Thursday, 23 January 2020

Online Tournament #1: European Major Qualifiers Predictions Ft ALGS On Screen Talent & EMEF


The Apex Legends Global Series has finally arrived and between the 25th & 27th January, the first regional tournaments begin with the online qualifiers #1. Today we will look at the teams from Europe who will be playing over the three days, in an attempt to make it through the single-elimination tournament and try to make the finals, earning a spot at the ALGS's first Major tournament in March at the Esports Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

While you may have seen EMEF and I's previous prediction posts for the Apex Legends Pre-Season Invitational and Global Loot League Finals, we have decided to add another level for our first official tournament of the ALGS season and have been joined by ALGS onscreen talent Andy "Bravo" Dudynsky, Wade "Dreadnaught" Penfold, James "Jamerson" Lee, Bil "Jump" Carter, Dan "Gaskin" Gaskin & Mark "Onset" Hatcher to provide you with their opinions of the teams to look out for this weekend.


Our guide to the European regional qualifiers is simple, we will be choosing one team for our 4 categories. Wildcards are the teams we can see coming from nowhere to place well, Dark Horses are the teams who we feel are currently in the low top to mid-tier bracket and can cause an upset with a good performance, Standouts are the teams who have the best performance but not win and finally our Winners of the event. Now we have the parameters set, it is time to get into the predictions.

Wildcard

Bravo - GamersOrigin

This French roster is a wildcard due to just how close they came to winning the Preseason Invitational, and then how surprisingly low their GLL finish was. In Poland, they once again saved the tournament from ending in Game 8 and then found themselves on match point in a Top 3 end circle in the final game. If any of those teams had timed their pushes differently, GamersOrigin could’ve absolutely won that tournament, lifted the trophy, and been the team we talked about for the latter part of the year. That didn’t happen though, and they finished in a respectable but much less memorable 4th place.

Fast forward to GLL, and it was a very different result. Given their performance in Poland, we expected to see some solid performances, but they never seemed to get things started. It was an online event, but I think we were all surprised to see only one Top 5 placing out of this squad. If they can recapture the consistency and occasional high-kill win we saw in Poland, they can rally back into the list of top squads heading into the Major.

Dreadnought - GamersOrigin

It may be a little unfair for me to put GamersOrigin in the Wildcard section, due to them having a great 4th place placement at the Preseason Invitational, but it also is part of the reason I think they deserve this slot. The performance difference between the Preseason Invitational and GLL seems to be too drastic to not take note of. They failed to have the same lethality and approach to the game that we had seen from them at the Preseason Invitational and I am just unsure of where that has gone and if it will come back. This is why they are my wildcard because they are a true wildcard, I have no idea what I can expect of this roster.

EMEF - BDS Esports 

BDS Esport was a team I was definitely looking forward to seeing go up against the best in the world after they signed one of the most successful PUBG players to make the switch to Apex in Dylan "Krama" Catalano and easily qualified for the GLL EMEA finals. However, after they fell victim to the infamous “config ban wave”, they were replaced by Samsung Morning Stars and were unable to compete. The pre-existing duo of Theo "Cyqop" Lesecq, a name I’m sure you’re familiar with if you’ve ever looked at a ranked leaderboard before, and Manuel Ramos "QTSati" Sanchez, a name you’re less likely to recognise, placed 41st at Krakow. This is within the placement bracket that a lot of other high-potential teams that had poor events got knocked out in, such as Tempo Storm, the Liquids, and the Fnatic's. The new-look this team has shown since inserting a veteran presence into the already potent talent makes me excited for this teams’ future.

Jamerson - Fnatic EU

I’ll admit now that I haven’t been able to keep with EU, missing their custom lobby scrims, so it’s much harder for me to pick a Wildcard team. So I’ll be going off of gut on this one: Fnatic EU. Exiting the preseason invitational in round 3 of the lower bracket was not good looks for this team. They’ve since added Badoli formerly of Alliance to the squad. Individually, they’re all fantastic players, and I see a lot of potential for this trio.

