NBA player Grayson Allen of the Bucks is a self-proclaimed Apex Legends fan, a Predator rank player to boot and recently hosted a $15K invitational. We caught up with him in an exclusive interview about all things Apex.
An NBA player and a hardcore Apex Legends player
Grayson Allen is an American professional basketball player for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks. Praised for his basketball IQ, strength and energy by Bucks general manager Jon Horst, Allen is expected to make a significant impact on the team's fortunes. However, basketball is not his only passion.
Allen is also a gamer with an affinity for Apex Legends, and during the NBA off-season makes a habit of streaming the game on his Twitch channel. Unlike other sports stars who might dabble in gaming, Allen - who goes by the game name "G3" - puts in the hours and has reached Predator Rank in the Battle Royale title in the past. Predator for those unaware, is the highest of the seven tiers in ranked Apex.
On October 4th the NBA athlete hosted the Grayson Allen Invitational, a one-day event which attracted the likes of TSM, G2 Esports, Cloud9 and Sentinels.
Esports.gg's Jon "Falloutt" Kefaloukos caught up with the NBA player (video above) ahead of the new season to talk about his Apex event, his history with grinding ranked in Apex Legends and his thoughts on the competitive scene.
An Apex Predator himself
Allen is no scrub when it comes to Apex, despite admitting to Falloutt he had a bit of help climbing in the beginning after switching from XBOX to PC and finding two good team-mates.
"I got hard carried to Masters, very hard carried," said Allen with a smile. "But once I got there and started playing in the more competitive lobbies, I got more comfortable."
Allen went on to recall that for Season 5 the stars aligned with the off-season.
"I was streaming like six hour days that summer during the off-season. Workout in the morning, come back and stream Apex. Both those Splits I made Predator, and I've made it two other Splits since then. There was a lot of growth there, because at first I was getting fried (laughs)," said Allen.
Allen on parallels between gaming and traditional sports
As part of the Grayson Allen Invitational, 26-year old Allen ended up witnessing top flight Apex first hand. In the interview with Esports.gg, Allen praised the mental strength of professional gamers, saying their mental stamina was on a "completely other level" and that it was something he has come to respect about gamers.
"The mental toughness and stamina that pro gamers have is something that people don't realise. The guys are competing six, seven, eight hours at a time. The intensity of those games is on another level," said Grayson Allen.
"To be that focused, that locked in especially in a Battle Royale game where one mistake and you're out. Those games take an insane amount of focus, and for these guys to be able to sustain that for hours a day when they're competing against other pro teams, it is incredible."
"The mental toughness and stamina that pro gamers have is something that people don't realise. The guys are competing six, seven, eight hours at a time. The intensity of those games is on another level."
Grayson Allen's favourite Apex Streamers
Esports.gg's Falloutt didn't hesitate to ask the big questions. Who are Grayson Allen's favourite Apex streamers?
"There's a ton of Apex streamers I watch pretty consistently," said Allen. "Snip3down has become one of them. NiceWigg is the first guy I was watching that truly got me into watching a Twitch streamer play."
Allen went on to say that NiceWigg for him was the originator of competitive controller players, and at the the time Allen was still on XBOX and was keen to learn how to not be hard carried.
"When I'm watching someone like NiceWigg using the same input as I do, it made me feel like I could replicate what he's doing out there," said Allen with a smile. Allen has since switch to PC.
"It's not just learning to make myself a better player, now it's genuine entertainment of watching comp. Most of the time if there is any big Apex tournament going on, if I can I'm trying to tune in and watch."
"Any time it's tournament time I'm watching Hal, and back when aceu used to play Apex consistently, there was nothing like watching aceu dropping in on some pubs and going to work."
Does Allen follow the ALGS and the competitive scene?
"Yes, It's incredibly entertaining. I was watching the qualifiers the other night. It gets so heated at the end of those games, it's so intense and so entertaining to watch."
