From Chat Mod to LAN: TSM Minustempo is Pushing Competitive Apex Legends Forward
One of the most significant characters in Apex Legends started what was meant to be a typical day by fretting about Super Smash Bros. Many players around the world who were trying to choose which events to attend at the end of the year were given a headache by the accusations, disputes, and ultimately cancellation of various events surrounding the Panda Cup and Smash World Tour. That required TSM player-manager minustempo to devise a last-minute plan to fly players like Tweek and Leffen to California for Mainstage 2022.
“I’m pretty much working on everything every day,” minustempo told Dot Esports. On that day, it included the Apex team playing in a community tournament, in which minustempo was helping keep track of scores, keeping tabs on TSM’s Dota 2 team in an official match, helping the org’s Smash players with their end-of-year tournaments, and coordinating with their Fortnite players for a tournament taking place at the end of the week.
Maintaining and coordinating all of those teams and players simultaneously seems like multiple full-time jobs instead of just one, but that hasn’t kept minustempo from becoming one of the foremost figures in competitive Apex. From running scrims and making sure TSM is ready for Apex Legends Global Series days to organizing his own third-party tournaments, such as TSM’s recent Winter Royale and the Oversight circuit, his influence has been one of the primary drivers behind the scene over the course of the last year and a half.
While he might be a familiar name to those heavily-invested in competitive Apex, casual viewers might be surprised to learn that one of the game’s most important figures isn’t a famous player, or streamer, or even a developer. Instead, it’s a guy who started out by keeping track of scrim scores in Apex pros’ chats with a passion for the scene. And as the scene continues to grow up and look to incorporate more new players into its ranks, it continues to look more and more like minustempo’s vision for the future of Apex.
Minustempo first got into Apex through his brother in 2020 and quickly gravitated to streamers that also happened to be involved in the pro scene, like TSM’s ImperialHal and former CLG and Renegades member ImMadness. As minustempo tells it, he started out by doing “little things here and there” like keeping track of tournament scores, a job that eventually spread to all of TSM’s Apex players and influenced more pros in the scene to do the same, either via minustempo or another member of their own chats. When a player manager position at TSM became available, TSM player Reps immediately recommended he go for the job, as he’d already taken on many of those responsibilities unofficially for the team.
The sort of work ethic and consistency built up trust within the competitive Apex community, and soon enough it was minustempo himself who was dealing with EA to help keep scrims flowing.
“I was already doing scores for half the scene,” minustempo said. “And GLL [who formerly ran scrims and Apex tournaments] started to leave the Apex scene.” That represented a problem, since that left scheduling scrims up to the players themselves, which wasn’t an ideal situation. Instead, minustempo stepped into the role. “That’s when I met up with Joseph [De Anda] from EA, And then I talked to them, and he said ‘Yeah, we can help you guys out so that NA is covered.’”
However, scrims themselves have long represented something of a problem for pros. According to minustempo, it’s difficult for pros to have scrims that everyone takes seriously, and that truth is easy enough to see in real time on several pros’ streams. While some teams want to try to play out games as closely to an ALGS match as possible, other rosters try experimental compositions, while more squads are just interested in fighting every team they see. It often leads to short games where teams make plays they never would make in an actual tournament.
The answer to helping the scene get more real practice in? Tournaments. A tournament series outside of ALGS with a big enough prize pool for bigger teams to take seriously, while featuring an open format that teams outside of North America’s upper echelon could aspire to as well. Enter the Oversight series, an Apex circuit in partnership with Hyperluxe, and the brainchild of minustempo and FaZe Clan analyst Chrono.
The Oversight series has quickly become North America’s answer for a consistent third party tournament series that can run concurrently alongside ALGS. It uses elements of the ALGS format, such as ALGS scoring and a split system with playoffs occurring at the end of each split. There’s also some surprises in store for Oversight coming in 2023—like LAN.
“There’ll be two Oversight LANs” in addition to the three ALGS LANs that take place next year, minustempo confirmed to Dot Esports. That’s a huge undertaking, and he knows it: “It’s no small task because there’s internet issues, PC issues and the logistics of flying people, hotels, the actual tournament itself when it’s running, production team, etc.”
His experiences at the Split Two Playoffs in Sweden and ALGS Championship in Raleigh helped him realize all the work that goes into planning a LAN tournament, and he didn’t waste his time at those events, either. In many of his free moments, minustempo spent his time at ALGS LANs asking players and organizers about the LAN, what could be improved upon, and how certain production elements worked.
Now, with news that all of the ALGS LANs in 2023 will be held in London, the Oversight circuit is uniquely suited to provide North American Apex fans with the biggest NA LAN events of the year. Not bad for a tournament series that originally began because a team manager wanted to help give teams better practice than scrims.
Minustempo might have stumbled upon his job in esports, but it’s impossible to say that his success is an accident, or that his role in magnifying the profile of Apex esports is minor. And everything minustempo does seems to stem from a love of the game and the competitive scene itself. From ideas as simple as creating an Apex circuit with scheduling that didn’t clash with other tournaments, and maximizing player and sponsor exposure, to goals as lofty as creating a separate ranked system that could mirror games like League of Legends, it’s impossible not to see how minustempo has systematically tried to better the scene that brought him to TSM with every step he’s taken.
That’s not just limited to the very top levels of the game either, as he’s played a significant role in putting on content creator tournaments and series that put a spotlight on some of the scene’s underrepresented and underappreciated players. TSM’s Winter Royale, a special tournament based on former TSM coach gdolphn’s random teams format, recently featured 20 teams with the captains for every squad consisting of women and marginalized genders in the Apex community.
“I feel like the women are just as good as the guys,” minustempo said in regards to shining a light on the women’s competitive scene. “They just don’t have enough top tier practice…I think they just need a place to play against the top of the top to know that ‘hey, I am as good as everyone else.’”
In addition to being a fun tournament that helped give exposure to some lesser-known streamers and players in the Apex community, the Winter Royale is another way minustempo is helping to expand the competitive community in Apex.
“It’s trying to get more people into that competitive level, so that they can be like ‘oh shit, this is what competing is like. Maybe I want to sign up for ALGS next time around.’”
While Apex has had women succeed at the highest levels of the game, such as esdesu and Sabz in EMEA Pro League and ALGS commentator-turned-competitor GuhRL in NA, there’s no series or system in the game on par with VALORANT’s Game Changers, for instance. Much like many of minustempo’s other ideas, the TSM Apex tournaments he’s helped run have tried to take steps towards rectifying that absence in the competitive Apex community.
With all the opportunities he’s provided players simply by seeing areas of need in competitive Apex, it’s quite possible that minustempo is the most important person working in the game right now. And as the game forges ahead into its fourth year in 2023, his work will continue to be vital to the scene. Luckily for the scene, that work is exactly what he plans to keep on doing.
“[Next year] my goal is just to fill those offseasons with events that will help Apex grow and give viewers competitive Apex to watch even when there isn’t an ALGS,” minustempo told Dot. “I think that’s one of the main reasons EA has been extremely helpful…these events help the entire Apex scene grow.”
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