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PGG Pabu: “I wouldn’t expect to be progressing much further. However if we do get to knockouts that would be really insane”

Pentanet.GG have done it. They have made history for the Oceanic region and given hope back to its fans.

We spoke to PGG jungler Jackson “Pabu” Pavone after their extraordinary tiebreaker game against Unicorns of Love (UoL) about their MSI journey so far, what this means for OCE and Pentanet’s song choice for MSI

First of all, thank you for doing this interview and congratulations on making it to the Rumble stage with Pentanet.GG! Let’s start it off nice and easy. How are you feeling right now?

Pabu: “Pretty wonderful. There’s only so many ways I can phrase it like pure ecstasy, but like it’s so hype to make it through! Especially after the reception we got to the start, you know, to prove everybody and the doubters wrong. It feels really good to make it through and I think everyone is pretty out of their minds right now. No one really expected this but we’re all confident we could do it, and we came through and we bloody did it!”

You bloody did it, definitely! I’d just like to touch on the last game a little bit. That game against UoL was slightly odd since you had to face Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov who picked Kha’Zix, while you picked Karthus. Since this was basically the last game in an extended best-of-five, what are your impressions of AHaHaCiK as a jungler and how did you decide on picking Karthus to counter him?

Pabu: “AHaHaCiK is pretty decent and he’s the best jungler I’ve played against in a team setting apart from Royal Never Give Up’s (RNG) Yan “Wei” Yang-Wei, but they kind of crushed us. AHaHaCiK was definitely the most challenging but I noticed that he didn’t play Morgana, and I had this theory that if he didn’t play Morgana, he didn’t have a champion pool. So once we got him off the Nidalee, which is a champion he’s really comfortable on, and I knew that if I blind-picked Karthus, he wouldn’t have a good answer to it.”

“Kha’Zix is, in theory, a good champion to counter Karthus. But I took Exhaust so he can’t one-shot me or anybody on my team. Also, my champion farms faster than him, so he has the onus to accelerate the game since Karthus also outscales him really hard. Going into the game, I knew he would pick something like that (Kha’Zix). It was like the same when I first picked Nidalee, he picked Lee Sin jungle. That champion, like Kha’Zix, also doesn’t do anything in general.”

“Our coach is a former jungler too and we decided that if we picked Karthus, AHaHaCiK probably doesn’t have an effective counter. So we busted that bad boy out and it worked.”

I just wanted to touch on something very quickly that you said just now, you mentioned that AHaHaCiK in your opinion is the best jungler you’re faced in a team setting. How does that compare to your matches with Wei then, who has had a very strong showing of RNG to say the least.

Pabu: “Well, I don’t think AHaHaCiK is better than Wei. The way Wei plays the game is extremely aggressive but also his laners just outright win their lanes. Our games are very tilted by things that happen like I’m making a big mistake or our side lanes are getting dove straight away and the like. We made some cataclysmic errors really early because their players are a step above us.”

“So it’s hard to get a good read on how good Wei is because we’re just getting, you know, goomba stomped across the board. He’s definitely still very good and I would rate him very highly, but when I’m playing against AHaHaCiK, I’m playing the game a bit more. Against RNG, we kind of just get crushed.”

Fair enough. In that regard then, is jungle diff support diff or is jungle diff lane diff?

Pabu: “It’s all a little bit of everything. Jungle diff is often draft diff, but draft diff is player diff! If your players don’t understand the game properly, you won’t draft the right things. It doesn’t matter how good your coach is if your players don’t understand why things are good and how to play them in the game, it doesn’t matter.”

“You can pick your players the best champions in the game, but if they don’t know what they’re doing and how to abuse that, it doesn’t really matter. You always have to draft to the players and players will always play better on the things that they want to play. So it’s like this: jungle gap is draft gap, or priority gap. Priority gap is draft gap and draft gap is player gap. So ultimately it kind of circles back and I’m the problem!”

So now that you’ve made it to the Rumble stage, there has been a lot of discussion on the group stages of MSI, especially since the VCS couldn’t make it. After essentially playing a best-of-five with UoL and facing RNG four times, in your opinion at least, do you personally like this format for groups or do you think that other formats should be explored in future MSI editions?

Pabu: “I think it’s good for MSI because I think that Worlds for example has a Play-Ins and the Main Event, which has all the best teams from across the world duking it out. MSI is a really good opportunity for minor region teams who don’t get these opportunities to play against international competition. For example, we don’t get to play against anybody else in our region. We don’t get to scrim, practice and go on stage with anybody else but OCE teams.”

