Academies, events, and more could be just what Apex Legends needs to become the world's greatest esport.
Apex Legends is one of the world's most popular Battle Royale games, and Respawn Entertainment have tried their darnedest to make it a viable esport since its release in February 2019 – but it just hasn’t quite worked.
It has all the makings of an entertaining (and profitable) esport for players and viewers alike – teams, insane abilities, fun and innovative gunplay, and gorgeous maps make for a fantastic gameplay experience – so what happened? And how can the team behind Apex Legends improve their esports offering in (the hopefully more ‘normal’) 2021?
BR VS FPS
It has to be said that Battle Royale games don’t hold as much sway in esports as FPS games do. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and VALORANT prove that just by existing – CS:GO is still one of the biggest games in the world, and VALORANT, despite being less than a year old, has already garnered massive attention, with huge orgs lining up to secure top-tier talent for their esport teams. Arguably the biggest Battle Royale game, Fortnite, doesn’t provide much in the way of true “esports” content, with the biggest players being streamers or content creators. There isn’t much room for “pro” players, and real teams and orgs to provide a competitive playing field.
So what would make Apex Legends stand out from the crowd of Ninjas and Shrouds?
Taking the lead from League of Legends (LoL), Apex Legends could invest in an academy or scouting grounds type structure – spotting young and progressing talent, and “signing” them until they become ready for competitive play, and ready to join an A-Tier team.
While Apex Legends does have its fair share of insane pro players, take Eric "Snip3down" Wrona for example, the esport itself never seems to take pole position when it comes to event and tournament coverage or viewership. As a title, Apex Legends ranks highly on Twitch, but the vast majority of fans are just fans of playing the game, not watching it being played competitively.
The answer to this? More events. Where we can hopefully start attending LAN events again in 2021, could be the solution to Apex Legends’ problem; with less online events (which are prone to bad internet connections and broken servers), and more in-person events (where a crowd can attend), Respawn could finally be on to a winner big enough to challenge even League of Legends’ Worlds.
Yes, the Apex Legends Global Series exists, but the rivalries and storylines so heavily developed in other games such as Overwatch, simply aren’t present, whether due to lack of engagement or just the relative youth of the game.
Take, for example, TSM vs Sentinels in the aforementioned VALORANT, or (again) TSM and Cloud9 rivalry in League of Legends. Fans are on the edge of their seats when these teams face each other, due to years of built-up tension, upsets, and victories. Apex needs those two teams to build that storyline upon.
The factors are all there for Apex Legends; they just need a push in the right direction.
Images via Respawn Entertainment