The ALGS will never be the same again.
The changes coming with Apex Legends Season 20 could completely redefine competitive play in the ALGS. The Armour system, crafting rework and Legend Upgrades will have a phenomenal on the game.
Crucially, developers reiterated in the Season 20 press preview that these changes were in all Battle Royale games. Pubs, ranked and comp.
Apex Legends Season 20 releases February 13th, and the ALGS Pro League will be played for the first time in Season 20 on March 2nd. So, what will teams be contending with in those 18 days?
Edge crafting is no more
Immediately, a clear 'loser' in these changes is teams that like to play the hardest of edge playstyles. Until Apex Season 20 hits the ALGS, staying outside the ring and working from crafter to crafter is a very powerful playstyle.
The likes of Aurora's strategy is simple. Take your time to loot up as much as possible, then with a clear back, fight against a team that you have equal or better equipment and resources than. You can comfortably get Purple or Red shields every game, have plenty of Batteries and anything else desirable within the Replicators.
Being outside the Ring is no problem either, Med Kits are also easily crafted allowing you to tank zone damage in order to gather what you need.
Season 20 means this playstyle will be essentially extinct in the ALGS moving forward. Simply, because the mechanisms that make it viable no longer exist. You can't loot improved armours. You can't craft your armour in a replicator. To top it all off, you can't even use a replicator more than once. Even gathering the Med Kits needed to survive outside the Ring is much harder.
How will edge teams adapt?
This doesn't mean that playing edge in the ALGS will be finished when Apex Season 20 drops. Players and teams will adapt to the changes, and there will be a variety of playstyles to choose from. The availability of EVO Harvesters and EVO Caches will allow teams to still improve their shields without fighting. The values of EVO from these will also matter greatly.
What is clear is that teams will have to be more active on the edge. Staying well out of the action and minding your own business for multiple rings is almost certainly a thing of the past. Perhaps a strong "zone edge" playstyle might become even more powerful. Not tied up in the very middle of everyone, but able to poke, third and maneuver around until it comes time to fight your way through to the final few circles.
What about Zone teams?
The actual armour changes themselves seem like they could actually be a net benefit to zone teams. You won't be able to loot good shields, so you'll have to poke your way to Blue, Purple and Red. However, you'll also not be able to be armour checked on rotate or in the very early game.
Without seeing all the perks on offer, legends that allow greater economy management like Loba, Wattson and Conduit could be more important than ever. Looting two purples and sitting AFK in the zone is also no longer viable.
Also crucially are the changes to shield swapping. The new armour cores still grant you extra health mid fight, but you can't take someone's shield in full. You either earn a better shield, or stay on a white.
Could the ALGS legend meta change in Apex Season 20?
In short, of course. It's important to note that with only 18 days to prepare, the chances for crazy shifts are probably very limited. Expect to see teams experiment. But, an important part of the choices teams make is how to counter what other teams use. Such a drastic change will take a long time to shake out. This will also be hampered by scrims, we all know you just can't replicate the real thing.
Also important is that you need legends that don't rely on certain upgrades to be good. A legend might have an amazingly powerful perk when you reach a Purple. But, if they can't hold their own until you unlock that specific ability are they worth the risk? A legend that is good, and then made better is more likely to be picked than one that is mediocre until you get a higher level shield.
Digital Threat changes could be heavily felt
Two legends that might see some change are Bloodhound and Bangalore. Bangalore has been a 100% pick in some North America lobbies, and a very popular pick just about everywhere else.
Bangalore is a very good legend, but the loss of the ability to put the Digital Threat will undoubtedly impact her pick rate. You can no longer use the Bangalore smoke super aggressively. It will now be primarily defensive.
On the other hand, you will also know that you can actually smoke and be safe. You don't risk getting one clipped through smoke by an R99 or a Volt if you try to block enemies line of sight. In some ways, this is an improvement for the legend.
If Bangalore is to remain a key fixture in the ALGS in Apex Season 20, these changes might herald a new era for Bloodhound. Scanning, and using the Beast of the Hunt Ultimate is now the best way to see through smoke. Without Digital Threats on SMG's, the only real counter to this is to scan back or pop your own Beast of the Hunt.
It seems unlikely that we will see Bangalore continue at an 80%+ pick rate, without an uptick in Bloodhounds ALGS pick rate in Apex Season 20.
Even more variance between regions possible in the ALGS after Apex Season 20
One key thing about legends is that every pick will now have much more of a niche. This makes the legends you choose even more important, because of all the extra layers and decisions that go behind every pick.
Coaches like TSM's Raven are probably incredibly excited at all the new choices, combinations and counters that are possible.
The extra layers to picks means we might see regions diverge even further away from each other during online seasons. Teams have to counter their opponents, and with so much more to consider, there is a much greater potential for some widely different set ups in each region.
Even in the current ALGS meta we see key differences between the likes of EMEA and NA compared to APAC North.
Season 20 presents a really exciting challenge for ALGS competitors. The game will feel completely different, and they have some but not a lot of time to adapt. Excitement about these changes (and the ranked system!) may drive a much needed passion renaissance.
This might be tough work for those competing, but for ALGS fans, Season 20 might be the best ever.
This piece was written after the Apex Season 20 press preview, where a full list of exact perks were not made available.