Jump - Alliance

After a poor performance at X Games, Alliance has since risen to the challenge and proven that they can play with the best yet again. Roster changes, rotational improvements, and a positive attitude have them as my Wildcard for this weekend. Scrims seem to have been a confidence-building moment, so I’m hoping that this translates well into a brutal European pool of teams that they will be facing.

Gaskin - Fnatic EU

I'm a big fan of Fnatic's NA roster and I think being able to converse with them and learn from them too will be a huge help. They have the ability to win end circle fights they just need to be getting there consistently. I think the experience of the NA roster might be able to help turn this EU one into a real threat.

Halo – Matej "Matafe" Fekonja, Franco “Xeriffer” Korompai & Mark “Zipeth” Christensen

Speaking of Matafe earlier, yes you have read this correctly after Matafe found out that Slovenia, was not an eligible country of residence to participate in the Apex Legends Global Series and then subsequently departed from North, he is now eligible to participate in the ALGS after relocating to Germany. Matafe is one of the biggest names in the professional scene due to his ability to constantly perform well on the ladder and will hopefully bring his now-infamous warpaint to the ALGS as well. 

He has now paired up with former Aequilibritas eSports player Mark “Zipeth” Christensen and former Nagano1988 player Franco “Xeriffer” Korompai to participate in the online qualifiers and if their scrim results are anything to go by, this is definitely a team that everyone should be watching out for. While this is Matafe’s team from scrims so far he has been playing the IGL/Second Fragger, Zipeth has been the team's entry fragger and Xeriffer the teams support, have all shown the ability to transfer their ladder play into scrims so far and the trio has seemed to instantly click. This is a team I expect to turn a lot of heads and could very easily make the final 20 and qualify for the Arlington Major in my mind.

Onset - G2

12th place at GLL would be a huge disappointment for this squad after a 7th place at the Apex Legends Pre-season Invitational. Big expectations have meant this team will be looking for revenge in the forthcoming season. G2 have the natural talent and ability to remind everyone of just how good they are this season, something they will be wanted to do sooner rather than later.

Dark Horse

Bravo - Reciprocity


WACKO, Oraxe, and Nesh continue to look better and better. Their 8th place finish under the PENTA banner at the Preseason Invitational saw them snag an early win in game 2 of the finals, one of only 9 teams to do so in a stacked final lobby and also extend well into match point territory. They went on to place 3rd at GLL, a performance that was driven by consistency and four Top 4 placings. Their highest kills-per-game in Poland was 8, and 7 at GLL. They slayed more consistently across games at GLL, and if they can bring their average kills per game up by just a tad, they’ll be an even stronger force in the ALGS. They’re also bootcamping all week. Have you seen that master bath?

Dreadnought - Na'Vi

Na'Vi as the dark horse because they have had some pretty impressive results in the past, even finding themselves a few first place positions. But, they have only had major standout performances when other teams fail to attend an event. Na'Vi, in the early Apex days, we're able to contend with the best of the best, but their last results at GLL had them in the bottom half of standing until the last few games. This roster has a lot of skill and they have shown that in the past, and I think they may end up, bringing that skill up to present tense.

EMEF - Gambit

While Gambit has historically had decent placings, netting 11th at Krakow with Siign, and more recently, a comparatively worse 11th at GLL EMEA with Leogri. However, I feel like, despite their successes, they’ve been spoken about very little as a team with the potential to grow into a genuine top 5 contender. Going under the radar even further at GLL, not least in spectatorship, it seemed that they were suffering from the most basic and easily fixable chemistry issues for a new roster to experience, and with time and practice it seems this roster are back to their Krakow form. Perhaps even further.

