Competition breeds innovation—at least in Apex Legends. The competitive meta at the ALGS Championship in Raleigh saw innovative team compositions emerge that proved more than capable of defeating the most popular picks at the $2,000,000 LAN.
Though Valkyrie is still the star of the show when it comes to ALGS play, the international mix in Raleigh also ensured lesser-seen competitive Apex legends had their time to shine. APAC South teams still favor Wattson and Crypto. Even Mad Maggie got a spotlight on the big stage.
Here’s a rundown of three team compositions that ultimately carried the day, and why they work.
Valkyrie, Gibraltar, and Caustic
While many teams that stuck to the tried-and-true approach faltered, there is a reason Valkyrie-Gibraltar-Caustic was the most popular combination at the tournament. At one point during the weekend, this combination was picked a whopping 42 percent of the time, making it by far the most popular lineup to do battle in an ALGS lobby.
Back-to-back LAN champions DarkZero use this famous Apex combo. So do fan favorites TSM and Cloud9. It is, in a word, overpowered.
It’s no surprise Valkyrie makes an appearance in all of these compositions. Her strengths cannot be overstated. First, she can scan beacons, giving pro teams precious intel on the location of the next circle. Valkyrie’s passive, a jetpack, allows Valk players to shoot from high ground and find other off-angles that often take enemy squads by surprise. It also makes good Valkyrie players much more difficult to hit, both shooting from an entrenched position and on the run. Her tactical not only does damage; it does damage behind cover. It also stuns, offering teams an effect similar to a free arc star twice a minute. Finally, her ultimate might be the best single ability in the game, giving teams free rotations and often enabling them to escape from deadly situations.
In the Valkyrie-Gibraltar-Caustic comp, Valkyrie serves as a scout and entry damage, seeking out opportunities to engage other teams and testing their defenses. Because Valk is so mobile, it’s easy for pros to retreat from these engagements in relative safety if things aren’t going according to plan.
Gibraltar serves multiple roles. His gun shield makes him the best poking character in the game, and pro teams often use him as a sniper to level shields. Gibraltar’s ultimate can force teams to move, kill weakened opponents behind cover, and deny territory to enemies. His bubble shield tactical makes him a defensive anchor, a free reset when teams are under intense pressure, and a crucial part of aggressive attacks. Teams will bubble forward onto enemies as they move in for the kill, preventing collateral damage from third parties with the shield and allowing fast armor swaps. These abilities synergize well with Caustic’s area-specific skills.
Caustic comes into this composition as an area-denial legend with an ultimate that can also be used to deny space, force opponents to move, or weaken them during a fight. His gas traps make holding buildings safer and can block doors.
Wattson, Newcastle, and Valkyrie
Valkyrie’s versatility means she also seamlessly fits into this composition, a highly unorthodox combination of legends that goes all-in on defense. 100 Thieves used these legends to secure third place and $200,000 at the ALGS Championship. In the process, they took some spectacular wins, though they were the only team that used the combo.
This is essentially a composition that allows the team to create cover with Newcastle’s ultimate and his shield tactical, outlasting opponents with limited-time Gibraltar domes or other less effective defense options. The team can shoot out, but enemies cannot shoot back. Valkyrie can find angles on either side of the wall, or pop out to use her tactical to damage enemies in cover. It’s possible for enemies to destroy Newcastle’s ultimate, but that takes lots of ammo, a commodity many pro teams often have to work without.
The defensive strategy is helped here by Wattson’s ultimate. This team doesn’t need to stockpile shields. The increased shield economy picture for the composition also allows teams to quickly rotate out of the area where they dropped in without needing a massive amount of loot.
Instead of a Gibraltar bubble, it relies on the Wattson Pylon ultimate to block incoming ordnance. The role traditionally filled by the Gibraltar bubble is somewhat split between the Wattson ultimate and Newcastle’s abilities, both his shield tactical and the collapsible Castle Wall ultimate. When combined, with the Wattson generator safe behind the Newcastle wall, it’s very difficult for other teams to attack.
100 Thieves were candid about the difficulty of using this composition, however, and others have agreed it is prone to counters. Alliance demonstrated that perfectly during one game this Championship weekend, when the in-game leader John “Hakis” Håkansson used Horizon’s lift to look directly down into the little defensive nest 100 Thieves had built and shot them to pieces, almost killing the whole team single handedly.
Seer, Horizon, and Valkyrie
Seer has come back to the Apex meta with a vengeance after Championship MVP, Furia’s Jacob “HisWattson” McMillin, used Seer to hit No. 1 Apex Predator in the world during the last ranked split. HisWattson then took Seer to the ALGS, and his jaw-dropping performance during this weekend’s LAN has caused a seismic shift in the community about new directions in the meta. Furia have proven beyond a doubt the viability of aggressive combinations like this one, without the defense stalwart Gibraltar.
There have always been Seer believers, but HisWattson is breaking new ground with the legend. In this composition, Horizon and Valkyrie are used in a fairly standard way. Valkyrie hits enemies from behind cover and finds shooting angles. Horizon can join Valkyrie in the air and lift the entire team up with her.
Seer is the legend here with the secret sauce. He functions as a more powerful Bloodhound, finding enemies with his heartbeat sensor and effectively opening fights. This combines well with Valkyrie’s abilities to find good angles on opponents and well as Horizon’s lift, which can give the team easy shots at opponents behind cover. Seer then continues to whittle away at opponents during the fight, who have no safe place to retreat because the heartbeat sensor can easily find them again.
Once enemies are found behind cover, Seer can use his tactical ability to reveal the health of opponents to the entire team. The ability also briefly stalls any attempt they might make at healing damage from the initial encounter, giving the attackers a crucial advantage.
Then comes the deathblow: Horizon’s ultimate, followed by well-placed grenades and team shooting. If at any time it appears the fight is not going well, Seer can always use his ultimate to further reveal opponents. This can also help chase down any surviving enemies attempting to make a hasty retreat.
Given the success of Furia and 100 Thieves during the ALGS Championship, it’s likely there will be more experimentation with Apex compositions that skip the reliable, but somewhat boring, Gibraltar-Caustic synergy.