then DWG KIA, who’s also in their own tier, then the three other teams, then there’s us at the bottom.
PGG vs C9. Who’d win?
C9 looked really good when they were on point, but awful when they weren’t. If ‘peak C9’ shows up, we’re going to have a bad time, but if not, then I think there’s a chance for us to beat them.
The Oceania region collects less attention, and Pentanet.GG represents that region at this MSI. Is there anything you’d like to share about your region?
OCE players have a lot of spirit and heart. People should just give the region a chance. We might not provide you with the best quality games, but even when lower-tier teams play against one another, it’s a clown-fiesta, and it’s quite hilarious. I think that the broadcast is really good, the personalities are really entertaining, and the players are a lot of fun and like to meme. If you can take some time out of your week to watch some games for fun instead of studying or whatever, OCE can provide you with a good time.
What are your thoughts on NA importing all the OCE players out of the region?
It’s definitely going to make our region weaker, but I always want to see players from our region get the best opportunities they can; to be able to play against better players and continue improving. It’s nice to have a pipeline to be able to progress further as a player, because it’s much harder to do it from just within our region. Players like FBI and Fudge are prime examples; especially Fudge, who I feel is a world-class player already. There aren’t too many diamonds in the rough, but it’s definitely great that we get our chances.
Lastly, any shoutouts that you want to make to the fans?
This question is always hard to answer, because I have so many different types of supporters from all around the world, but it’s always touching to see so much support after my games. It’s always so nice to see people find us entertaining, and hopefully, we can bring more entertaining games. I don’t like to continue getting stomped; it’s not much fun. At the end of the day, I hope that we can make you proud, and hope you keep watching.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports