Split two of the ALGS Pro League began in North America on Saturday, ending a two-week pause of all pro Apex Legends competition after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Esports Arena showed they’d stayed sharp during the delay. They roared back into action, setting an ALGS record and crushing the competition with four wins in the six games played. Esports Arena ended up with 123 points, beating the previous record of 97 points for the highest score on a Pro League tournament day.
Saturday’s matches proved once and for all that not even the loss of their star player could stop the gifted team from dominating pro lobbies. Despite losing Evan Verhulst to Apex juggernaut TSM during the last Pro League split, ESA, who picked up the veteran Knoqd, is now playing better than they ever did with Verhulst.
ESA, who finished third in the first Pro League split as well as the recent playoffs, were widely expected to do well. But few could have expected a performance like this, a mix of fundamentally superior tactics and overwhelming teamfighting skills that led them to 65 kills.
The first three games on Saturday were played on Storm Point, marking the debut of the new map in ALGS play, while the latter three were played on World’s Edge.
Cloud9 used their Horizon pick to great effect in game one, gaining superior positions and shooting from that valuable real estate to devastating effect. They took height on one of the egg-shaped escape pods common on Storm Point, allowing them to survive into an endgame against CLG. Cloud9’s Albralelie did some heavy lifting on Gibraltar with the Mastiff against CLG in that final fight. Albralelie continues to be one of the game’s top players, dropping four kills and lasering opponents for nearly 3000 damage in that first game courtesy of a Charge Rifle.
Game two was fought outside Barometer. Cloud9 kept the pressure on with aggressive plays in the early game, but overextended and died early, starting a pattern for the skilled team. 100 Thieves went into the mid game with great positioning high atop Barometer, raining down Triple Take shots on a wide array of opponents before they were forced to relocate with a Valkyrie ultimate. Desperate for a place to land, they found a set of rocks and mopped up enemies struggling to get into the ring. 100 Thieves, CLG, and Esports Arena all survived into the chaotic final circle. But Esports Arena got an easy third party for the win when 100 Thieves and CLG were forced to fight each other early.
The final game on Storm Point featured a Thunder Watch zone. Cloud9 were again eliminated early, displaying the worrying lack of consistency that continues to trouble them. Esports Arena used their Valkyrie ultimate to get into an advantageous position going into the late game. Atlanta Premier soon got too close to them for comfort, but ESA took them out. As teams scrambled to survive on the hill outside Storm Catcher, which has little natural cover, ESA wiped Team Liquid and finished the game with clinical precision. That gave them a 16-kill win and 28 points in one game.
The competition moved to World’s Edge. Game four seemed likely to favor the leaders ESA from the start, with a circle near their landing spot that promised to give them an easy rotation. They survived into a late game outside the Dome, SkittleCakes, on Caustic, allowed them wide area control, giving an 18-kill win and the third victory in a row. ESA had 86 points by the end of this game, more than double the score of second-place CLG.
Game five offered competitors an Epicenter zone, far from ESA’s home turf. That gave teams like NRG, 100 Thieves, and Cloud9, who had faltered after their classic win in game one, a golden opportunity to put points on the board. But ESA rotated safely into the late game and took out NRG on the way to getting ideal high ground overlooking the other teams at Epicenter. 100 Thieves stood in their way, but couldn’t win a fair Gibraltar bubble fight against them. That gave ESA four wins in a row.
The final game of the day featured a zone that ended outside Lava Siphon. ESA almost won that game as well, but smart, patient calls by Team Liquid denied them a fifth win.
Competition in North American pro Apex continues on Sunday, when the other two groups will play each other. The ALGS remains paused in the EMEA region until further notice.