One of the biggest victories Apex Legends scored in the past year wasn’t anything that had to do with making the game. Rather, it was the continued support and attention brought to the game by FaZe Clan’s NICKMERCS. After building up a dedicated following in games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, as well as representing multiple esports organizations, the FaZe content creator gave Apex a spin in 2021.
He hasn’t looked back since, making the full switch from Warzone to Apex. And it doesn’t sound like he has any plans of returning any time soon, taking some time in his stream and on his Youtube channel to explain why Apex appeals to him in a way that Warzone and other games do not at the moment.
“That’s what hooked me on to Apex in the beginning, was the fact that there was a ranked mode, and you could see yourself progress and get better,” the streamer told his chat, explaining why he switched games and what Apex has that other games do not. “A lot of other games that we played didn’t have that. Fortnite didn’t have it, Warzone didn’t have it.”
Apex’s ranked mode was appealing for several streamers that dabbled in the game at the same time NICKMERCS began streaming it consistently, such as 100 Thieves co-owner Jack “CouRage” Dunlop. And while the top Apex pros and streamers have long begged Respawn to make changes to ranked, it’s clear that the complete absence of such a mode in other battle royale games gives Apex an upper hand for competitively-driven players.
The conversation happened in the middle of NICKMERCS explaining his team’s path through the Apex Legends Global Series. His team, Tripods, finished third in the second split of the Challenger Circuit, the competition’s second tier of play. Those results qualified the team for a series of Last Chance Qualifiers, where Challenger Circuit teams meet the first-tier teams from the Pro League to duke it out for the final two remaining spots at the ALGS Year Two Championship.
The competitive ladder of Apex, from grinding ranked to competing in the Challenger Circuit, and possibly progressing even further to compete with Pro League teams and at LAN events, also piqued NICKMERCS’ interest.
“Does [Apex’s ranked mode] have its flaws? For sure. But you can still progress, and get better, and grind, and have fun with that. And then, if you feel like you’re good enough, you can take a shot at competitive,” he said, detailing his own path into Apex’s competitive scene. “There’s a Challenger league that feeds into the Pro League. It’s really cool that way; you just keep climbing.”
Competition is nothing new to the veteran streamer, who launched his career in esports as a successful Gears of War pro, winning an MLG national championship in the game. He also spent time pursuing a pro career in Halo. The opportunity to grind, get better, and the clear steps to climb the competitive ladder in Apex have clearly scratched that same competitive itch.
“Even if you’re a pro, you could be a low-tier-ass pro, you’re not even doing nothing. But then maybe you can get better and be a high-tier pro. It just keeps going,” NICKMERCS said, clearly enjoying the process of getting better at the game. “The bar keeps moving higher and higher, which is fun for a guy like me. Because you all know how competitive I am. I like to find things to grind, and the more you grind this game, the more you realize how complicated it is… this game’s got layers, man.”
While it’s certainly not a statement of undying loyalty, and Apex is just as subject to holding the streamer’s attention as any other game, it seems like a fair bet NICKMERCS’ nearly year-long journey with the game won’t be stopping any time soon. He confirmed that his team wanted to continue playing in the next season of ALGS, aiming to qualify for the Pro League and not having to run through the Challenger Circuit. And with his obvious interest in improving and continue to learn the intricacies of the popular battle royale, it seems like the MFAM will be sticking with Apex for the foreseeable future.
“Our plan is to be in the Pro League,” he told a viewer. “But I don’t think any one of our plans is to be a bottom-tier team in the Pro League.”