A tournament for cartoony battle royale game Apex Legends – which was scheduled to air this weekend on ABC and ESPN – has been postponed in light of the recent US shootings.
The decision to pull the weekend broadcast was confirmed to RPS by an ESPN spokesperson, who tells us the tournament will now be broadcast on the channel in October. “The decision was made out of respect for the victims and all those impacted in the immediate aftermath of the shootings and it seemed the prudent thing to do given the swirl of that moment,” they said.
ABC announced its own plans to pull the tournament in a letter addressed to channel affiliates and posted online by eSports consultant Rod Breslau. It reads: “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” on Sunday, August 11, 2019 in the 4:00 – 5:00 PM ET / 1:00 – 4:00 PM PT time period.”
The EXP Invitational Apex Legends tournament took place in Minneapolis earlier this month; however, an hour-long highlights show had been planned for Saturday on ESPN2 and Sunday on the Disney-owned channel. This would have been the game’s first major appearance on US television. The tournament has now been replaced on ABC by hockey documentary E:60 Forever Broncos. The invitational will air on ESPN2 on October 6th at 5pm ET, October 15th at 11pm ET, and October 27th at 4pm ET.
ABC and ESPN now join the small but growing list of voices attempting to draw a connection between gaming and acts of mass violence.
Last weekend, President Donald Trump and two members of the Republican Party placed the blame for the El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio shootings largely at the feet of the video game industry. “We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” said Trump at the time. “This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace. It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this, and it has to begin immediately.”
While this is the first time in recent memory that corporations have pulled an eSport broadcast in response to a mass shooting, it’s worth remembering that there is still no connection between video games and violence.