Apex Legends kicked off its fourteenth season, Hunted, this month. The latest content update adds a bunch of stuff to the game, including another playable character, tweaks to the OG Kings Canyon map, and a level cap increase. While this should be—and likely is—an exciting time for players of Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale shooter, the community is showing divisions between casuals and pros, each of whom think the other is ruining the game for everyone.
Launched in February 2019, Apex Legends has gone through a bevy of changes since then, moving to a seasonal model, and introducing new characters and weapons, as well as balance adjustments and map fixes to keep things lively. This has been to Respawn’s benefit as, despite a wayward effort to convince people to boycott the game for August, the game shattered concurrent player records just this week. That’s tight, except Apex Legends’ player base is now melting down over a variety of issues from visual glitches to battle pass woes to “constant voice spam.” However, one of the biggest complaints dominating the game’s subreddit is the “trash” matchmaking system that’s unfairly pitting casuals against pros (and other top-tier players up in the Apex Predator ranks).
Much like the name suggests, an Apex Predator is the game’s seventh and highest rank. The top dogs. The best of the best. It’s awarded to those that truly master Apex Legends, reaching a ranked point (RP) score of over 15,000 and becoming one of the top 750 players on that particular platform. The rank of Apex Predator is a difficult mountain to climb, but it comes with an assortment of rank-specific cosmetic awards such as badges, charms, and dive trails.
According to a very strongly worded and highly upvoted post by Redditor Azrael462, Respawn should “listen to the community and not the fucking [pro Apex Legends] streamers,” arguing lower-ranked players shouldn’t play against higher-ranked ones since the game uses skill-based matchmaking (SBMM), a system that’s supposed to pair you with others at your same skill level. Azrael462 popped off even more in the post, saying they were “tired of seeing ‘champion squad’ [teams] with triple stacked fucking [Predators] or [Master] badges and always fucking losing to them.” A separate Redditor named Ok_Kaleidoscope7434 shared a similar sentiment, asking Respawn to “keep ranks together,” because mixing and matching skill levels is “ruining ranked” for everyone.
Casuals aren’t the only ones frustrated with Apex Legends’ matchmaking, either. Pro players, such as Jacob “HisWattson” McMillin and Phillip “ImperialHal” Dosen, seem to be in agreement that matchmaking in Season 14 is busted. Most pros have pointed to specific issues, including the self-revive mechanic that was just chopped at the start of this season, saying it’s Respawn that’s ruining ranked, not them. Meanwhile, Apex Legends content creators like Lucky Chappy went in on pros, calling them “narrow-minded and selfish influencers” that allegedly complain about everything from both the Arc Star grenades and Kraber sniper rifle getting nerfed, to demanding that Kings Canyon be removed from the ranked play entirely this season.
As one side of the player base points fingers at the other like that one Spider-Man meme, it appears that lower-ranked players are teaming up against higher-ranked ones to get them outta the match as soon as possible. In a YouTube video by Apex Legends content creator Inqo, you can see Inqo being hunted by multiple players for simply being an Apex Predator, the game’s highest rank. The dead giveaway for everyone in any given match is the fiery dive trail pros leave behind as they freefall, a cosmetic item you only get by reaching the rank of Diamond, Master, or Apex Predator. As soon as Inqo landed, they’re instantly chased and executed by a bunch of other rival players who all teabag Inqo’s corpse in celebration, illustrating just how much these casuals can’t stand pros.
Inqo, who’s competed at the annual Apex Legends Global Series esports tournament in years past and has “hit Predator rank in multiple seasons,” told Kotaku over Twitter DMs that while the current state of matchmaking in public games is fine, the same can’t be said for ranked right now.
“The matchmaking for ranked right now is horrible though and is the reason I’m not playing. As a pred [Predator] you will be put into plat [Platinum] and Diamond lobbies which is wild, and should not be happening. If I am pred I enjoy the challenge and do not want to be versing plats every game. I don’t think either pros or casuals are ruining apex, but casuals seem to blame every bad update on pros. Regarding self-res removing (very happy it’s gone) a lot of casuals simply didn’t understand that it ruined end-game lobbies in high rank. And it was the fact that their squad would still be alive after killing all three that made it broken in the end-game. Not that fact that they could be self-rezzing. Same thing with the Kraber nerf, every pro only wanted it gone from competitive lobbies only! We didn’t want a nerf, we just wanted it gone. And casuals don’t seem to understand that.”
Kotaku has reached out to Respawn Entertainment for comment.
This isn’t the first time casual and pro Apex Legends players have blamed each other for supposedly ruining the game. The heated debate sparked last summer as posts from casuals across social media, from Reddit to publisher EA’s forums, decried the influence pros have. Even T-Pain said streamers like FaZe Clan co-owner Nicholas “Nickmercs” Kolcheff were tainting casuals’ experience.