Beginning with the placement of the Infinity Blade before the Winter Royale, Fortnite esports has been in constant flux.

The planes transitioned straight into The Baller and those two vehicles have dominated games ever since the beginning of Season 7.

Last weekend we finally got a reprieve. Due to a bug where players were unable to exit vehicles, Epic had to disable The Baller in the finals on Sunday.

The result was our first glimpse at Fortnite esports without an overpowered vehicle. The result was fantastic, but naturally had players wishing this could be the normal state for Fortnite esports.

This is what the end game looks like without vehicles:

The builds at the end of a match in today’s qualifiers. from r/FortNiteBR

One popular theory as to why vehicles had stayed in the game so long was that end games like that would cause overwhelming amounts of lag.

I have prescribed to this theory and covered it in numerous articles because it is a rational explanation for Epic’s continued support of the planes and baller.

But on Sunday we learned that lag wasn’t a big issue. There were hiccups absolutely but lag didn’t cause significant issues even in that complicated behemoth of a structure.

Why last weekend still wasn’t a success

In a normal esport, developments would be announced and players would have time to react to them.

If that was the situation, the removal of The Ballers would be a welcome change to the community. But as it stands now, players have built their strategies around The Baller and used them to qualify for Sunday.

Then a tweet goes out at 8:10 PM PT on Saturday night saying that all vehicles will be disabled. For players in other regions like Switzerland’s Ghost Issa, that tweet went out at 5:10 AM.

That gave him only hours to adjust his strategy to the new ruleset as he tries to qualify for the most lucrative esports tournament in history.

He still managed to qualify, but thousands of players went to bed on Saturday after using The Baller to qualify for Sunday, and weren’t able to successfully adjust the next day.

We are now halfway through the World Cup qualifiers and any hope of consistency coming to Fortnite esports seems long gone.

This tweet from longtime esports reporter Rod ‘Slasher’ Breslau does well to sum up the issues with Fortnite esports:

OWL commentator MonteCristo chimed in with even more harsh criticism of Fortnite’s place as an esport:

While the Overwatch League has its own share of issues with the current GOATs meta, the esports scene is at least a priority for Blizzard.

That is what made last weekend such an interesting case study. On one hand, we finally got to see what Fortnite esports could look like without The Ballers. But on the other hand, the way they were removed was yet another example of everything wrong with how Epic Games has run the esports scene.

Leave it to Epic to remove a problematic vehicle in a problematic way which left the competitive community conflicted and confused.

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Mitch is a writer who used to be a sports broadcaster. When not playing or writing about Fortnite he also plays too much Rocket League and Hearthstone. You can see more of Mitch's work by following his Twitter @Mitch_Reames. Feel free to pitch stories you want to see him cover by tweeting at him or sending him a DM.


  1. Really enjoyed reading, and gave me a lot of thoughts about the whole dilemma. I loved the added picture from reddit, it shows how just one of the many aspects of the game, can drastically impact the outcome.

    While I do see the participants point of view regarding the matter, I don’t think the ballers being taken away should be the blame for not qualifying. The point of battle royale games is “survival of the fittest.” That means being able to adapt to your environment, and circumstances. Anything can happen. There are several factors in the game that can impact how things go. You could pick up bad loot, break your baller, take fall damage, maybe the storm didn’t end where you had hoped. anything can happen! But the ability to be able to adapt to whatever gets thrown at them, is what they should really blame.

    Now again, I understand from a sport perspective that it was dumb. I mean, if you took out the ability to shoot from a certain area of the basketball court that you usually can go to, then it could seriously impact a game. But a basketball game isn’t survival of the fittest like Fortnite is.

    I guess to summarize my point: Pros need to understand that they can’t always blame the circumstances of the game. They need to be able to realize that some of the reasons the game is hard, is because they need to look at the way they are playing.

  2. If you want to be able to consider yourself good at a game, you should be able to adopt different strategies and adapt to changing conditions. Someone is not good at a fighting game if they just keep spamming a single attack over and over. When something happens like the pump being vaulted, it’s vaulted for everyone, people act like they’re the only one affected.

    • I agree for the most part with this, but I do think this is something that is frustrating for the pros. It is a slight change, but it is enough to alter the way someone plays. Though they should be able to adapt, chances are they have trained with that one current meta because it works. I think, here, in this case, this guy is not really complaining a lot about how it lost him games or anything, but just more at the fact of how annoying it is to have something like this change so suddenly. Of course, I may be wrong, but that’s the way I see it. If he truly is complaining just about the baller situation, then I totally agree he shouldn’t really consider himself a good/great player if he can’t adapt just a small change like this.


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