Interview: How PUBG Continental Series (PCS) will continue to evolve the esport

PUBG Continental Series 2. Image Courtesy PUBG Corp.
PUBG Continental Series 2. Image Courtesy PUBG Corp. /

Michael Sung, Esports Product Manager at PUBG Corporation details his team’s approach to the PUBG Continental Series, an online league format that allowed the esport to progress and develop in 2020.

With the PUBG Continental Series 2 (PCS2) Grand Final in full swing, four regional tournaments continue to play out around the world. Recently, PUBG Corp announced their plans to expand the series with part three of the online regional tournament. The company’s Esports Product Manager, Michael Sung, was kind enough to explain the team’s approach to an online structure and the challenges it postured.

The PUBG Continental Series was originally presented to sustain PUBG Esports in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it would not have been possible without a team of professionals working hard behind the scenes to put PCS together. As with the rest of us, PUBG Esports was forced to adapt quickly, and since it’s unveiling, the presence of PUBG Esports has been more constant and has never been more easily-accessible to fans of the iconic Battle Royale.

We asked Michael Sung, the Esports Product Manager at PUBG Corporation, several questions about the upcoming trilogy to the PUBG Continental Series and what challenges they’ve faced during these difficult times.

App Trigger: The PUBG Continental Series was devised as a replacement to PUBG Esports’ original plans in 2020, which were canceled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. How has your approach to this series been different, and what obstacles have you and your team encountered?

Michael Sung: Given the outbreak of COVID, we immediately pivoted from on-site events (PGS) to online events (PCS), ensuring we created something that took the health of our players, staff, and fans into account. Despite the change in format, our overall approach has really stayed the same in a lot of ways. Sustainability, competitive integrity, and fan engagement were important to us at the start of the year and these continue to ring true now.

In terms of obstacles, the ones we face are those many of our peers are experiencing as well. How do we bring the best teams together (taking time zones and connectivity into account) and ensure competitive integrity, sustainability, and entertainment? What resulted was PUBG Continental Series (PCS), a regional tournament series held around the world that allowed us to address the concerns above and provide customized entertainment for each local market.

Despite the strategic changes and challenges, we’re also noticing a lot of new opportunities. While each of the four regional tournaments across each event (PCS1, PCS2, PCS3) must be consistent in the overall tournament format, we gave each of the regions some autonomy to create a package that works best for their audiences (e.g. in NA, there are weekly competitions vs. Asia where matches are grouped into smaller competitions within the tournament). This allows us to try different things and create customized content for various audiences.

The pivot to PCS has also allowed us to open up our pool of competitors by allowing both pro and amateur players to come together and compete. At the end of the day, we want to foster the strongest squads however we can.

App Trigger: When it comes to providing PUBG Esports items to fans in-game, how important is it to deliver something unique to commemorate PCS2?

Michael Sung: Commemorative items give us a unique opportunity to create connective tissue between our PUBG esports audience and our wider overall audience. Because of that, it’s a priority to create something that everyone wants.

Among other things, this is also a reason we decided to integrate these commemorative items so closely to the Pick’Em Challenge activities. We’re hoping it gives a larger audience additional incentive to engage with PUBG esports, in addition to helping us create a sustainable foundation for our competitors (through profit sharing, which sees 25% of PCS in-game sales going back to the pro teams). We plan to continue introducing items for each PCS, giving players an opportunity to own a must-have item and supporting our competitors in the process.

App Trigger: The Pick em’ Challenge returns for PCS2 with bold new weapon skins for anyone who correctly predicts a region’s Grand Final Champion. What do you think makes the Pick Em’ Challenge so popular amongst esports fans, as well as the casual players who may not have tuned in during PCS2?

Michael Sung: The Pick’Em Challenge was a huge success when we first unveiled it at PGC 2019, but it wasn’t without its flaws. In short, many viewed it as a popularity contest that benefited the largest teams. We were extremely sensitive to that when we reintroduced it for PCS, ensuring that the updated activation benefited all teams and gave you a reason to watch the Grand Final and pick the teams based on performance.

Selfishly, I’d like to think that it has been well received because it offers a little something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore esports fan or completely unaware of it, the Pick’Em Challenge event is a deep system built directly within the game. By engaging with it, players can educate themselves on our esports, build fandom, and get something special and fun that can be used in-game.

The fact that it’s such a deeply integrated experience is indicative of our commitment to esports. The ideal scenario is that fans will engage with the Pick’Em Challenge, which will hopefully give them more of an incentive to watch the Grand Final and root for individual teams.

drian “Haxete” Blom, Anssi “mxey” Pekkonen, David “Fuzzface” Persson and Jere “Jembty” Kauppinen of team FaZe Clan play “PlayersUnknown’s Battlegrounds” as they compete in the PUBG Pan-Continental tournament during the World Showdown of Esports at PokerGo Studio (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images)
drian “Haxete” Blom, Anssi “mxey” Pekkonen, David “Fuzzface” Persson and Jere “Jembty” Kauppinen of team FaZe Clan play “PlayersUnknown’s Battlegrounds” as they compete in the PUBG Pan-Continental tournament during the World Showdown of Esports at PokerGo Studio (Photo by David J. Becker/Getty Images) /

App Trigger: Looking to the PCS2 Grand Final, what are you most excited for in the approaching tournament? What do you think fans should be the most excited about? (PCS2 Skins, Pick Em’ Challenge, etc.)

Michael Sung: There is a lot to be excited about! PCS2 Grand Final is currently taking place across four different regions, so there are plenty of narratives in play right now. Personally, I want to see a little of everything. I like seeing a continuity in the narrative, with past winning teams continuing their strong performances. There is also another part of me that wants to see a Cinderella story, with an amateur team winning.

For fans, I’d like for them to root for their favorite teams, watch our thrilling moments, and enjoy our overall PUBG esports experience. To that end, we are continuing to improve our viewer experience and we’re really excited about their engagement with the Pick’Em Challenge. We think it’s a great way to create an ecosystem that educates and engages both the fans and our participants.

AT: Were there any hurdles that you or the team discovered during the first go-around with PCS1 that you’ve addressed or improved on for PCS2? If so, what were they and how have you handled them?

MS: The adjustment process is similar to what we do after each of our major esports events. In this case, we continue to make improvements to our broadcast technologies and esports ruleset based on the online-only environment.

For rules, we’ve updated things to best serve an online competitive setting, which seems to have received a positive response from teams and players.

A new event also allows us to try new things and make the experience more engaging for our fans. For PCS2, we’ve decided to enable Twitch Drops and live quizzes, which allows our fans a chance to receive PUBG Esports Points, which can be redeemed for in-game items. Additionally, player/team information and stats are now being shared through our in-game esports tab, helping give more insight to each of our rosters.

AT: Plans for PCS3 have already been announced, when does the preparation for that series begin and what can fans expect from what’s sure to be an exciting tournament in the month of November?

MS: Fans can expect a lot of the action from PCS2 to continue for PCS3, including the overall format and the continuation of the Pick’Em Challenge. We’ll obviously have more specifics down the road, but preparations for PCS3 are already underway. PCS is an annual program, so preparations for the most recent event and the next event take place at the same time. Any adjustments or concerns that arise during the most recent event are immediately addressed and improved for the next one.

AT: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers of App Trigger about the PUBG Continental Series, PCS2, or upcoming PUBG Esports action?

MS: Just a simple THANK YOU! Our teams are dedicated to the continued growth and evolvement of our esports, so the response thus far has been humbling. Our fans have been fantastic and we’d like to thank them for their continued support throughout this year.