Jamerson - Reciprocity

It’s difficult to say that Reciprocity are dark horses with their consistent performance, but they’re a team that quietly performs well if that makes any sense. They post strong numbers that go unnoticed until one strong game where you can’t help but notice them. If they had placed higher in one game here or there, they would be a part of everyone’s discussion for the best team in Europe. 

Jump - K1ck Esport Club 

Selecting a Dark Horse for EU was a little more difficult than I first thought. With many teams still needing to prove that they can hang with the top dogs such as Luminosity, Na’Vi and Virtus.Pro, K1CK has consistently been the bug that won’t go away. We see them surviving late fairly often, and I believe a couple extra peps in their step could put them through to qualification this weekend.

Gaskin - G2

Maybe an odd choice for darkhorse but I think a lot of people will underestimate them after their slight dip in form following the Pre-Season invitational. There's something about this team that just clicks and I can see them being an issue to some of the 'bigger' squads.

Halo - North

After a rough preseason, North now seem to be in a position where they can reach the level of play most people expect from them. They finished 78th place at the Apex Invitational after Matej "Matafe" Fekonja was unable to participate due to country eligibility rules. When the same rules cane into effect from the start of the ALGS, it left North with two options. Relocate Matafe to an eligible country or move on. 

North chose to move on and they managed to find what looks like their missing piece in IGL & Entry Fragger Dan "rpr" Ušič after his contract with SoaR came to an end. Rpr is one of the best IGL's in Europe in my opinion and lead SoaR to a top 15 finish at the Apex Invitational and 10th at the EMEA GLL finals. North under rpr have clicked early with Mikkle "Mande" Hestbek and Can "Taisheen" Ozturk reacting well to Rpr's calls and have had good scrim results. They are a good team that should step up now they have a full roster and are a team to watch.

Onset - Na'Vi

Na'Vi has shown they can kill everything on the server. The one thing that has held them back is their decision making in those final moments of the game, where they have found themselves picking up 4th places instead of 1st places. A heroic effort to pull themselves back into contention on day 2 of GLL shows what they are capable of, but consistency is KEY in Apex Legends. They need to be focused from the first drop ship deploy to the last, and if they are, no one would be surprised to see Na'Vi topping some leader boards.

Standouts

Bravo - Virtus.Pro 

VP has already impressed us with not only a 2nd place finish at GLL last month but also the notable absence of a Wraith in their comp. GLL highlighted that they’re comfortable setting up in less traditional holds where they need to get crafty with Wattson fences and Ults (aided by the fact that they’re often seen running two or even three Scouts) and also showed us both sides of the no-Wraith coin: Moments like Game 1’s Round 6 circle close – albeit an extreme and arguably rare example – showcased just how difficult big late-game moves can be without a portal, and then in the very next game, we saw them pull out a win by rotating to top Overlook silos a bit earlier and securing high ground. They’re the first team to prove that you don’t need a Wraith to place at the top, and 2nd place is a pretty convincing way to make that statement. I am very excited to see if this team can keep up the top placings and ride this momentum into the Major.

Dreadnought - Virtus.Pro

Virtus.Pro is my standout EU team because they are my second favourite team to watch from Europe other than Luminosity gaming. They have shown that they can compete with the best of them in multiple situations, just never claiming a title for themselves. They have pushed the boundaries of Apex and questioned the competitive Meta more than anyone else that I have seen so far, with their Wraith-less approach on World’s Edge at GLL. I think they have displayed a level of teamwork that is beautiful and very fluid to watch, when we mix this with the clear and constant consideration of if things are done as effectively as possible in their game, leads me to think that Virtus.Pro is going to be a longstanding force in EU

EMEF - G2 

The unpredictable factors that come with online play, as well as the pseudo-open scrim environment of playing against lower-tier teams, some really solid teams may find themselves struggling to get momentum score-wise. For G2, a team with a stylistic affinity for bowling through any team between them and the position they feel is best to hold, outclassing the varying skills of teams will only give them the confidence and momentum to do the same to the better teams in the later rounds. All in all, despite my previous hyping of G2 for their subsequent underperformance at Krakow, I feel that if they ever have the chance to realise their potential in-game, it is now.

