ALGS caster Falloutt is the life and soul of the party, and is convinced Apex has the right DNA to be a tier 1 esports.
With the ALGS Championship in full swing, Esports.gg caught up with Apex Legends’ premier talent Jon “Falloutt” Kefaloukos. Falloutt has been a part of the Apex talent pool for the entire lifespan of the ALGS, and his charisma and energy are his trademarks. The former Gears of War pro spoke to us about his dedication to the fanbase, his almost military approach to preparing for events and what exactly was going on with that viral video.
Malystryx: You bring a lot of energy to the venue, I remember seeing you running across the stage area and hyping up the crowd when the cameras were off. When I’m doing any family gathering, I often feel responsible that people are having a good time. Do you feel that for the Apex community?
Falloutt: “100%. I feel like that in general in life, but for the Apex community absolutely. Look it’s their first live event in years. I was that kid in high school basketball games in the States, in the super fan section, getting everyone excited. It’s just a natural part of who I am but at the same time, I feel that obligation for the Apex community, because this is the first time that the majority of the audience has attended an esports event. Period.
I kind of feel a burning obligation to make the ALGS Championships a great experience, to make sure they’re having fun, to interact with the crowd and I feel like that’s part of the gig as talent.
It’s easy to just go on, do the show – cast and go back to the green room and chill. But in my eyes, we’re responsible for providing entertainment for everybody, making it a great experience both online and in-person. And I want to make sure we can deliver that for the audience, for the folks that actually committed money and time and resources to be here.”
Malystryx: That’s so true, I feel there is a lot of first timers. So in the back of your mind, you’re thinking this is maybe their first event and you want them to have a good time?
Falloutt: “I mean James Banks, legend in the esports scene, the Counterstrike scene, he asked the crowd: ‘Who here has been to an esports event before?’. Barely anyone responded. ‘Who’s first event is this?’ Everyone erupts.
You kind of don’t even realize being on the show – Holy Cow! This is the first event for a lot of these people. First since COVID at least.”
Malystryx: On the topic of COVID, I think one thing that is a struggle in Apex in terms of its competitive scene is that it’s kind of unlucky. EA/Respawn launched the game, it did well, maybe better than they expected. Then a year later the ALGS is created and just as it’s about to launch an epic season and head to LAN it gets shut down due to COVID and goes online. Then just when it looks like we’re out of the storm, Omicron hits. Do you feel that too? That Apex esports has just been a bit unlucky?
Falloutt: “It’s unlucky, unfortunate. But I’d also say Apex has had a lot of luck – as a game. It launched, found a lot of success. Kind of slowed down a little bit but then it exploded, it’s been awesome. I’d say it’s a tribute to the hard work Respawn and EA has done.
In terms of esports, yes. Unfortunate, unlucky for sure. Despite all that we were able to shine and grow over the last year and a half. I think we’re there, we’re a tier 1 esport. Which is awesome. Our goal and vision – this is also what EA said when I talked to them – I asked them what’s your vision for this thing – is to be the No. 1 most-watched FPS esport in the world.
I think we’re getting close to being able to reach that number, to reach that opportunity. If we have live events for the last two years it would have accelerated that.
Despite all the adversity, I think we adapted really well, we pivoted online really well. It allowed our pro players to become superstars – content creators and Twitch streamers as well. We’re the only esports where the top content creators are the top pro players. That’s our unique difference I think.”
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Malystryx: When I watch the English stream I feel like there’s a lot of focus on the Western teams. Either the camera does not cut to the other teams or people don’t talk about them. You personally make a big effort on stream to create and weave storylines but a lot of airtime on the main stream is focused on NA teams. Do you think that’s a problem with building out the scene as a whole?
Falloutt: “The majority of my preparation for this event and Sweden, and I hope I did a good enough job of this, was to make sure we can put a lot of respect on our Eastern teams. APAC North and APAC south in particular, and I think we did a pretty good job of that in particular.
I think you’re right, there’s a lot of focus on the NA teams. To be honest and very fair, it’s because they are the ones that perform. If you look at the top five teams. And in battle royale, you have to watch the teams that are getting the kills you have to watch the teams that are making it into late game, if you look at the top five teams from Sweden, they were almost entirely North American – OpTic, TSM, Team Liquid they were all from the top five or top six.
I think part of it is because of that – NA is just the best region right now in my opinion. But with that said, we try to really focus on telling stories and promoting the eastern regions as well.”
Malystryx: Whenever it cuts to a team and you’re on cat you always have an anecdote for them – I was playing with this guy, he’s the best Sniper in this country, he can bench 180, in third grade he had a broken arm etc. Your knowledge seems very organic, but where does that wealth of knowledge come from? Because it’s really impressive.
Falloutt: “I literally take my professional acumen and apply it to broadcasting. What I mean by that is I put together an office form, a Microsoft form, send it out to all the players in advance, ask EA ops to send it to players. That form has questions such as meta, team comps, what are you going to be doing, where are you going to be dropping, gameplay stuff but then also storyline stuff. Any interesting stories that you think are funny, anything you want to know about your teammates’ personal stories.
Here’s something I loved about Apex from the very beginning. The players are all onboard to help this thing grow. It’s not like other esports where they are lazy, don’t want to help or just want to focus on playing. They’re all committed so I usually get pretty good responses.
That’s one level of prep. I have a doc, a master Word doc that I use and give it to all the talent and we all contribute but I go by region and break down analytical stats. I try to get as many stats as I can.
