Apex Legends Esports: The Rise and Growth of Competitive Play
Esports has come a long way from competing arcades for magazine subscriptions to sold-out stadiums with grand prize pools pushing millions of dollars. It has become the fastest-growing segment of sports, with millions of concurrent viewers tuning in to watch it live on every major Tournament. And in tune with such a massively growing industry, Apex Legends took the world by storm with a uniquely Apex Experience that forced players to become a part of a world where strategy, teamwork, and lightning-fast reflexes define the landscape.
Welcome to the thrilling universe of Apex Legends Esports! Its evolution has become an extraordinary spectacle of raw talent and unparalleled competition. Let's delve into this exhilarating journey, exploring the triumphs, tribulations, and unforgettable moments of Apex Legends Esports.
The Inaugural Season: Setting the Stage
Unlike other Esports that started off small with grassroots events and minor tournaments that slowly built up their player base, Apex Legends started strong within the first month of its release date with a sizeable roster of professional Esports teams. Esports groups like TSM, 100 Thieves, Sentinels, Space Station Gaming, Cloud9, CLG, Navi, and more began announcing their Apex Legends roster with notable names. Heck! Respawn announced Apex Legends' first Tournament through the Twitch Rivals Challenge while even the most professional Esports player was figuring out how to play their new Battle Royale.
Twitch Rivals Challenge:
Twitch Rivals Challenge was one of the biggest Twitch tournaments at the time, where massive Twitch Streamers like Dr DisRespect, Ninja, Dizzy, MoistCritikal, DisguisedToast, xQcOW, and more were pitted against each in Europe and North America with the total prize pool of $50,000 per region. Since everyone was still figuring out how to play the game, Twitch Rivals Challenge Apex Legends followed a Kill Race style format where the first team to get the most points, where 1 kill was equal to 1 point and wins counted as 5 points, would win the Tournament.
The viewership ship broke the 500,000 concurrent viewers mark on Twitch, and in the end, Team Kings Canyon, with Ninja, Dizzy, and KingRichard, won the Tournament with a whopping 1 point.
The Code Red Tournament:
After a disappointing defeat in the Twitch Rivals Challenge, Dr DisRespect decided to hold his own Apex Legends Tournament in collaboration with BoomTv and Esports Arena, dubbed the Code Red Tournament, with a prize pool of $20,000.
8 teams, including Kings Canyon, Vissprespect the Kraft, Team Mike & Yikes, and more, competed in the 2 Bracket Tournament. Where Team Canyon, once again, won by a landslide this time. And then went on to win the following two Code Red Tournaments, back to back, even after swapping Ninja for Mendousaiix.
100s of small-scale tournaments took place after the first Code Red Tournament, including the first officially licensed FACEIT Pro Series, but nothing could come close to the first S Tier Apex Legends Tournament, the Twitchcon Europe Showdown 2019.
Twitchcon Europe Showdown 2019:
Twitchcon Europe was the first international Apex Legends tournament that took place in Berlin with custom Private Lobbies, which were missing in all of the previous Apex Legends Tournaments. The top six teams from two rounds of qualifiers were pitted against one another in the finals with a total prize pool of $350,000.
Participants won cash prizes for placements, eliminations, and reaching certain goals. The Final placement of the Tournament was decided based on the total prize earned up to that point. Surprisingly, Twitchcon Europe ended with Rogue winning the Tournament, NRG coming up as the Runner up, and Dizzy bagging the MVP.
Twitch Rivals Apex Elite Queue:
In the summer of 2019, Twitch Rivals Apex Elite Q1 and Q2 took the Esports arenas by storm, where teams competed to win as many matches as possible. And in the end, the top 5 squads faced each other off in specialized matches where the rings closed faster, and Legends dealt more damage. TSM won both events despite the server issues.
2019 ESPYS and the X Games:
While Twitch Rivals Apex Elite Queue was ongoing, ESPN teamed up with EA to bring Apex Legends to the 2019 ESPYS and the X Games Minneapolis.
A prize pool of $25,000 was offered at Exp Apex Legends Pro-AM Event Format, which was donated to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. And fans were given a chance to pay to play with celebrities, athletes, and influencers. Everyone’s favorite, Dizzy, ended up winning the Tournament and becoming the MVP. Whereas TSM won the not so well known Apex Legends tournament at the X Games Minneapolis with a prize pool of $150,000.
Iron Crown Collection Event:
Same time in August, Apex Legends held the Iron Crown Collection event with the Limited Time Solos Game Mode, the only time Apex Legends allowed players to truly experience a Friendless Battle Royale at Kings Canyon.
60 Streamers competed against each other in the Iron Crown event for a prize pool of $100,000. TSM's Imperial Hal took the win with an overwhelming majority, followed by Aceu, huskerrs, and then Dizzy.
