On February 11th, the Hot6 PUBG Korea League ( or PKL in short ) will start into Phase 1 of their third season. It’s the first out of three phases planned as a part of the 2019 PUBG Esports Global Schedule.
Twenty four teams will be competing in the league, with the top sixteen teams of the PKL 2018 Season 2 being directly invited to the competition. All remaining teams had to qualify through a PKL Closed Qualifier in early January 2019.
These teams have later been divided into three groups, with the top 3 teams of PKL 2018 Season 2 Regular Season ( Afreeca Fatal, OGN Force, OPG Rangers) being seeded to each group while remaining teams have been picked through a snake draw.
You can check out the rosters of all PKL 2019 Phase 1 teams on the official PKL page.
Format changes and what’s at stake?
Heading into the 2019 competitive season, the PKL went through many changes in terms of the tournament format. By far the biggest one is the enforcement of Standard and Universal PUBG Esports Ruleset (SUPER) – this means unified in-game settings and points scoring systems for all of professional PUBG events.
The goal of the SUPER ruleset is to find a balance between competitive play and viewer-friendly match experience, by shortening the length for most of the game phases, balancing weapons spawn rates to compensate for a shorter early game and re-designed, more kill-heavy point system.
As for other changes, the Hot6 PUBG Korea League format has been changed from a weekly tournament system to a league system. Each of the groups will play two times a week, once against any other group, for six weeks which results in a total of 48 games played by each team.
At the end of the season, the top ten teams in overall standings will receive a monetary reward. Additionally, best team/teams will qualify to the PUBG Global Event, while the bottom four teams will be relegated to Intel Korea Contenders.
| 1st | 60,000,000 KRW ~ 53,500 USD
| 2nd | 35,000,000 KRW ~ 31,250 USD
| 3rd-4th | 20,000,000 KRW ~ 17,800 USD
| 5th-10th | 10,000,000 KRW ~ 8,900 USD
| MVP | 5,000,000 KRW ~ 4,450 USD
The Era of VSG?
2018 wasn’t an easy time for VSG and their fans. The team previously known as Actoz Stars Red have been a strong team throughout most of 2018 but their breakthrough to the top happened only recently when they’ve clinched a double of PKL Season 2 Finals and PUBG Asia Invitational (PAI) Championships.
Now, they enter 2019 with title of the best team in Asia – thanks to strong leadership of captain Lee “Starlord” Jong-Ho, the team’s huge fragging power (4.35 kills per round & 901.6 damage per round in PKL Season 2) and a more passive playstyle in comparison to other top Korean teams.
Main Challengers to the VSG throne
VSG’s path in becoming the first team in Korean PUBG to win two back-to-back championships won’t be easy as the PKL is stacked with many championship contenders.
Up first there’s a consistent powerhouse in OGN Entus Force – a team led by Seol “Indigo” Do-Hoon and a young prodigy in Jung “kAyle” Soo-Yong, who finished second in the PKL Season 2 Regular Standings, 5th in the Season 2 Finals and 2nd in the PAI. Just like VSG didn’t changed their roster for 2019.
Meanwhile, Afreeca Freecs Fatal disappointed in Macau where they finished in 10th place, the worst placement among the Korean teams. The team was also forced to change their roster as Choi “Jayden” Won-Pyo became the new coach of the team, while the PKL Season 2 MVP Kim “Rozar” Gyeong-Yeol decided to become a Afreeca broadcaster. In their place, Fatal have picked up another star player from Zod Gaming, Han ‘NN’ Min-Gyu, and Chan “Lambu” Hyun-Park from GC Busan Giants, while moving Lee “Shad0w” Seung-Sun from Fatal sister team, Afreeca Ares.
Next there’s 3rd placed team of the PKL Season 2, runner-up of the Season 2 Finals and the 5th-placed team of PAI, OP Gaming Rangers. They’ve also been forced to bring new blood to the team due to legendary Kim “EscA” In-Jae deciding to become a streamer and Choi “suk” Won-Suk’s move to OPG Hunters.
To make up for that void, the Rangers contracted Dae “DG98” Kwon-Hwang from GC Busan Giants and former shot caller of OGN Entus Ace, Lee “Temeria” Gil-Do. Whith those changes the Rangers clearly want to go for their second championship title after their OGN PSS Season 2 championship.
As for Rangers sister team, OP Gaming Hunters, the team led by Han “SexyPIG” Jae-Hyun disappointed by finishing 12th in PKL Season 2 and 11th in Season 2 Finals. They hope to turn this around by picking up “suk” from Rangers, Kim “Benz” Tae-Hyo, which is coming off a year-long ban due to toxic behaviour and boosting in Overwatch, and Cha “Pio” Seung-Hoon from GC Busan Giants.
Up next there’s Griffin Red, rebranded from Kongdoo Reddot. After winning the Seoul Cup OGN Supermatch, it looked like they’ve finally found a winning pattern – but PKL Season 2 revised that as Reddot finished only 11th in Regular Season and 7th in Finals. Even with that, team decided to not make a huge change in their roster, as they’ve picked up Yoon “BreakNeck” Da-Hyeon from OPG Hunters. Heading into 2019 Griffin Red hopes to break their curse and finally win a PKL Championship.
Last but not least there is Gen.G. For them, the post-PGI era has been a disappointment as for the first time in the team’s history they didn’t achieve a single podium finish. To bring in more firepower, Gen.G signed one of best fraggers of PKL Season 2, Han “Maczora” Dae-Kyu from MVP Luna, alongside Kang “Taemin” Tae-Min from OPG Hunters. With these changes, Gen.G is aiming to reclaim their throne and win their fourth Korean Championship.
Kingsroad, Lavega and Quadro – Three Powerful Underdogs
There are also four teams coming into 2019 PKL that share a similar story. Three powerful underdog teams, all coming with a potential to shake up the scene and to compete for top spots in the league.
Kingsroad is a newly formed team but their players are a familiar faces to PKL fans – Jo “Elca” Jung-Hui , Park “Qurate” Seong-Hu, and Park “pbans” Jae-Hyeon (previously playing under ID Jaehyeon) have played together in Actoz Stars Indigo, finishing 3rd in OGN PSS Season 1 and 7th in PKL Season 2 Regular Season, while Hyeong “Hngkeon” Geon-Hae is a promising prospect coming from Kongdoo GhilleSuit. The team doesn’t have a huge sponsor or a organisation backing them up but they are a team that challenge PKL status quo.
Lavega Falcon, previously Roccat Armor, was one of the upper-mid teams of 2018, finishing 2nd in the OGN PSS Season 1 and 4th in the Hong Kong World Invitational. However, in the PKL Season 2 team has been struggling hard, finishing 16th in regular season and 9th in finals. As a result, they only kept Cho “Vino” Han-Gyung in the roster, who will be joined by Kim “Crank” Hyeon-Ung from Roccat INV and two former MVP Luna players, Kim “Rain1ng” Jong-Myong and Bang “Alphaca” Ji-Min.
And finally there is Team Quadro. A team that has been probably the biggest surprise throughout the PKL Season 2. They finished 5th in regular season and 3rd in finals. Coming into 2019’s Phase 1, Quadro picked up a big sponsor in Citroën and made one roster change, contracting Kim “Echo” Min-Sung in the place of Kim “Tango” Dong-Yun. Quadro was known for their up-and-down form throughout PKL Season 2, and if they manage to stabilize it, they should be a contender for a spot in the top 5 of the PKL.
So who will win 2019 Hot6 PKL Phase 1? Tune in from February 11 to March 23 to the official stream at AfreecaTV to see Korea’s best PUBG players in action.