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Apex Legends

ALGS Championship 2023 – TSM vs DarkZero, Can Anyone Else Join the Fray?

Zakaria Almughrabi

Apex Legends’ biggest event of the calendar year, the ALGS Championship, is just around the corner. This year however, a new storyline has arisen. Throughout Apex Legends history, only two teams have ever managed to win a trophy at LAN. Both TSM and DarkZero Esports (previously Reignite) are at three apiece, and the ALGS Championship 2023 has the potential to be the tiebreaker.

ALGS Championship TSM DarkZero

Images Credit EA/Respawn

But, It’s a Battle Royale!

The Battle Royale genre of video game is notable for containing the most RNG of any mainstream competitive esport genre. Your Loot spawns are up to chance, game mechanics like Recon Beacons and Care Package drops are up to chance, and the all-important Ring/Zone pulls are up to chance. Obviously, it still takes an immense amount of skill to navigate these, as well as just being the best at shooting your gun.

When you look at the top level where all 20 teams in a lobby have great mechanics, heavily prepared their game plan, and studied the RNG aspects of the game as a full-time job, you would expect the difference in overall win chance to be at least small enough to guarantee some variety among the best. Instead, the same two-players and their respective teams have taken every Apex Legends LAN trophy. Why could that be?

The short answer is that TSM and DarkZero are simply the two best teams across the board. They are led by the best minds that Apex has to offer, making the right decisions in game consistently. Their support systems and macro game are some of the most developed, allowing them to maximize their points and wins despite the RNG aspects of the game. And their mechanical prowess is also among the best that Apex has to offer.

Introducing the CEO

Philip “ImperialHal” Dosen is known by the nickname “CEO” within the Apex scene. He’s been competing since day one and has amassed the highest total prize earnings at nearly $500,000. He also has the largest Twitch following, regularly getting 20,000+ viewers on ALGS competition days. ImperialHal and his team TSM made a splash in early Apex Legends by winning the first two LAN competitions back-to-back.

Together with Jordan “Reps” Wolfe and Mac ”Albralelie” Beckwith, TSM won the XGames Invitational in Minneapolis, followed by the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational. Their dominance over the first two LANs had TSM set for an early dynasty. However, this took place in the back half of 2019, and esports as a whole was about to face some major issues.

With the global COVID-19 pandemic shutting down esports LAN events throughout 2020 and 2021, no Apex Legends tournaments could take place. EA still put on an online ALGS circuit in 2021, but with no global LAN to cap off the season, the scene just had to bide its time. It was soon announced that 2022 would play host to two Apex LANs, one for Split 2 Playoffs and one for the Championship.

From Down Under

It was at these events that we would see the rise of a new top contender in Apex Legends. Hailing from Australia, Reignite was comprised of IGL Rhys “Zer0” Perry, Noyan “Genburten” Ozkose, and Rick “Sharky” Wirth. This team was known for being the most consistent team out of APAC South with most of their fame coming from Genburten being one of the best controller players in the game. However, Genburten caught COVID before the event began, leaving Zer0 without his star fragger.

Despite this, Zer0 led Reignite to the ALGS Split 2 trophy while working with a substitute player. In a game where each player is 33% of your team, even replacing one piece is a massive change that often requires a complete change in a team’s plans and behaviors. Even so, Zer0 showed his true skill as an IGL and came away with the trophy regardless.

For the ALGS Championships just over a month later, Reignite’s Apex roster was bought out by a new North American organization, DarkZero Esports. With Genburten back in action and a shiny new org, Zer0 once again led his team to ALGS glory, claiming the first ALGS Championship trophy. This Aussie core was now firmly on the level of TSM in terms of prestige with back-to-back LANs of their own.

A TSM Resurgence

In these LANs, TSM placed 6th and 7th respectively. Those are very good results in a vacuum, but for the supposed best team in Apex, and for Hal himself, it wasn’t good enough. TSM made a huge change in 2023, adding coach Raven to help their macro game. Additionally, rising controller star Evan “Verhulst” Verhulst was coming into his own as a player in his second year competing.

TSM won ALGS Split 1 North America in emphatic fashion, then went to the Split 1 Playoffs LAN and won that too. The doubt that had crept up on this team from the previous year had all but cleared as TSM was back on top. On the other side of the rivalry, it was DarkZero who had a disappointing 13th place finish, breaking their LAN win streak.

DarkZero Rise to the Challenge

For the Split 2 Playoffs, DarkZero added a young controller star themselves in Brody “Xynew” Geissler after Sharky decided to move back home. This increase in firepower had an immediate effect, and DarkZero was a much more threatening team. With this new tool in Zer0’s arsenal, DarkZero was able to fight their way to a Split 2 Playoffs win.

As for TSM, they finished in second place this time around. The points in the Finals lobby weren’t close either. Going into the final game, TSM and DarkZero were at 76 and 73 respectively with third place down at 54. This is to say that for the first time, TSM and DarkZero have been in Championship winning form at the same time.

An Inevitable Showdown

Now with the score tied at three apiece, we head into the ALGS Championship 2023 with TSM and DarkZero as the favorites. ImperialHal and Zer0 are the two best IGL’s in the game. Reps and Genburten have been by their sides since the beginning. Verhulst and Xynew have come up as some of the best talent Apex Legends has to offer.

Obviously, it’s not a guarantee that TSM or DarkZero ends up hoisting the ALGS trophy. There are plenty of top tier teams hungry to get their hands on the biggest prize the game has to offer. Big names like XSET, Alliance, Fnatic, etc, are staring at the backs of TSM and DarkZero. If they want to stand at the summit, they’ll need to pass those two first.

The ALGS Championship 2023 begins on September 6 at 5:15 AM ET / 2:15 AM PT.