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BallaTW on competitive integrity, format changes, org signings & more

We spoke with Ballatw about competitive Fortnite, changes to the arena system, tournament formats, cheating, and a whole lot more.

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Competitive Fortnite fans know Arten ‘Ballatw’ Esa as one of the most accredited analysts in the esport. Over the course of Fortnite’s history, Balla has been the most recognizable voice on official Fortnite broadcasts. He also hosts VoD reviews of professional players on his Twitch and YouTube channels.

We sat down with BallaTW ahead of the Season 4 FNCS to get his thoughts on the current state of competitive Fortnite, the new competitive season, the biggest issues in competitive Fortnite, and a lot more.

We began the interview by talking about how Balla got into Fortnite, his early goals, and how he got into the industry. For the sake of length, we’re going to skip that and get right to the Fortnite talk.

The first Fortnite question I asked was how many Arena points Balla has. He responded by saying he was only around 5,500.

So, you’re not in Champion’s League?

No, what’s the point of me being in Champ’s? I just don’t care.

Exactly. That’s what I wanted to bring up. Is there anything immediate that Epic can implement to make competitive Fortnite more rewarding for “casual competitive” players like us?

I don’t think there’s anything that can happen immediately that would do what you want to do. I think that there are things that don’t happen immediately that do what we want – like a real ranking system that you can decrease in, that’s not linear, that’s dependent on the lobby.

There are a lot of changes around that which could work, but immediate changes? The first thing that comes to my mind is a leaderboard. I don’t know if there’s anything immediate that can happen.

How do you feel about Storm Surge? To me, it’s always felt like a Band-Aid for server performance. The Server can’t handle so many people, so we need to have Storm Surge.

I think that if it’s necessary, it’s necessary. I don’t think that it’s a mechanic that ruins the game by any means. I think with 50% chest spawns it’s more rough and random, but both of those things do force the lobby to be more aggressive.

If you’re looking for a gameplay solution to make people be more aggressive, I’d rather other things. It definitely is a Band-Aid but I think anything is gonna feel like a Band-Aid in this case.

We’ve gone through formats that try to incentivize aggressive play – that never works when it comes down to a Grand Finals lobby because the nature of it is that pushing people and playing aggressively is too risky in the grand scheme of things.

I think the best solution that I’d have is try to change that, try to break that risk. Siphon was one that I was pushing for, for a long time and it got added to the game and it did very well at what it was supposed to do.

In this case, Siphon was addressing recovery from fights which is important but still, there is no incentive to go push somebody because you don’t gain anything most of the time.

It’s a crazy risk and it a grand finals level that will happen only in these very tight circumstances when you know you have a big advantage, so to me I think of an idea like if you get a kill, drop a guaranteed mobility item, like one or two Shockwaves, a launchpad something like that. Just guaranteed.

Or maybe a guaranteed weapon upgrade or something like that. You kill somebody you get an upgrade on your Scar or an upgrade on your shotgun or whatever. I don’t know exactly how these things would work out I think that’s just an idea like Storm Surge that might help people play a little bit more aggressively.

Let’s talk about 50% chest spawn rate. Everyone hates it. Even the most casual player – who knows about it – hates it. It’s hard to tell why Epic changed this – maybe to address pacing issues in core game modes?

I think if they were trying to address pacing issues, they would go about it a different way, although I think there might be some validity to that. I think the biggest thing that you touched on is, casuals don’t even like it.

And so, that’s what I think of when I try to figure out why it went into competitive as well. Is that it’s going to be an unpopular change no matter what and if you don’t put it in competitive and you do put it in casual, casuals are going to choose to play competitive instead they are going to play arena because it has 100% chest spawn. Which is kind of a similar dilemma to siphon a lot of people don’t play pubs.

Ya, we already see that with Siphon

Exactly, so you kind of have to. If there is any reason at all to do 50% chest spawns in casual, then you kind of have to. You are kind of forced to do it in competitive too from their perspective.

I don’t agree with it but I think you kind of have to because it’s kind of like, ‘well this game (Arena) is better, but I still want people to play this game’ and to me, its that bad players are better served by a 50% chest spawn, because they get the opportunity to get that dopamine hit of getting a kill because somebody doesn’t get a chest.

