Erik Darling has a couple more posts on adaptive joins in SQL Server 2017. First, he wonders what happens when you add scalar functions to the mix:
See, this isn’t SARGable either (and no, SCHEMABINDING doesn’t change this). When a predicate isn’t SARGable, you take away an index seek as an access choice. You don’t see too many Nested Loops with an index scan on the other end, do you?
So there you go. It’s not the function itself that bops our Adaptive Join on the head, but the lack of SARGability.
I do have to point out that Cross Apply used to only be implemented as a Nested Loops Join. I learned that many years ago from one of the best articles written about Cross Apply by Paul White. That changed recently — it’s possible to see it implemented with a Hash Join in at least 2016. I’ve seen it crop up in Cross Apply queries without a TOP operator.
The latter results are a bit surprising.