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In a surprise move, EA games announced a brand new, free to play battle royale game that was to launch the very next day. Apex Legends which was created by Respawn, launched with a bang. Toppling Fortnite from the top of Twitch as many popular battle royale streamers like Ninja, DrDisrespect and Shroud all tried their hand at the new release.
The game features the same basic elements of most modern battle royale games. To begin the match, you choose where to start off by dropping from a ship and land in one of many areas on a single map. Once you have landed there is a mad dash to pick up the best and most useful gear you can find, and of course, there is an ever-narrowing circle that forces the players closer together as the number of competitors diminishes.
However, there are a few changes that make the game very unique and could help the competitive community flourish. Unlike other battle royales, there is no solo play (as of yet) in Apex Legends, you can only play in teams of three which can be match made from a queue. There are also several "legends" to choose from each with their own unique abilities and ultimates. The legends are sorted into categories—Tanks, Healers and DPS, There is also a tracking legend that can give a lot of useful information about enemy locations to the team. Because of these watered down moba synergies, team play can be far more effective and role-based compared to traditional battle royales such as Fortnite or Call of Duty: Blackout. As well as this ... There is a re-spawn mechanic where you can revive a fallen teammate if you can jump through all the hoops without dying yourself. All of these elements promote team play, something traditional eSports orgs should be looking at closely.
Re-spawn have also introduced a larger average time to kill compared to other battle royale titles. This which allows better players to win their 1v1's more often, rather than frustratingly being killed in one shot by a distant sniper. This promotes a higher level of competition towards the end of the matches where there are only a handful of squads remaining and all have earned their place. The higher level of competition could also help the game grow as an eSport.
Over the last year we have seen many competitions from Fortnite, to Blackout, even Realm Royale had a healthy tournament scene for a while however none came without their faults. Realm Royale had a Lan event where competitors could see other player's monitors. Many competitive Call of Duty fans are hesitant to embrace Blackout as an eSport as they feel the game is based too much around luck rather than skill, and finally Fortnite has had numerous problems with its competitive tournaments despite their prize pools and popularity. The creators of the game have held many live tournaments hosted in large areas which were viewed by hundreds of thousands of people the world over. Few people had any issues with these tournaments but they were an important few, the competitors. Fortnite tournaments often coincided with big new patches for the game, be that the introduction of new interactive parts of the maps, new weapon types or even new vehicles. All of which massively impact the game and frustrated many high-level players who had to learn the ins and outs of these game-changing patches in a high stakes tournament environment.
As for Apex: Legends, the game has been out for a week and already has had a Twitch rivals tournament played with a $50,000 prize pool and has other third party tournaments with casting planned for the very near future. So far, the developers have made a great game that has built upon previous battle royale giants. They have been graced with the ability to view the mistakes of other developers and take notes. Re-spawn really planted the seed for a healthy eSports community, all that remains to be seen is if they can support the competitive scene well enough to see it grow.