During the Fortnite Pro-Am event at E3, Epic Games announced the 2019 Fortnite World Cup that will serve as a culminating event for Fortnite in eSports. In addition to this, they announced that they will be funding $100,000,000 towards prize pools for competitive Fortnite tournaments.
With Fortnite taking the gaming community and popular culture by storm, many people have begun to question whether it’s a game that’s ready to claim its stake in the competitive gaming scene. To answer this question we should take a look at examples of competitive Fortnite play that we’ve seen already.
For a number of weeks now popular YouTube personality, Keemstar has been hosting “Friday Fortnite” community events. In these tournaments, two duos squad up together and compete to accumulate more kills than the opposing team. This was the only format that made sense given the lack of custom matches available to create for the general Fortnite community at this time. These events have generated huge viewing numbers that strengthen the argument for Fortnite’s eSports readiness.
One of the earlier competitive examples of Fortnite was at Tyler “Ninja” Blevin’s Las Vegas charity event: Ninja Vegas 18. Ninja invited streamers, pro gamers, and the general public (given they paid a $75 admission fee) to compete for chances to donate to charities of their choice. This particular tournament was structured around solos competing to kill top players for “bounties” and win matches. Winning a match won you $2,500 and killing Ninja himself got you another $2,500. This event was an interesting first look at how Fortnite could function in a competitive setting.
The largest and potentially most accurate example we’ve had to-date of Fortnite as an eSports title was at this year’s E3 conference. Epic Games pulled out all of the stops for Fortnite’s representation at E3 by scheduling a massive Pro-Am (professional and amateur) tournament. Top Fortnite Twitch streamers like Ninja, Myth, and SypherPK teamed up with celebrity amateurs like NBA player Paul George, rapper Lil Yachty, and musician Marshmello to create duos. The prize for winning was a whopping $1,000,000 with half of the prize going to a charity of the winners’ choice. Ninja and Marshmello emerged from the 50 duos competing to take the Victory Royale and claim the prize money. They chose to donate $500,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Fortnite is entering the eSports scene relatively early in its lifetime especially given that Epic is still referring to it as an early access title. However, it’s clear that the gaming community wants competitive play. They’ve taken it upon themselves to organize their own competitive events and they’ve cultivated audiences that are eager to watch them compete.
Epic has proven that they are committed to making Fortnite a game that works in a competitive setting. They’ve listened to community responses to implementations they’ve made and they’ve worked with high profile content creators to cultivate a culture of call and response between game developers and players. Fortnite is a game that’s craving some form of expansion and eSports provides the perfect opportunity for Fortnite to expand.