The skies are now up for sale.
The new Spellbound update in Apex Legends brought private matches with it, giving players the ability to create their own custom lobbies and play in them with their friends. These private matches come with several different settings and game modes, including using the tournament settings that pros use in the Apex Legends Global Series.
Or, settings that pros might use in the ALGS going forward, it turns out. While many competitive Apex fans were familiar with some of the more minute details of the tournament settings, a version of the battle royale that excludes a champion squad and heat shields, among other things, another element of the game was listed as being eliminated from the mode that hasnt been in competitive Apex yet: skydive emotes. And it seems the pros werent even aware that the change was so imminent.
Skydive emotes have been a niche topic of discussion among Apex pros for some time now, but it appears that Respawn and ALGS organizers are finally doing something about them. Essentially, using a skydive emote makes you more difficult to shoot while youre in your skydive animation.
Why might that be an issue? Well, it runs against a core design philosophy that Respawn has tried to balance again and again: cosmetics that players need to pay money to unlock shouldnt have an outsized competitive effect on gameplay. Its for a similar reason that the development team changed the iron sights on the Heat Sink and Heavy Metal Flatline reactive skins that were a reward for completing the season four battle pass.
While potentially eliminating skydive emotes in competitive play might seem like a small change to make, and only applicable in specific instances, if the change does become a permanent one, it becomes another indirect nerf for one of the more embattled characters in pro Apex: Valkyries pick rate might take a further hit as a result of this potential change.
Valkyrie isnt in danger of completely falling off anytime soon. She still enjoys popularity in pro play for her ability to scan survey beacons, her tactical stunning enemies in fights, and her Skyward Dive ultimate. The usefulness of that ultimate in pro play has waned significantly over the past year, however. Where Valkyrie was once a must-pick, the nerfs to Out of Bounds plays, Valkyries ability to spin around while in the upward phase of her ultimate, and the slow travel speed at which Valkyrie and her team rocket upwards in her ultimate have made the ult far riskier in the competitive scene. In a game where nearly every team in the lobby will have at least one player using a Charge Rifle, Scout, or other ranged weapon, shooting Valkyries out of the sky is now commonplace.
Getting rid of skydive emotes exacerbates that problem for Valkyrie and her team. If several teams shot at a Valkyrie in mid-ult and didnt manage to down her or one of her teammates in the upward phase, they still have the chance of getting the knock they want while theyre actually skydiving. Emoting wasnt quite a get-out-of-jail-free card for Valk, but it did help dodge some of those shots while in mid-air.
This might push some teams to further experiment with their legend picks as the Split One Playoffs approach in February. Valkyrie has been the rotational character of choice for a long time, but lately, teams have fiddled around with team comps completely without a rotation character that can transport their entire team from one spot to another. There might even be room for a legend like Wraith to return to the meta, which teams like Aurora in EMEA have recently picked in their Pro League matches.
Regardless, it seems that skydive emotes are on their way out of ALGS play at some point. And Valkyrie might continue her pick rate slide with them.