The SoulZ Season 3 tournament in Japan showcased a new aggressive Apex Legends meta, but are Valkyrie and Gibraltar totally out of action?
SoulZ Season 3 was held in a hybrid LAN/Online format and it was our first look at how the Season update will shift the legend meta ahead of ALGS Year 3. While this was a mostly APAC tournament, with teams like DarkZero and Fnatic arriving as stand out favourites, TSM and Scarz also flew in from NA and EMEA.
Over a single day on August 20th, 20 teams competed in this hybrid event. The first place and ¥1,000,000 was taken by Fascination Colours Destroy, who are known for their aggressive playstyle—they thrived in this emerging new meta.
SoulZ Season 3 highlights dominance of aggression
The Apex Season 14 patch made some significant changes to some of the most crucial legends for Apex competitive players. Valkyrie, who was a near 100% pick rate, took some substantial changes. Gibraltar, who is slightly less dominating but still a very well used legend also finally got another counter, with Mad Maggie's Ultimate now able to pop Gibraltar Domes.
Horizon also got some notable changes to her ultimate. A legend that didn't get any changes however was Seer, who has risen in popularity with competitive players significantly.
These changes led people to hypothesise that we are heading towards our first Apex meta without a defensive legend being a requirement. The APAC regions have always been a lot more aggressive in their playstyle. This is the only region that Revenant ever found a foothold. So, the SoulZ Season 3 tournament was a great insight into how things could shape up world wide.
Gibraltar and Valkyrie are still strong picks
For all the speculation about Maggie and Gibraltar, there wasn't much sign of it here. Of course, this is early days and there is plenty of time for things to develop, but Maggie doesn't seem set to be hugely popular. The number of Maggie picks actually reduced as the tournament went on.
As a result, plenty of teams were still able to use Gibraltar. While his pick rate was lower than we have seen in recent tournaments, he has always been a less popular pick in both APAC regions. They tend to prefer Wattson instead.
What this shows is that adding counters doesn't always mean that everyone wants to pick that specific legend. Gibraltar has been a very high pick for years, but he's had a counter the whole time. The Crypto EMP destroys the Dome just like Maggie now does. But, this didn't mean that Gibraltar was instantly nuked from the meta. People didn't want to play Crypto, he didn't suit a lot of teams styles and he can be hard to use - teams picked other legends that they felt added more value.
Valkyrie still viable
Valkyrie was also still a common pick in the SoulZ Season 3 tournament, especially on Storm Point. The changes she has received will probably bring her down from that high 95%+ pick rate, but she is here to stay. Frankly, the new zone changes that speed up the ring speed and the increased zone 1 damage almost make her more important than ever on Storm Point. The huge size of that map, combined with some very open space make rotating tricky. While her ultimate doesn't go as far, it's still a lot safer and easier than travelling on foot.
TSM's new approach
What must be noted is that the meta has always differed region to region. Both Scarz and TSM, the two non local teams, experimented without both Valkyrie and Gibby. So while the SoulZ Season 3 tournament didn't have much Maggie, that doesn't mean that North American or EMEA teams aren't considering using her.
TSM are already showing the influence of their new analyst Raven. He joined from GMT this week and is planning a big shakeup with how they approach the game. Raven made a big statement that he wanted Reps off defensive legends, no Gibraltar, no Caustic and no Wattson.
Reps instead was on Horizon, and able to enjoy a lot more freedom in his fighting. TSM were one of the only NA teams to use Maggie at ALGS, but they didn't use her here. Perhaps that gives us a slight indication that she might not be popular in this region too.
SCARZ, the other international team started out with Maggie but quickly swapped her away. They experimented with some very strange compositions, including Loba and Pathfinder. They struggled into 13th and it is unclear if these were experiments or just comfort picks.
SoulZ Season 3 won by FCD
However, for all the lack of teams using Maggie—a Maggie team won. Fascination Colours Destroy used Mad Maggie across both maps, and excelled at aggressive Apex. They struggled at the Sweden Playoff LAN, and didn't qualify for the ALGS Championships in North Carolina. Their infamous style that does rile up other teams wasn't best suited to the Valk Gibby Caustic meta that we saw across the international events.
But this new aggressive meta that is developing, with a lot more Horizon and a lot more Seer suits their style perfectly. This was a very high quality lobby, and FCD have put down a statement by winning the SoulZ Season 3.
They have the ability to rack up huge games, as seen in the 3rd game of this event. FCD threw down a huge 18 kills on their way to a win. This shows just how many points teams can rack up in this meta. It was very unlikely for a Valk, Gibby, Caustic team to drop a huge game like this. Moving forwards it might mean there is a lot more volatility through tournaments, leads that were once not assailable might suddenly be in reach.
SoulZ Season 3: Full Standings
- FCD - 43 (¥1,000,000)
- GHS - 42 (¥600,000)
- FOR7 - 35 (¥400,000)
- ORF - 32
- Fnatic - 32
- Pulverex- 31
- Dark Zero - 27
- TSM - 27
- Reignite - 24
- IGZ - 23
ALGS Year 3 announcement still delayed
Players are waiting patiently for the announcement of the 3rd year of ALGS—but it is still delayed indefinitely. With a real lack of tournaments outside of North America, there will be a lot for teams to shakedown before the new season kicks off, whenever that will be. It is yet unclear if the announcement being delayed means that ALGS will start later than expected.
Will Maggie be a top pick in ALGS year 3? Stay tuned to esports.gg to find out.