ALGS Director “Tweaking, Iterating, And Improving” Esports Format For Year 4

The Apex Legends Global Series is a behemoth of an esports event. Part of that comes from the fact it’s a battle royale, and every match needs 60 participants, every LAN event twice that number. But it’s also more than that. Year 3 has spanned 11 months as teams have fought tooth and nail – or, more accurately, bullet and fist – to get a place at the ALGS Championship. Chris Pipher, the director of operations for the ALGS, feels good despite being in one of the busiest work periods in his calendar.


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“We’re really happy with where things are going,” he tells me. “We’re gonna be in store for a fantastic final. This is the most intense Apex Legends competition to date, and we’re really excited to see what happens on Sunday.”

Related: “I’ve Always Struggled With Pressure” Blvkhvnd’s Strafing Flame Opens Up Ahead Of The ALGS Championship Final

The ALGS has undergone countless iterations under Pipher’s guidance. He joined the team halfway through the first season of online tournaments after plans of LANs had been scrapped due to Covid. Despite being happy with the Championship in Birmingham, Pipher can always see room for improvement.

algs championship stage
Photo courtesy of Joe Brady and EA

“We’re always iterating,” he says. “Obviously, in Year 2, we introduced the Pro League, we got back to LANs. In Year 3, we continued to grow the program, grow the Pro League, and grow the Challenger Circuit. We’re now having three LANs, and then Year 4 is coming soon. We can’t talk too much about that, but we’ll have some information in the next few weeks.”

Not every change to the ALGS format is a huge one, and Pipher sees the current Pro League format as a good blueprint for the esport going forwards. “Coming from Year 1 to Year 2, introducing the Pro League, that’s what I would consider to be a massive competition format change,” he explains. “I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen in the future, but right now, we’re looking at tweaking, iterating, and improving as opposed to overhauling.”

Those tweaks are being seen at the Championship itself, where elimination brackets have been expanded from six-match rounds to eight matches. This was trialled at the Last Chance Qualifiers but continued on the biggest stage. Pipher wants to reward the most consistent teams and help eliminate some of the RNG that comes part and parcel with battle royale esports, and actively works with the teams themselves when iterating in this way.

“We want to make things right” – Chris Pipher, ALGS director of operations

The same goes for match pauses, which have been so commonplace at the ALGS Championship that the British crowd erupts in sarcastic cheers whenever the game is stopped. While Pipher admits that the system will evolve, he fully backs the idea of pausing the game to solve player issues like crashes for the sake of competitive integrity.

“Our philosophy behind pausing is, if there are issues that players are experiencing that are outside of their control, that are impacting them negatively, we want to stop, and we want to make things right,” he explains. “That’s the philosophy behind how it’s working, but we’re constantly iterating on the tech, we’re iterating on our protocols on when to pause and when not to, but our philosophy remains the same.

“We want to make the competition as fair as possible, and when something’s not right, we know it’s not great for a viewer to have the whole game stop, but it’s the right thing to do, and that’s why we’re proceeding that way.”

algs championship legend select
Photo courtesy of Joe Brady and EA

Pipher understands there’s room for improvement, but the team isn’t willing to tweak the system on such a big stage; there’s plenty of time to do that between seasons or in tournaments that don’t have $2 million on the line. But he’s going to have a conversation with pros after the Championship to gauge their thoughts.

“Right now, when we request a pause, we wait for a two second window where there’s no damage. Maybe after a consultation in the offseason, maybe that’s three, maybe that’s four, maybe that’s five. That’s not something we’ll play with this weekend, but this is a good test.”

algs championship alliance fans
Photo courtesy of Joe Brady and EA

Pipher and his team are first in and last out of the Resorts World Arena, ensuring that everything is running smoothly. Still, he’s happy to see his hard work paying off and players and fans alike reacting well to the tweaks he’s made to the Championship formula.

“This is what it’s all about, right?” he says with a smile. “In Year 1, where we’re having the Championship online in a regional setting where you’re in your office working, you don’t hear [the crowd], right? It was still great Apex Legends, but this is something totally different.

“As the week goes on, as in pretty much any sport, it ramps up, and when you start getting out of that group stage, the crowd starts getting louder and louder each day. My team backstage, we’re hyped.”

algs championship crowd
Photo courtesy of Joe Brady and EA

Indeed, you can hear every cheer from the crowd from all the backstage areas of the arena. You get that instant reaction, the aural feedback of a thousand people drawing a sharp intake of breath as a player lines up a devastating Kraber shot, and you know something’s working. Even in our supposedly soundproofed interview booth, you can hear when someone clutches a 1v3 or wins an important team fight.

The pauses, too, have been embraced by the live crowd. They’re dull for viewers but important for competitors, and fans take the breaks as opportunities to start chants for their favourite – or against their least favourite – teams. The ten-second countdown until play resumes echoes down the halls as fans prepare to get back into the game, adding an element of excitement to an otherwise boring part of the match.

The ALGS Championship feels like the pinnacle of Apex esports, but anything with a live, passionate crowd will give you that impression. Pipher is always learning, though, and the iterations for next year, still tight under wraps, will only improve things further. And while he believes Apex esports is in a “good spot” in England, he doesn’t rule out venturing further afield next year to fully embrace the global aspect of the tournament.

“Will we be in the UK forever? That remains to be seen.”

Next: The ALGS Championship 2023 Feels “Like A Circus”, Says TSM Raven

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