Fortnite’s grand e-sports plans are off to a shaky start
When Epic Games announced that it would be investing a hefty $100 million in Fortnite e-sports and launch a competitive world cup for the game, there was a lot of excitement. Fortnite is already a massive cultural phenomenon, and here was a chance for it to make a splash in the burgeoning world of e-sports. The successful Fortnite Pro-Am at E3 was followed by the launch of Summer Skirmish, a series of eight weekly tournaments featuring $8 million in prizes. But despite some big money and many of the most popular names in streaming, Fortnite’s competitive gaming splash has been mostly a disappointment so far.
Things got off to a very bad start. The first tournament was cancelled halfway through after players suffered from such significant lag that it was impossible to continue. A week later, the next skirmish featured a nice underdog story, as console player “iDropz_bodies” — well-known in Destiny circles, but not a big name in Fortnite — surprised everyone by snagging the tournament win and $130,000 in prizes. This, naturally, led to accusations of cheating on Reddit and elsewhere; Epic was forced to release a statement defending the player and verifying that the win was legit.
There have been other problems. The tournaments have conflicted with the already popular Friday Fortnite series, run by YouTuber Daniel “Keemstar” Keem. And, perhaps most surprisingly, Epic’s broadcasts have felt shockingly amateur. The presentation is lackluster, and there have been no real concessions made for viewers; there’s no spectator view, or any tools used to give people watching a good understanding of the overall game. Instead, you’re simply watching from the perspective of a single player, with the viewpoint shifting regularly between the various competitors. It’s fine if you just want to watch Ninja, but not so much if you’re trying to take in the competition as a whole.