Apex Legends is many things. A battle royale, first and foremost, but also an ongoing story, a character study, a comic, a Titanfall spin-off, and an esport. It is a game that refuses to be defined by any one of these qualities, yet embodies them all. But how do you balance all these plates, each spinning precariously and threatening to tip at any moment, in order to keep as many players happy as possible?
The commissioner of the Apex Legends Global Series, John Nelson, manages one of these plates. He occasionally slides over to give another plate a little nudge, but for the most part, he takes care of the esports side of Apex Legends.
“My team has been working with the Respawn development team since a year prior to the game’s launch,” he tells The Loadout. “And right from the start, we realised the amazing esports potential that the game had.”
However, it wasn’t an easy ride by any means. Developing a competitive ruleset that is both fair and entertaining is a difficult task, but doing so for a battle royale game is another matter entirely. 20 teams drop into a map with random loot and a random end point and, theoretically, the best should come out on top. The first port of call, says Nelson, was minimising the random elements.
“We have looked to find opportunities where we can limit the RNG and obviously still preserve the core of what a battle royale and Apex Legends is,” he says. “I think we’ve done a really successful job so far – and we are working on some more ways to limit any sort of randomness and ensure that the most highly-skilled players and teams are the ones who emerge victorious.”
While the Global Series does not have a direct impact on gameplay for your regular player, Nelson and his team work with Respawn to make the game fairer for all. He also takes feedback from professional players, and considers their feelings on gameplay and balance. He believes the biggest change his team enacted was changing the ring logic in the final circle.
“In terms of specific meta changes, I think the best example is the change that was made to the final ring of every game across public matches, ranked, and ALGS – to have that final ring that gradually closes instead of a more fast paced closure to a very small circle,” Nelson says. “Professional players have a unique ability to survive, and to find ways to stay alive through those final rings… And [the change] has really improved the end game scenarios and allowed people to show their skill in ways that we weren’t seeing before.”
Apex Legends, at its core, was created to be a competitive game
While the changes to the final ring were generally met with positive feedback, Apex Legends’ ring logic has come under fire in the time after the Winter Circuit Playoffs, due to the fact that the end zones all occurred in similar locations. A map of Worlds Edge with the endgame locations in the North America and EMEA Playoffs drawn on was posted to Reddit, showing that every final zone occurred on the western half of the map. This obviously gives teams who drop on that side of the map a big advantage, no matter how the ring closes at the end of the match.
Nelson is faced with a balancing act within a balancing act. His team is tasked with the upkeep of Apex Legends esports’ competitive integrity, while preserving “the core of what a battle royale is.” A battle royale is random, and randomness can result in 12 final zones on the western half of the map. Striking the perfect balance of that randomness though is an ever-changing and difficult task.
Nelson has rarely been one to shy away from making changes, even to revolutionary systems. The Match Point system creates exciting ends to Apex Legends tournaments, none more so than during the North America Winter Circuit Playoffs when the final three teams in game six could all take the whole tournament if they won the match. The innovative system will likely be Nelson’s legacy in Apex Legends esports, but in its first outing it suffered some teething problems.
Live events are still not something that we’re prepared to return to
The Match Point system debuted at the Preseason Invitational in Kraków, Poland – Apex Legends’ first and only live event to date – which went on for 11 rounds before Team SoloMid eventually claimed the title, due to the fact that an eligible team (that had earned 50 points from kills and placements) had to win a round to be crowned overall champion.
“Within so many esports and traditional sports, there’s an understanding that a player or team is on the cusp of winning the title – they’re one round away from victory,” Nelson says. “We wanted to be able to capture that within a battle royale.”
The mammoth Preseason Invitational tournament ended with 11 teams out of 20 on match point, but player fatigue quickly became a concern. Soon after, the system was tweaked so that teams started the tournament with seeding points based on performance prior to the tournament, thus rewarding consistency and helping competitions finish within a reasonable timeframe.
Nelson tells us that the team had been worried that the format could create tournaments that are too long or too short, but after this initial tweak, the system works well. There’s always the chance that something akin to John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s infamous 70-68 Wimbledon match (which lasted for 11 hours) could happen – but that’s part of the fun.
