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ALGS squad plots creative 4-man team strategy to beat TSM, using the power of aim assist Dot Esports

TSM has stood at the top of the ALGS domestically and internationally for the past two years, but one North American team believes they have found a way to counter the reigning champions.

Will “TeQ” Starck, team captain and IGL of NA Pro League team Meat Lovers, announced the team’s decision to field a four-man roster for the 2024 ALGS season. Meat Lovers who are in Group C of the NA ALGS, will run their starting roster of TeQ, Daniel “Luxfordy” Castellano, and Angel “Awons” when uncontested on their preferred POI. When going against Group A and TSM, TeQ will swap with newcomer Hyzeq, with Luxfordy taking up the IGL role for those games.

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A view from the back of TSM's booth at the ALGS Championship, showing each player's input mid-game. Verhulst and ImperialHal use a controller underneath the desk, while Reps uses keyboard and mouse.
TSM plays with two controllers and one keyboard and mouse. Image by Joe Brady via Apex Legends Esports

This is the first time in ALGS history that a team has intentionally fielded a four-man roster with the intention to swap between members against certain teams or groups. TeQ states in his announcement post that the decision to swap with Hyzeq on Pro League days with TSM contests came down to their differences in input, as fielding Hyzeq gives MEAT a substantial advantage in being a triple controller team, compared to TeQ’s own mouse and keyboard preference.

Since MEAT received their Pro League invitation to Year 4, they have been at constant odds with TSM, as both teams share the preferred landing POIs of Lightning Rod on Storm Point and Lava Siphon on World’s Edge. Throughout pre-season scrims, neither team has backed down, leading to instant contests where one team will inevitably score zero points for a game, a decision that can potentially cost either team Playoff and LAN spots later in the season.

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MEAT’s inclusion of Hyzeq gives them a noticeable advantage when fighting off drop against TSM, due to the strong aim assist in Apex Legends. Mouse and Keyboard give unique utility advantages such as being able to move while looting or using movement techniques like tap strafing. Still, the controller’s aim assist allows players to consistently eliminate players without missing a single shot, a problem exaggerated at the highest level of play, where one second out of cover can lead to a down, and a lost team fight. 

Theoretically, MEAT’s three controllers would win against TSM’s one or two controllers, as Evan “Verhulst” is the only pure controller player on the roster. Jordan “Reps” Wolfe plays on mouse and keyboard, while IGL Phillip “ImperialHal” Dosen plays hybrid, switching between inputs depending on the meta.

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The casual and competitive community have constantly asked for nerfs to aim assist, a problem that Respawn is aware of, but currently plans to tweak “over a couple of years”, with no immediate answer despite the widespread dissatisfaction across the player base. The only solution to the aim-assist problem has been found in-game, with the 2023 competitive meta revolving around Bangalore and her Smoke Launcher, which disables the controller aim-assist and finally gives mouse and keyboard the advantage in a fight.

MEAT’s input-based roster decisions carry more weight than the initial contest decision, as TeQ and Luxfordy will have to swap between IGL duties every week for the NA Pro League, and could easily cause synergy problems past the initial landing and contest.

Other ALGS teams have found varying levels of success with substitute rosters, but none have committed to a weekly roster rotation before. Alliance famously lost star player Miron “Effect” Novikov at multiple LAN events due to visa issues, with future tournament preparation including sub Mikkel “Mande” Hestbek. ALL would adopt a new strategy and Legend composition to accommodate Mande, a decision that paid off at the 2023 Championship Group Stage.

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However, rapid changes between players and strategies can also lead to an indecisive game plan and distrust among the entire team, as seen with Aurora’s 2023 Championship run, and failed attempt to swap their roster mid-tournament. Visa issues would force Aurora to acquire two emergency substitute players, but after falling into the Lower Bracket after a 33rd-place finish in the Groups Stage, the players lost faith in their sub Uxako, which led to Aurora’s decision to play as a duo for the tournament.

Currently, TSM has overwhelmingly led the scrim contests leading up to Split One, with the most recent block ending with a TSM ending the POI contests at a 5-1 record, and MEAT ending in last place with only five points. If the results stay the same in the actual Pro League matches, MEAT could find themselves losing confidence in the four-man roster, and potentially abandoning the strategy altogether, alongside the POI contest on days with TSM in the lobby.

Meat Lovers is set to play with Hyzeq against TSM in week two of the NA Pro League, where Groups A and C fight on Jan. 27 at 5pm CT. Week three of Pro League will see TeQ’s debut on Jan. 28, where the world will see the initial results of the four-man roster experiment.

Justin-Ivan Labilles

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