Champion Squad: Liquid moves to Apex Legends

March 06 2019

You've seen our champion squad on stream (and maybe even in King's Canyon), and we're now officially making the jump to Apex Legends. Tanner "Rogue" Trebb, Gage "caliburn" Meyer, Thomas "Flanker" Cook and Brenden "Casper" Marino are relaunching under the Team Liquid banner for Respawn Entertainment's massive battle royale hit!

Apex Legends has brought the hype, but has it earned it? According to Tanner "Rogue" Trebb, Apex Legends just might be the next big thing in esports. We talked to one of Apex's early stars about the game and why we're making the switch.

What made you decide to make the switch from Blackout to Apex Legends?

The first thing would be that there wasn’t any interest from the devs for hosting any events or focusing on anything esport related for Blackout. It was mainly just third parties doing things on their own and supporting the scene. The devs never said anything, they hadn’t shown any interest, so when Apex Legends came out, and Respawn came out and said they would support the esport scene, most of the competitive Blackout players switched over.

It didn’t help that Blackout is kind of struggling on PC either. Call of Duty has never been a big game on PC really, it’s always been primarily thought of as a console game, other than when it first came out back with Big Red and stuff like that. So there was no really big player count to hold over Twitch viewers and games would be dying out by 6pm or take forever to start, so it was a pretty easy switch for everybody.

How does the team dynamic in Apex Legends set it apart from Blackout, or PUBG, or even Fortnite?

In this game, there’s way more strategy or more of a meta because each player has a different, unique, “Legend” on their team and each Legend can help their team in ways that other characters can’t. It just depends on who you pick. For example, Wraiths can make portals, give rotation options to their team, and basically save their team if they are being pressured by anybody else and portal them to safety. So the team dynamic can be crazy in this game because of the different combinations of Legends you can have. That’s what makes the team dynamic so much different in this game compared to the others; you can have characters that can be different, and do different things. It’s kind of like a League of Legends type of thing, where you have a meta with characters who are stronger or weaker because of their abilities.

Each character has their own set of abilities and specialties, which ones do you enjoy playing the most and for what reason?

I play a lot of Wraith. I also play Bangalore and Lifeline, but I play whatever my team needs. Whenever I play pubs I like to get my kill count up and stats up on Wraith for fun because she’s my personal favorite to play. I like to play on my own a lot in pubs to show off my own strengths and make big plays and she lets me escape whenever I make a mistake or do anything wrong. When I play pubs I like to focus more on staying alive myself and not as much on my team which is why I play primarily Wraith.

In scrims though, I still play Wraith but I focus much more on the team. It’s a good character because it can give you a free rotation anywhere. If you know the map, say you’re at the Airbase which is on the west side on the coast, and there’s an enemy team at Runoff which is directly north on the west coast as well and they are holding the fence line while you’re at Airbase, what you can do is make a portal from Airbase all the way to Runoff and get your team right up in their face without having to cross the barren desert without a lot of cover.

There are plenty of other situations as well where Wraith has come in really handy. You can be in Cascades and there could be 2 or 3 different teams pinching you from different angles and you can use your portal, get your team together, and get out of there to a house where they don’t think you’re at. Wraith is really good at saving your team especially if you have good chemistry and communication. It’s also like I said, just a free rotation so if you’re ever in a pinch, or screw up a timing. You can still make it out and get where you need to go with Wraith before anybody else potentially.

Is it also a different kind of playstyle because of your survivability and your movement compared to other characters?

Yeah, players that can escape and have the ability to survive are used as the scouts. I think Wraith is the most common one. People also say Pathfinder can be used because he has grapple and it’s actually in the game on the character selection screen. He’s labelled as a scout because wherever he goes he can go up high and get into sniper positions but usually nobody really does that. It’s usually just the Wraith pushing ahead of their team.

Early on in the game it seemed like Bloodhound was almost a requirement in good teams due to his tracking abilities, who would you say are the strongest characters in the game right now?

There’s a bit of a difference between pub play and competitive play in terms of which characters are considered strong. Pathfinder doesn’t see a lot of play in pubs but in scrims people use Pathfinder to reach a lot of weird spots in the late game and hold high ground to win — but in pubs they don’t.

I think the most popular characters right now are Wraith, Lifeline, and either Bloodhound or Bangalore. They are the most popular. It’s really just because two of them — Wraith and Bangalore — have survivability that other characters don’t have. They can escape from bad positions or their own mistakes. Wraiths can go invisible and go through their own portal; they can do a lot of things to get away and for solo players or players who want to be good personally rather than help their team, which I think is a lot of people in this game when they play pubs rather than with friends.

I think that’s why people play Bangalore and Wraith, because they can cover themselves if they screw up and you see a lot of Bloodhounds as well because when you’re going for a really high kill game you can use him to follow tracks and find kills, and then Lifeline is very valuable for her healing ability. Right now out of all of them though I think Bangalore is probably the most popular Legend to play because of her strengths.