"I find genuine entertainment value out of it now, it's not just learning to make myself a better player, now it's genuine entertainment of watching comp. Most of the time if there is any big tournament going on, if I can I'm trying to tune in and watch."
The Grayson Allen Invitational
The Grayson Allen Invitational was a $15,000 one-day event featuring 20 teams. Grayson Allen collaborated with tournament organiser eFuse to bring it to life, and the tournament ended up pretty stacked.
"It was a long time in the making," said Allen. "But I didn't mean for it originally to have top pro teams from all around. As I started messaging people on Twitter and getting some names it's kind of what it fell into."
Of the 20 teams, 19 were invited but the final slot was reserved for the winner of an Apex clip competition. The winner was GunchFPS, who was given the privilege of being the captain of the 20th team. As captain Gunch could pick his team-mates and being the gigachad that he is, he decided to invite Allen and a friend of his to be his allies.
"I actually ended up competing in it which I wasn't expecting," said Allen with a smirk.
We decided to catch up with the surprised captain of Team Grayson, GunchFPS, to ask about his memories of the event.
What was it like playing with Grayson? "We both love competing so we were going really tryhard," said GunchFPS. "He is one of the best controller players I know, so going into every fight, I knew he could kill anyone in that lobby. I really think he could be a professional Apex Player, but he decided to stick with basketball."
"The event was so awesome and fun to be apart of. I expected to go in there, and just get destroyed. The highlight for me was the first game. we ended up being next to TSM until the very end," said GunchFPS. "We kept trading damage with them through the game, and fending them off from pushing us until the very last zone. We did die to them, but not without a fight. It was insane to go toe to toe with the team that many consider to be the best in the world."
GunchFPS was keen to point out that Team Grayson did ultimately finish tied with the NA ALGS Champions Kungarna NA, who were recently signed by 100 Thieves. "As someone who has never been in a lobby with the best in the world, I'll take that as a win," said GunchFPS.
A star-studded event featuring the likes of TSM, G2 Esports and Cloud9
The final list of teams included some NA heavy hitters such TSM, Cloud9, Sentinels and G2 Esports, all of which placed top 6 in the ALGS Championship. However, the event also attracted interest from overseas.
"We had 4 or 5 teams that were last minute additions that were non-NA teams from other countries that wanted to play in the tournament," said Allen. "We had 10 different countries represented in the tournament which was incredible."
eFuse were in charge of coordinating the event and viewership proved phenomenal. The 3-hour Grayson Allen Invitational peaked at a staggering 80,489 viewers according to ESCharts, with an average of 63,669 viewers. However, the success of the event came as no surprise to eFuse's Patrick Klein.
“Grayson isn’t just a pro on the court, he’s been grinding on Apex for years and the gaming community really came to support one of their own,” said Patrick Klein, CSO of talent discovery platform, eFuse.
“As sports and gaming continue to cross over, we’re committed to giving all gamers a place to showcase their talents and have a little fun. The success of this invitational again reinforces how much gamers love high-production gaming events. So special thanks to Joseph De Anda, Gaming Partnerships Manager at EA for helping make this an elite experience for all of us.”
But what did the players think?
"G3 [Grayson Allen] is mad cool dude," said Zach Mazer of Cloud9, whose team placed 3rd at the event. "Doesn't matter if he's in the NBA or a rapper or a f**king goofball. He is just a gamer who is doing some dope shit for the community, and I'm appreciative of that."
“Grayson isn’t just a pro on the court, he’s been grinding on Apex for years and the gaming community really came to support one of their own"
Will there be more Grayson Allen Invitationals?
"100 percent there will be more," said Allen. "I would love to have another one right away. Hopefully I can get something done during the [NBA] season, which will be tougher. If not I'll do it after the season."
"Plan for the next one [Grayson Allen Invitational] is to figure out how to make it bigger and better. It's not going to stop at 1, hopefully it's 20 of them."