Apex Legends is the hottest game of the moment, skyrocketing to 50 million registered players in its first month of existence. Its combination of lightning-quick action and squad-focused gameplay has made it not only a popular game to play, but an exciting one to watch as well. Apex regularly dominates the Twitch charts, often topping mainstay Fortnite. So it’s no surprise that Apex Legends is primed to become the next big e-sport.
Over the last few weeks, established e-sports teams have been slowly assembling Apex Legends squads. The last week, in particular, has been a flurry of announcements. TSM, 100 Thieves, Gen.G, and NRG all added either entire Apex teams or individual players over the last few days. One of the more surprising moves saw venerated e-sports organization Team Liquid move its Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 “blackout” team over to Apex.
“There wasn’t any interest from the devs for hosting any events or focusing on anything e-sport related for ‘blackout,’” Liquid player Tanner “Rogue” Trebb said of the decision. “It was mainly just third parties doing things on their own and supporting the scene. The devs never said anything, they hadn’t shown any interest, so when Apex Legends came out, and Respawn came out and said they would support the e-sport scene, most of the competitive ‘blackout’ players switched over.”
In fact, most of the players shifting to high-level Apex play are coming from other games. Gen.G’s new Apex squad features two former Overwatch League pros and a longtime Team Fortress 2 player. 100 Thieves’ Apex team, meanwhile, includes players with backgrounds in Overwatch, Destiny, and H1Z1. TSM similarly features a team of players from the now-defunct H1Z1 Pro League.
Apex developer Respawn has said it plans to support e-sports going forward, though we don’t have many specifics yet, and the game clearly has an audience on Twitch. That said, there isn’t a clear indication that these teams will be financially viable. Unlike other battle royale games, like PUBG and Fortnite, there’s currently no tournament structure or professional league. In fact, teams didn’t really get serious about signing Fortnite players until after Epic pledged $100 million for tournament prize pools, including the $30 million Fortnite World Cup in July. Aside from a pair of Twitch Rivals tournaments immediately after launch, there hasn’t been a major Apex Legends competition.
For Apex Legends, the surge in new player signings is a bet that the game — and the genre as a whole — will have staying power in the competitive scene. “The battle royale genre is not a flash in the pan — it’s proven to be a hit from H1Z1 to Fortnite to Apex Legends,” 100 Thieves founder and CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag said in a statement. “We want to work with the best players in the world and help them reach new heights in their careers. 100 Thieves is committed long term to battle royale.”