Interestingly, Respawn’s announcement about the ALGS Championship didn’t mention any such seeding, so teams who have a one-off great run in the Championship Last Chance Qualifier tournament will have the same chance of winning as the teams who have competed – and placed well – all season. This is likely due to the fact that the group stages have a limited match format, whereas the Championship Finals for each region will use the Match Point format.
The best should come out on top, and fans should be able to see Nelson’s vision of bringing “that edge-of-your-seat energy” to battle royale esports in the Finals. However, with three round-robin match-ups over three days in the group stages and then a high-pressure final one week later, player burnout is something to be wary of.
Limiting the number of rounds in the group stages is a way of mitigating burnout, but also intended to keep the grand finals feeling special. “[The Match Point format] can potentially lose its luster – it could lose its excitement if it’s the way every single tournament is capped,” Nelson says.
Regardless of qualms about end zone locations or the number of matches, expectation and anticipation is ramping up ahead of the ALGS Championship. There is a million dollars on the line, and the summer tournament will be scrutinised as the pinnacle of Apex esports to date. But it isn’t just fans who are getting excited.
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“The growth that we’ve seen in terms of viewership over the course of the Winter Circuit has really raised our expectations of what we believe we can achieve with the Championship,” says Nelson. This conversation took place before the Playoffs, which saw over 200,000 people tune in.
Apex esports fans were understandably disappointed when it was announced that the biggest event to date would be an online tournament, but Nelson is working with the broadcast team to create better experiences for fans watching from home. Respawn’s commitment to competitive Apex Legends streaming is shown by the recent introduction of third-person cameras in broadcasts and Twitch Drops to reward players who tune in.
However, despite the strides made to make the online tournaments fun for all, Nelson says he’s committed – when things are back to normal – to returning to proper offline events.
Across modes, my team is looking to support the game with tournaments
“Live events are still not something that we’re prepared to return to,” Nelson tells The Loadout. “And so our Championship will be five Regional Championships in the regions that players have grown accustomed to competing in.
“As soon as it’s safe to come back together, we will do that. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that – to be back in the same room with everyone. I think it’s going to be an amazing party for all of us.”
Nelson’s caution is justified – there have been mixed results recently as events slowly return to LAN. While some leagues and competitions have pulled it off, Dota 2’s Singapore Major showed it’s still a difficult task to hold a LAN in a pandemic, with several players and even entire teams dropping out due to positive COVID tests.
However, he’s right to be looking optimistically to the future too. After all, Respawn is working on content months and years ahead of release, and is constantly teasing what’s coming next.
The commissioner tells us that the future of Apex Legends esports is bright, whether in-person or online. “Apex Legends, at its core, was created to be a competitive game,” says Nelson. “So across modes, my team is looking to support the game with tournaments. [I’m] really looking forward to being able to bring more styles of competitive tournaments to the game and to the community in the future.”
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Whether these “modes” include non-battle royale experiences like the rumoured Apex Legends Arena mode was not confirmed by Nelson or Respawn, but it is certainly an exciting prospect for competitive Apex fans.
One thing that Nelson always comes back to throughout our conversation is that he and Respawn are listening. The teams work closely together and are always prepared to take feedback on board, whether it’s from a regular player or an ALGS winner. From Kings Canyon being removed from competitive play due to its unplayable choke points or Caustic getting nerfed after outcry from pro players, it’s clear that players’ voices are being heard.
As the Championship draws nearer and Respawn continues to tease more for the future of competitive Apex Legends, there’s never been a better time to get involved in the esports scene – whether as a viewer or a competitor. And of course, there’s an “amazing party” on the cards when we finally return to safe live events, which everyone will agree can’t come a moment too soon. In the meantime, John Nelson will continue spinning his plates and try to master the art of keeping Apex Legends esports perfectly balanced.
The Loadout’s interview with EA’s head of broadcast, Joseph Lynch, is coming soon.
G2 Esport Rekkles awarded with the 2021 LEC Spring MVP
After a great split for the Swedish superstar, Rekkles added a trophy to his mantel. He wins the MVP award despite missing out on the LEC Spring Finals after G2 took a rough 3-1 loss to Rogue in the lower bracket final. The loss knocked out G2 and means that the LEC final will be without G2 for the first time since 2018.
