Team Liquid win PEL Kick-off Cup, but amateur teams upend pros

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may have an element of randomness to it, but you wouldn’t know it from the results of the PEL’s Kick-off Cup.

That’s because Team Liquid crushed the opposition every day during the playoffs, taking the top prize with 173 points. It was an exceptionally strong tally for the event, with the team standing 70 points above second place.

Liquid’s lead became almost insurmountable on day one of the finals. Through their first four games, Liquid scored three chicken dinners and notched a whopping 48 kills for a total of 83 points. That opening effort on its own would have been enough to score the team a top-four finish, but the team didn’t take it easy at any point during the playoffs.

Liquid didn’t take as many top placements on day two, but the team still put a number of points on the board with two third-place finishes and a 13-kill chicken dinner. Day three was the same story, with Liquid finding a handful of points in each game and mathematically securing the tournament with a 10-kill, first-place effort in round 11.

The win in the Kick-off Cup completes a changing of the guard in the PEL.

Phase one of the season saw ENCE Esports absolutely trounce the field, topping the scoreboard week in and week out en route to a first-place finish. While that strong opening to the season made the Finnish squad one of the favorites to win the FACEIT Global Summit, the team instead struggled. ENCE washed out of the second group stage while all of the other PEL teams managed to advance to the grand finals with Liquid making a strong third-place run. The Kick-off Cup saw ENCE return to its home turf but fizzle once again and finish in 11th place as Liquid surged.

Those two events are enough to establish Liquid as the team to beat in phase two.

In addition to a changing of the guard at the top, the Kick-off Cup also served as a warning shot to all of the teams near the bottom of the PEL standings.

The Kick-off Cup was supposed to be something of a pro-am competition, bringing together hopeful upstarts to take on established PEL teams. But throughout the tournament it was hard to tell which teams were supposed to be the amateurs, with the contenders actually taking as many playoff spots as the pros. Though the first phase didn’t have a relegation system, phase two will, and that will allow such teams as Se7en Esports, Desperado, and other Kick-off Cup standouts to enter the fray and potentially take over the PEL.

Phase two of the PEL begins on May 17.

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