FORG1VEN: “Playing at a pro level is something I do with joy but it doesn’t define who I am”

FORG1VEN: “Playing at a pro level is something I do with joy but it doesn’t define who I am”

Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou, one of the most celebrated players to have played in the European League of Legends elite, is returning to the game after nine months of military service and one year without competition.

The Greek League star was absent from the highest level since 2016 when he played in the semifinal of Worlds with H2K Gaming. After a short stint with Origen to win the EU Masters a year ago, he spent the last nine months in his country (from July to April) to perform his compulsory military service.

Now FORG1VEN announced his intention to return to the game and compete at the highest level. The 26-year-old player talked about his plans and goals in an interview with L’ÉQUIPE.

Your military service has just ended. You knew you were going to have to deal with it during your career. Why now?

In 2017, things that I put aside in Greece when I became a professional player resurfaced. Personal things. I had to stay in my country for about a year and I thought: I’m here, why wouldn’t I do my military service to get it out of the way? So I went there. Today I am free to do what I want with my life again.

So that you could focus on League of Legends?

I did not do that for League. In the end… The game is one of the reasons, but not the main one. It’s more for my life. Playing at a professional level is something that I do with joy. But that’s not what defines me as a person. I did not join the army to get rid of it and become pro again.

If it happens, so much the better. But it stops there. League of Legends is an extra. It has always been for me. My life has never rested solely on the game. But it was my job and no matter what I do, I do it thoroughly.

What did you do during your military service?

I was near the Bulgarian border, involved in the administration of the army, as a soldier of course. I also had the opportunity to discover military weapons, to practice with guns, that sort of thing. In the Greek army, you are not trained to go to war. But I had never touched a weapon before, I had seen it only in movies.

Today I can assure you that I would be able to defend my country if it becomes necessary one day. I learned a lot. Something you understand when you’re in the military is the value of civilian life. It’s very important. In terms of life experience, it was strong, useful.

But we could use these nine months differently. Can you imagine South Korean professional players doing their military service? Two compulsory years. For two years of your life you become inactive… In your life, essentially.

Have you found the time to play, to follow the competition over the last few months?

In general, I only watch the semi-finals and up. Matches with important stakes. When there is pressure when the mental force comes into play. Otherwise … I was at home one day a week in general. I did not waste it playing League of Legends. I did some ARAM, but that’s it. This is how to summarize my relationship with the game in the last nine months.

I started again a few days ago to get used to it again. I think that before that I had not done a ranked game since June. Now that I’m free, I think I play more. If I become pro again, that’s all I’ll do. If not, I will reduce my playing time again.

You are not ready to try to come back at any cost?

It depends on a lot of things. I can not make promises. I like the competition in League of Legends. I do not particularly like the game, especially the solo q, how it works. It has become terrible, worse and worse over the years and I do not think it’s my opinion alone.

But I have always wanted to discover regions like Korea, China, the United States … It never happened. If I have a good offer, I see myself returning, yes. But today it’s more of a hobby than anything else. I saw this as my job in the past and if it must be the case again, perfect. I will do it with joy. If it does not happen, I’ll watch a few games, I’ll play from time to time and that’s it. It’s not a problem.

Were you surprised by the passionate reaction of people? It’s been two and a half years after leaving H2K after all…

There are very few veterans in the game today. Almost everyone has gone. For my part I have never paid attention to smooth my communication, to be friendly … If I see something that I do not like, I say it. If it’s something I like, the same. No doubletalk. No detours. People remember my level too. I was an aggressive player on and off the game. All of this helps, I think, to grab the interest of the people and leave a strong impression.

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NaVi CEO: “Investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still”

NaVi CEO: “Investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still”

The man behind the Ukrainian NaVi, Yevgeny “HarisPilton” Zolotarev, talked in-depth about running an esports team, expanding into international waters, creating a winning team and remaining profitable in highly competitive esports scene.

Natus Vincere CEO also talked about the appointment of Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy to the role of esports director, the opening of the academy team, recent struggles of their Dota 2 team and much more.

Recently Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy joined for the role of esports director. How did this idea come to be?