The ability to revive your teammates after they are “dead” is quite unique, what do you think that adds to the game?

More kills *laughs*. Right now there are a lot of tournaments with kill races, to get the most kills in a game vs another team in a bracket, or to get the most kills in games within a time limit. Pub-wise I think respawning after being killed is great because it’ll reward people who are more casual, which isn’t a bad thing, it doesn’t hurt anybody who is better or more skilled. It essentially means you have the opportunity to get more kills, which I think is good.

Competitively there have been some scrims and nobody has complained about the fact that people can respawn. I haven’t seen anything bad about it at all. The only thing I have seen is that in kill race tournaments, some teams let some teams get revives to get more kills, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a game mechanic so everybody has the same opportunity to do something like that.

What was the biggest change you had to get used to when you first started playing Apex Legends?

Having timed abilities, Q’s and Z’s. Having the fact that I can go invisible, or make a portal, or have smoke, or can grapple. If I ever had grapple in Blackout then it was an item I picked up off the game, it would have 5 uses, instead of a cooldown. I never had invisibility except playing stuff like World of Warcraft. So I think remembering that I have abilities to use and remembering in combat that I have things I can use to help my team both offensively and defensively.

Do people try to track opponents cooldowns in scrims?

I think maybe if there was an ability worth keeping track of, not that there is right now, would maybe get called out for stuff like that. I think maybe some characters would get called out for stuff like that, Gibraltar’s shield or ult but I don’t think certain characters would be included in that at all either. I don’t think Wraith’s ult for example is worth calling out by itself, it’s more about where she’s going. You can call out when people use abilities of course but it’s always about where people go rather than what abilities they’ve used. It’s not like you’re planning things for when teams don’t have abilities.

The closest thing I’ve seen that is kind of similar is when you’re 3rd partying a fight while two other teams are fighting. You know what abilities are being used because you can see it, so you know now might be a good time to push them, but it’s not really because Bangalore might not have her utility, it’s more because they just finished a fight and they aren’t going to be ready, they want to be healing and looting rather than taking another fight.

Later on when we have more abilities and Legends we may see that kind of thing start to happen though. Some teams have started to combine ults whenever they plan to go and attack and there’s strategies that are starting to form in terms of things like that but as for keeping track of the cooldowns, it isn’t too common yet.

The game exploded as soon as it was released, what do you think it is about Apex Legends, and the Battle Royale genre as a whole, that draws so many people to it?

I think part of it is that it isn’t Fortnite honestly, it’s one of the first FPS battle royales that also feels like it is worth the time that has been put into it. Their whole idea when it comes to marketing it where they kept it a secret and then had everybody talk about it on the day of launch was huge as well. It felt like it came out so quickly and no other game was there to be released to compete with it. You had the custom games and creator code money from Epic that came around the same time but that wasn’t really planned to compete or anything like that.

I think the other thing about Apex Legends is that’s it’s fairly easy to get into. All the guns are relatively easy to use. Nothing’s crazy, there’s no recoil, it’s not like PUBG where you have to lead shots or put a height to it, except there’s a little bit of bullet drop on Snipers but even those aren’t used very much because of how great the other guns are. I think as far as a casual game, it has really good performance and it has abilities, and I think a lot of other casual gaming fans come from games where there are abilities. I think that’s pretty new as far as Battle Royales go and while people may be starting to get tired of BR’s this is a very new take on it.

One of the big things people have talked about, is how well Respawn designed the ways you can communicate information to your teammates in pubs or even when you are in a voice chat with them. How much do you think things like that help retain players?

I think a lot of people are probably uncomfortable talking to other people online and the ping system is really good. There are a lot of things that people probably still don’t even know about it in Apex Legends. For example if you open your inventory and you’re missing a magazine or sight in your gun, and if you right click the empty spot on the gun you will ask for it. Those kinds of things aren’t on the ping menu itself but it really helps you let your team know what you want, what you need, and what you want to do because there’s so many different things you can tell them through that. Obviously you can type it as well but sometimes you don’t really want to talk to people. Sometimes I’m just chilling on stream and not really wanting to talk to random people and it’s so easy to mark enemy here or loot here and it’s so simple. I think a lot of players are super casual, and things like that is something a lot of games have failed on and it goes to show how easy it is to just chill out and play instead of being forced to use comms or talk.

As the game continues to evolve what do you think Respawn should focus on to improve the game?

I wouldn’t mind a few new characters as long as they come out over a period of time where the meta could sit for a bit, compared to Fortnite where they have huge changes before tournaments. As long as they don’t release things that harm the esports side of things I don’t see a problem. If they are going to change characters, as long as they let people figure those things out and let the meta sit for a bit. I don’t think there’s any issue with things changing and new things coming out as long as it’s also balanced. If they wanted to be really careful with it I think they could also reach out to pros and keep up with what the community is saying about nerfs and buffs and any changes would be fine.