The conclusion to the first split of the Apex Legends Global Series, initially slated for an offline tournament, is moving online due to the new COVID-19 virus variant.
In a statement posted on Twitter Thursday night, Respawn canceled an impending $1,000,000 LAN Apex Legends tournament, quashing the hopes of many that the esport could return to in-person competition in early 2022.
“Today we’ve made the difficult decision to move the ALGS Split 1 Playoffs to an online regional competition format. We sincerely apologize for the late-breaking nature of this news,” reads part of the statement.
The last time Apex Legends esports enjoyed in-person competition was 2019’s $500,000 Preseason Invitational in Krakow, Poland. The coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc on the first year of ALGS play, sending all tournaments online and eliminating international competition.
Other esports have made tentative steps back towards in-person competition in late 2021. The nascent Halo Infinite scene has a LAN planned for Raleigh, North Carolina, in December. VALORANT‘s Champions LAN is currently underway in Berlin, Germany, where a member of Team Liquid tested positive for COVID-19. Luckily, Riot has protocols in place that allowed play to continue while safeguarding the health of other competitors.
Apex LAN competition presents more of a challenge. The battle royale format, with twenty teams in each lobby, is more difficult to organize than Valorant‘s two teams of five players apiece. Ultimately, the logistics proved too risky for EA. After consulting CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines, they’ve decided that “a global in-person January event with players traveling from as many as 40 countries is not possible.”
The $1,000,000 Playoffs purse will be divided into five regional competitions, each featuring the top twenty teams of the regular season.
That’s a substantial change from the expected format. Originally, only the top ten teams from each region were slated to make the cut for Playoffs, where an international group would fight for the lion’s share of the $1,000,000 prize.
Since the prize pool is now divided by five, a lot less money will be up for grabs in the regional playoffs. And, at least for now, Apex fans will have to keep wondering which team is truly the best in the world.