Sunday, 14 June 2020

Halo's North American ALGS Mid-Season Power Rankings

By Arran "Halo" Brown

The last Online Tournament before we move into the Apex Legends Global Series Summer Circuit is complete and while the scene is moving towards its new branding, North America has seen TSM dominate the region in the early part of the season, to then have the rest of North America strike back in the following four tournaments. With the halfway point now upon us and with a larger sample size to review, compared to the overall preseason power rankings made back in January, now is the perfect time for a power ranking

The North America region has seen a lot of changes when it has come to teams and the player base, due to both an exodus to Valorant and mid-tier teams tendency to disband quicker if they have not had instant success. It makes it probably the hardest region to analyse and therefore, the North American power rankings evaluation is mainly based on the team's current rosters.

10. Skrt

Online Tournament 5 was the first big event ImMadness, Powpow and Vaxlon played together and they put in one of the best performances of the season by any team in my opinion. While they failed to defend their title in Online Tournament 6, being eliminated in the semi-finals. They recorded two second-place finishes in ESA tournament's 1 and 2, which was either side of their Online Tournament win. After seeing the rise and fall of CLG it was great to see ImMadness find success on a team that he created and a trio that worked hard to reach their ultimate goal. 

Skrt has shown flashes of potential and that they can put up results to make North America take notice. If they can continue to trust one another and believe in themselves, then they could well be a team that progresses nicely during the Summer Circuit and it would not be impossible for them to record a few more podium finishes this season. 

9. Lil Poggies

It has taken Lil Poggies a little while to find a consistent third player, (four Online Tournaments to be precise) but Forcee, Promo and Xenial, since Online Tournament 4, have strung together some good results during the season so far. Making the finals four out of six times and participating in every semi-final so far, their two seventh-places they have to their names have made them a team that you should expect to see in the finals due to how consistent they have been.

Lil Poggies have the opportunity to improve if they get the pieces together, they remind me a lot of GSD in Europe before they won EU Online Tournament 6. If they can follow the same path as GSD, then they have every opportunity to push into the upper bracket of teams. However, right now, it feels that they may be playing the gatekeeper role for teams looking to push into North America's top tier.

8. IShinyMuffinsBcj

Whether iShiny, Muffins and Bcj are playing for fun or intending to build a portfolio of results to present to an organisation when the ALGS really kicks into force is unknown. What is known is that one of the most experienced rosters in North America has been very consistent since Bcj started playing alongside the former Fnatic NA duo. They have made both finals and while they have failed to break the top five in either one, they have been close with an eighth-place finish in Online Tournament 5 and a seventh-place finish in Online Tournament 6, they are not very far from catching up to the teams ahead of them.

With their third event being the start of the Summer Circuit, I expect that they will continue to progress and improve as the season goes on. All three have experience being some of the best players in the region and I would be surprised if they did not improve, should they decide to put everything into the ALGS. 

7. Sentinels

The first part of the inaugural ALGS season has been a case of what could have happened, rather than what has happened at the mid waypoint. Coming into the ALGS, Sentinels had a top-five roster in the world and were only behind TSM in North America with Retzi, Senoxe and Zombs. They had a great Pre-season and were unlucky not to win the North American GLL Finals due to a double disconnect, but when the ALGS finally came around, it seemed that they lost all momentum and it could be linked back to that event. While a sixth-place finish was below the rosters usual standards, it was not a bad place to start. However, in Online Tournament 2 they missed the finals and did not even make the semi-finals for Online Tournament 3. The core of the roster seemed to either burn out or lose interest with Apex and as a result, Retzi has moved the bench, Zombs switched to Sentinels Valorant roster and Senoxe was able to play on, under a different organisation name while Sentinels decided which direction they would go.

This led to the formation of Fishers where Senoxe would team up with Crust and Peesh, which brought the trio a good set of results. A fourth-place finish in Online Tournament 4 and a third in Online Tournament 5 set the trio up nicely to be considered a top team in the region and a return to playing under the Sentinels banner for Senoxe. They finished ninth in Online Tournament 6, which will likely be a slight disappointment to them but their first three tournaments have shown that they are most certainly contenders in North America. One player to watch out for is Crust. The former EUnited player might be one of the most underrated in the entire scene.

6. Complexity

I think it is safe to say that Complexity and original roster member Reptar, benefited the most from the North American Valorant exodus. One of the biggest problems I had with the previous roster which included Gabeismoney and Meerko, was that their decision making resulted in inconsistent results. With the team missing the first two Online Tournament finals, they came back in Online Tournament 3 with a fourth-place finish that gave an impression that they may be on the right track. However, Meerko retired to move to Valorant and Gabeismoney was released from the team, which led to one of the better rebuilds by an organisation in the ALGS so far.

Enter former FlyQuest duo Lou and Monsoon, who have helped to bring stability to the organisation but also, in my opinion, helped Reptar show just how good a player he can be. After an initial sixth-place finish in Online Tournament 4, they followed this up with back to back fourth-place in Online Tournament's 5 and 6. The trio has performed well in the ALGS's longer format compared to the ESA events but it doesn't come as a surprise because once Complexity has warmed up, they are definitely one of the best teams on North America. If they had an ALGS win to their name, this roster would have been in contention for a top-three spot at the mid-season point.

