Apex Legends Esports - 2020 Year In Review
January 1 2021
Apex Legends in 2020 has been all about online regional action with plenty of iconic moments. So if you haven't been keeping up, here's what you need to know of what happened in Apex Legends esports in 2020.
2020 for Apex Legends has been one that brought us a lot of regional action. Although in a very challenging year, the Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) still managed to switch and continue in an online format. It was a year filled with opportunities for teams to prove that they are the top of their region, and one that allowed new competitors to rise up and take a shot at the competition. In this article we will go through the highlights of the year with the help of some input from casters Gaskin, Onset, GuhRL and RaynDay. If you haven't been keeping up, here's what you need to know of what happened in Apex Legends esports in 2020.
The Big Events of 2020
With 2020 being the first official season of the ALGS, we’ve seen a year filled with official tournaments sanctioned by the EA. The Global Series initially kicked of Apex’ competitive year with the Major Qualifier, which would allow teams around the globe to qualify for the very first major tournament. Sadly, with the circumstances, the Major then had to be postponed, and later on, The Apex Legends Global Series had to switch and adapt to an online format, and compete within their separate regions. Teams clashed in an open format in order to qualify for each region’s finals. Throughout the first half of the year, we saw 48 tournaments across the eight different ALGS regions. North America, South America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Korea, Japan, Australia & New Zealand, and Greater Southeast Asia
After the initial half, EA announced the ALGS Summer Circuit, which would shake up the competition some more. The Summer Circuit introduced the “Super Regional” format, putting nearby regions against one another. Bringing us some cross-regional competition to settle out who is the best within a larger area. This matched North and South America to form the Americas, Europe and MEA became EMEA, South Korea and Japan became APAC North, and SEA merged with ANZ to become APAC South. Throughout the five tournaments teams could compete to get a share of the prize, but to also qualify for the last tournament of the Summer Circuit, the playoffs, here 20 teams would face off against each other in the “Match Point format”, where a team can only win the tournament if they secure a game victory after they become Match Point eligible. A team becomes match point eligible after gathering enough points in prior games to reach the point threshold, once that has been reached, a team has to win any following game in order to become the champions.
GLL also hosted the GLL Masters Summer in collaboration with EA. With an open qualifier, 40 teams could qualify in each “Super Region” to become a part of the league. The league would bring 5 weeks of action and a “Last Chance” finals qualifier for teams to secure their spot in the finals. In the Grand Finals, the remaining 20 teams would battle it out over the weekend in 16 games to crown a champion in each Super Region.
As the Summer Circuit came to an end, the following circuit was already announced and waiting, the Autumn Circuit. The circuit followed a similar format as the Summer Circuit, however, regions like APAC North and APAC South became the standard, instead of the smaller regions they were before. Additionally, PGL brought us the PGL Showdown during the Autumn circuit. Across 6 regions teams battled it out again in the match point format.
Outside of the ALGS circuit, we’ve seen other various tournaments like Twitch Rivals come up to let pros and content creators duke it out, and Twitch wasn’t the only one to keep us entertained with such events. As both Daltoosh and TSM also held Invitationals in a more relaxed setting, focusing on entertainment rather than prestige, where mixed squads fought for pride and a smaller prize pool.
Different Regions shaping Different Metas
Throughout 2020, the interesting part of the meta was seeing how the different regions have developed different playstyles and legend compositions. Over time we’ve seen Wattson fall off a bit, while she was a big part of the meta in 2019. As a result of that, regions have seen their metas evolving in different ways. In the APAC’s we’ve seen the rise of Revenant and Crypto, where their abilities allowed for more aggression, making the games filled with action as teams predominantly looked to take fights. In North America Bloodhound also made their way in as Complexity Gaming popularized the pick to bring their aggression into the games. In Europe we’ve seen a rise in Caustic, where Alliance first debuted the comp early in the year and showed his strength, later on some additional buffs to the character made him become a valuable legend in team compositions. Despite all legend changes, one character still remains a must pick, Wraith. Her abilities are still a key in any team composition, as she’s essentially seen a 100% pick rate throughout the competitive seasons. A specific play that has risen in popularity with Wraith would be “the Kidnap”, where a Wraith uses her ultimate to teleport an unsuspecting opponent right into the hands of their teammates. A play we’ve seen Alliance’s Hakis use quite a bit during the 4th Autumn tournament.
Another character that came in as a strong pick in most compositions has been Gibraltar, the walking tank became a reliable defensive character after significant buffs in several patches, which allowed teams to push more safely with Gibraltar leading the charge.