And I talk to a ton of players. I’m constantly in their DMs messaging them, asking questions, understanding what’s working, what’s not working, their stories, what happened, team changes, etc. At the event itself, every single night, this is the stuff that people don’t see but I am in the lobby with the players in the hotel room, asking them the hard questions, asking them the stories.
I felt like I don’t do enough justice for OpTic Gaming for example. I know TSM really well, I’ve known them forever, it’s because OpTiC burst onto the scene really fast and I never had a chance to get their story. Last night I sat down with Knoqd and Skittlecakes for an hour and a half and heard their full story start to end. I am going to play that for the broadcast today. So that’s kind of what I am working like.”
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Malystryx: What’s another team outside of North America that you think you want to focus on or that deserves more attention?
Falloutt: “I always love paying more attention to Europe. But they’re not doing a whole lot to deserve and earn our attention, but they just have not been performing, which is tough. Obviously there are a lot of issues with Ukraine so the best players Artyco, Max-Strafe not being able to compete which breaks my heart and I made sure to mention that during the broadcast as well.
But if I had to think about Europe, I like to think of FAK, they’re doing well. GMT and Invictus Gaming, I like to try and promote them. Darkzero, obviously reigning champs, APAC South. APAC south region in general, I think Dreamfire is a team you would see a lot of us shifting our attention to them this weekend.
EXO Clan from Thailand performing insanely well. Singularity is a team that I don’t think we did nearly enough promotion of yesterday. They are the best team in Brazil, South America. They are top 4, top 5 right now.
Singularity are playing so well right now. And then aD and Crazy Raccoon, they don’t have their full rosters. The Japanese teams, Fnatic and there are a few other teams that we really need to focus on more.”
Malystryx: You really thought about this. I think given their performance we should see more of Dreamfire or EXO Clan but then you see them only for a second. It would be really cool to know more about those teams. For me, what Apex lacks to go to the next step is the storylines. If they are not a big streamer, then you won’t know the player. What can be done to address that? Is there any chance you grab some of the newer players and take them to your panel or casting desk?
Falloutt: “I don’t want to get into trouble because I am always advocating bringing players on to the panel. Look, my mentality for casting, broadcasting is that our job is not to make it into the Fallout show, the Raynday show or the James Bardolf show – it’s not about us. It’s about the players and the ecosystem and the scene and I think our talent team is so committed to that in Apex. I don’t think it’s true for every other esports.
Our job is to promote the players to build their brand. Because at the end of the day, if we are not promoting them we are not growing as an esport. The NFL is nothing without Russell Wilson and Big man and Tom Brady, The NBA without Lebron James, Michael Jordan, these names that help the sport elevate itself and we are nothing without ImperialHal, sweetdreams these players. So yeah, I completely wholeheartedly agree. I want to start bringing more and more people on it. I am always fighting for that, I am always getting a little flak for fighting a little hard for that but I believe in it. Because at the end of it, I think that’s our job.”
Malystryx: In terms of the future, what do you want to do for yourself? What do you have planned? You seem to be doing everything. You hosted the UFC Nickmercs and TimTheTatman Battle of the Ages last week, now you’re here at the ALGS. What’s your career goal at this point?
Falloutt: “My pipe dream, I don’t know about next year, my pipe dream I’d love to actually break into traditional sports broadcasting. I am a big fan of traditional sports broadcasting, I am always using analogies all the time. That would be a dream to do that – to bridge that gap. I think we would benefit a lot by bridging the gap between sports and esports. We’ve done that with music, fashion, hip-hop, and culture but I think a little bit more in sports would be great.
My mentality for casting, broadcasting is that our job is not to make it into the Fallout show, the Raynday show or the James Bardolf show – it’s not about us. It’s about the players and the ecosystem and the scene and I think our talent team is so committed to that in Apex. I don’t think it’s true for every other esports.Fallout on helping the Apex ecosystem grow.
But for the near term – next year – I gave up quite a bit to focus on Apex. This is before Apex was what it is now – that was the period when things slowed down. We didn’t know what the future was. But it was the moment in Krakw pre-seasonal invitation, we had the first ever match point and John Nelson the first-ever commissioner of EA and Joseph Lynch – the Head of broadcast at EA explained to me their vision for this thing. And I saw that vision come to fruition in the finals and I realized this esport has a secret sauce that no other esport has.
I’ve casted every Major esport title and there’s something special about Apex. With that said, my focus is Apex. I want to continue to be involved, help the scene grow, and contribute in any way I can. I am all in, I have given up quite a focus on Apex. So Apex + the influencer stuff is fun, I enjoy things like that. I loved the Nickmercs event, it was lovely, the throwdown and things like that, they’re my biggest focus.”
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Malystryx: Finally did that dick bump help you to become closer?
Falloutt: “It was a transformational moment for the talent team. That moment single handedly helped us deliver a great show this weekend. We crossed a certain threshold with the dick bump and all of a sudden we are all-stars.”
Malystryx: Did you make that up or is that a real thing?
Falloutt: “I did not make it up, I can’t take credit for it. I found it on the Chicago Cup’s baseball team. In 2016 during the World series, there was a video that kind of went viral but not super viral so no one really knows about it.
People think I’m a lunatic when I bring this up. But this guy David Ross, who’s now the manager of the Cubs hit a home run, goes back and is caught on camera on a Fox broadcast literally dick-bumping all his teammates. People were like ‘what is happening right now’. And that was apparently a thing for the Chicago Cubs and I realized this is unmatched energy and I need this in my life.”