The MVP award will likely be a consolation prize for the veteran bot laner, as there is no doubt that Rekkles and the rest of G2 Esports saw themselves in the final to defend the LEC title. For Rekkles, the loss will likely sting even more as he joined G2 in the hopes of winning another domestic title, but despite his best efforts in the season, that dream will have to wait for at least one more split.
Even though the LEC trophy will fall into new hands this split, Rekkles has done everything in his power to carry G2 Esports all the way. While this split was Rekkles’ first with G2, he has been a constant force in the bot lane. Almost every game G2 Esports has played this split has been with Rekkles leading in kills and damage. His impact was enough to score 101 kills throughout the regular split, only beaten by Rogue bot laner Steven “Hans Sama” Liv at 103.
Rekkles also fielded the best KDA in the entire league during the regular split at a whopping 12.6. The KDA alone shows that Rekkles is as reliable as ever and might even reach a higher peak during the year. For now, Rekkles will have a break before the 2021 LEC Summer Split Starts as he won’t represent Europe at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
What happened to Rekkles?
After five years with Fnatic, Rekkles made the move to G2 Esports shortly after the 2020 World Championship. Rekkles joining G2 was one of the biggest roster moves in the history of League of Legends and brought a lot of expectations with it. So far, Rekkles has done well at G2 Esports but will have to chase his first trophy with the team for a bit longer.
How old is Rekkles?
Rekkles is one of the most experienced players in Europe with an age of 24 years old. Rekkles has played professionally since he was very young, starting with Fnatic all the way back in 2012. Back then, Rekkles was one of the top talents in the world and has achieved more than most players will ever get close to.
Dota 2: Team Nigma Completes Dota 2 Roster With iLTW
Igor “iLTW” Filatov joins team Nigma for the Dota Pro Circuit Europe Upper-Division league.
Team Nigma has added a Russian carry player Igor “iLTW” Filatov to complete its roster after moving mid laner Aliwi “w33” Omar to an inactive position. The team announced via Twitter that iLTW will be the fifth player on the team’s roster. ILTW joins Nigma in full capacity and will play with the team for a Major ticket in the second season of Dota Pro Circuit Europe Upper-Division League.
New patch, new🌟
We’re excited to announce @iLTW1 as our 5th player!
— Team Nigma (@TeamNigma) April 10, 2021
Recently. Nigma had a disappointing run at the Singapore Major. They faced elimination during the Wild Card phase of the tournament, after which the team decided to drop off w33. The team quotes “As of today, w33 will be moved from the active roster and become our sixth player for the time being. Omar has contributed a lot to the team and the organization. We are grateful that he is a part of the Team Nigma Family,”
iLTW is a well-established carry player and a great addition to the roster. Back in 2019, he started the year at OG, but his trial period lasted only about three months. Now he is all set for his second big European affair. Where he can play in the mid lane with ease. Team Nigma so far has 200 points to their name, courtesy of their third-place finish in the first season of EU Upper-Division. However, with this coming season being the last chance for everyone to grab enough points for a direct invite at The international 10, the team will have to work on its game with some amazing results.
Team Nigma’s finalized roster:
- Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi
- Igor “iLTW” Filatov
- Ivan “MinD_ContRoL” Borislavov Ivanov
- Maroun “GH” Merhej
- Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi
LoL: Rekkles Named 2021 LEC Spring Split MVP
After his debut season in a G2 Esports jersey, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson has been named the LEC Spring Split MVP.
Much like Rogue’s Coaching Team of the Split, the MVP award was given to Rekkles for his performance in the regular season. Rekkles joined G2 Esports from rivals Fnatic. Despite not winning a LEC title with his new team, he was regularly one of the standout players, hence this award.
Rekkles was joined by Rogue players Inspired and Odoamne, in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The pair were key to Rogue’s victory over G2 Esports in the Lower Bracket and will need to be so again against MAD Lions. During the Spring Split, Rekkles managed to pick up five Player of the Game awards, joint first with Armut and Hans Sama.
This latest MVP adds to Rekkles’ history of solo success inside the EULCS and LEC. Including this title, he’s picked up four MVP awards (Summer 2014, Summer 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2021). He’s also been included in the EU All-Pro team four times (Summer 2015, Summer 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020), alongside one 2nd place finish and four 3rd place finishes. All this goes to show the storied success Rekkles has had in Europe.
