Twenty of the best teams from the online portion of the qualifier are gathered in Leicester, UK, to decide who will be moving onwards to the $2 million tournament.

More than 600 teams signed up to participate in the European qualifier to PUBG Global Invitational — the largest tournament in the history of the game. Some of the world’s best teams took a part in this qualifier, some of which did not make the cut.

In the third and final round of the online qualifier, 80 of the best performing teams were placed in four groups of twenty teams to decide on who will be moving on to the LAN portion of the qualifier. With just five winning spots in every group, the competition was as fierce as ever.

Likely the biggest upset of the qualifier became the early elimination of the French favorites Team Vitality, who just barely didn’t make a cut in Group 3, finishing behind PENTA Sports and Team Redzone. Other early removals involved HAVU Gaming, ALTERNATE aTTaX, TINDERGULD, as well as few others. It first looked like the journey for the heavyweights Team Liquid and Rogue would end there as well, but fate had something else in mind.

That being said, the European qualifier to PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS biggest esports tournament ever is going to be the most stacked we’ve seen so far. And according to some, with twenty of the best teams in the continent gathered in Haymarket Theatre, anyone can come out victorious.

With that, let’s take a look at some of the key storylines ahead of the PUBG Global Invitational 2018 European qualifier.

FaZe Clan look to maintain their momentum

It’s no secret that FaZe are a force to be reckoned with, and they have looked frighteningly strong on LAN recently, taking home the lion’s share at the most recent DreamHack Austin 2018. The chances of the Finish-Swedish team to qualify look even better considering their biggest adversary, the Russian Natus Vincere, won’t be in Leicester.

NaVi secured a first-place finish at GLL Season 1 Grand Finals and ended up second at PGL PUBG Spring Invitational 2018 — both times ahead of FaZe Clan. With the characteristic Russian aggression being safely locked in the CIS qualifier, the favorites will be able to play their own game. The question is, can any of the other teams really threaten their supremacy?

Photo via Dreamhack

With their rivals in the region Team Vitality not making it to the main event, it will have to come down to one of the other teams to stop them. With everyone’s eyes turning towards Knights and Team Liquid, FaZe will be looking to maintain the momentum, and once and for all prove themselves to be the number one team in Europe.

Team Liquid have to get over their curse

Now the thing with Team Liquid is they seemingly just can’t perform at their level. When the big new lineup was announced a few months back it seemed almost crazy.

One of the best allrounders in the world, Keiron “Scoom” Prescott, together with probably the best aimer in the world, Jord “ibiza” van Geldere, in the same team was unbelievable enough. A star-filled roster that could easily compete with any of the top teams in the world, that’s what Team Liquid had to become. But it somehow faltered.

It took a long time for them to find their game, they struggled a lot, but eventually, they started winning games and competing for the top spots. They even came in second at their first LAN with the new line-up, StarSeries i-League 2018, just behind FaZe Clan.

But outside of a few minor achievements online, Team Liquid just can’t seem to find their way into victory when it matters the most. Not only did they fail to qualify to any major LAN tournaments, they underperform heavily when they do.

They finished in an underwhelming 5th position at DreamHack Austin 2018 a month ago, where they managed to taste the chicken dinner twice, but have also finished outside of Top 13 four times, and that’s out of 16 teams total.

Photo via Starladder

That being considered, Team Liquid still is one of the best teams in the region and one of the favorites to win the whole thing, with a single condition being that they overcome this curse of… not winning.

Twenty team lobby is the real enemy

The overpopulated lobby is bound to ruin someone’s day this weekend. Every single team going into the qualifier are used to playing against 15 other teams. After a lot of testing and experimentation, it became somewhat of a norm in the competitive scene. And there’s a good reason for it — it’s a perfect middle ground between keeping a game competitive without it becoming an uncontrollable wildland.

In lamest terms, the more teams there are in the server, the less relevant skill becomes, and the more luck reigns supreme.

The big unwritten question is, how well can the players, who have been playing 16 team games for a while now, adapt to the extended setting. The luck, of course, will be playing a much bigger role in this environment, but there’s also the hidden element of being able to approach the game differently than you would normally.

How well will the teams be able to adapt to these changes is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure — although no one asked for it, someone will have to pay the price.

Can the new Method find their game?

These were a tough few months for Method. They performed somewhat above expectations at IEM Oakland 2017, considering their recent roster change and playing under a new in-game leader, they managed to finish 7th. They followed it up with a 6th place finish at IEM Katowice 2018 a few months later, but their good luck seemingly ran out there.

Photo via ESL

What followed after that was a series of mediocre results, followed by even worse performances. Method struggled to qualify for any of the following events, and their online matches were pretty much exclusively below average. A change was needed.

The boys in orange added Björn “MOLNMAN” Won Hak Jansson and Kristo “xKriss” Kiisler and it seems to have worked, seeing as they managed to qualify for Leicester. However, now they will be facing the best teams in the region and finishing outside of Top 3 isn’t an option anymore. With teams like FaZe Clan, PENTA Sports, WTSG (ex-Kinguin) and many others as their competition, can Method show up and take this one home?

A haunting presence

While there are a lot of big-name teams coming into the qualifier and all the questions of how well can they perform around them, it’s a good idea to remember the other half.

For many of the teams, it will be their first international LAN tournament.

For Team Blank (ex-Crimson) it will be their second offline tournament after they finished 8th at GLL Season 1 Grand Final. The team has been performing exceedingly well recently, and they probably are the dark horse of the whole tournament, being able to upset any of the competitors. The unknown factor, same as it is with any other up-and-coming team, is can they show up on LAN.

Team Redzone has been steadily improving for the past few months and could probably compete for the top spots as well. Their biggest shortcoming is, of course, a grand total of none international LAN experience and for a young team that can be the biggest challenge to overcome.

The curious thing about the PUBG Global Invitational 2018 European qualifier is that any of the teams can show up, anyone can qualify, and that will be the real haunting presence for every team. Can ex-Kinguin finally perform at their level? Will Izako Boars shock everyone once again?

The best part is, we won’t have to wait long to find out.

The PGI 2018 Europe qualifier will take place 29th of June – 1st of July, with the matches starting at 16:00 CEST.

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