Thursday, 12 September 2019

EMEF & Halo's Guide For The Apex Legends Pre-Season Invitational


Krakow Apex Legends Preseason Invitational marks the first EA/Respawn-hosted event in Apex Legends’ lifespan. For some teams, this event marks their first LAN experience, after coming up in the unofficial Apex. Pro League (APL) as their first competitive successes, and are finally getting a shot at proving to the world their talents on the big stage, being unable to do so for the first 6 months of the game. For others, however, LAN events are where they have historically shined in other major esports titles such as PUBG, Overwatch, and Counter Strike, and they look to continue their legacy in a fresh title. For either kind of player, this event will define the rest of their Apex Legends career, and we could not be more excited to see how it all unfolds. 

From the 13th to the 15th of September, 80 of the best professional Apex Legends teams will be battling it out in Krakow for a share of the $500,000 prize pool that is on offer. The concept is simple, it's a double-elimination tournament with an upper and lower bracket The teams will be split into 4 groups of 20 for a series of games with the top 10 of each group reaching into the upper bracket and the remaining teams moving to the lower bracket.

For our guide to the Preseason Invitational, we will be choosing one team from 5 categories. Our top North American squad, top European squad, wildcard for the event, dark horses for the event, and predict of who will come out victorious next Sunday. For clarification’s sake, we consider a wildcard to be a team with crazy peak potential, but with no way of knowing whether or not the team will hit that stride, or if they do, how they would stack up against other top teams in “LAN mode”. We would also define a dark horse as a team that has not performed towards the top of any events they’ve competed in, but that I feel could show up here and put their names on a lot of people’s lips that wasn’t there before.

Top North American Squad

EMEF - Tempo Storm

Tempo Storm have had a period as the best NA team in the world, and unlike most dominant teams, have had fluctuating success (trending towards a rise for Krakow) as opposed to a great peak and a trail off. They have a great leadership structure and fast team play and win even 3v3 fights far more consistently than most other teams. 

That is not to say that they cannot win 1vXs, far from it, as names like Dcop, Assert, and Zeerocious are mainstays on the left side of the kill feed. The pressure exuded team play from their forcing of chaotic 3v3 engagements seems only to affect their opponents, as their communication and synergy remain consistent throughout even the most stressful engagements. The organization has had phenomenal behind-the-scenes support and talent scouting that has produced what could be the best North American squad at present.

Halo - TSM

There have been a few roster changes inside TSM before they confirmed their trio for the X-Games. Both Thump and ProdigyAces joined and left, leaving ImperialHal as the only member of the original roster. There was some uncertainty as to who they were going to sign as replacements, but Albralielie and Reps where chosen and the trio seemed to instantly click. Each one is a playmaker in their own right and as TSM showed during the X-Games, they are not afraid to take on any situation, including unfavourable 2v3's. While Battle Royales are completely unpredictable, TSM is coming in thinking they can take anyone in any situation.

Top European Squad 

EMEF - Virtus.Pro

While Virtus.Pro are clearly not in my “prediction to win” slot, they are absolutely the next best contenders for that title. They are the most consistent team in the game, with the best average APLEU placing of any team. This consistency is only bolstered over time as their roster sticks further together, unlike a lot of top teams that shift rosters frequently. The only situation in which this team lags behind other 1st place contenders is their individual fragging capability that will be needed when playing against top North American players with exceptional raw aim. However, if their absurd practice and efficiency have given them a solution to such mechanical challenges, then I can’t see a world in which this team places outside of the top 10. There is no other team that has the same discipline, team synergy, and positional strategy, so for that reason, they are in my list’s slot for top EU team going into Krakow.

Halo - Penta

Out of all the teams attending the Invitational, Penta has one of the most experienced rosters in the scene. Oraxe and Wacko retired from professional PUBG when Apex Legends was announced, with Wacko transferring to Penta from G2 and Oraxe from Vitality. Nesh is experienced in the professional scene in his own right, transferring from Overwatch Contenders Academy team the British Hurricane. Nesh has shown in Pro League that he has been able to use his skills as a DPS in Overwatch to great effect in Apex Legends. When it comes to pushing the tempo to force mistakes from the opposition or using their strategy to outmanoeuvre their competition, Penta is one of the best in the scene and it would be worth watching them use this to their advantage this weekend.