Sadly for Rekkles, this latest MVP title won’t result in another European title. However, G2 Esports, and Rekkles will likely have a fire in their bellies come Summer Split.
Rekkles proves he’s still got it
While many thought Rekkles’ move to G2 Esports was an odd one, and others even claimed it was bad. Rekkles has proven himself yet again on the European stage. While his side failed to win a LEC title, that’s not for a lack of trying on Rekkles’ part. Ultimately, it looked more like a lack of leadership was G2 Esports’ problem, which just happened to come from the player in the position Rekkles has moved into.
If G2 Esports can improve on that area in Summer Split, they, and Rekkles will be once again a challenge for anyone.
LoL: LEC 2021 Spring Lower Bracket Finals Recap- G2 Esports vs Rogue
G2 Esports and Rogue take to the Rift to secure a spot in the 2021 LEC Spring Split Finals.
Two of the biggest European League of Legends teams in the LEC went head-to-head today. G2 Esports and Rogue had the opportunity to redeem their previous losses and make their way to the LEC Spring Split Finals. Both teams had a phenomenal Spring Split, with many fans predicting them meeting in the Finals. However, the MAD Lions defeated both of these teams in the Playoffs and made the Finals for the first time in their history. They’ll be waiting until tomorrow, looking to take the crown from the winner of this series.
Rogue sought to do the same; to secure a place in the Finals for their first time. Meanwhile, G2 Esports was looking to gain momentum and re-establish the dominance of European superteams. With Wunder back on the Solo queue grind, things looked very intense moving into this match.
The drafting phase for Game One went very well for G2 Esports. They managed to secure strong picks like Senna, Seraphine, and Olaf, which secured them both good early and late game power. Wunder quit tank duty and switched to Urgot, which he used to bully Odoamne’s Karma in lane to gain an early advantage. However, the early game was very calm. During it, Inspired gained a monumental lead on Jankos in the jungle. He completely outpaced him, killing the first two dragons and Rift Heralds and picking up First Blood on Wunder in the top lane.
Moving into the mid-game, Rogue actively pressured G2 Esports with their lead and gave them no opportunities to come back into the match. G2 traded the third dragon for a mid-tower while RGE pushed their lead further. After that, a teamfight broke out in the mid lane where G2 took the charge of the fight. At first, it actually looked good for them. But Larssen’s Syndra had a fantastic position to land a stun on four members of G2 Esports, which changed the whole outcome of the fight. After losing that fight, Rogue had a massive lead and it was almost over for G2. They needed a miracle to come back into the match.
A brilliant Baron dance by G2
At 25 minutes, G2 found a crucial pick onto Trymbi. Afterward, G2 Esports went straight for the Baron and forced Rogue to challenge them in the pit. Not having enough vision around the area, Rogue stepped into a trap and G2 turned instantly. They took down every single Rogue carry and secured themselves a Baron buff.
It was a major turning point for the game. Soon after, G2 also grabbed an Ocean Dragon too. This stopped Rogue’s Soul and meant G2 had so much sustain paired with the Serpahine and Senna combo. After that point, G2 Esports controlled the tempo for the rest game and comfortably scaled into the late game, where their actual strength resided. Eventually, they gained more Ocean Dragons, but Rogue attempted to rush Baron. While Rekkles secured the third dragon himself, G2 Esports called the enemy’s bluff and forced another team fight. They slaughtered Rogue in the river and used the opportunity to end the game and claim the first Nexus of the series.
- Time: 35:52
- Kills: 13-9
- Turrets: 7-3
- Gold: 64.8k-57.7k
- Dragons: 3-3
- Barons: 1-0
The Nocturne pick came as a surprise to many fans in the drafting phase. To add to the surprise, Hans Sama picked up the Jinx, which was the first-ever appearance of that champion in his hands. The match started similarly to Game One, as Wunder got caught by Inspired and Odoamne, leading to First Blood. However, unlike last time, G2 Esports made proactive plays into the bottom lane and caught the likes of Hans Sama with the help of Mikyx’s beautiful hooks. Having two global ultimates on the side of G2 meant that they could rinse and repeat the bot lane gank formula and get free kills on the enemy bot lane.