Similar thoughts started long ago. We are quite familiar with Andrey, we even played on the same team, but somehow all this time we went parallel to each other. Nevertheless, we constantly communicated, shared opinions about CS and everything else.

I have always considered him an intelligent specialist, he has a good eye for young talents, a lot of experience on the professional stage: a player, a captain, a coach. His main advantage, unlike the other 90 percent of former esports athletes, that he has a high focus on the business component, he understands the development of the club as a business. I think he is very suitable for this role.

Previously, Na’Vi did not have such a position?

Not for the last 2.5 years, but even earlier I myself was in this position when Alexander “ZeroGravity” Kokhanovsky appointed me in 2016. I worked there for six months and then took the position of CEO, combining it with the esports director, and ZeroGravity went into inactivity.

The position can be called new, but it is necessary for large clubs. Team Liquid, for example, have several general managers at once, who have distributed disciplines and regions among themselves. Na’Vi, like any other multigaming, requires personnel enhancement as well.

He will only deal with Counter-Strike?

No, by all teams, it will include Dota 2. An esports director is a person who is responsible for all the compositions of an organization. Transfer policy, tournament schedule, bootcamp schedule and more.

I took Andrey as an experienced specialist to build a vertical search, training and education of players. As a general director, I still have operational work, finance, media and marketing, the rest went to B1ad3.

With his signing, you will also open a youth academy?

Yes, in the near future it will really appear. By this time, the market had matured, and our organization had matured, human and financial resources appeared to implement these plans. All other details will appear very soon in the official announcement.

I can only say that there will be many opportunities for young players. I really want to realize our accumulated experience in working with young people.

So talking about your Dota 2 team. One cannot help but wonder when you have a team as well supported as yours, where are the results?

The conditions are really good, but if the players did not work at the same time or if we had questions about their discipline, then we can say that the organization slacks off or something else. Speaking specifically about the composition of Dota 2 — the team has no disciplinary problems at all, the guys worked and continue to work with maximum commitment, even after defeats.

I cannot say that we are pleased with the results, but we see their return, they live on DotA and there are no problems inside the team. There are only game moments that we are trying to fix.

Nevertheless, there are positive things — some players six months ago were considered to be unknown to anyone, and during this time they were seriously tightened up from the point of view of the skill, the pool of heroes, the LAN experience and so on. I try to look for a positive in everything and we will continue to work for it.

Do you participate in the life of the team? Can you suggest something or express displeasure?

There is a manager, coach, captain and even an analyst who works with players remotely. For the last bootcamps, we have attracted such a person as a mental coach, with whom we plan to continue cooperation.

I am not competent enough in DotA to prompt guys. First of all, I appreciate the game as a fan, I can be dissatisfied, angry about why they made a pick for that hero and not for another, to draw conclusions based on the words of commentators or analysts. With my game level, I do not allow myself any in-game recommendations.

Na’Vi was among the first to announce the opening of a division in Apex Legends. Right now you already announced the signing of two Quake world champions — Cypher and clawz. What went into this decision?

There’re a lot of unknown moments, the game itself faces certain difficulties.

Regarding the region: in the case of Apex — this is still two players from the CIS. When we choose the composition, the criterion of the region is not in the first place. We are after the players that we want, everything else is secondary.

We will take players and look at what the publisher will do, how much their efforts will be directed to the development of the esports component of the discipline. In PUBG we are now seeing a big recession, for instance.

Are you disappointed in PUBG?

It is too early to talk about our position, but we have serious concerns. The start of a Major league cannot be called successful. As an average person, I don’t see sponsors, I don’t see any views, and at the same time I see high costs associated with moving the team to Berlin.

The failure in the results of the team are related to this?

To a lesser extent, the season has just begun, the first phase has ended. The results are unsuccessful, but there is time to correct them. The concerns are tied to the discipline itself.

After a very long break, you recently signed foreign players. What led to that decision?

Fortnite is definitely a western game, not popular in the CIS region. Rainbow Six Siege — we wanted both a competitive line-up and the team that has a slot in the ESL Pro League. In the CIS, there is no choice in this regard, there is only one team — Team Empire, which recently signed the guys and did not intend to sell.

