Friday, 3 January 2020

Halo's 2020 Apex Legends Global Series Preseason Power Rankings 1 - 8

By Arran "Halo" Brown

The Apex Legends Global Series has finally been announced and with 2 competitive LAN events in the X-Games and the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational, plus Global Loot Leagues $25k regional online tournaments in the books. It's now time to look a look at the future and predict the top 20 teams who should be in contention for a portion of the $3 million prize pool EA and Respawn have put on offer.

To set the parameters of these power rankings, I will be using the 3 major tournaments played so far as my place markers for where I believe teams are ranked in the entire scene. These will be updated as the season progresses, meaning that teams will move up and down based on their performances.

This does mean that we will be looking at players from Apex Legends 3 major regions Europe, Korea and North America to begin with. However, teams from other regions will be eligible to enter these as we get into the season. Yesterday we ran through the teams that I deemed ranked 9 - 15, today we are now looking at the teams who not only have a real shot at winning a few of the premiers and majors but are names that you should keep an eye during championship week. 

8. MVP
Dong-Hun "Mondo" Na, Won-Jae "Cpt" Park & Hong-Gyun "Ras" Song

If there is one thing you are going to see when watching or playing against MVP, is pure unadulterated aggression when they think they have the advantage and we saw this multiple times at the Apex Invitational. In Krakow, MVP brought a wow factor the tournament needed and were completely unfazed by any situation they met head-on. They like T1 Korea, had an impressive first two rounds which saw them ease through to the winner's finals. Yet they showed their first signs of weakness here, crashing down to the losers final with only 10 points.

MVP once again breezed through the losers finals with a top 3 placement but struggled early in the Grand Finals, only coming to life in round 8 when they secured a 13 kill victory. MVP became a real threat from that point on, until they chose a questionable engage in round 11 that handed TSM victory on a platter and resulted in a 9th overall placement. Since the Apex Invitational, MVP has replaced Aka for "Cpt" and finished second in the T1 Apex Korea pro league. If they can learn to control their engages and tempo, MVP should be able to rise in the rankings behind star player Ras, who may just be the best mechanical player in the scene right now.

7. GamersOrigin 
Matthieu "Mpe" Pereira, Ivan "Osnazeni" Markeljic, Romain "wSerious" Dittmann

GamersOrigin had a mixed Preseason on the results front, playing in both the Apex Invitational and getting a direct invite to the Global Loot League Finals.

At the Apex Invitational, GamersOrigin surprised everyone. They started out strong in the first 2 rounds, cruising to the upper bracket final with 4 top 4 placements in their first 6 games. However, outside of a top 4 in round 2 of the upper bracket, GamersOrigin origin seemed a bit shell shocked and fell down to the lower bracket final by 1 point. They seemed to recover in the lower bracket final with a 4th place finish to progress to the Grand Finals. In the Grand Finals, GamersOrigin played their reactive play style to perfection with consistent high placements in the early rounds. They started to roll from round 6 onwards with 4 top 4 placements in the last 6 rounds, with a 13 kill round 8. In round 11, GamersOrigin was in a perfect position and looked likely to win it all, until the now ill-fated press by MVP, resulted in them finishing in 4th.

The Global Loot League Finals were a completely different story. GamersOrigin didn't perform to their usual level and finished in a very disappointing 14th place with only a 4th place finish in round 12. However, GO struggled with players disconnecting throughout the tournament and it clearly had an effect on their performance. It will be interesting to see how their reactive playstyle works on Worlds Edge and if Mpe is able to utilise his tactical advantage he is known for. GamersOrigin is still one of the better teams in the game but will need to prove that they can make it through the Online segments of the ALGS and that the GLL performance was simply down to there being no custom lobbies at the time.

6. Virtus.Pro
Martin Heggoy "Pjeh" Aamyri, Alexander "Noth" Selfwin & Johan "Taylor" Taylor

The Virtus.Pro trio of Pjeh, Noth & Taylor are going to provide fans with two things, innovation as one of the best teams in the scene that will move away from your standard compositions and kills, they will tally a lot of kills in the ALGS tournaments they enter.

At the Apex Invitational, they came out strong with an upper bracket run that had 5 top 4 finishes in their 10 game stretch, 2 of those were wins and they did not finish lower than 5th overall at the end of each group stage. They came into the Grand Finals as a team to watch, but whether LAN nerves got to them or it was something else. VP had a disappointing 14th place finish in Poland with only 1 top 4 finish in the finals.