Jamerson - Third Impact Black

Pepega Squadron have returned to Third Impact, as TI Black I expect them to continue playing together as a full squad for the qualifier. Steady improvements since the addition of Forsak3n to the roster, Pepega Squadron made an early splash during Global Loot League but weren’t able to close out day 1 with notable performances. If they can play more consistently during the qualifier, I believe they have the ability to take the win.

Jump - Na'Vi

With two of their three players helping split the title of Apex Predator in Poland, it’s safe to say that Na’Vi knows how to get points in that category. Similar to the Sentinels of North America, though, they lack patience and late rotations seem to be their doom. I want to see how they can operate with a more heavy rotational strategy and the ability to not left click on demand. If they connect these dots, I see a world where they’re an easy qualification.

Gaskin - Virtus.Pro

This team is just nuts. I remember watching at the preseason invitational in awe of just how good their individual gun skill was and their ability to bait and switch so successfully. Providing they can loot successfully each game I can't see them losing any early fights. Their ability, knowledge and aim should see them consistently place well in the late game.

Halo - Third Impact Black 

One of the European teams that seem to have been underrated by most have returned to their original organisation. Pepega Squadron are now Third Impact Black and they come into Online Tournament #1 looking to prove that their successful Preseason was not a fluke. Sebastian "BallonG" Eketrapp, Markus "Fjeldern" Fjeld and Viktors "Forsak3n" Bernevs had good performances finishing 13th at the Apex Invitational and 7th in the EMEA GLL finals. With BallonG and Fjeldern having played professional H1Z1 and Forsak3n previously playing Overwatch they are not only one of Europes most experienced teams but one of the longest-standing in the European region. TI Black's performances have impressed and I expect them to continue this in the online qualifiers making the finals and getting at least a top 5 finish they have been trending towards.

Onset - Virtus.Pro 

VP lives in the VP bubble. The first team I have seen compete without a Wraith shows their confidence in their own abilities to execute on their strategy in-game, with some impressive results to back this up. 14th at the Apex Legends Pre-season Invitational was bumped up to a second-place finish at GLL, a drastic improvement for a squad with such talent. Their ability to rotate to power positions on a map through brute force will make anyone taking them on in a team fight wary of taking that fight, and that fear factor is something that will serve them well. 

I still feel that not using Wraith has helped in their rotations towards the end game, however, add a Wraith into those final circles and 2nd and 3rd places can easily be turned into 1st places. This could be the difference between VP being crowned a champion, or having to settle for a spot on the podium again

Tournament Winners 

Bravo - Luminosity Gaming 

I simply love watching this team play. There is no other team that finds themselves in dire situations and manages to always 1v1 (or 1v3) their way out. They seem to constantly be fighting from the low ground, have at least one player dead, and if it wasn’t LG, look like a team you’d count out given the circumstances. Gh057ayame recently put it really well during a chat we had about Luminosity: “LG manages to turn around games, regardless of loot, positioning, or any other disadvantages.” We’ve seen countless clutch plays from all three players on this team, and they are straight-faced and collected regardless of the situation. If the clips from Poland weren’t proof enough, take a look at their battle against Samsung Morning Stars in EMEA Game 1 at GLL – between the momentary 1v3 plus an Indiana Jones swap between Esdesu and Xaniya, it was another great example of a situation they had absolutely no right to win. They would go on to place 2nd that game and win the tournament. I cannot wait to see what this team will do not only this weekend but also the entire year.

Dreadnought - Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming, formerly 789, has to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in all of competitive Apex. They are scrappy and can handle the most chaotic of circumstances. This is a trait that I haven’t really seen displayed consistently on a roster outside of TSM and for me has Luminosity as one of the favourites for any event they compete in. The story of them coming from nothing and having one standout performance has not ended with that performance, they have only continued to leave everyone in their wake and I only look forward to seeing where this team goes.