And getting more foreign fans while at it?

Of course, we perfectly understand that it is necessary to improve monetization. Unfortunately, this is hard to do in the CIS region.

We do not intend to leave the CIS esports, here are our roots. We, like any other major multigaming, are just trying to increase our presence in other regions. For example, in Team Liquid, FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas, the compositions for Rainbow Six Siege are Brazilians.

Recently we could see stagnation in tier 2 esports — fewer sponsors, less audience interest, fewer fans. Do you think it may have a negative impact on esports?

In order for sponsors to pay good money, you need to show good numbers: reach, audience, views or results.

Sponsors calculate ROI (return on investment) — clicks, transitions and everything else, the more videos you watch, comment, etc. the better you’re off.

NaVi right now has no such problem. From the point of view of the business model, Natus Vincere can be called an independent asset, and it can sustain itself right now, but one way or another, investments will be necessary in the future. Esports does not stand still.

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Apex Legends quickly broke into the industry and for several weeks kept the leadership in the genre of battle royales. Now the game is gradually losing its audience — developers do not have time to fulfill the wishes of users, who find more and more reasons to return to Fortnite or PUBG.

Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.

KuroKy: “As a pro player you have to give it your all, nothing less”

KuroKy: “As a pro player you have to give it your all, nothing less”

After the abysmal performance at DreamLeague Season 11, Team Liquid will be looking to redeem themselves at MDL Disneyland® Paris Major next month. Team’s veteran Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi talked about the mindset within the team, preparing for events, and his career.

Earlier this year, at the Chongqing Major, Team Liquid found themselves one man short and were playing with Chu “shadow” Zeyu as a stand-in. There TL finished in respectable Top 8 position, considering they were missing one of their leaders, Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barkawi.

In an interview with XBOCT, Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi talked about what it means to play with a stand-in at a professional level, playing with someone who doesn’t speak the same language, why they changed a coach, as well as his plans for the future.

About shadow

“Suddenly he [Miracle-] could not go to this tournament, and we had to very quickly look for someone to replace him. We talked to shadow, and he agreed. He were to play with us until the end of the tournament.

In general, this is a cognitive experience. Shadow is a very hardworking and modest person. It is easy to communicate with him because he knows how to listen. But it is difficult to communicate with him because he does not understand us at all.

He does not speak English, so if he wants to tell us something, he takes out the telephone and uses a translator. Here he wants to say: “I think this hero will suit us” — and shows me the phone with the translated text. It is such a small annoyance. But he tries hard and works hard. In general, we did our best.

The biggest difference for me as a leader is that I gave him a lot of guidance on the microgame. We discuss the subjects — he asks for advice on what to buy. I try to tell him when to engage in fights or just farm.

I think he experienced undue stress playing with us. For him, our game system is new. He does not know when we want to fight, gank the enemy or something else. So I tried to help him all the time. The effectiveness of my game from this, however, suffered a little, but it was worth it.”

About playing with a stand-in

“My personal goal was to find suitable strategies under the current conditions. When Miracle- could not come, the biggest problem was that the strategy pool shrank by more than half. I lost about 60% of my workpieces.

The fact is that our team is built around the rotation of the positions of MATUMBAMAN and Miracle-, but Shadow doesn’t really want to play in mid. So it is worth paying tribute to MATUMBAMAN because now he had to stand in the middle lane all the time and did a good job. He is truly one of the best players in the world.”

About changing the coach

“The coach is a very exhausting position. You can’t do this for long. And it seems to me, Heen is a little tired of this. He wanted to do something new. And together we came to the conclusion that yes, we had a good many years, won the International together and a whole bunch of tournaments …

It seems to me that at a certain moment the team wanted to change something. Not necessarily the players, just change at least something that would bring new ideas and fresh blood to the team. In such cases, you just change the coach.

I think Virtus.pro acted in a similar way, changing ArtStyle to ArsZeeqq . After The International, as for me, both us and VP were in a very similar situation. We felt that we needed to change something, but the team was good, and everyone knew that we could continue to win. And really won this composition. So somehow it all came to a change of coach.”

About goals

“Win The International for a second time. And the win two more Internationals.”

