Year 2 of the Apex Legends Global Series has now wrapped up. Culminating in the ALGS Championships Finals, we finally got to see Apex esports completely unshackled, with a big-money, high-stakes LAN event played in front of a live audience to crown the first ALGS world champion.
Apex Legends esports has quickly become a personal favourite of mine to watch, especially at a time where my interest in a few other FPS esports has faded. EA has built the ALGS up gradually throughout the COVID era, and has a genuinely amazing product on its hands that really shone on that final day of the Championships. However, there was one major blip that cannot be ignored, and that’s the unacceptable amount of qualified players and coaches that missed some or all of the tournament due to positive COVID tests or visa issues.
According to Liquipedia, 15 qualified players or coaches were unable to attend the Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina this year due to visa issues. This includes the entirety of Team Empire’s Russian roster, which was eventually replaced by AYM Esports, and two players from a further three teams.
Then COVID arrived. Positive COVID tests both in the days before and during the tournament caused a total of 17 players and one coach to drop out. This saw some teams subbing in coaches or team managers to play at the last minute, while some had no option but to play as duos.
As you probably saw at the time, players were extremely vocal about this – especially when two players that had made it all the way to the Finals on Sunday could then not compete when their COVID tests displayed that dreaded second line.
— Apex Legends Esports (@PlayApexEsports) July 8, 2022
In total, 17 of the 40 qualified teams experienced some sort of disruption due to either visa issues or positive COVID tests – a pretty staggering number. While there are next to no esports events post-COVID that haven’t been affected by the virus or visa issues in some capacity, very few have seen disruption on this scale.
While the incredible action during the Finals, and DarkZero’s surprising Match Point win, quickly washed all of that away, I can’t help but feel that the ALGS might have been lucky to walk away from this without an even bigger disaster.
With the previous LAN event in Stockholm also having some teething problems around travel expenses and PC specs, it seems the ALGS’ online upbringing in the COVID era has understandably led to a lack of experience when it comes to hosting these international live events.
I’m genuinely excited for the future of Apex esports – it has an incredible broadcast package thanks to Multiview and some amazing on-air talent; it has some great personalities representing big organisations; its viewership is in a healthy spot; it has an extremely passionate community and the game itself has a huge playerbase to tap into… The list could go on.
However, the ALGS must learn from its experiences on LAN for Year 3 of the competition if it is to reach its full potential.
The esport’s ceiling is huge, but if what happened in Raleigh happens again, the roof might just cave in. And when I look at how some of my other favourite esports have fared over the last couple of years, I really, really don’t want that to happen to Apex Legends.