The group stage held plenty of twists and turns.
On the first day of the Apex Legends Global Series Split Two Playoffs, Alliance proved their tear through the last two match days of the EMEAs Pro League wasnt a fluke. The Swedish team dominated to take first place overall and qualified for the winner’s side in the bracket stage tomorrow.
It was a mixed day for EMEA, however. Teams from North America, APAC North, and APAC South posted big gains in the final round of groups to take up the bulk of the winners bracket spots.
The day began on a sour note when SCARZ announced Gibraltar player Mikkel “Mande” Hestbek tested positive for COVID-19 and could not play in the tournament. He was replaced with former Alliance player Kha “iPN” Nguyen. SCARZ joined the list of teams forced to field substitutes, which notably includes Cloud9, playing without their IGL, Zach Mazer.
EMEA teams came out of the gate strong, with both Team Empire and Alliance notching multiple game wins in the Group A vs. Group B and Group C vs. Group D lobbies, respectively. Comparatively, North American teams began slowly with favorites like TSM and G2 struggling to gain a foothold. It seemed, on the whole, that the home-field advantage was real for EMEA, and European teams were playing confidently.
There were a couple of notable exceptions, however. Team Liquid, who needed a small miracle to qualify for the Stockholm LAN in the first place, took up the NA standard. The team thrived on Storm Point and the synergy that had been building since the addition of young fragger Zachary “Gildersons” Dennis was evident. Despite Team Empire winning two of the first three games, it was Liquid who took the lead into the second half and maintained it in the end, thanks in large part to an impressive 29-point game two, claiming victory while securing 17 kills.
The group stage was far from a two-region affair, however. APAC North also registered several victories of its own. Crazy Raccoon and FOR7 both claimed match victories to put themselves in good positions, while Alliances multiple victories couldnt scrape away the win from aDRaccoon, who claimed two wins for themselves, including a decisive game six in which the Korean favorites grabbed 14 kills to snatch the lobby win away from Alliance.
It was a frenetic, and often frantic, first round and one that set the scene for the rest of the group stage: no region or team here would be disrespected, and no team was too good to drop points in any situation.
In the second round, Group A was pitted against Group C and Group B took on Group D. As the six-game series began in earnest, popular squads from North America continued to underperform. C9, TSM, and NRG all played in the bout between A and C, where they struggled to make anything click.
None of these North American juggernauts won a game and finished the stage in 10th, 11th, and 15th places, respectively, putting them well behind far less decorated teams. Expected by many to thrive in international competition or even dominate it, both TSM and NRG were in danger of facing relegation to the losers bracket in tomorrow’s action.
Highly-aggressive squads from APAC North and EMEA showed their teeth in these matches. The Korean-Japanese team FOR7 posted an impressive win, using Wattson to effectively control end-game real estate and shut out rivals. Team Empire continued to push aggressively on entrenched positions of other teams in a high-risk, high-reward style, with often stellar results.
EMEAs favorites were in the conversation, too. The Gambit roster now competing under the name Players stayed in fine form and Alliance executed their strategies to perfection. Brazils best showed up, too. Xen and Oddik notched wins, won fights, and proved the strength of South American Apex. APAC South played a role as well. Underdogs Dewa United finished first in their second-round lobby and found themselves neck and neck in the overall standings with C9 and Team Empire.
High-profile NA squads from legacy esports teams fared much better in the second round of the other group stage lobby. In the contest between B and D, the newly signed OpTic roster had a great first game and picked up a second win in game four to come out on top of their lobby with 72 points overall. Liquid nabbed second place and 66 points, giving them first place in the group stage overall with one round to play. Even G2, who struggled throughout the first group stage lobby, showed signs of life.
In the third round, TSM opened the series with a win. But they only picked up five kills in that game, not enough to significantly shift their prospects on the overall leaderboard. Though they improved at the very end of the day, qualifying for the winners bracket tomorrow by a handful of points, it was an unusually bad day for a team that has made a habit of thriving on LAN. Other strong teams like G2 and SCARZ had disappointing showings as well and will play from the losers bracket tomorrow.
Alliance only extended their dominance as the day went on. They dropped 33 kills in the first three games of the third round and won their lobby by 30 points over second-place OpTic.
The Australian team Sutoraiku came out of nowhere with back-to-back victories on Worlds Edge. They started the third round in 23rd place, outside the cutoff for the winners bracket. They notched back-to-back wins in game four and five, however, jumping up to 11th place on the tournament leaderboard and finishing the day strong, solidly in the winners bracket.
The competition continues with the bracket stage tomorrow at 4am CT, where teams will look to qualify for the finals on Sunday, May 1.