With the Fortnite World Cup qualifiers set to begin this weekend, this should be a time of nervous anticipation for pro Fortnite players.
Instead, they are worried. They are worried about the competitive integrity of the game they have spent so much time playing.
For a while, through the Summer Skirmish and Fall Skirmish, Fortnite esports were doing well. Big names like Tfue and Ninja won big tournaments, and despite some issues with lag, the pro scene seemed to be growing exponentially.
Of course, there were some issues. But those were to be expected with the first couple competitive events.
Then the issues became more regular as a pattern started to emerge. “Lol, adapt” became the new summary of competitive Fortnite events.
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The Winter Royale was insanity as the absurdly powerful Infinity Blade was added to the game.
At the Secret Skirmish, it was time to add Boomboxes the day before.
During all of this, planes flew overhead that made previously crucial skills like rotating and building nearly obsolete.
In Season 8, planes left the game and competitive players hoped Epic learned their lesson and were going to focus more on creating a competitive environment.
Instead, they created this:
Epic put out details for the $100 Million Fortnite World Cup and its $1 Million online weeklies, all while the game still doesn't have custom servers for practice, there's still a huge potential for cheating, and hamster balls— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 25, 2019
Fortnite esports baby pic.twitter.com/lg04t39UN4
And when given the chance to change something before the largest esports tournament of all time kicked off, they chose to do absolutely nothing.
At this point, professional Fortnite players are put in a tough spot. They want to grind practice to improve their skill and come out with some money when the event is all over.
But how can they practice for a game that may have dramatically changed three times by the time the World Cup happens?
The short answer is, they can’t. That is what is driving the unhappiness in the pro circuit right now, the latest person to voice that frustration is Myth, who remembers better than most the earliest days of competitive Fortnite.
Every week I get more worried and more anxious about Fortnites success and being a competitive player. This shit is nothing but exhausting and I have no idea what they're doing anymore. ☹— Myth (@TSM_Myth) April 10, 2019
That last line is key. “I have no idea what they’re doing anymore.”
All of us as Fortnite fans should be worried about that. Just one year ago around this time, Epic had announced the first Thanos LTM. The company received props for listening to the community and making quick changes.
Regardless of how the game looks, the relationship between Epic and the Fortnite player base is almost on the entirely opposite end of the spectrum as it was in April 2018.
In my opinion, they expanded too fast. They introduced Fortnite Creative and came for Minecraft, they introduced the Epic Games store and came after Steam, they introduced the largest esports tournament of all time and came after Dota, League and CS:GO.
It is nearly impossible to do just one of those things, and trying to do all three while still focusing and expanding the game in other key areas is a tough task.
Now Epic’s reckless ambitions seem to have caught up with them, and the pro Fortnite players are the ones being put in a tough spot.