That’s something that a lot of people struggle with. So to me, it’s very much that simple. They want that effect for bad players, but if a bad player knew that he had the choice of getting 100% chest spawns, he would rather that even though the other game is better for him.

I’m a huge fan of Ninja Battles. Do you think the 60 player format is the answer to certain Fortnite problems like griefing and server performance?

I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about 60 players. I think that we definitely should experiment with fewer people but 60 players is drastic. That’s 13 missing teams.

At the same time, I feel like that does devalue players like Chap, players like Arab who hasn’t played in a Ninja battle but in any case, these are guys who are very good at not only the early game navigating the early game getting a nice split but also rotating through the mid-game which we kind of miss entirely.

I’ve been feeling the last couple of weeks that the 20 team format is more like a glorified zone rule scrim than anything else because everyone comes in the end game with full kits, fully upgraded, max metal, all this stuff.

It also gives you the time to fight. If you do fight off spawn you have time to finish without getting third partied.

That’s really fun, that’s why I think you know maybe remove 5 teams something like that and I mess around with the idea in Elite cup. Well, they used the idea. Let’s kick teams out who are playing poorly throughout the tournament after a certain amount of matches. I think that should be experimented with more. Because it gives both the incentive to fight off spawn or not and also reduces the lobby size to make the games more competitive down the line.

We’ve had a lot of recent org signings in the Fortnite world along with brand-new organizations popping up like Gamma Gaming. It seemed like orgs were divesting in Fortnite early in 2020. Why do you think they’re making a comeback?

There are definitely new orgs popping up and to me, Cloud9 getting back in is huge news because they just completely disappeared off the face of the earth at the end of 2018.

I think that just in general, Fortnite did not decline as hard as people thought it was going to. So this return, this resurgence might be a little bit getting back at that. And I think people are also understanding how to actually get value out of orgs in Fortnite.

Things like the NRG guys, things like BBG really strike me as a new understanding of that. Where they are making content, they’re promoting their players, they’re actually getting people to stream more often not necessarily just tournaments.

I think that there’s a new understanding for orgs in Fortnite, I don’t think its broadcast returning, to be honest. Even though I alluded people were leaving because broadcasts were gone. I think there was a scare at the beginning of the year because there were no comms for a long time about anything. There was no broadcast where you could get those comms there was nothing so everybody was terrified of what was happening. That’s why they left and I think right now they are realizing it was an overreaction.

I loved the days when it was the Liquid boys and the FaZe team and TSM all together, and we don’t have that at all anymore. There’s no allegiance to an organization and a team – it doesn’t mean anything. Do you think they’re missing an opportunity there? It sounded like you did.

So, I think that people kind of misunderstood what I was saying about that topic. I mean, I do agree with what you’re saying but I was just trying to say that there was no link whatsoever between people, right? People were like, ‘Oh. NRG doesn’t have any links between their players.’ And I come back and I say, ‘Yes, they do.’ Right?

Unknown is good friends with Clix, Ronaldo is good friends with all of them, like, Edgey has all of a sudden been a really really fun part of that group when they went to the house.

If there are not links, they’re making there be links. NRG has done a great job with that to make their team be a little bit more – I don’t know – approachable in a sense, because it’s not just one-off players, randomly.

So that’s why I was confused about Cloud9, like, there’s no, you know, similarities between any of these players and they have nothing to do with each other except for Avery and Nosh – now it’s Chap and Vivid too – but at the time, Chap wasn’t signed.

But, in any case, ya I think there are missed opportunities. I think that’s a really easy way to get people to know who your org is. And you brought up the examples of, like, Liquid – the Liquid boys – sure, they weren’t necessarily doing many events together but because they were playing multiple duos together, a lot of people wanted – a lot of people loved Liquid, right? The OG Liquid – still, people think about that all the time. OG FaZe, people think about those teams all the time too. Like, even TSM, right?

Daequan. Hamlinz, and Myth. That was – you thought they were gonna rule the world at the time.

Exactly, and so, when you see orgs not have these types of links then you’re definitely wondering. You’re definitely wondering and I think we’re missing an aspect of fandom because of it.

