Esports, like other forms of visual entertainment, have witnessed a viewership boom during the pandemic. In order to attract more eyeballs, game studios have doled out incentives including loot drops and invited players to co-stream the action. Apex Legends, which got its own esports league last year, has used those tools to help bump up ratings after a rocky start to its pro scene. Today, developer Respawn announced that the playoffs for the Apex Legends Global Series Winter Circuit have become the franchise's most-watched competition.
The average audience per minute jumped by more than 50 percent to top 100,000 for the playoffs, which took place in late March, according to the developer. Players who tuned in were rewarded with Twitch Drops for every hour watched, including a limited-time item set containing an exclusive kill tracker, badge, banner pose and a legendary banner frame for Apex's Holographic Trickster.
To make the livestream more immersive, Respawn employed a free cam in spectator mode to track the action and allowed top competitors to co-stream the tournament. It seems the changes paid off and may have put the tournament on solid ground heading into the group stage, beginning May 22nd, and Championship Finals from June 5th to June 13th. The latter will award the entirety of the competition's $1 million prize pool.
Breaking down the format, Respawn revealed that a total of 40 teams will compete in each of the North America and EMEA Championships, while 30 teams will take part in each of the APAC North, APAC South and South America Championships. The group stage will feature groups comprised of 10 teams each with a round robin schedule. After its conclusion, the total points will be tallied to determine which 20 teams from each region advance to their respective Championship Finals.