VP came back after receiving a direct invite to the GLL EMEA finals and looked the full package throughout the two days, starting with a 10 kill round 2 win. VP then followed this up with a further 4, top 4 placements, including a 7 kill first place in round 9. VP's 2nd place overall finish for me is a true representation of where they are in the scene and they did this whilst running Gibraltar, Pathfinder and Wattson all tournament.

While Pjeh is the team captain, he is also one of the best at reading the game in the moment, contributing to the team's ability to rotate perfectly and helps IGL Taylor along with Noth to put VP in good positions the majority of the time. Combined with Noth's support play and deadly aim with a G7 and Taylor's ability to out frag anyone in a 1v1. Virtus.Pro is always going to be a title contender and would have been higher, had they not crumbled in the Apex Invitational Grand Finals.

5. Reciprocity EU
Herman "Nesh" Kobrin, Matthieu "Oraxe" Ribiere & Jack "Wacko" Middleton

Reciprocity EU in my opinion came into this Preseason as the most underrated team in the entire scene and have come out swinging in defiance. Originally under the Penta banner, RecEu are one of the more experienced battle royale teams in the pro scene. With Oraxe and Wacko both playing PUBG professionally and Nesh coming from Overwatch Contenders. The trio has been playing together since the beginning of the Apex pro leagues and they made a statement at the Apex Invitational running through the upper bracket placing in the top 4 in 5 of their 10 rounds.

In the Grand Finals, Reciprocity came out like they were fired from a cannon. Placing in the top 4 in 3 of the first 5 rounds, winning round 2 and becoming one of the early contenders to win, hitting the 50 point eligibility mark early. Unfortunately, it was not a pace they could maintain and even though they finished 8th overall, they made a statement to everyone that they are not a team to be overlooked.

In the EMEA Global Loot League finals Reciprocity showed why they deserved a direct invite, they had 4 top 4 finishes, with one of these being a win in round 5 and were able to score kills on a regular basis in games where they placed lower than expected. Reciprocity as a team have incredible communication and it shows with how quickly and efficiently they rotate to set up into their next position. As one of the better rosters at team fighting in the scene, RecEU have an ability to rack up kills quickly which helps counteract some of their lower scoring games. However, they seem to rely on this ability too much at times and if they can improve on their decision making on when to take fights, they will contender throughout the season and will win at least 1 major event.

4. Sentinels
Nathan "Retzi" Telen, Adam "Senoxe" Lau & Jared "Zombs" Gitlin

Bad boys, Bad boys, what you going to do when they come for you? Sentinels have picked up the title of the bad boys of the Apex Legends scene and it is one that not only fits them perfectly, but one they seem to enjoy. While both Retzi and Zombs came over from Overwatch Contenders, Apex Legends is the first time Senoxe has been a professional player, yet you would never have been aware of this with how cohesive the three are.

It has been an impressive Preseason for Sentinels who finished 3rd at the X-Ganes after a strong push in the final few rounds. They continued to prove themselves as one of the best teams in the scene after cruising through the winners bracket of the Apex Invitational but seemed to struggle in the Grand Finals where they finished 5th and only had 2 top 5 finishes, winning round 10 and placing 2nd in round 4.

While being known as slow starters in tournament finals, Sentinels blasted out the blocks in the Global Loot League North American finals, finishing top 4 in the first 4 rounds. They slowed down in the middle rounds but looked comfortable in the lead before a double disconnect in round 10 by Retzi and Senoxe seemed to tilt them in the final 2 rounds. This allowed TSM to take the title that would likely have been Sentinels had the disconnects not happened.

Sentinels level of aggression in game is almost unmatched but they have started to improve when to flip that switch as it has caused them trouble in the past. If they can get over their slow starts, Sentinels can go from the troublesome villain that gets thwarted right at the end, to being able to finger snapping who ever they want, whenever they want.

3. Team Solomid
MacKenzie "Albralalie" Beckwith, Philip "ImperialHal" Dosen & Jordan "Reps" Wolfe

The 3 time, 3 time, 3 time major tournament winners had an incredible year for a group of players that had never played together prior to their formation. Not only have TSM cemented their status as the best team in North America, they have beaten teams from Europe and Korea on the way. With ImperialHal being the only player on the team's original roster, TSM came into the X-Games with some questions as to how they would do as a new unit. They managed to survive a late charge from Reciprocity NA and Sentinels to win the first LAN tournament in competitive Apex history.

