We finished up our first preseason on April, 30th. We could not be happier with how it turned out. We successfully brought together regional teams from all over the US and continue to innovate and shape the eSports scene. Thanks to a late entry by the Seattle Stryker squad, we have teams representing 16 major metro hubs. We ended the preseason with a tournament to see who were the best teams in the PBL before launching our regular season. Fans were treated to a great battle in the final championship match where Atlanta Zenith took on the Austin Royals. A Twitter poll had fans choosing Austin to win in a close 59% to 41% vote.
The Royals made the journey to the grand final look easy and appeared ready to reign as #1 in the league. They had a first round forfeit, plus they weren’t challenged much by the Denver Rangers in the Southern Conference Championship. In the semi-final match against LA Legion, the Royals swept the series 4-0. The results were: Strongholds-Rig 100-58, Slayer-Truth 50-38, CTF – Coliseum 3-0 and Strongholds-Plaza 100-60. Their strong performance boosted the Royals confidence further. They even displayed this level of confidence during the Chicago vs Atlanta semi-final as one of the Royals let the chat room know, “It doesn’t matter what happens here because we are winning it all.”
The Zenith lived up to their name by bringing the pinnacle of talent and strategy to the preseason tournament. They had to beat both the Carolina Riptide and the Philadelphia Forge to emerge as Eastern Conference Champs. After going down two games to the Chicago United in the semi-final, they stepped up their play and won four in a row to take the win. The results were: Strongholds – Rig 92-100 (CHI), Slayer – Truth 37-50 (CHI), CTF-Colisuem 3 – 2 (ATL), Strongholds – Eden 100 – 50 (ATL), Slayer – Plaza 50 – 27 (ATL), CTF -Truth 3 – 2 (ATL).
In the Grand Final, Atlanta dominated with strong teamwork. At several moments where they opened up significant leads and never let the Royals get a foothold for a comeback. The Royals definitely had the talent with Galaxy, Rammyy, SaigaN sK, and scionizzle on the team. However, Hoaxer showed his ability as both a player and captain in getting the team ready and orchestrating some great in-game tactics. Plus, as displayed in this clip:
youtube.com/watch?v=yvl7SGObwWY, Hoaxer made a big personal contribution.
The four-game sweep of the BO7 series surprised the casters, Would and Dignifyed, and established Atlanta as the team to beat in the regular season. At the same time, no team is going to take Austin lightly. They remain the biggest threat in the west. Atlanta and Austin will not play again unless both teams make it to the regular season grand final match. Zenith is in the very tough Eastern Conference and will get tested. It is hard to know what will happen in the Southern Conference with Houston and Dallas both needing to sure up their rosters. We will see how things will go starting on May 7th.
Go here to watch the full match between Atlanta and Austin. youtube.com/watch?v=VLXguAS7MNg&t=81s