What do you think the biggest problem facing competitive Fortnite is right now?

Competitive integrity, I think is the biggest one. It has to do with Ninja’s tweet for example, griefing all those different things. I think that needs to be solved.

I think cheating and I think what happened last season was an absolute abomination. Not necessarily like there was a big problem with hacking but what we did as a community was terrible and it affected the competitive integrity of tournaments. Because when the player base and the community start believing that there is a problem whether there is a problem or not, there is now a problem.

Hacking aside, I think teaming is a problem, I think griefing is a problem, I think agreements and collusion are problems, whether we have found them or not.

Balla is hosting viewing parties for all of the FNCS competitions and is still broadcasting Fortnite with third-party tournament organizers like DreamHack.

You can find Balla on Twitter here, and can catch his weekly FNTASIA podcast on his Twitch and YouTube. He expresses his opinions in written form on his blog, Ballatw.com.

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The 5 most hated skins in Fortnite

The Fortnite community is no fan of these skins.

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Fortnite skins have taken on a life of their own since the game came out. Back in the early days, we couldn’t imagine spending money on a free game. Now, hundreds of dollars later, we’re still padding our lockers as collectors of in-game cosmetics.

Some skins tell a lot about the player wearing them. A Peely? They’re just trying to goof around and have some fun. A Dynamo? Sweat is probably pouring onto their keyboard at all times.

Today, we’re taking a look at the most hated skins in Fortnite – the skins that elicit an immediate reaction from opponents. You better be ready for some backlash if you post a clip while wearing one of these skins.

5. Female Soccer Skins

Female Soccer Skins have been hated ever since they first came out. This might have been the first “sweaty” skin to come to Fortnite, and it remains in the category to this day. However, it’s been made available in the Item Shop quite frequently so everyone from sweats to casuals owns it.

“Soccer skin” means more than just the skin that someone is wearing, at this point. It’s a term that longtime Fortnite players will likely remember for the rest of their gaming careers. However, because of its frequent item shop appearances, it’s last on the list.

fortnite soccer celebration
Via: Epic Games

4. Custom Superhero Skins

These skins have cause quite a stir with players and have disrupted the competitive scene on more than one occasion. The actual name of these skins is Boundless, and they are among the most customizable skins in the game. Many players bought them for their versatility at first, but they were quickly abused by competitive players.

Players could set their skins to have an all-black or all-white color scheme which would make them harder to see. These color combos were banned from the game, but players still found a way to make their skins harder to see. This lead to these sweaty skins being banned outright in all competitive play.

3. Anime Skins

This category of skins is pretty new since “anime” skins were introduced in Chapter 2 Season 5. A bundle of anime skins was also released during Season 6 which contains some of the sweatiest and most hated Fortnite Skins.

Chigusa, Megumi, and Yuki are part of the Cyber Infiltration bundle, and Lexa was given to players who reached a certain level of the Season 5 Battle Pass. For some reason, players hate these cell-shaded skins and would rather face off against Soccer Skins.

2. Surf Witch

When we asked Twitter which skins they hated the most, a large number of responses included Surf Witch. It seems this skin is hated because it’s used by “sweats” and also because of its lackluster design.

Surf Witch’s design isn’t much different from many of the other female skins. In fact, she has a very similar design to Haze, a preexisting skin. Many players think that Surf Witch is a cheap rip off of Haze, and their hate is derived from their similarities.

1. Dynamo

Dynamo is – by far – the most hated skin in Fortnite, at the moment. If you post a clip while wearing the Dynamo skin, you’re guaranteed to see the bulk of your replies consist of something along the lines of, “Dynamo, ew.”

We’re not exactly sure why Dynamo has its status as the most hated skin in Fortnite. Perhaps, it’s because Dynamo a very sweaty skin that isn’t difficult to get. Unlike Crystal and Aura, a lot of players think Dynamo is, simply, a bad skin on top of the fact that it’s incredibly sweaty.

Whatever the reason, wearing a Dynamo skin puts a target on your back. If you hit the island wearing Dynamo, then you better be as good as the skin suggests you are.

