Apex Legends: Out With Wraith, In With Horizon?
Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) Winter Circuit Online Tournament #1 broke a ten-event streak of Wraith having a 100% pick rate across both the North America and Europe regions. What’s most notable about this fact is that the team that came second in North America did so without a Wraith in their squad, an impressive feat considering the meta that’s been so long established. Teams are finally experimenting with non-Wraith comps, particularly with Horizon replacing Wraith.
Is this a passing of the torch? Has Horizon overtaken Wraith as the face of competitive Apex Legends? Let’s break down this newfound trend.
The Rise Of Horizon
The Strength Of Horizon’s Abilities
Horizon has SO much utility. Players are finding new and interesting ways to use her abilities each and every day. Horizon’s Tactical, Gravity Lift, is a better version of both Octane and Pathfinder’s Ultimate abilities. Gravity Lift has a short 15-second cooldown after its initial duration. This is drastically shorter than other movement abilities of its nature. Players can strafe and move in rapid succession while in the lift, PLUS they have zero penalties to aim and can heal at will. Unlike Pathfinder’s Zipline, Horizon’s Tactical is not permanent, so other players can’t always follow the user up it.
When it comes to Horizon’s Ultimate ability, the Black Hole pairs beautifully with most other Legends. Horizon can suck in opponents, leaving them vulnerable to Caustic gas, Gibraltar mortar strikes, and even just standard grenades. Teams have a very difficult time escaping this concoction of death while also worrying about enemy players and gunfire.
In reality, this is only scratching the surface of what Horizon can do as a Legend. She's powerful in all facets of the game, both offensively and defensively.
Pros Experiment With Horizon
It took some time, but pro players have finally realised Horizon’s true potential. It all started a couple of weeks back when Team Liquid and Ranked Is Harder dared to pull out Horizon during an official Apex Legends Global Series event.
An example of Horizon’s unique strength is displayed during the end game of one of Winter Circuit #1’s matches. Thomas “Flanker” Cook and Mac "Albralelie" Kenzie Beckwith both go down. In this situation, this is almost always a death sentence for the team. However, Brandon "Nocturnal" Singeris pulls off a truly innovative play with Horizon’s Tactical to save the game. Nocturnal lifts both downed players up to safety on top of a silo. Here, they are completely safe to revive and heal. The lack of Horizons, Pathfinders, and Octanes in this meta means that the few teams using Horizon have free reign of high ground.
Team Liquid rode Horizon to a seventh-place finish, but the true shocker of the weekend was Ranked Is Better placing second. These guys defied the meta, opting to play without a Wraith. Before this event, Wraith had a 100% pick rate over the past ten events.
This decision was met with vocal criticism from others in the scene, including Team SoloMid's (TSM) Phillip "ImperialHal" Dosen. ImperialHal is on record saying, “why the f**k would they think playing no Wraith is a good idea”. Martin “gdolphin” Skrydstrup, TSM’s Head Coach, follows up with, "they are wasting their time; it's not gonna work".
Ranked Is Better’s performance forced the most recognisable name in Apex Legends to eat his words. And it seems that Ranked Is Better’s stunning performance in the ALGS has forced ImperialHal himself to give Horizon a go. Ironically, TSM won a major tournament this past weekend with ImperialHal on Horizon and no one on the team playing Wraith.
In the Series E event that took place last week, Horizon was chosen 53 times — 38 of those in Wraithless comps. Team Liquid and Ranked Is Better paved the way, and Horizon is clearly on the come up.
The Downfall Of Wraith
The Nerf Hammer Keeps Swinging
Wraith has been nerfed far more than any other Legend, for a total of ten nerfs. They nerfed her Tactical ability, increasing its cooldown and changing how it functions. They’ve continually messed with her Ultimate ability. They gave her Low Profile, increasing the damage Wraith takes. They changed her signature running animation, making Wraith easier to hit. Most recently, the devs adjusted Wraith’s hitbox, making her a bigger target.
Any of these nerfs alone would do little to impact Wraith’s pick rate. But together, they have worn Wraith down and slowly chipped away at what drew players to her in the first place.
Wraith Is No Longer A Necessary Pick
With Horizon entering the meta, another Legend must go. For most teams, that Legend has been Wraith. Wraith has gone from an absolute must-pick to an expendable member of the team. How did this happen?
Aside from the nerfs, Wraith’s toolkit is no longer as necessary as it once was. A recent patch made drastic changes to The Ring. The seventh and eighth ring were removed. Now, Ring six is the last ring. This ring will slowly close over 100 seconds somewhere near the centre of Ring five.
Wraith thrived in the old ring. Her portal was the only feasible method of rotation and survival when the final circle closed. Now, the final circle begins to close much earlier, and it's less predictable. This works against Wraith and favours other Legends, such as Horizon.
Nerfs alone weren't enough to stop the heavy Wraith usage. Her kit was simply required with the way final circles stayed stagnant. However, with the changes to The Ring — piled on to the plethora of nerfs — Wraith is finally falling out of favour.
On release, Horizon was thought to be inconsequential to the competitive scene. But with the help of some trailblazers, Horizon has crept her way into the competitive meta. Horizon’s ascent comes at the expense of Wraith. Thanks to an onslaught of nerfs and changes to The Ring, Wraith has begun a descent from her throne as THE Apex Legend.
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Images via Respawn Entertainment