About the difficulties in the team

“I think the hardest thing we had was when you win one The International everything goes down. We had a desirable goal, and we put all our efforts to win the most important tournament.

And after we did I made a mistake, because I began to squeeze all the juice from my team. I want to win another TI, and they also want to win, and in general we had a very good season. We hit the top a lot of times, won one Major and two Minors. And when the time came for TI, we were completely exhausted. 

After the end of TI, we decided to take a big break. We missed the first Major to refresh our heads and take up the game with new forces. After all, be that as it may, the main goal of any player is to win The International.

This is a huge test — to win a second time with the same team, because these people have already won. But I accept this challenge, and I hope we can make it happen. As for me, this is a great motivation: to become not just the first two-time TI champion in history for myself, but to make it a whole team.”

About his career

“If you give in to the life of a pro-player, then you have to give it your all completely, nothing less. Career is your whole life. You have, in fact, no privacy. It does not give me problems. Many at first suffer, but quickly get tired of living like that. I still like this life.

When I finish my career, I will certainly spend almost all the time with my parents. As time goes by, parents grow old, so spend time with them at least sometimes.”

About unpleasant teammates

“Sometimes, when playing solo, you come across ruiners who just want to waste your time, and you don’t want to play with them. In general, yes, there are people with whom I hate to play. I don’t even know their names. I don’t care about them. I don’t even turn off the sound for them. I don’t even want to quarrel with them — it’s a waste of time.

Yes, I am sitting at the computer, I understand — you just play, but for me this is work. I have to get better. And I just can not do anything, just sit and endure. And then I will either allow the negativity to devour me, or try to keep calm and play on.”

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The penultimate battle for Europe: Semi-finals in LEC Spring Split

The penultimate battle for Europe: Semi-finals in LEC Spring Split

Only four teams remain in the running for the first LEC champion title. Between G2 facing Origen, and Fnatic battling Splyce, who will make it out this week? We take a closer look.

Three spots to Rift Rivals 2019, one spot at a Mid-Season Invitational 2019 and 200,000 euros — this much is on the line in LEC 2019 Spring Playoffs. The first franchized split in Europe was a vibrant one and the fight for the top spots continues.

The two best teams of the regular season — G2 Esports and Origen — earned themselves a direct spot in the Round 2 of the bracket. The winner of this battle will move straight to the grand final. Both of these teams have secured a spot at Rift Rivals 2019 as well, as their finish in the Top 3 is already guaranteed.

In Round 1 Fnatic faced off against Team Vitality and Splyce beat SK Gaming without much effort. In the new system, the winner of today’s match will move on to Round 3, where they will face the loser of G2/Origen for a spot in the grand final.

Last week’s trial turned out to be an easy one for both teams. Though many expected it to be a much closer affair, Fnatic have successfully continued their winning streak after defeating Team Vitality.

The Worlds 2018 vice-champions had a tough beginning for the split, going 0-4 after the first two weeks, which was made up for starting week six when Fnatic started their eight-game winning streak. The same win streak remained till the end of the regular season. 

And after a flawless performance by Fnatic last week, that undefeated streak is now at 11-0. Team Vitality, one of the best teams in Europe, couldn’t take a single game off Fnatic when it mattered the most. That’s how good Fnatic are right now.

It took a while for Fnatic to find their game again and a certain patch, that brought Martin “Rekkles” Larsson back to life didn’t hurt either. But now that they are back, they are back in a big way. With the way they have been performing, you can almost imagine them going all the way.

Splyce, on the other hand, had a strong performance throughout the season, winning over 61% of all of their encounters. They manage to beat G2 Esports and Schalke 04 in the recent weeks as well. 

Although they entered last week’s match as clear favorites they dropped one game against SK Gaming, that fact alone paints a picture. Splyce are good, but are they Fnatic good?

Probably not. And there’s nothing wrong with that, after all, Fnatic look really good right now.

Our pick: Fnatic

It wouldn’t be fair to imply that these two teams might not bring their A-game this weekend. It’s not like there’s nothing on the line.