Twitchcon San Diego and 1000,000 Invitational
Twitchcon San Diego rolled around in September 2019 with another Twitch Rivals Tournament. But before that, Apex Legends' first-ever International LAN Championship was organized by EA, and Respawn was being held in Poland. The championship featured the largest pool of Apex Legends Talent, with 80 teams competing from around the world in a Pre-Season Invitational that went on for 3 days for a prize pool of $500,000.
Apex Legends Pre-Season Invitational followed a bracketed tournament format, where teams advanced based on kill count through the brackets and into the grand finals. Now, the matchpoint mechanic, which has become a household staple in Apex Legends tournaments, was introduced for the first time in Apex Legends in this championship.
According to this system, any team that scored 50 points in the finals would become matchpoint eligible. And the first matchpoint-eligible team to win a match will immediately get crowned the Grand Champion. And as fate would have it, TSM won the championship, continuing their winning streak from the X Games Minneapolis.
After the intense Championship in Poland, Twitchcon San Diego had a much more relaxed atmosphere, where 45 Streamers competed for a prize pool of $500,000. And this time, Team NRG, with Dizzy, Aceu, and Mohr, bagged the Tournament with Aceu as the MVP of the Tournament.
Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS):
The curtain rose on the Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) in December 2019, when Electronic Arts (EA) and Respawn Entertainment took a giant leap into the world of Esports. The inaugural season was a rollercoaster ride, filled with 22 events spread across four phases, culminating in Major Events, the crème de la crème of the season. However, the ride wasn't always smooth.
The season started with online qualifiers in January 2020 but wasn't without its share of hitches. Game crashes and bugs were like uninvited guests, adding a layer of unpredictability to the series. Soon after, an unforeseen guest in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic indefinitely postponed the first major.
But like all great stories, this one had a twist. The season shifted to an online format, introducing new tournaments and redefining the ALGS Championship into five region-specific championship matches. The season's crescendo, the ALGS Championship, had an impressive prize pool of $2.58 million, partially funded by sales of limited-edition in-game skins. Kungarna NA, Paradox Esports, Scarz Europe, Fennel Korea, and Wolfpack Arctic emerged as the regional champions, etching their names in Apex Legends Esports history.
2021-22 Season: Reinventing the Game
With the success of the inaugural season under its belt, ALGS upped the ante for its second season. They expanded the series to allow Xbox and PlayStation players to compete and significantly increased the total prize pool to $5 million. However, the initial viewership for the second season started slow, but the thrilling Split One Playoffs soon had the viewership skyrocketing.
The Split Two Playoffs held in May 2022 broke all previous viewership records across all of EA's titles, with an average minute audience of over 539,000 and 10.3 million total hours watched. The ALGS Championship, held at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, marked the first live-audience event in ALGS history, with a prize pool of $2 million. Australian team DarkZero Esports rose to the top, capturing the second-season championship.
2022-23 Season: A New Chapter
The third season of ALGS is underway, with a prize pool of $5 million, the same as the previous season. Although Split 1 saw a 30% drop in viewership, it peaked at over 500,000 viewers during the playoffs. The finals followed the same fast-paced format called Match Point, where a team could only claim victory after accumulating 50 points and winning a game. The first Split ended with TSM taking home the crown, a $300,000 prize, and in-game-leader ImperialHal bagging the MVP of the Tournament.
The Format: A Unique Competitive Structure
From the 2021-22 season onwards, the ALGS season format consists of three phases: Split One, Split Two, and the ALGS Championship. Each Split is further divided into a regional Pro League regular season in its five regions: EMEA, North America, APAC South, APAC North, and South America. A total of 40 teams from each region compete in their region's Pro League, with groups emerging from online qualifiers and direct invites based on previous performance.
The top 40 teams from the Pro Leagues advance to the split playoffs. After the conclusion of the 2 Split playoffs, the best-performing teams, along with those advancing through "Last Chance Qualifier tournaments," proceed to the ALGS Championship match. This unique format brings excitement, intensity, and a competitive spirit to the ALGS.
The Impact of Apex Legends Esports on Gaming Culture
The meteoric rise of Apex Legends Esports has profoundly impacted gaming culture. The inclusive approach of allowing Xbox and PlayStation players to compete has opened doors for a larger talent pool. Additionally, the viewership records broken during the playoffs demonstrate a growing interest in Esports. The success of Apex Legends Esports is also a testament to the game's popularity and the ever-evolving nature of the gaming industry.
The journey of Apex Legends Esports has been nothing short of extraordinary. From its humble beginnings marred by technical hiccups to becoming a trailblazer in Esports, it has evolved into an enthralling spectacle of skill and competition. As the gaming landscape changes, one can only wonder what the future holds for Apex Legends Esports. One thing is sure: it will continue to captivate audiences, push boundaries, and redefine the world of competitive gaming.