During the year we’ve also seen changes to the maps, where World’s Edge has become the favorite map of pro players. As the map evolved, it has become a staple for competition in Apex Legends. Kings Canyon on the other hand, which pro players generally disliked more, as the smaller size, and the amount of choke points made it one where third parties were a lot more common. As a viewer, however, it was interesting to see how players adapted when both maps were in rotation during events. With the release of the third map Olympus, we’ve now seen Kings Canyon taken a step back as it’s been taken out of the rotation during tournaments, and we’ve yet to catch some official competition on the new map. Which will be an interesting aspect to look forward to in the upcoming competitive season.
ALGS Switching from Offline to Online
In a year of isolation, where regions haven’t been able to face each other, the ALGS had to completely adapt to an online format. Teams could continue playing as a part of the Apex Legends Global Series in all the various online tournaments instead of their previously planned offline events. Through this teams were able to earn circuit points, and still had the possibility to compete at a high level. With tournaments being locked to each region, we’ve been able to see which teams are placing themselves at the top in their respective area, and we’ve seen how they each have taken a different approach to the meta. Whereas other regions generally stayed off of Revenant, he was a big part of many compositions in the APAC regions. The region saw a more aggressive approach to the game, which led to a lot more chaos across each game.
The scene still is waiting to see more competition where the different regions can face each other While the super regionals have given us a slight taste, the question of which team and region is the best in the world still remains. Hopefully in 2021 we’ll be able to see which meta could come out on top, as we’d then be able to see the different styles of these regions clash.
With all players competing from home, fans had the chance to catch the action in a different way than only watching the tournament broadcast from a studio, which was through the eyes of the player. Many fans now had the opportunity to follow their favorite players and teams in tournaments through their live streams. Unlike regular conditions, players could now follow the action more closely and get to know the players they supported more. This led to some endearing moments as players were able to celebrate their victories at home, such as Papa Mande being able to congratulate his son as North won the GLL Masters Summer live on his own stream.
We asked the casters what they had to say about the complete switch to online play within regions, and if it had any affect on the teams and players:
GuhRL : "The fact that players are limited to playing a certain region definitely affects the meta. I personally think that the slightest changes of pro teams in a single tournament can affect others on who they play."
Onset : "The beauty of Apex Legends is the evolution of meta through updates, new characters, and teams constant mental battle over what methods can be strongest in a lobby dominated by a 'current' meta. It goes without saying that LAN events will always be the true test of a player and teams ability to execute, but the development of styles and tendencies will have always been in the online arena."
Gaskin: "I certainly think the inability or lack of reason for North American and Europe to mix has led to very different styles of play and also maybe less practice available. Caustic meta in Europe may have got stamped out or infected itself into North America if they scrimmed or had cross regional LANs."
Raynday : "Regional differences have hidden the true meta of Apex Legends just ever so slightly under the rug, but when LANS return and true skill is measured on a global scale once again, we’ll be ready to see metas evolved that haven’t had the chance to see the light of day - and that’s a tournament you won’t want to miss."
Stand out performances of the year
North winning GLL Masters Summer
The victory for North at GLL Masters came down to the very last game. The teams Alliance, SJP2, MajorPushers, and GnaskeStrafeDel were still ahead of North, but the points were close. As the game reached the end game, both North and Alliance placed themselves up for a good finish.North managed to survive a clutch situation, and was able to reset, and later take down Alliance, then finally take down Luminosity to take the game. What was most important in those final moments, was that North was able to secure two kill points on previously downed opponents, which secured them just enough points to avoid the tiebreaker, and grant them a first-place finish.
GSD Winning the EMEA Summer Playoffs
For GnaskeStrafeDel winning the EMEA Summer Playoffs was perhaps the ideal ending to their chapter. Leading up to the Summer Playoffs, GnaskeStrafeDel had managed to establish themselves as one of the top contenders in Europe, claiming a victory in the 6th ALGS Online tournament and the second Summer Circuit tournament, with multiple top finishes across the summer. Before the playoffs, it became known that “Max-Strafe” got signed to Natus Vincere, which would mean the end of the trio. The playoffs would be their last official tournament together, and they would go out with a bang. With a solid performance in the first four games, they quickly were able to reach the match point eligibility threshold, and going into game 5 they were the only team on match point. In game 5 they secured a strong position early on, and with perhaps some luck on their side, they managed to get a winning position in the final circle, as Norths’ squad was split off at the wrong side. And with the positional upper hand, the final game was won. Onset who casted the finals gave the following comments on the final results:
"(...) a special mention has to go to the GLL Masters Summer. I feel like the week by week broadcast, which was then decided by the match point format finals really gave us a true winner and indication of who the best teams in both NA and EU were. The longer format really gave fans a chance to invest into the teams, and players a chance to adapt and improvise to a consistent line up of teams."
