MINNEAPOLIS -- Amid the settling dust from a recently finished Moto X Big Trick event and cheers from the skate park setup in US Bank Stadium, the only sound missing was the seemingly ubiquitous "TSM, TSM, TSM" chants that pepper their audiences during League of Legends matches worldwide. On Saturday, Jordan "Reps" Wolfe, Mac "Albralelie" Kenzie Beckwith and Phillip "ImperialHal" Dosen of Team SoloMid were crowned gold medalists at the EXP Apex Legends Invitational at the X Games, holding on to their Day 1 lead after a strong placements and high elimination counts in Day 2 of the competition.
"They're pretty heavy," the members of TSM joked as they stood onstage with X Games gold medals around their necks. "These things weigh like a pound, bro. It's pretty heavy."
After taking third overall in the FACEIT Pro Series, TSM were one of the favorites going into this weekend, although eyes were also on T1, the second-place finishers in that same tournament, and the EXP Apex Legends Pro-Am winner Coby "Dizzy" Meadows and NRG Esports.
Prior to Day 2, Reps stated on the broadcast that they were focusing more on placement over eliminations, and TSM routinely found themselves among the top five finishers during Saturday's games, including a Game 8 first-place finish. Their consistency allowed them to stay ahead of Team Reciprocity, Sentinels and Tempo Storm, who all made strong pushes Saturday. Team Reciprocity, in particular, took the opposite approach, seeking kills even if it meant taking damage outside the collapsing ring to stay near the top of the leaderboard.
"One of the games, Reciprocity tried to land on me solo because they knew I'd land by myself," ImperialHal said. "So they did that on purpose so they could kill me and really mess us up, but it also messed them up at the same time. We knew it was down to the last game. It was a really tight top three. We got to the spot that we had to. We saw [Eric] 'Snip3down' [Wrona] and his team and Sentinels. They were all fighting, which was a really good sign."
- ESPN Esports (@ESPN_Esports) August 4, 2019
Although Fnatic pulled away with a win in the final game of the day, TSM placed well above both Sentinels and Team Reciprocity, clinching the gold.
Silver-medalists Team Reciprocity were one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, led by 2016 X Games gold medalist and Halo player, Snip3down with the Finnish duo of Sebastian "Mimu" Vesala and Niko "ZeroNothing" Suominen.
Sentinels, whose Fortnite player Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf recently won $3 million for first place in solos at the Fortnite World Cup Finals, took home the bronze. Fnatic also had a strong showing, finishing fourth, just outside of medal contention.
The tournament not only marked the return of esports events to the X Games, but it was also the first major competition for Apex Legends, a battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment and distributed by Electronic Arts. The next major event for the game will be the Apex Legends Preseason Invitational in Krakow, Poland, on Sept. 13-15, for which TSM will now focus on preparing, building off of their X Games win.
They're not afraid to try out new strategies, and even had some insight as to why scrims before the invitational, especially with the legend Caustic, looked so different from what teams showed onstage, where the trio of Wattson, Pathfinder and Wraith dominated the stage meta.
"We're still going to be trying new strategies to see if we can come up with anything new," Reps said. "We were doing Caustic in all the scrims [before the invitational], and our reasoning behind that was because we knew Caustic was not going to be as good on LAN as he is online because everybody plays way safer on LAN. The reason we ran so much Caustic was to make teams run Caustic, so if they see us have success like that, we want them to run Caustic, which you noticed on the first day."