If you’ve watched professional Apex Legends, you’ve probably noticed something very familiar after catching a couple competitions. With the exception of an odd tournament here and there, pro Apex is played on World’s Edge.
World’s Edge has long been the pros’ map of choice. During the Autumn Circuit in late 2020, many pro teams expressed concern about the viability of Kings Canyon as a competitive map compared to World’s Edge, while playing six-game finals lobbies split between the two maps. The ALGS agreed in the middle of that tournament to play ALGS games on World’s Edge only. Some smaller tournaments at that time experimented with Olympus upon its release, but the experiments were short-lived. Compared to World’s Edge, Kings Canyon and Olympus both felt small and too wide-open between points of interest.
The introduction of the game’s new map Storm Point, however, represents an opportunity for the pro scene to experiment with a multiple-map format again for the first time in over a year.
Two bits of information about Storm Point should prick the ears of pro players everywhere. First, Storm Point’s lead designer, Rodney Reece, was also the lead designer of World’s Edge. Second, Reece’s breakdown of the new map and its points of interest says that Storm Point is 15 percent bigger than World’s Edge. That easily makes Storm Point Apex’s largest map to date, and generally speaking, a larger map should be better for competitive play at its highest level.
Pro players’ preference for World’s Edge over Kings Canyon (and Olympus, which experienced a near-complete failure to launch as a competitive map used in any major tournaments) is multifaceted. But much of it can be boiled down to the idea of space and making an inherently random game genre as fair as possible.
World’s Edge is currently Apex’s largest map. The map is large enough and has enough points of interest to accommodate a full server, 20 teams, without any team necessarily needing to land in the same POI as another. If most of what you know about World’s Edge is that half the lobby drops into Fragment East at the beginning of the game, pro play on the map will look absolutely foreign. Imagine 20 teams all landing into their own neat corners of the map and close to zero fighting off of drop.
Why does this happen? Pretty simple, really. Fighting immediately after dropping in is a coin toss. Players either happen to land on the better guns and armor that can win the fight, or they do not. Why would any team want to submit themselves to that much random chance when they could simply land in an uncontested spot on the map, get some loot for free, and wait for a situation or fight that’s more advantageous to them? That is, more or less, what the game is all about at its highest level. In a lobby where just about any player can beat any other in a 50-50 fight, most don’t try to take 50-50 fights all the time. They seek the positions and fights most advantageous to their team surviving longer to get more points and more kills.
Compared to World’s Edge, Kings Canyon and Olympus do not have the space nor the amount of loot-rich POIs that allows teams to drop uncontested. With a map as big as Storm Point, players can hope that there are enough named and even unnamed POIs on the map that, like World’s Edge, allows a full lobby to drop into a game without forcing any team to fight off spawn. That in itself is a pretty big deal and should put Storm Point in consideration for pro play soon after the map’s release.
The extra space in Storm Point should also theoretically help cut down on the automatic third-partying that happens so frequently in Kings Canyon and Olympus. Relatively short distances between POIs, coupled with wide open swathes of land make fighting on those maps a risky proposition at the best of times. This is exacerbated even further on Olympus by the existence of Trident hover vehicles, enabling teams to cover vast distances in far shorter periods of time. Thanks to the gameplay trailer released Monday, we know that Storm Point also has Tridents. The roads and terrain those Tridents must navigate on the map, however, looks much more treacherous and less open than many of the spaces within and around POIs on Olympus.
There’s still much we don’t know about Storm Point. Will the absence of almost any jump towers on the map and the introduction of gravity cannons hinder inescapable third-parties or help them along? Will the PvE wildlife elements of the map make for fair and competitive combat scenarios? Do the Tridents make any sense at all at the pro level? These are all valid concerns when considering Storm Point as a competitive map. At the same time, those questions won’t be answered until we actually get to see a tournament or two on the map.
Balancing battle royale for competitive play is a balancing act of limiting randomness in a game mode where there is inherent randomness, and making decisions that are popular both with the players and the viewers watching them. World’s Edge has served the game well, and will continue to serve the game well. But at some point, professional Apex will need to experiment with a new map. And Storm Point just might be its best chance to do it.