EA’s ALGS Commissioner John Nelson shares his experience as a Diamond 3 Bangalore main, and reflects on ALGS Year 2 ahead of the end of season finale.
With the ALGS Championships 2022 in full swing, we sat down with EA’s ALGS Commissioner John Nelson to talk about Year 2, and also his personal journey in Apex Legends to Diamond 3.
Malystryx: So first off Apex Legends has had a bumpy ride launching its esports scene during a pandemic, but here we are at a live event with a crowd. How do you feel about the progress of Apex as an esport during this period?
John Nelson: “We are so happy with the progress of Apex Legends esports, and one of our constants since we began has been growth. COVID has impacted all esports, so Apex Legends is not unique in that way. We all remember the Pre-season Invitational in September 2019. It was an incredible tournament for all of us to showcase what Apex Legends Esports could be on the big stage.
COVID turned our Year 1 plans into full online, but we saw growth which culminated in last year’s Year 1 Championship which set new records, which is another theme for us each step of the way. This year with the Split 2 Playoffs in Stockholm our Finals AMA (average minute audience) was more than 539,000 which is shows the incredible momentum leading here to our first opportunity to really go huge in a major sports arena with thousands of fans.”
Malystryx: I interviewed Falloutt during the event, and he said EA’s goal is to make Apex Legends a Tier 1 esports. How close are we to reaching that goal, or are we already there?
John Nelson: [pauses] “I’m sure everyone has their own feeling about where all the Esports land in comparison to each other. We just feel really good about the growth that we’ve seen. We feel like everything that we’re doing here in Year 2, especially with the Split 2 Playoffs in Stockholm and the event here in Raleigh for the Championship, that we’re part of the top echelon of Esports.”
Malystryx: In terms of Apex Legends esports, some regions—such as NA—are definitely growing faster than others, it seems from the outside. For example, with the number of third-party events online. Is that something that’s on your radar? Or is there value in letting the regions continue to grow organically?
John Nelson: “From the start of Year 1 of the ALGS we’ve offered tournaments both amateur and professional to each of the regions of the world to ensure we have that representation at our largest events. As we can see from the performance of teams here in Raleigh, that’s well deserved across the board. Here at the ALGS Championships there are teams coming from each region that have the capability to be the global champion.
I’m really proud of the grassroots communities that we see growing in Apex Legends Esports. To your point there are tournaments every weekend around the world, some large some small. Overall however, we’ve seen tremendous growth at the grassroots community level during ALGS Year 2, both from a number of tournaments executed to the total prize money awards. We’re happy with the direction that its head going into Year 3.”
Malystryx: Moving away from the ALGS, I was wondering how much Apex Legends do you play, and what is your favourite legend?
John Nelson: “That’s a great question, I like that question. I actually play a ton of Apex Legends. Since the game launched, I’ve barely played anything else, and I play it on an almost nightly basis. Either with a couple of long-time friends of mine or solo-queueing ranked. As a game it just fits with the kind of game I enjoy playing.
My favourite legend is Bangalore, and I’ve been a Bangalore main since the start. It fits my play style as I am hyper-aggressive. I like to go in, do as much damage as I can. Then when I get into trouble, I can smoke and run away.” [laughs]
Malystryx: Are the IGL in your stack?
John Nelson: “I am, and I take great pride in that. It’s really fun to be the in game leader, especially when things go right.” [laughs] “When you make the call and it was the right call everything played out the way you’d hoped, and you win the game; that’s just a really good feeling. It’s the kind of thing you take away even when you’re done playing the game, how much fun the storyline of that game was.
I think that’s something that so many Apex Legends players enjoy, that every game is a new adventure with a new story. It can also make some lasting memories with friends, that sick play you guys had, or an amazing victory you were able to achieve.”
Malystryx: I totally agree with that sentiment. Some games you just remember forever! What is your highest damage?
John Nelson: “This season? I’m not sure but probably over 2,000. All-time, I still don’t have that 4000 damage badge,” [laughs] “I don’t know if I’ll ever get that but I have plenty of games over 3,000. All-time record is probably around 3,500.”
Malystryx: That’s high. What about your highest rank ever achieved?
John Nelson: “Diamond 3. I’m pretty much solo grinding to Diamond every Split. Sometimes things don’t work out and I don’t quite get there and I’m only Platinum. But the highest I’ve reached is Diamond. Earlier on in the rank system when you reached Diamond 3 you would get pulled in with Masters and Predators and so that season I would do well and get to Diamond 3 and then instantly get smacked back down. [laughs] I just can’t hang with the Master and Predator players.”
Malystryx: Is that the moment where you hit up the devs and ask for a change?
John Nelson: [laughs] “No, I have tremendous faith in the development team to continue to make make tweaks and additions to the game that influence the meta and obviously they’ve done an incredible job over these three years of Apex Legends.
The game has over 100 million players and has been a tremendous phenomenon from the beginning and obviously the dev team have got a fan in me. They’re tremendously passionate about not just Apex Legends Esports but the game itself.”
Malystryx: Do you ever ask casually ask pro players for tips when you see them on how to improve or climb?
John Nelson: [smiles] “I take the most tips from Eric Hewitt, who is a member of our Esports team. He’s a former professional Halo player, a national champion and also really good at Apex Legends. If I ever need a tip about how to get back to Diamond 3, Eric’s on my mind.”
Malystryx: Final question, Apex Legends has been a phenomenon and continues to grow in popularity. For me the appeal is the speed and the fact its sit quite comfortably between casual and hardcore. In your opinion, what is the main reason Apex stands out as a game over others?
John Nelson: “I think Battle Royale is a really exciting genre for both players and viewers. The numbers speak for themselves, over 100 million players who play the game. The amazing viewership that the game gets it in general and with Apex Legends Esports the records that we’ve been able to set recently, it’s really captured people with its gameplay.
Something for me that I really appreciate is the speed of the game and also how active you have to be when you’re playing Apex, it’s not a passive FPS game. It’s a high-APM sort of FPS and I think that is really rewarded for players. To know that in order to be successful, they need to be highly active and doing a lot of things themselves, while also helping out their team-mates.”
A special thanks to John Nelson (Twitter) for taking the time to speak to us.