There’s no retirement plan in esports. Players tend to retire at an early age – anywhere from 24 to 30 – and then their opportunities are somewhat limited. Many players move into a managerial role or become a coach for a team, others move into full-time content creation, in rare occasions they start their own successful organisation, and some, but not many, may even leave the industry as a whole.
What if there was a game for them to play that’s popular in viewership on YouTube and Twitch, requires teamwork, and has a skill gap? That’s where Apex Legends steps in. Respawn Entertainment’s surprise Battle Royale hit released in early February and a trend of organisations entering the game is emerging.
This doesn’t sound uncharacteristic in the world of esports, however. Games are played competitively all the time, and it often doesn’t take new games long to fall into that same path. What about when a game has no clear competitive structure and is based upon a highly-criticised genre? Then it starts to become interesting (and somewhat unpredictable).
Meet the PENTA Legends!
Proud to announce our newly formed @playapex squad.
— PENTA (@PENTA_Sports) March 4, 2019
Alongside a surprising number of prominent organisations either expressing interest in signing Apex Legends players or already doing as such, is the fact that a number of former professional players from other games seem to be involved. From Overwatch to H1Z1 to PUBG, there’s a clear history in newly-signed Apex Legends players having experience competing in shooter titles at an extraordinarily high level.
Some examples of such trend existing include Gen.G signing former Overwatch League players Chris “Grimreality” Schaefer and Ted “silkthread” Wang, 100 Thieves signing former H1Z1 player “Teenage”, Rogue signing former H1Z1 Pro League competitor Jordan “HusKers” Thomas, PENTA Sports signing former PUBG professionals Jack “WACKO” Middleton and Matthieu “oraxe” Ribiere, as well as former Overwatch Contenders player Herman “Nesh” Kobrin. There are more instances, but you get the picture.
The squad will be joining us at the LA HQ later this month
— Gen.G esports (@GenG) March 1, 2019
Each of these signings, as well as the others, all have a couple of things in common: they all excel in shooter titles and they’ve all competed at a professional level. They were great at their respective titles but, for a variety of reasons, they tapped out. Apex Legends’ popularity and ability to allow the better players to (almost) always come out on top have been big enough draws to entice them into competing once more.
What if Apex Legends follows in the footsteps of other Battle Royale titles and struggles to get its esports scene going in an impactful way? Then these players will likely have created a lot of content on the game by streaming and uploading videos and, because they’re immensely talented at the game and part of an organisation, they’ll have likely picked up a solid audience of their own. That’s not a bad back-up plan.
Welcome to 100 Thieves, @100T_Lifted!
Lifted was previously a pro H1Z1 player. He is currently in the top 10 for kills in Apex Legends, 6th as Wraith. As a top contender, we are excited to see his Apex career take off! #100T pic.twitter.com/TGHM8LeFeX
— 100 Thieves (@100Thieves) February 27, 2019
For the time being, players and fans alike are having to sit tight as tournaments organisers produce community-driven tournaments in hopes of Respawn Entertainment launching an official competitive effort. We’re only a month into the game’s existence but the likes of Twitch and Code Red have already hosted numerous events for Apex Legends. They may take place in public matches – which isn’t an ideal setting for true competition – but it’s a start. It not only helps to show the level of interest in Apex Legends esports but it gives a somewhat-competitive platform for budding competitors to practice and show off their prowess.
We’re not saying this is the most stable of retirement homes, but it certainly yields a lot of potential and (hopefully) a lot of fun in the meantime, whether Apex Legends truly takes off as a competitive phenomenon or otherwise.