G2 Esports and Origen had a strong on-and-off rivalry throughout the season. G2 started strong and remained strong, going 13-5 in the regular season and taking first place. Origen started off strong, then struggled for a while, and returned by the end of the season to secure a second spot.

Origen were the ones that stopped G2’s 9 game winning streak at the beginning of the season. Origen remain one of the few teams, together with Fnatic and Splyce, that managed to take a game off of G2, and at one point this spilt that was a big feat.

Depending on who you ask, Origen either performed better than expected or as well as expected this split. It’s a completely new team, with a lot of new players. They are doing things differently, they were very open about experimenting with things this split. One way or another, it worked out.

By all means, Martin “Deficio” Lynge assembled a strong team. The question is, is it strong enough to dethrone G2 Esports?

G2 gained significant reinforcements this season. The team’s future went into question when Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen left for Team SoloMid, but the acquisition of Rasmus “Caps” Winther proved to be a very successful move. Somewhat surprisingly, the team’s old midlaner Luka “Perkz” Perković adapted well to his new position in the bottom lane. 

G2 aren’t unbeatable and if anyone can do it, it’s Origen. If not now, then when. That being said, more experienced players in G2 will have a significant advantage. But just how much will that matter?

Either way, this game promises to be the most interesting LEC playoff match yet, between the two titans of the game.

Our pick: G2 Esports

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Apex Legends quickly broke into the industry and for several weeks kept the leadership in the genre of battle royales. Now the game is gradually losing its audience — developers do not have time to fulfill the wishes of users, who find more and more reasons to return to Fortnite or PUBG.

When Apex Legends first came out two months ago we called it “possibly the best battle royale game around.” And we stand by that today — it’s polished, nicely optimized and simply well done. It fixed many of the problems that other battle royale games faced for years.

But it took less than a month for the bubble to burst and once the hype died down, the game’s faults became clear as day. It became yet another, highly repetitive game, with a painfully toxic community, constant server lag and occasional crashes. Not to mention its almost predatory monetization model.

The viewership on Twitch collapsed, the player base shrank. But unlike many will claim, the game isn’t “dead”, it’s not even “dying”. It is, however, in trouble. In trouble of becoming irrelevant.

And so we take a look at what Respawn Entertainment should do, to prevent Apex Legends from getting lost in the backyard of Twitch.

Rating system and statistics

The current system of progress in Apex Legends is tied only to the profile level, which does not give any information about the player’s skills — here the number of matches is higher than the results. Moreover, this approach is absolutely doesn’t motivate to return to the battlefield. The situation was slightly corrected with a battle pass, but there are many questions to it.

Apex Legends strongly lacks a rating system or at least full-fledged success statistics. Users want to see at what level they play and how the hours spent in battle turn into high ranks. It is especially pleasant to reach new heights if they are given cosmetic bonuses for them at least once a year, and maybe even invitations to tournaments.

The problem is that creating an adequate rating system in the genre is not an easy task. If players do not lose ranks, then this will not be much better than what already exists in Apex Legends. At the same time, it will be difficult to apply the ELO or MMR system here, thus many questions arise. Should I award points only to the winner or the top 30? Top 10? How should the number of kills affect the rating? How many points will lose the one who died first?

Respawn Entertainment has already made a battle pass as a place holder, just another line for players to look at until they get to the next rank. PUBG is still being scolded for its rating system, while Fortnite, whose developers have not thought about such things, is doing great. Now Apex Legends need any innovations, whether it’s ranks, events or modes.

New Modes

Interest in Apex Legends went into decline because gamers and streamers tried everything they could in the game. Two months after the release of the game, it did not get any new modes — there is only a squad game. Users need to be allowed to compete at least alone or in pairs, and not simply because Apex Legends has the most toxic community in all battle royale games.

In the thematic branch of reddit, complaints constantly appear on players who leave the match as soon as they are knocked out — they do not want to wait for teammates and continue the fight. Or they leave if they couldn’t get their favorite legend. Or they didn’t like the drop.

On the other hand, there are those who are desperately trying to lead the team to victory, but stumble upon the total unwillingness of their allies to work together. Situations like these, make players yearn for a solo mode.