5. Team Liquid

It has been an interesting six months for the Team Liquid Blue roster of Casper, Flanker and oh Nocturnal, now the sole Apex Legends team for the organisation. They were deemed one of the better teams in North America in the Pre-season but failed to show what they were capable of at both the Apex Legends Pre-season Invitational and the North American GLL Finals. This carried on into the first ALGS Online Tournament, as they were eliminated in the semi-finals despite looking comfortable in the first two rounds.

That would be the only Online Tournament final that team Liquid would miss, as they have made five finals in a row since then, with a win in Online Tournament 3 being the highlight of these results. Winning NA ESA tournament 2 was another nice addition to their win totals and a third in NA ESA tournament 3 looks good. It isn't however, good enough when you consider they have not finished in the top three in ALGS Online Tournaments since their win, with a ninth-place finish in Online Tournament 4 their peak. With Hodsic as their coach for almost two months when the Summer Circuit begins, it's going to be interesting to see if his involvement with the team can get them to the next level.

4. Rogue

Rogue has always been a team that looks to have all the potential in the world but are never quite able to string it all together. Dropped, Huskers and Sweetdreams showed this in the Pre-season tournaments as well as the first three Online ALGS Tournaments where they finished 3rd, 23rd and 7th respectively. After Online Tournament 3, Huskers decided a move to content creating with a focus on Call of Duty, but it did not take Rogue long to pick up Snip3down as their new third. The new trio started off with a bang, winning Online Tournament 4 by 3 points over TSM and it finally felt they had arrived. A ninth-place in Online Tournament 5 and a sixth-place finish in Online Tournament 6 has stunted that expectation a little, but not to the extent that you might have expected, as they have won three of the six ESA tournaments that North America has had so far.

While it has not been officially announced, Rogue as a whole seems to have improved as a team with the addition of Snip3down and they have shown that they are deadly when it comes to the Premier style, ESA weekly tournaments. If Rogue can work out whatever block they suffered with during the Online Tournaments, before the Summer Circuit starts, then they could well be the team to watch the next few months.

3. NRG

When you look at the entire season that NRG has had this year, placing them third in a power ranking might seem ridiculous. However, the entire original roster is now gone and The Yungins and Frex NRG seem to have taken the team to a whole new level. In actual fact, the roster that NRG has now with Frex, Nafen and Rocker, is, in my opinion, the best roster they have had in Apex Legends. Yes, Dizzy is an incredible player, Aceu is an incredible player but they also struggled to find the right balance as a team.

Going back to the Pre-season, The Yungins and Frex performed incredibly well in the North America GLL tournament, the sole tournament they had played before Online Tournament 6. They won the qualifying round and then finished fourth when facing the best teams the region had. Online Tournament 6 was when the trio was officially reunited and while they had a steady quarterfinal, they stepped it up in both the semi-finals and finals, to return NRG to a point they have not been to since the early pub stomp days of Apex Legends

The Frex led team has synergy at the competitive level already that they have not had as an organisation so far and they have every chance to become the best team in the region.

2. Sola Fide

The old sports analogy of 'always the bridesmaid, never the bride' fits Sola Fide perfectly. The team of Metro, Pride and Turnzz started off well with a second-place finish in Online Tournament 2. Sola Fide showed the beginning of what the team was able to achieve and while the trio was not able to replicate this performance in Online Tournament 3 when they finished a disappointing 33rd, their only missed final. Sola Fide came back strong after replacing Turnzz with Claraphi, who picked up the teams Co-IGL role and the move has paid dividends. The current roster of Claraphi, Metro and Pride have not missed a final so far, with a third-place finish in Online Tournament 4 and second-place finish by only four points in Online Tournament 6 to their names.

Yes, they have a tenth-place finish in Online Tournament 5 and have not won an event so far this year, but the levels of consistency these three are producing right now have not been matched by many in North America so far, and it seems more of a case of when they win and not if. Had Sola Fide managed to win an Online Tournament in the first six months of the season, then I honestly believe it would have been hard not to place them at number one.

1. TSM

After an incredible five tournament winning streak to start the Apex Legends Global series, TSM’s form has dropped slightly since their last win in Online Tournament 2. Outside a very disappointing 23rd place in Online Tournament 5, which is the only time they have not finished in the top three, TSM has a further two second places and two third’s this season. However, while they have performed well in the monthly Online Tournaments, TSM has struggled in the Esport Arena weeklies. They started out strongly in ESA Tournament 1 with a third-place finished but then dropped off in this event with a sixth in ESA Tournament 2 and an eighth-place finish in ESA Tournament 5. During these events, there have been some disagreements within the team regarding decisions and the team’s communication has not been as clean as we are all used to. It will be interesting to see if this continues.

That said, I think it is clear to say that TSM is still the best team in North America, but second place Sola Fide, the reformation of The Yungins and Frex under the NRG banner, Rogue with Snip3down and Sentinel’s return might mean that they have their first real competition in the last few months. It is something I feel that both North America and TSM both need as, despite their results, the skill level depth between Europe and North America still leads me to believe my pre-season thoughts that TSM are not the best team in the world at the current time. (Explained further in future content)

With the Summer Circuit starting in six days, we are just around the corner to seeing the America's battle it out in the Super Regional tournaments. It will be interesting to see just how the next six tournaments will shape the North American region. 

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

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