Since Flash Point Esports of the CIS region won’t be able to attend the Paladins World Championship at HRX due to visa issues, RNG Paladins will take their spot in Group A with the likes of Virtus.Pro (EU), Kanga Esports (OCE), Ninjas in Pyjamas (EU), Nocturns Gaming (LatAm), and China Honor (China). If you don’t normally follow the Paladins scene but want to be informed while you watch Renegades compete in Group A, this is the article for you!
Our roster didn’t have much experience heading into the inaugural PPL season (the core of the team only saw success in the beginning of the PGS), but they definitely showed that they can compete with more veteran teams long term. They finished 4-4 (3rd out of 5 teams), with the highlight of their PPL regular season being an upset win over DreamHack Valencia champion G2 Esports. That being said, G2 defeated Renegades 4-2 to give them a 5th-8th place finish in the PPL Fall Finals. Even though they didn’t qualify for Worlds originally (but now they’re the 2nd NA team at Worlds with G2), they found a lot more success in the PWC Wildcard Cup than the Fall Finals that were the same weekend. They were only one set win away from going to Worlds “the legit way” after defeating Mouz 3-0, but Fnatic got out the brooms and swept our boys away (4-0). On the international stage at HRX, their first round opponent (Ninjas in Pyjamas) has way more LAN experience. Look for DPS player Zach “ShadeeyShades” Gilbert to be the leader for RNG Paladins on stage, as he played in last year’s World Championship for Team Eager and finished in 5th-8th.
Virtus.Pro is a team that came out of nowhere in the PPL Fall Finals. They entered as Europe’s 4th seed after going 4-4 in the regular season and managed to take the top spot in the world by taking out G2 Esports in the finals (4-1). The road to get there was difficult: 2-0 over Mouz, 3-0 over Fnatic, and 4-3 over Ninjas in Pyjamas. Even though they’re the top seed in this group, they too have a lack of international LAN experience. The core of this roster was on the Flash Point Esports EU roster, a team that had a lot of success in ESL but couldn’t put it together in Hi-Rez qualifiers for LAN. Flex player Lev “eLvenpath” Strokov is the captain of this team and is probably one of the best captains you can have in the scene given his experience on District 69, one of Paladins’ original international powerhouses. District 69’s track record was quite impressive: 1st at DreamHack Summer 2016, 2nd at PWC 2017, 1st at Paladins Masters LAN, and 5th-8th at DreamHack Valencia. Simon “simsiloo” Andersson is the other flex player on this team, and he also has international LAN experience: a 5th-8th place finish at the Paladins Masters LAN with WASD Sports.
Kanga Esports (OCE)
Most would say that Oceania doesn’t have much success in esports internationally, but Kanga Esports is definitely an outlier if you think that’s the case. This roster finished in 3rd-4th at PWC 2017 under the Abyss eSports Club banner before creating their own organization. Paladins Masters LAN was their first LAN under their new org, a LAN that ended with another 3rd-4th place finish for the boys down under. QG Craze of China pulled off a crazy upset against them at DreamHack Valencia, but Kanga still managed to finish in the top 4. The only question now is this: Can Kanga break into the finals at an international LAN? Within their region, Kanga is still completely dominating the competition (in the OCE PGS) like they have since the beginning of time. What’s going in their favor this time around is the fact that they have a first round bye and started a bootcamp in the US on December 20th.
Ninjas in Pyjamas (EU)
This Ninjas in Pyjamas roster is the result of a roster shakeup among the top two European teams, GankStars and District 69, that occurred after both teams underperformed at DreamHack Valencia. What this means is that they have no shortage of international LAN experience on this team, making them a prime candidate to make Group A interesting. They’re looking to use that experience to their advantage against Renegades in the first round. You read District 69’s accolades before, but here are the accolades of GankStars (the team that 3/5 of this roster was on originally): 1st at PWC 2017, 2nd at Paladins Masters LAN, and 3rd at DreamHack Valencia. Fast forward to the PPL era: NiP finished 2nd in the European PPL regular season with a 5-3 record. They qualified for Worlds as Europe’s 3rd team after defeating Na’Vi 3-0 and losing 4-3 to Virtus.Pro. If you’re a Renegades fan, you better hope that NiP doesn’t show their experience that they definitely aren’t short on.
Nocturns Gaming (LatAm)
Nocturns Gaming has been an active organization in HiRez esports since the very beginning. Paladins has had 3 LANs open to Latin American region, with Nocturns Gaming being the organization holding the spot each time. Even though they’ve been active in the scene for a while, that hasn’t led to too much international LAN success. Their finishes include: 7th-8th at PWC 2017, 7th-8th at Masters LAN, and 5th-8th at DreamHack Valencia. DPS Hecate, flex Saadhak, and support crims0n have been the core of the roster the last two LANs; the third time could be the charm for them. If I’m honest, though, it’s going to be tough because their first round matchup is against China Honor. Read below why that’s such a big deal.
China Honor (China)
“China Honor” is the name that the QG Craze roster is going under for HRX. That being said, the QG organization’s biggest accomplishment in Paladins is obviously their 2nd place finish at DreamHack Valencia with QG Craze. What’s important to note about the QG Craze we’re going to see at HRX is that they’re going to be without two of their regular starters: tank player Shiliu and flex player ShaSha. “China Dream” (the team known as JC Gaming who is in Group B) overtook China Honor as the top team in China, meaning we’re not sure if the roster we saw at DreamHack Valencia fell off or if China Dream is just that good. “China Dream” is going to field 5 of the 6 remaining starters between the two teams and “China Honor” is going to field four subs. If both teams can make it far in their respective groups, it’s clear that Paladins has a bright future in China. This year’s PWC for the Chinese scene is going to be about proving to the world that what we saw in July wasn’t a fluke. That quest for China Honor begins with a match against Nocturns Gaming.
Here’s what some of our squad had to say about their upcoming competition in Group A:
“We are here to play. It’s Worlds and I don’t expect any matchup to be easy here. You have to fight hard every game and never underestimate your opponent. I can’t wait to play at my first Worlds and represent RNG. LET’S GET IT!” - Dylan “Cliku” Mohne, Tank
“Europe plays a completely different game than we do, meaning Ninjas in Pyjamas is going to be a tough matchup in the first set. They play compositions with more sustain that have two tanks and/or two supports. It’s impossible to beat these kinds of compositions unless you play them as well. We aren’t getting as much practice as we would have wanted because of our situation, so they might be able to play their game better than we can because we don’t play it all the time like they do.” -Joshua “Stormtroopey” Veillon, Support