CLG winning the Americas Summer Playoffs
Leading up to the Playoffs in the Americas, CLG already was able to prove that they were a strong contender for the title with great performances across multiple tournaments leading up to the Playoffs. During what would be the last game of the tournament due to the match point format, CLG found themselves in the top 5 position together with Complexity, who was also on match point. Once Complexity had one of their teammates downed, CLG took their chance to pounce and wipe the squad. They would then be able to third party the last fight, which ended up securing them the first-place finish in the Summer Playoffs. Caster and host Raynday had the following to add:
"Upsets are always fun to watch. When the viewer and the caster is caught off guard, when expectations are shattered, and the story suddenly ends with a twist - that’s peak esports. That’s entertainment. When CLG clutched up in Game 7 of the playoffs, it not only turned around the heavy focus on Complexity throughout the last several games, but it cemented a decision and legacy of a team that took a risk to rebuild and reconstruct their vision for success. Finally achieving the ultimate vindication, CLG were the underdogs that never counted themselves out, and it made for a glorious culmination of discipline, belief, and getting the job done. Knowing Rogue, TSM and other great competitions would be on match point if the tournament didn’t end, they took their one chance amongst the chaos of the final circle and sealed the victory, ending their opponents resistance before it started. With that, the competitive landscape of North America shifted again, setting up for a finale in Autumn that would be anybody’s title to claim - with the stark realization that nothing is guaranteed, and only those who are willing to bet on themselves win big in Apex Legends."
Alliance winning the PGL Showdown
Leading up to the PGL Showdown, Alliance had been a consistent team in Europe, however, since summer they had not been able to secure a first-place finish just yet. Coming into the tournament they were also playing with Badoli as a stand-in, but that proved to be of no issue heading into the matches. With a consistent showing throughout all games, Alliance managed to secure match point eligibility after winning the 6th game. Which meant the following games would have to be played for the win. In game 7 they eventually found themselves in a top 3 situation, and one of those other teams was Nessy, who was also on match point. Alliance managed to hold foot, and in a three-way fight, they managed to come out on top, making them the champions of the PGL Showdown.
LYNX TH winning the APAC South Summer Playoffs
Historically when a team is on match point, they decide to play the game a bit more methodically, as their names appearing in the kill feed essentially alerts all the other teams of their position. LYNX however, decided to do the opposite. In the last game, LYNX showed their typical aggression all game long, which allowed them to secure a strong spot in the end game. After holding a caravan they decided to bring the action to their opponents, and take home the victory.
Apex Esports 2021
For Apex, we luckily didn’t have to wait too long to get a glimpse into the 2021 season. As EA recently announced the Winter Circuit, which would start in January, the Winter Circuit has seen a couple of small changes, that were positively received by the community, and is looking like a great follow-up on the Autumn Circuit. Additionally EA’s partners GLL and PGL could also very well still be hosting new competitions throughout 2021 to add to the Apex Legends Global Series.
When asking asking casters what they'd like to see in the coming year here's what they had to say:
Onset: "The online circuits have given the platform for Apex Legends to show what an incredible spectacle it is, but the stories and personalities of the players can only truly be shown in person. The momentum and hype that Poland gave the scene is still there, and one event is all it will take for people to be grabbed once again by the game and the teams involved. Plus, on a selfish note, I want to be able to scream some fire commentary lines instead of worrying about waking my neighbors up at 5am."
Gaskin : "I would love to see org skins added to the game and of course we cross our fingers for LAN. This game was robbed of such an exciting year of live events and whilst of course the pivot was excellent, the community deserves some hype shows."
GuhRL : "I’m hoping for LAN tournaments in 2021! When and if they’re safe to do, Maybe some big tournaments starting up like the Dota House Tournament for APEX"
Raynday : "My goals for Apex Legends Esports is really to continue growing the game’s player base, and the stars of the Esports scene. As more casual players join Apex Legends, and more stars emerge as personalities and ambassadors for the scene, I think we’ll see an amazing synergy of natural growth that helps elevate Apex Legends to firmly being considered one of the premier esports in the world by 2021."
We’ve seen many teams across the globe prove themselves this year, and it’ll be up to them to prove that they can do the same in the next year, and perhaps we’ll also see a future where we can once again return to live events so that we can finally see all the regions come together for the competition. We’ve seen teams like TSM, Complexity, T1, Crazy Raccoon, MiTH, Alliance, North, Gambit, EXO Clan, and many more rise to the top of their regional leaderboards. But it’s still the wish to see who truly is the best in the world.