EMEF - Virtus.Pro

I feel that VP’s literal masterclass in their macro is perfectly suited for the format of the qualifiers, and should carry them straight to, and through, the finals with little resistance. They are so far ahead of 99% of teams in terms of their point acquisition structure that, while they have the consistency and mentality to avoid total blunders of games, even in the Wild West of the lower bracket, the new look that the team has shown since Krakow can easily find ways to rebound from any scenario. And in the later bracket, their style is not only more effective but more consistent than ever, with their rapid adaptation being even easier for them when the competition makes plays more representative and predictable for top teams. 

Jamerson - Luminosity Gaming

Since their introduction to the wider Apex Legends competitive community during the Preseason Invitational, the trio of Xaniyaa, Exens, and Esdesu proved that their performance was not a fluke. While you could easily categorize them as a heavily macro-oriented team, they’ve improved their team fight decisiveness, one of their weaker points during the Preseason Invitational. Fully expect them to continue to display their strength and growth coming into this qualifier.

Jump - Luminosity Gaming


Who knew roughly four months ago that we would be singing the praises of Team 789 from Russia so loudly? After a standout performance in Poland, they were swooped up by LG, showed out during the GLL Minor, and have arrived at the Qualifier with vengeance on their mind. I believe it to be a unanimous opinion that we all want to see a TSM/LG rematch, so this qualifier will simply be a minor obstacle towards a Major appearance.

Gaskin - Luminosity Gaming

789 being picked up by a big org was inevitable. They are freaks of nature. Everything about this team screams 'winners'. I don't think I need to elaborate, they will show us all again why they're so good.

Halo - Na'Vi

There was a big reaction when I put Na'Vi at number 2 in my power rankings above TSM and while I understand people's reactions, it is still a ranking I stand by. Barring some sort of catastrophe during these online qualifiers where they fail to qualify, they won't face off against TSM until the major itself. However, Na'Vi is one of the best teams in Europe and after storming back from a day one filled with disconnections to finish 4th in the EMEA GLL Finals, I expect them to continue their great form here. Lets also not forget they came 2nd by only 3 points in the Apex Legends Pre-Season Invitational

If teams play more Crypto than Wraith it will mean that earlier rotations are going to be key. While this has been a problem for Na'Vi in the past, they look like they improved massively on this in the second day of the EMEA Global Loot League Finals, with Dmitry "Fyzu" Petrov scoring the most kills on the team, in his first tournament with them and with the current joint Apex Predators as his teammates, as they charge8 up the leaderboard. Na'Vi is one of the best fragging teams in the entire professional scene and if they can continue to avoid their rotation woes and be as aggressive as they love to be. I honestly see them beating out their nearest competition in the likes of Luminosity Gaming, Virtus.Pro, Reciprocity and Alliance on their way to their first title. 


Onset - Luminosity Gaming 

789 burst onto the scene. They then quickly became LG. Then took the step to 1st place. There seems to be no obvious weakness in this team at all. When one player fails, one will pick up the slack. When they push, they win the fight. When it comes down to the final circle, LG are ever-present.

I just cannot see someone dethroning the royalty of European Apex at this point. Maxim "Exens" Dmitruk, Elvira "Esdesu" Temirova and Anton "Xaniya" Shkuratov have gone from the unknown to the unbeatable. It is a story of success and one I expect to continue for a long time.

The action over the three days is not only going to be intense but it will also show just how wild the open tournament, single-elimination format will be. While we have focused on the European teams today, make sure you come back tomorrow as we will all be predicting our top picks for North America.

A special thank you to all of the ALGS Onscreen Talent who were able to contribute to these prediction articles.


(You can find more Apex Legends Global Series related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts) 

(Picture courtesy of EA & Respaw
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