Smash World Tour announced its 2022 schedule earlier this year, showcasing all of the majors to be held around the world. Some big tourneys are missing from the schedule, most likely due to the upcoming Nintendo circuit. Others that are included are leaving some Smash players confused, hurt, and angry.
Apex 2022 was a standout on the list, with some Smash players hyped to see the iconic name returning while others were revolted to see the series resurface. There are people who feel it's a community victory to get Apex back up despite previous setbacks. But for others, it's — at best — an insult to see Smash World Tour's organizers capitalizing on a popular name despite the alleged staff change within the organization.
Why keep the same name? Why include them? It's as if everything that happened previously has been shrugged off and dismissed — that's how some in the Smash community feel. Unfortunately, these people are now in the minority.
The Apex predator in the Smash community
For many Smash fans, it's a no-brainer to have Apex in the Smash World Tour. It was one of the biggest Smash tournament series from 2009 to 2016. At the time, the series was run by Johnathan Lugo, known better as Alex Strife, who hosted the events in Central New Jersey.
Apex events were seen as a bit mismanaged but the Smash community couldn't deny the magic of the international brackets and side events. The USA vs. The World crew battle in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the Project M tourneys (later dropped due to a Nintendo partnership) became a big part of Smash culture. 2015 was looking to be a huge year for Apex — it would be the first major to have Smash 4 in the coveted lineup.
But 10 days before Apex 2015 took place, an abundance of individual allegations cropped up against Alex Strife. Most of the allegations were shared on a Smash subreddit, bringing up a history of sexual misconduct and abuse towards young women and transgender girls in the community.
While some things have been deleted over time, enough evidence remains to conclude that Alex Strife is guilty of harassment and bullying — and worse. Alex Strife was accused of being inappropriate with teenage girls and trying to sleep with a drunk female Apex attendee. He was also accused of sending threatening messages to trans members in the Smash community, outing a closeted trans person without their consent, and using a trans players' identity against them as abuse and blackmail.
But it wasn't only outsiders who wanted to share their horror stories about Alex Strife. Many Apex employees had similar complaints, accusing him abusing and overworking his employees, using scare tactics to force popular players to advertise the event, and going back on contracts.
Strife would allegedly do anything he could to "cut corners," even if it meant overworking employees and doing unsafe things. This is partially what led to Apex 2015 being condemned by the fire marshall — Alex Strife had switched to a venue that wasn't appropriate for that type or size of event.
One employee recalls Strife screaming at them during events, insulting and deadnaming their significant other to hurt them. At one point, the source stated Alex Strife had threatened to out the significant other to the community if they didn't go along with his plans, including driving U-haul trucks for him since he didn't have a license.
Alex Strife leaves Apex, but the scars remain
As the accusations continued to flood in, Alex Strife immediately left Apex. At the time, staff said they would continue without him, although the restructuring also saw some key employees booted from the organization due to the drama.
Apex 2016 was announced, spearheaded by a blend of new and old staff. The event was noticeably different, a shell of the former event that brought the community together. It seemed to be surviving off name recognition alone.
The name resurfaced again around late 2019 when Apex 2020 was announced under entirely new management. It was going to be run by VG Bootcamp despite a large public outcry at the time from former employees and community members. It was canceled soon after but only due to the pandemic.
But when the Smash World Tour 2022 was announced, Smash players noticed Apex's name once again. The video showcased the Smash World Tour as a celebration of the Smash community, bringing competitive players from around the world together to defy all odds (i.e. Nintendo) and keep growing the Smash scene. Unfortunately, the message was tainted for some community members due to Apex's inclusion.
While Apex 2022 is run by all new staff, the name brings about harmful memories for many women and LGBTQ+ members of the Smash community. To ignore the earlier disturbing allegations in an attempt to capitalize off of the name of a once-iconic tournament series puts money before the community, which is the opposite message of the Smash World Tour video. It's an attempt to wipe away Apex's history, whether purposefully or not.
Because why not just rename Apex to something else? Why is it so important to keep the same name? This is what has led many to feel this way about its inclusion.
Inven Global reached out to VGBootcamp for a response and has not heard back.
Esports writer and editor with a passion for creating unique content for the gaming community.