“So I think having MSI being more focused towards letting minor region teams play more games against teams roughly around their level is good. Even though you have to settle through some stomps you still get some good games at the end, and it’s really amazing for minor region fans!”

“I feel it’s hard to argue against the format, but I think there are improvements that could be made and there always will be. I think currently it’s a good balance between high-level competition and then also some exciting games. I’m really glad that after the first day we managed to turn it around and turn our group into a really exciting group.”

Speaking of stomps, I know that you spoke about the amount of criticism that you and Pentanet have received. Along with some of those stomps, it probably wasn’t easy to deal with them together. Up until the last game, how did you and the team manage to remain positive throughout MSI and ultimately make it to the Rumble stage?

Pabu: “I’m not sure how everybody else was fairing and I think I caught the brunt of the criticism because I’m very outspoken. I put myself out there and I’ll make jokes, I’ll make memes and I’ll do things that will increase the stakes for me so when I lose, I look like a clown in some sense.”

“For me, once I kind of get all that negativity out and bring in more positivity in, it’s really easy to just keep on going because I know that the people that I care about think it’s wonderful. And I think there’s a lot of fans out there that do as well, so it’s really hype. And even though we were getting stomped, our team environment is just so pleasant. Everyone’s super happy to keep working forward.”

“I think we’ve proved that after we came back up from a loss, and that gives you a lot of faith. When you get stomped and you come back and win the next game, it gives you the faith that you can just do it again and again. And that’s what we did.”

For the Rumble stage, are there any players that you want to meet in particular and what are your expectations?

Pabu: “I think the Rumble stage will be a big learning opportunity for us. It’s going to be hard for us to win many games since the quality of teams there will be really good. So it’s a huge opportunity for us to prove ourselves, but I wouldn’t expect to be progressing much further. However, if we do get to Knockouts that would be really insane.”

“I really want to meet MAD Lions and Cloud9. I really like everyone on the MAD Lions roster because they’re hilarious, and I think they have really talented players and play the game really fast and hard. I think that’s fun! I think Cloud9 plays similarly too and those games are always the most fun.”

“The third game against RNG for example, getting stomped in the beginning kind of sucked but we started to comeback, and that game was extremely fun. We just kind of ‘send it’, you know! I’m excited to play against all the fast paced teams at the Rumble stage for sure.”

Now that Pentanet.GG has made it through to the Rumble stage and this is considered a big upset, assuming the favourites such as PSG Talon and Cloud9 falter, which other minor region teams do you think can progress over them?

Pabu: “I think that DetonatioN FM has a good chance of making it through. They almost beat DWG KIA and Damwon are an absolute world-class team. I really liked the DFM jungler Steal, he’s really nice and polite. He wished me well and bid me good luck, and I’d like to say good luck to him as well. He’s a really insane player, all of them are insane players, so I really hope DFM collects more wins.”

For the people who haven’t watched LCO, do you have any OCE player(s) that are currently not at MSI that you would like to give a shoutout to and for people to keep an eye on?

Pabu: “I mean, it’s going to be a while before anyone really starts to come through. The one that probably has the most hope is Kim “Winterer” Dong-geun. He the toplaner for Legacy Esports at the moment, and he’s roleswapped toplaner from mid-lane. He showed really solid fundamentals in a lot of his games even though his team is struggling.”

“I think that he probably has the most impressive laning outside of my toplaner. He really shows good quality gameplay, and you don’t often see good quality gameplay from many OCE players.I hope that he eventually can do well.”

So before we end, I just like to ask you a little bit on the song choice that Pentanet chose. I believe it was “Hold on, we are going home” by Drake, right?

Pabu: Absolutely (laughs)!

How did you guys arrive at this choice and do you think it’s time to change it?

Pabu: “Yeah, maybe we need a new song! It’s kind of the spirit of our team. We didn’t have many choices to pick from as a team because we thought it had to be something that was like, it was representative of us. It goes with our light-hearted nature and it’s obviously quite funny where it felt like a song for our progression this season was “hold on, we’re going home”! It’s not too serious, but I hope it brought up a smile to everyone’s faces.”

It definitely did. That comes to the end of the interview, anything else you’d like to say or any other shoutouts that you’d like to give?

Pabu: “Shoutout to Pentanet for giving us another season to give it a go and having faith in us to bring it home. And we absolutely did with, with bloody ‘sending it’ for sure! And all the fans back home, we’d definitely inted for a few days, but I don’t know…to the moon I guess! We’ll definitely do our best and I hope you guys are proud.”

Raise your Koalas ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ ?

Pabu: Raise your Koalas ヽʕ •ᴥ•ʔノ !

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