Wildcards

EMEF - MVP

MVP are a fascinating team in that they are one of the only major Korean teams to even compete in Apex Legends, let alone be attending this event. The roster may sound familiar, as no doubt, you’ll have heard a content creator mention their numerous (absolved) cheating accusations from their raw skill. Ras, Aka, and Mondo. 

Due to their weak connection to both APLEU and APLNA lobbies, their scrim time has been very limited and poor practice overall. This makes them absolute wildcards this event. Will their lack of proper experience contribute to poor consistency? Will their team play and awareness click with their immense gun skill on LAN and make them a top tier contender? There is nobody that can answer these questions yet, but this weekend they will surround MVP. 

Halo - NRG

Any team that has Dizzy on their roster is always going to be considered as a team to watch and while NRG were heavy hitters in the games early stages winning everything in sight, recently, results have not gone the way that they expected. After a disappointing 12th place finish at the X-Games, Dizzy, Ace and Mohr will need to come out strong and regain the dominant presence they once had. If the deterioration in performance continues, it does make me wonder whether it would be time to seriously consider introducing battle royal expert and team substitute King Richard to pair up with Dizzy once more. 

Dark Horses

EMEF - Triumph

Triumph are a team with fluctuating success, much like Tempo, but with higher highs and lower lows. Depending on what Triumph shows up, they could easily win the whole thing with their 4~ yearlong synergy. Alternatively, if they cannot get crucial fight wins to get their momentum going, they could very easily find it difficult to return from a deficit. 

Overall, the new Triumph organization has hit the ground running with multiple top-tier rosters in varying titles, and so far it seems that in Apex Legends they have had another success. Since the very beginning of the game’s life cycle, Triumph have been scrimming almost solely against North American teams and should be well-practised stylistically going into this event, and I could see them making some serious upsets against more famous teams.

Halo - HSL Esports

For me, HSL comes into the Invitational with an element of mystery to them. They are relatively new as a unit. While FRESHY and Ronba have played alongside each other for a while now, Crems coming in gives them a third that could swing them into the upper echelons of the tournament. Given that HSL has not had a lot of time to practice and gel, I feel it would be foolish to expect them to fight for the title, however, a top 20 finish is not something that should be out of the question and if they can get over the fact that they have had relatively little playing time together, this is a squad that might take a few scalps along the way.

Predictions

EMEF - G2

“Who will win the event?” If I were to answer the impossible battle royale question with my brain, I would say G2. They are objectively the most dominant team the game has seen. They are the only team to have won back to back APL seasons, which happened to be in the more competitive region in APLEU (as Conquer then YesButNo), the core of Mimu and Zero plugged in Snip3down and managed to get second at X-Games, arguably being handicapped without their regular third. Mimu is, in terms of team contribution, a top 3 player, and the roster has only built synergy since the start of the game’s life, not changing since very shortly after launch (aside from X-Games of course). This team is 100% guaranteed to break the top 10, and are the team with the highest chance to win the event. I would literally put my life on this prediction if I had to.

Halo - Fnatic EU

With so many teams battling it out for the title, this is going to be a complete shot in the dark. However, I think that Fnatic EU is going to come into the invitational refocused and driven to show that they are every bit as good as they were in their Klanen days. While this trio has played consistently well for so long, I feel that DcTzr is ready to show that he is on the same level as Mendokusaii and Dizzy when it comes to carry potential and they have a group they should make it out of, despite TSM, Gen.G and Virtus Pro being there as well. 

The EU Fnatic boys aren't just about DcTzr, as Dids is the perfect second player with both utility and fragging and N1kola would be far and aw a good number 1 or 2 on most rosters. Fnatic EU will have every opportunity to take home the title if they take the fearless approach they had from their Klanen days and bring it to the invitational.

With your teams to watch and our guide complete, all there is left to do is for the action to get underway tomorrow from the Alvernia Planet in Krakow and see who our first official winners will be. 

You can find more Apex Legends Pro circuit-related information on Twitter following @haloofthoughts & @theEMEF
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