Of course, most of this will not be enough, so Respawn Entertainment will have to do as much work as Epic Games did, if they want to catch up. In Fortnite, new modes and different events are common, but each of them turns into a real celebration for fans. Of course, one cannot expect a parade of events two months after the release, but a couple of interesting formats or at least PvE tests would have already refreshed Apex Legends. In the meantime, it’s hard not to agree with DrDisRespect, who already admitted being bored with the game.

Respawn Entertainment has not yet announced anything concrete, but data miners have already unearthed a few lines about new formats in the game’s code. For example, they found the mention of Survival Games, which can be either a PvE test or a variation of a single mode. The network also had rumors about the night version of the map and the “happy hours” with a higher drop of containers — the main thing is that all this should not be removed from the game, as it happened with information about single and double formats.

New maps, heroes and weapons

Players always ask for more content: in the genre, this primarily comes down to new maps, weapons, and in the case of Apex Legends — also heroes. As the experience of PUBG has shown, such innovations themselves might have little effect on the player base size in the long run, but without them, stagnation will begin.

In this regard, Respawn Entertainment is moving in the right direction. Two months after the release, the new hero Octane and the Havoc rifle have already appeared in the game. Havoc, for instance, while a step in the right direction came off underwhelming and it quickly was forgotten by many. The gun, after all, felt like another variation of its sister gun Devotion.

Another problem is that adding content should be accompanied by larger events, and so far nothing has been heard about that. Both new hero and a battle pass just sort of “appeared” in a new patch and unless you were following the upcoming updates on social media or reddit, you may as well have missed it altogether.

The first battle pass in Apex Legends definitely failed: the studio was unable to motivate the audience to pay and play for the sake of a set of dubious awards. It’s good that Respawn quickly realized their mistake and promised to add more interesting innovations next time. It is quite possible that with the next combat pass, not only one character will appear in Apex Legends, but also a new map or even a mode. But you have to wait until mid-June — an eternity in a fast moving world of (battle royale) games.

One can only hope that most of the rumors will be true and the developers will begin to fill the game with content in the near future. There are already hints in the Apex Legends files for the map selection function, the mention of transport and a lot of information about the characters. All this is necessary for players right now.

Gameplay quality

From the release itself, the main problem of Apex Legends was crashes, which even the developers could not explain. Apparently, it is precisely because of this that the studio did not allow itself to concentrate on the content — what’s the point of introducing more modes if no one can play them normally? For the same reason, problems with connection stability, the function of reconnection and viewing matches of friends have faded into the background. And they need no less than the new modes.

Only on March 28, Respawn reported that it was 90% better, which can already be considered a victory, given the scale of the problem. Stabilization of gameplay is now on the agenda: working with hitboxes, servers and fighting cheaters. On this front, everything is not so good.

Respawn definitely does not close its eyes on dishonest players, but in the free Apex Legends it’s not so easy to fight them. By March 21, the studio has blocked more than 500 thousand cheaters, which is not so much compared to the number of registered players, which exceeds 50 million — the creators of prohibited programs still earn good money. It is good that the developers at least decided to block not only accounts but also hardware.

Will Apex Legends fade off?

Despite all the problems and unrealized opportunities in Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment should be given its due: the developers didn’t relax after the extremely successful release and started talking to game fans and fixing critical bugs. In just two months, the studio almost completely figured out the crashes, released a new hero and some kind of battle pass.

Now that the main problems have been left behind, Respawn will surely take care of the content that Apex Legends is so lacking. The game still has chances to win over or at least battle Fortnite in the war for the audience. And the game may have lost its audience on Twitch, but whether it will keep the trust of its players we will see in the next six months.

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Here’s how Apex Legends can remain relevant

Apex Legends quickly broke into the industry and for several weeks kept the leadership in the genre of battle royales. Now the game is gradually losing its audience — developers do not have time to fulfill the wishes of users, who find more and more reasons to return to Fortnite or PUBG.

Is Apex Legends the best Battle Royale around?

On February 4th, EA and Respawn, with no prior warning, released a new Battle Royale in the Titanfall universe — Apex Legends. The element of surprise worked out, and the shooter immediately overtook Fortnite on Twitch, and in the first 72 hours it surpassed ten million players.