Monday, 6 January 2020

EMEF's 2020 Apex Legends Global Series Pre Season Power Rankings 15 - 8

By Alistair "EMEF" Allum

The announcement of the ALGS has been a funny thing to watch. With the massive success of the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational, many pros and spectators turned to Respawn and EA with eager eyes, waiting for “the big one” that would kick off Apex Legends as an esport, and begin the careers of hundreds of prospects who worked hard during the first year of the game. A lot of the feedback they received was just: “more of the same, please”. And that’s exactly what Respawn ended up doing. The online ALGS qualifiers kick off January 25th, and before they begin I’d like to do a classical power ranking, taking into account performance at Krakow, GLLs EMEA and NA, as well as public scrims, but primarily the opinions of myself and other professionals. I’ll also be giving each team an up, down, or neutral rating based on if I feel they’ve outperformed, deteriorated or lived up to my expectations of them. This particular edition of the speculative ALGS Power Rankings aims only to tilt NA fans, and to be controversial and drive clicks. With that out of the way, here’s 15th to 8th. 

Martin "Graceful" Wongprom, Jake "JMW" Walters & Rasmus "Maydeelol" Zettergren

A team you will likely only recognise from GLL EMEA making a splash onto the scene is WHEIZEN. The core formed post-Krakow, from the old Triumph roster of Graceful/Veineless/Evokje, where Evokje’s residency in Lithuania, a banned country under EA’s competitive rules, cost him a spot on the team. JmW came in to fill the slot, and after Veineless’ retirement and Triumph’s exit from Apex Legends, the duo stuck around to find a third, content with their 30th placing. Enter Maydee, one of the most underrated mechanical talents in the EU region, hot off a great substitute placing himself alongside SUCCUBUS at Krakow as a member of the final 20, and the new trio set off to GLL EMEA. There, they earned a respectable ninth-place finish, sporting the second-highest ratio of placement points to kill points across all regions, only being beaten (marginally) by pre-existing duo iPN and rpr of SoaR Gaming. To see such a new and oddly-formed roster be not only so comfortable with each other in the high placing and claustrophobic circles, but to have the chemistry and collective intelligence to rotate properly around so many incredible and long-standing teams was something that I could see developing into a major threat later down the line. 

While the team has little to show together, their style and the efficiency of their execution caught my eye as a significant team to watch out for in 2020.

14 v Fnatic EU
Oliver "Badoli" Kurtukdu, Joshua "DcTzr" Jones, Matthew "Dids" Didehvar & Nikola "N1kola" Svensson

The core of Fnatic EU, Didshevar and N1kola are players that I have admired for a long time, stomping the competitive scene early in the games’ life. Since then, however, their disrespectful playstyle has landed them comparatively low placement when looking at the talent the roster had. Since Krakow (where their performance was good, but placement outcome was poor) the team has moved away from the all-in aggressive internal composition, dropping their second fragger Dctzr for slower former IGL Badoli. He is a player who had a great reputation going into free agency in July alongside equally esteemed teammate Gdolphin. It’s a wonder neither of them was picked up sooner, but Fnatic snagged a great deal in Badoli, and despite another (what I would consider being) unrepresentative performance at GLL if the team can click with their new third I can see them shooting straight into, and maybe even past, the T10 mark.

A team with great potential in my eyes, but their troughs and peaks are not as significant as some of the more potent archetypally inconsistent teams on the list.

13 v G2
Sebastian "Mimu" Vesala, Aaro "Rette" Halli & Niko "ZeroNothing" Suominen

Now I am not just saying this to save face about my prediction for them to win Krakow, but I still genuinely believe G2 to be a team with the potential to be a top 5 team in the world. However, there seems to be something holding them back all the time, despite making an extremely impressive 7th place run at the Preseason Invitational. I don’t have enough VODs to put my finger on what it is, but it is a shame to see a team with so much previous success, even extending to extremely good scrim records, fail to put it all together on stage. They are a similar team to FNCEU in my eyes, a storied and successful team whose placements always fall just shy of their exceptional play. 

Not necessarily an inconsistent team, but never realises their, in my eyes, global-level potential.

12 ^ Rogue
Mark "Dropped" Thees, Jordan "HusKers" Thomas & Chris "Sweetdreams" Sexton

Many of my opinions here will carry over from the GlobalLoot League article, and as I wrote of Rogue last time, they are a team that are comparatively on the rise. The NA region has had a top-heavy talent structure in Apex so far, with Sentinels and TSM being by far the best teams in the typically unfavourably aggressive region. However, these two top teams have not been slipping in their placements, they absolutely have been slipping in the quality of their play. This has shifted my rankings for a couple of NA teams that were constantly nipping at the heels of the previous top 2 teams, and while I don’t think they’ll be replaced by the aforementioned teams, I think there may become a quadrifecta of talented teams that could absolutely cannibalise the region on the global stage.

