Similarly, there have been Fortnite “events” that are still fun, even if it’s not just watching pros stream against randoms. Ninja threw a really fun event in Vegas where he played against other streamers and some fans, but it was centered around him and his appeal specifically. We watched his stream, we watched other players try to collect a bounty on his head. A fun event, but about as far removed from “esports” as you can get.
A hugely popular weekly event not thrown by Epic is Keemstar’s Fortnite Friday competition, where the prize money is relatively low compared to these huge Epic events ($10-20,000 to the winners), but the event itself is far, far more entertaining. The tournament pairs YouTubers and streamers on a team, and makes it a 2v2 points match where each half of the squad has to rack up as many kills as possible in a game, literally hunting the general player population for sport. This may not always end in wins, but it does encourage survival as if you’re dead, you can’t keep getting kills, but the key idea is that it makes the matches entirelyabout action, since kill totals are the most important objective.
Again, however, this is a fun event and still not “esports.” Epic can’t really make this the official format of Fortnite esports going forward. It would be like setting pro Starcraftplayers loose at Bronze Rank and seeing how many players they could tear through on a race to Grandmaster. Entertaining? Sure, but not esports in the way 1v1 tournaments against other pro players are.
The fundamental problem is that when you put a bunch of top tier Fortnite players together with traditional rules, the nature of the game where you’re trying to be the last man/team standing means that everyone is going to play incredibly conservatively with only one life to lose and so much at stake. But the games this system creates are unbearable to watch most of the time, lag issues aside. We see roughly double the normal amount of players left alive in safe circles as the storm shrinks, everyone boxed into their own little structures, only fighting when they absolutely have to. Epic saw this coming and tried to offer a $6,500 bounty to the team who got the highest kill total every match, but that clearly didn’t work, and you can’t really bribe your way to excitement in a game.
I’m not exactly sure where this road leads. I’ve heard some people saying that perhaps Blitz should be the official esports mode of Fortnite, given how much that would speed things up. I’ve heard others say that Epic should just adopt the Fortnite Friday hunting model, given how much more entertaining it is, but it’s hard to see them doing that. But this is why they’re stuck, it’s hard to see a good answer here. Fortnite is a great game to play and a great game to watch streamers play when there’s nothing at stake but entertaining fans. But esports is a whole different story, and no matter how much money Epic throws at this, there are some fundamental problems here that really need addressing.