Fortnite developers, Epic Games, have continued with their plans to grow their Fortnite esport scene by holding the second of eight weekly tournaments in their Summer Skirmish series. A total of $1 million dollars is up for grabs in a two-day tournament. Both professional Fortnite players and popular streamers are the featured competitors. Epic is focused on developing and popularizing their esport, which is indicated by the inclusion of the most popular streamers. The series is just the beginning of Epic Games’ committed $100 million in tournament prize pools.
The first week of the Summer Skirmish series did not go as smoothly as Epic would have hoped. The tournament played out in an online private match, rather than on LAN like the E3 Pro-Am that was held back in May. This detail caused a major issue for every competitor. Mid-game lag made it nearly impossible for players to move out of the storm, a game mechanic that forces players into an increasingly smaller area on the map. Often times competitors rubber-banded back and forth until they perished in the storm. After just one match, game developers messaged each competitor to ban the use of C4 explosives. The item placed too much strain on the servers. The tournament ended up lasting only four out of the originally scheduled 10 matches as a result.
Another issue with the event was the rate of play, or lack thereof. The ruleset, which emphasized securing a victory royale rather than daring play, pushed players to play each match very cautiously. This, combined with the $250,000 that was up for grabs took away any incentive to play aggressively. Players were more inclined to avoid gunfights and camp within their own constructed forts rather than challenge other competitors. This led to incredibly slow and boring gameplay for the viewer.
Epic Games and fans of Fortnite expected hiccups. Perhaps the most important purpose of these early events is to allow Epic to tweak their own recipe to competitive battle royale. BR is still a relatively new genre in the esports scene. After the disastrous first week of the Summer Skirmish they announced radical changes to the tournament format. Epic is testing a rule set that more closely resembles the popular Friday Fornite tournaments that Youtuber Daniel “Keemstar” Keem has been organizing since May.
Week one was formatted as a duos competition, with the goal to simply live longest. Week two’s tournament is a solos competition that should promote more exciting gameplay. Players play in their own public solo matches at their own pace. They will receive five points for a victory royale but also a single point for every elimination they get. If a player is able to eliminate 20 or more opponents in a single match they also earn an additional 10 points and $10,000. The competitor with the highest score after 10 matches will claim the tournament’s victory royale. Each player that places in the top 20 will win prize money. Competitors have five hours to complete all of their matches.
With the announcement of this new rule set, it became apparent that Epic Games is willing to try a multitude of formats, perhaps in an effort to playtest a variety of rule variables. This new rule set encourages aggressive play. This resulted in a more entertaining viewer experience, fixing at least one of the issues from week one.
This week’s installment in the Summer Skirmish series also takes over Friday Fortnite’s day of the week. Keemstar cancelled his popular tournament after several players backed out of Friday Fortnite to take part in Epic’s competition with a larger prize pool. UMG has also backed out as the primary financial supporter of the competition. Keem planned to move his tournaments to Sunday, but Epic Games essentially strong-armed the third-party tournament out of the competitive scene. Epic was hopeful that with the rule set changes that the Summer Skirmish can match the popularity of Friday Fortnite.
The first day of matches under this new rule set were an improvement from last week, as gameplay was faster and there was no lag in the public lobbies. Former Destiny pro “Idropz_bodies” took home first place and $60,000 as well as an additional $20K after he dropped two 20-plus kill games. Bodies created controversy after he didn’t live stream his gameplay. He was also accused of using a keyboard and mouse on PS4, something that would give him a significant edge in console lobbies. FaZe Clan pro Brian “Cloak” Lepore finished second, while another PS4 professional Nick “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff finished in third, earning $48,000 and $40,000 respectively. All in all, fans and competitors received week two of the Summer Skirmish better than week one.
Day two of this week’s Summer Skirmish series will be on Saturday, July 21. The matches will play host to some different players using the same rule set. Saturday’s matches are set to start at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST. Most competitors will be streaming their point of view, while Epic Games will be hosting their own simulcast at http://twitch.tv/fortnite.
Featured image from epicgames.com