ESPN cancels Apex Legends tournament broadcast after mass shootings

The rollout of ESPN’s EXP esports series is off to a rough start.

According to a Twitter post by Rod “Slasher” Breslau, ESPN and ABC will not be airing the X Games Apex Legends EXP Invitational, and will instead air an E:60 rerun in its place. According to Breslau, the networks opted in this direction after renewed focus on violence in video games following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

“Out of respect for the victims and all those impacted by the recent shootings, ABC will no longer air EXP Invitational Apex Legends at X-Games,” ABC said in a statement to its affiliates. A recap of the tournament was set to air on Sunday, August 11.

Following the pair of mass shootings which killed over 30 people, United States President Donald Trump suggested that video games were partly to blame. A number of other right-wing politicians and pundits echoed this, resulting in increased scrutiny of violence in video games. This likely gave the networks cold feet in regards to airing Apex Legends.

ESPN has also historically been choosy about which esports titles it is willing to give screen time to. ESPN has broadcasted games like Heroes of the Storm and Street Fighter V on its network, but ignored the more-realistic Call of Duty when it was hosted at previous X Games events. ESPN isn’t completely opposed to first-person shooters, however, as it is in the midst of a multi-year broadcast agreement with the Overwatch League.

The hour-long recap show of the X Games Apex Legends EXP Invitational will still be available on ESPN3 and the tournament will air several times in October.

While ESPN was planning to air the event on August 11, the tournament officially wrapped up on August 3. Team SoloMid took home the top prize of $30,000, edging out Team Reciprocity and Sentinels. Fnatic’s North American roster and Tempo Storm rounded out the top five.

The “Apex Predator” award for most eliminations went to Eric “Snip3down” Wrona of Team Reciprocity, a former Halo superstar who used a controller for the tournament. Snip3down has been an esports competitor since Halo 3, and took home the 2008 MLG National Championship with the now-legendary Str8 Rippin squad. He has competed in Apex Legends since the game’s inception in early 2019, but could still return to the Reciprocity Halo squad upon the release of Halo Infinite.

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