EA made the right call to cancel the planned in-person ALGS Playoffs that were set to take place in January 2022. The company cited the Covid-19 Omicron variant as its reason for canceling the event that would have been the first in-person tournament for the Apex Legends Global Series. While EA hadn’t announced where the LAN was due to take place, cases are rising in many regions and at least two players were forced to isolate at last week’s VCT Champions Valorant tournament, so the writing has long been on the wall.
As hard as it likely was to make this decision, the safety of players and fans is more important than any competition – even one as exciting as the ALGS’ first multi-regional tournament. However, EA replaced the Playoffs with online Regional competitions, and this decision ruined the fun of the final weekend of Split 1.
If you’ve ever watched the final day of the Premier League season, you’ll understand the excitement that EA was trying to replicate. Every team plays at the same time, meaning that every goal can result in teams swinging up or down the table and nobody knows quite what’s happening until the final whistle. This was never more true than when Manchester City scored twice in injury time to clinch the Premier League title from arch-rivals Manchester United. EA had set up Split 1 for its own “Aguerooooooooo” moment, but unlike Mario Balotelli’s toe-poke through the QPR defence, it all ended in disappointment at the last minute.
Players and fans knew what the stakes were for the whole split – in the APAC North, EMEA, and NA regions the top ten teams would make it to Playoffs, as would the top five in APAC South and SA. However, this all changed on the penultimate matchday, when EA announced the top 20 teams from each region would qualify for regional tournaments instead. As I’ve said, it was the right decision to cancel the LAN, but the alternative presented ruined any jeopardy that the final round of matches could have had.
Teams fighting for the final places in the top ten now had nothing to play for. The likes of Kungarna, K1CK, and SCARZ sat between 11th and 20th place in the EMEA region, and are all squads that can pull out incredible moments when they need to. But thanks to the change, none of them needed to. In North America, 100 Thieves pulled out incredible back-to-back-to-back wins to make it into the top ten, but how much more exciting would it have been if it had done so to actually secure qualification. The hat-trick was impressive, but some magic was lost because the NA ALGS Champions could have come rock bottom on the final day and they still would have qualified. I think in previous circumstances it could have gone down as one of the all-time greatest Apex Legends esports moments, when instead there was nothing on the line.
We had a whole year of unprecedented online tournaments thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, and EA did well to keep the ALGS on course when all its plans were thrown up in the air. But the second season had a more concrete plan, and tournament officials were always cautious to explain that LANs might not go ahead if pandemic conditions were to worsen. Despite this, there seems to be no backup plan, other than reverting to the same online competitions we watched last season. Could we not have the top ten teams still fight it out at least, or change something to keep the stakes high for the final matches of the split?
Don’t get me wrong, the matches were still exciting – 100 Thieves’ hat trick and Hardecki’s 1v6 are moments that will remain in Apex esports lore for years to come, and Clean was incredibly unlucky to miss out on a place in the top 20 which helped the tension in NA. But this weekend’s action could have been so much more exciting if a better backup to the LAN had been in place.
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