TSM then entered the Apex Invitational as the team to watch and while they had a strong upper bracket run, they did not look the same convincing team as they were at the X-Games. However, after a poor start, they got rolling in the later rounds and when it came to round 11, they managed to be in the perfect position to close the tournament out, even if they did get some luck with the 3v3 against Reciprocity EU and being able to third party after MVP's ridiculous W key on to GamersOrigin for the win.

Despite winning the North American Global Loot League finals, TSM struggled in day one, struggling to find the right composition for them. After an incredible clutch by ImperialHal in game 4. TSM righted themselves in day 2 to come away with the win. Again though they had that extra bit of luck that they always seem to find, when Sentinels lost both Retzi and Senoxe in game 10. I do wonder whether Sentinels would have gone on to win had that not happened.

TSM are a great side and deserve to be in the top 3 but at some point, their luck will run out and with their lack of consistency at times during major tournaments, plus the fact they openly admit they do not prioritise loot as much as other teams. I don't feel they can be seen as the best team in the scene right now without a dominant performance we have not really seen from them at the current time.

2. Natus Vincere
Kirill "9impluse" Kostiv, Nikita "Clawz" Marchinsky" & Dmitry "Fyzu" Petrov

I overlooked Na'Vi twice this Preseason at both the Apex Invitational and the GLL EUMA finals, I will not be doing this a third time. Na'Vi are a scary looking roster and have the results to back this claim up.

Na'Vi started out strong at the Apex Invitational going through to the winners bracket finals with ease. They then stumbled and finished a disappointing 12th in the upper bracket finals. They then struggled again in the losers bracket Finals but finished 9th, making the Grand Finals by 1 point. After a poor round 1, Na'Vi flipped the switch in rounds 2 & 3 with a 2nd place finish with 13 kills and a 1st place with 14 kills. Na'Vi became the first team to reach the 50 point total and eligible to win but couldn't close it out and finished 2nd overall. While some of their games ended abruptly, both 9impluse & Clawz ended in a 3 way tie for the Apex Predator award.

Prior to GLL, Na'Vi were involved in Apex Legends first trade when they sent Artem "pkmk" Nechaev to Winstrike for Dmitry "Fyzu" Petrov, in an attempt to improve team chemistry. It is a trade that seems to have gone in Na'Vi's favour, because despite a horrible day one where they suffered from constant disconnection, they absolutely tore through teams in day two. Fyzu ended the tournament with 23 kills and 9impluse with 20.

Na'Vi's ability to frag is incredible, they are up with the best of them and this has only improved since they picked up Fyzu. However, they find themselves in difficult situations too often to due their rotation timings. If 9impluse can work on this as their IGL then Na'Vi could well be contending with LG as the team to beat throughout the season.

1. Luminosity Gaming 
Elvira "Esdesu" Temirova, Maxim "Exens" Dmitruk & Anton "Xaniya" Shkuratov 

It has been an incredible year for Luminosity Gaming who started their professional journey under the name of team SEX with thei original roster of Esdesu, Oleksander "GodspeedNeko" Bokuchava & Xaniya, comforably winning season 6 of the Apex.Pro European League. They received an invite to the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational but had to replace GodspeedNeko with Exens after he was unable to attend.

Despite this the team stepped it up a gear as 789 with Exens on the roster. With a dominant upper bracket run at the Apex Invitational which included top 4 placements in 8 out of their 10 games, four of these being round victories, they continued in the Grand Finals where they left off with a further two top 2 finishes in the first three rounds. However, it seemed as if their lack of LAN experience got the better of them and recorded only one further top four placement with a 2nd place in round 6, on their way to 6th overall. This then resulted in the trio getting signed by Luminosity Gaming.

LG then finished the Preseason by winning the EMEA Global Loot League's online tournament a few weeks ago, with a dominant performance over the 12 games, placing in the top 5 in 7 of the twelve games, where they won two in convincing fashion. LG should only improve as a roster with Xaniya's ability to IGL based off his team's calls, his terminator like dominance in fights and with the help of one of the best support player in the scene right now in Esdesu. LG is the best team in the scene right now and I do not expect this to change in the short term.

The Apex Legends Global Series commences on January 25th when the first online qualifiers start for each eligible region. While it will let us all know just how ready for the regular circuit the top teams are, it will also show which teams under the radar are ready to push into the top 15 to challenge the best of the best. 

(You can find more Apex Legends Global Series related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts) 
(Picture courtesy of EA & Respawn)

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