Team Liquid have announced that they are closing their Blackout division, with the players instead turning their attention to Apex Legends.
The organization’s Blackout line-up, which consisted of Tanner ‘Rogue’ Trebb, Gage ‘Caliburn’ Meyer, Thomas ‘Flanker’ Cook, and Brendan ‘Casper’ Marino will remain, and the team will also be looking to expand its Apex roster via a “Proving Grounds” initiative, through which skilled players can apply.
Fans of the former Blackout players may have already noticed that their focus has been Apex Legends recently, with Rogue taking fourth place in the March 1 Code Red tournament.
In the wake of the move, Rogue has explained why the team chose to refocus on Apex Legends, citing Respawn’s vocal support of esports compared to silence on the matter from Activision and Treyarch for Blackout.
“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.”
When Blackout released, many considered it a revelation in the battle royale genre – more polished than the titles that helped popularize the mode originally, like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and a more classic first-person shooter compared to the third-person perspective, building mechanics, and other features that, while making Fortnite unique, might turn off players looking for a more traditional FPS take on battle royale.
Unfortunately, after the initial wave of excitement, Blackout struggled to maintain its momentum. Comparatively, Apex Legends continues to break records at a remarkable pace, hitting 50 million players just a month after release – almost four times quicker than Fortnite did. It’s little wonder, then, that players are making the jump across to the new battle royale.
Team Liquid aren’t the only major organization to invest in Apex Legends. While exactly what the game’s competitive scene may ultimately look like remains a mystery, the likes of NRG Esports, 100 Thieves, and Cloud9 have also signed top players in the wake of the game’s explosive popularity.