They try and play EU at their game, and while they looked fantastic at Poland, I think NA’s main chance to beat EU/CIS/KR on a global stage is setting up one-off high kill games, which is something a lot of other NA teams are better than Rogue at.

11 ^ FlyQuest
Trent "Lou" Clements, Bowen "Monsoon" Fuller & Zach "Zach" Mazer

In stark contrast to Rogue’s relative passivity and position-heavy style compared to the rest of NA, FlyQuest represents the other, arguably darker side of the Americas. FlyQuest, as I’m sure people are aware, are one of the loudest, fastest, and mechanically reliant teams in the game, which is fortunate for them, considering what unreasonably good mechanics they have at their disposal. While some teams have a personality structure that attempts balance, with passive Wattson support players, dominant Wraith IGLs, and intelligent Pathfinder fraggers, FlyQuest banked on having a multiplicative effect to their team environment, stacking similar players and hoping for a good outcome. And recently, with a massive boost to their coordination and synergy, things seem to have clicked for the trio, and if they can turn up and have a good day at an event, their momentum will be dangerous and infective. 

I think they’re far better than Rogue at the NA game, only really being beaten by TSM in their specific style, but definitely closing the gap quickly.

10 v Gamersorigin
Matthieu "Mpe" Pereira, Ivan "Osnazeni" Markeljic & Romain "wSerious" Dittman

After what I can assume to be an extremely stressful GLL performance, with the majority of Gamersorigins’ games being affected by crashes, the teams’ play seemed wholly demoralized and unconcentrated, the exact opposite of what a team as potent yet fragile Gamersorigin wants with their specific playstyle. The main issue with Gamersorigin, a team I rated really highly post-Krakow, is that I don’t think their playstyle is particularly relevant anymore, and the fact that they are the best at that style becomes somewhat meaningless. Although early rotates are by definition more pressure on a larger map with more space to traverse and less cover, it’s the teams that play the zone’s edges and gatekeep GO style teams that are most successful at the moment. VP/LG coming first and second in the GLL finals could indicate a shift in the meta that leaves Gamersorigin in the dust of King’s Canyon.

The debate around GO’s placement only matters if their style still works at all. Potential to crash and burn after such a successful Krakow.

9 ^ Alliance
John "Hakis" Hakansson, Philip "Lowley" Olsen & Simon "Vaifs" Bellini

Alliance are an odd team, having incredibly high expectations off the back of a high-profile organization backing and very good APL results early into the games’ life, but have had very disappointing showings since then. However, the “signing” of IGL Hakis, an incredibly intelligent player I’ve had my eye on for a while, the team has had a new lease of life. While their wielding of the unique Caustic/Pathfinder/Wattson composition was over-prioritised and sloppy a lot of the time, it had enough gimmick factor* to stack with their pre-existing game knowledge and bag them an effective second-place finish at GLL, pre-ban wave. *Gimmick is extremely subjective and not something I personally believe in. Just because you alter your win-cons before dropping into the server does not invalidate it compared to traditional playstyles. 

I’ve still yet to see them play “properly” yet, as I assume they won’t continue the Caustic playstyle, but with the seasoned duo of Vaifs and Lowley seem to have plugged in Hakis to great effect.

8 ^ K1ck Esports Club
Giulio "Cybe8" Bavaresco, Amagow "Matrixx" Iljas & Rui "Nightyz" Silva

K1ck is a team that has gone under 99% of people’s radars, something I was absolutely guilty of pre-GLL. But after scraping together all 2 VODs they have public, and looking at their fantastic track record of T6 at GLL, with a fantastic day 1, and getting there by being finalists of Krakow, it’s a wonder that more people aren’t talking about the team. The mechanical talent on the roster is way above average for a smart EU team, it’s rare to find a team that can do it all. With all 3 players being world-class at their individual roles, all that the team lacks is cohesiveness, made worse by a high degree of indecision in their mid-game rotations that, while irrelevant at the time due to their ability to 3v3 anyone, can be game-losing in end circles. If their unpredictable presence can buy them enough time to make calculated calls in time, this team could absolutely continue being a consistent, intelligent sleeper for events to come.

Should’ve been in my top 10 for previous events, but other teams have improved so much that it’s hard to interchange them.

There are so many incredibly talented teams in this placement bracket, and between up-and-comers grinding public scrims and high-tier teams failing to perform up to their expectations, this area is stacked further still. A lot of the teams in this tier and below are absolutely interchangeable in their individual rankings, but I feel much more confident in my placement of the 8th-1st range of teams that I will cover next time, which will ruffle far more feathers, including a list of honourable mentions for teams I would have loved on the list, but just couldn’t find the space for.

(You can find more Apex Legends Global Series information on Twitter following @theEMEF)
(Picture Credit: EA & Respawn)

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