Epic Games

Does this list mean that you shouldn’t be wearing these skins in Fortnite? Absolutely not. In fact, a lot of players like playing the role of an antagonist in all sorts of games. It can be fun. Wear whatever you want – these are just some of the skins that are in the community’s crosshairs at the moment. We’re sure that it will change in the future. Wear what you want and have fun!

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How to get Fortnite Inflate-A-Bulls and how to use them

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Fortnite Inflate-A-Bull

Epic Games have added another disguise to Fortnite Season 8 following the v17.10 update, and they’re called Inflate-A-Bulls.

If you ever wanted to tip-toe around the Fortnite world hidden in a cow costume, well, now is your chance!

On July 13, 2021, Epic posted a new update on their official live blog, confirming the Inflate-A-Bull has been added to the game.

Now, you’re going to need to know how to use it, and where to find them – because they look like a lot of fun.

How to use Fortnite Inflate-A-Bull

Fortnite Inflate-A-Bulls can be attached to your back and can be – shock horror – inflated to bounce or roll away from dangerous scenarios.

Essentially, they may save your life during close gunfights.

Quick tips!

Even if a player shoots your way and pops the inflatable, you will be protected from the damage.

Epic have also released a quick tip for players to follow as well, to get the most out of this strange disguise. They posted: “Tip: Rolling downhill with an Inflate-A-Bull is a LOT faster than just running downhill”.

Where to find Fortnite Inflate-A-Bull

These pesky disguises can be found in two ways: IO Chests and normal Chests.

Guarantee yourself one of these items at this location, where Rick Sanchez will wait for you.

However, there is one NPC on the Fortnite island selling these as well – Rick Sanchez. For those who don’t know, Sanchez can be found at the IO Base east of Weeping Woods (seen above).

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Fortnite LeBron James skin: Release date, price, trailer & more

A LeBron James Fortnite skin is reportedly being added to the game during the next update, and he will come with exclusive quests.

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lebron james fortnite skin space jam

NBA superstar LeBron James has officially joined Fortnite’s ICON Series skin set, with two outfits coming to the Fortnite Item Shop.

During the first day of the Epic Games vs. Apple trial, multiple planned or scrapped Fortnite crossovers had been leaked. The crossover information came from a Quarterly Business Review document for Epic Games. Among these leaks were planned crossovers with Naruto, Metroid, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and more.

A crossover with LeBron James was also found in the court documents. The still image of LeBron James included the Icon Series logo. Players assumed a LeBron James Fortnite skin would be released during the Fortnite x NBA The Crossover event, but a set of customizable skins was released instead.

Epic Games put rumors to bed with an announcement on their official blog page on July 12, confirming the date NBA’s MVP would be arriving in the world-famous Battle Royale.

He joins a list of celebrities to now have their own character in-game, including Marshmello, Ninja, Loserfruit, and more.

When is Fortnite’s LeBron James skin coming out?

Here’s a first look at both of LeBron James’ Fortnite skins.

On July 14, 2021, LeBron James will be given his very own Fortnite Battle Royale skin, as part of the ICON Series.

How much is Fortnite’s LeBron James skin?

Fortnite ICON Series skins usually cost around 1,500 V-Bucks individually, with a price point of between 2,500 or 3,000 V-Bucks for the full bundle.

What does the King James Gear Bundle include?

  • The Lion Pickaxe 
  • Wingspan Glider
  • Quiet the competition with LeBron’s emphatic on-the-court celebration, The Silencer. 

A new trailer dropped as part of the announcement, too, as seen below.

Fortnite LeBron James skin trailer

Leaks

A number of these details were revealed before Epic Games had the chance to do a full press release, too.

ShiinaBR on Twitter was the first to break the news stating: “LEBRON JAMES WILL BE THE NEXT ICON SERIES SKIN.”

HYPEX quote retweeted Shiina’s announcement with more information. They stated that the LeBron James Fortnite skin will come with an exclusive quest line called King’s Bling.

And now LeBron James will be added to the game right before the release of Space Jam: A New Legacy.

For basketball fans, this is an exciting addition to Fortnite. Not only can players equip their own custom basketball skins, but now they can play as one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. Let us know down below if you are excited about the collab and if you plan to purchase the LeBron James Fortnite skin.

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