After a few skirmishes of trading champions and objectives, a team fight broke out in the bottom lane. That team fight started in favor of Rogue as they managed to bring down the key carries of G2 Esports’ health bars. However, a very good hook from Blitzcrank made a small opening for G2 Esports, but Inspired stopped the situation from escalating on his Nidalee, and he won the team fight for the team. Then, an array of small team fights happened, and Rogue was continuously taking the game away from G2. They secured three elemental dragons and the Soul dragon was in contention for both the squads.
Rogue played the same Baron dance mini-game with G2 this time. However, an excellent shot from Rekkles’ Jhin Ultimate made it very easy for him to snatch the Soul dragon from Rogue’s hands. In response, Rogue angrily chased down the G2 champions and took down almost everyone in the enemy squad. Despite the steal, Rogue won the fight and collectively pushed through the bottom lane to collect their first win, equalizing the series.
- Time: 32:17
- Kills: 13-9
- Turrets: 8-1
- Gold: 60k-51k
- Dragons: 3-2
- Barons: 1-0
The Nocturne has apparently become the talk of the town, as Rogue picked it up for their top lane in Game Three and denied it from G2. The drafting was very strong for both the teams, and as expected, it turned out to be a bloodbath in the early game. Al level one, Rekkles was caught out in his jungle, where he had to insta-Flash the engage from Trymbi’s Rell. Mikyx also expended his Flash to put some damage on the enemy AD Carry. However, knowing G2’s bottom duo had no Flashes, Inspired started the top blue-side jungle and quickly made his way to the bottom lane to easily dive onto the support for First Blood.
After a matter of seconds, Caps was harassing Larssen with his heavy poke damage and both of them were dangerously low in the lane. A quick visit from Inspired into the lane made sure that Caps had no way of escaping with his life. In this fight though, Jankos made sure the Rogue mid laner got shut down as well. Another tower dive under the bottom tower gave G2 Esports another kill to neutralize the lead quickly. There was a bit of a hiatus for the spectators, as both of the teams looked to secure dragons and Rift Heralds to push their leads. But another dive was set up by Rogue on the enemy bot lane, where they secured two additional kills. Furthermore, Rogue looked to further advance their lead in the match by forcing a fight and trading their top laner in return for two from G2 Esports.
Things were looking very grim for G2 Esports and they wanted to take fights near objectives, but Rogue was way ahead of them. They punished their desperate attempts to fight and brute-forced major objectives. Of course, they convincingly won team fights to take down G2 Esports in Game Three, taking the series to the match point.
- Time: 29:09
- Kills: 5-23
- Turrets: 8-1
- Gold: 46k-58k
- Dragons: 1-3
- Barons: 0-1
Coming into Game Four, it was do-or-die for G2 Esports. To start, Rogue was playing aggressively right off the bat, beating them in the early game. Because of this, Jankos ganked the mid lane and secured First Blood for Caps. However, G2 Esports pushed their luck a bit too far in the river, so Rogue collapsed on them. They had to sacrifice three members of the team, whereas Rogue left the fight unharmed. G2 got their revenge when they went for a dive on Hans Sama in the bottom lane, but it went utterly wrong as a five-person stacked Rogue roster collapsed on the play. G2 had no escape. As a result, Rogue took down four more kills at the cost of only one champion of their own.
Now, all of the pressure was on G2 Esports to come back into the match. They tried to gank the enemy AD Carry in the top lane, but all was in vain, as Rogue promptly responded to the gank and made a disadvantageous situation for G2 Esports. After Rogue secured even more kills to their name, G2 Esports found it very difficult to come back into the match. Eventually, Rogue started up the Baron, challenging G2 Esports to contest them. G2 Caps got his opportunity and jumped into the pit with his Sylas, but there wasn’t anyone able to support to him. As a result, Rogue got another kill and walked away with the Baron buff.
It was all over for G2 Esports at this point but they tried desperately to hold the fort down. With an amazing Orianna Shockwave from Larssen, Rogue secured a pick onto Rekkles, and a kill on him meant that Rogue won the final fight. Taking down the final Nexus in front of them, Rogue secured their first-ever Grand Final appearance. Riding high from this victory, they’ll take on the MAD Lions tomorrow for the 2021 LEC Spring Split title and Europe’s spot at MSI.
- Time: 32:34
- Kills: 8-18
- Turrets: 0-10
- Gold: 50k-63k
- Dragons: 1-3
- Barons: 0-1
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