Ninja Vegas 18: What can UK esports learn from the first major Fortnite event?

Fortnite: Battle Royale’s first large-scale live event entertained and thrilled 680,000 viewers at the Esports Arena in Las Vegas last week.

The face of Fortnite and streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins continued to propel Epic Games’ title to new heights with the tournament.

The event, which lasted almost eight hours, dropped 75 players (Who each paid $75 to participate) against each other in the solo game mode live on Ninja’s Twitch channel.

The contestants were set up in individual gaming booths inside the Esports Arena, with four playing on the main stage with Ninja. The event had a simple format with three heats consisting of three games, with a total of $50,000 on the line.

It was a success with plenty of exciting moments enthused by Jack "OpTic CouRage" Dunlop and Benjamin "Dr Lupo" Lupo.

The event lured CouRage out of retirement, having previously casted Call of Duty esports. However, it was streamer Dr Lupo’s first casting role at an esports event.

Dr Lupo’s close friendship with Ninja was entertaining to watch, while he gave the audience interesting insight and genuinely helpful advice on Fortnite gameplay.

Experienced host Sue Lee interviewed players, while Ninja's wife Jessica "JGhosty" Blevins provided direction of the event from the stage.

The standard of Fortnite gameplay was generally very high. The most notable win came from 14-year-old 4DRStorm. Esports teams took this opportunity to get involved, with Team Solo Mid and Tempo Storm players participating. Tempo Storm’s "Tempo Payne" took a Victory Royale in heat two, game three.

 

Fortnite, UK esports & getting the format right

Comment by James Pointing

With Fortnite’s meteoric (R.I.P Tilted, anyone?) rise, with no signs of stopping in the foreseeable future, UK-based esports teams and companies would be foolish to gloss over a key opportunity.

In February, Epic Games announced Fortnite had 3.4 million concurrent players, overtaking PUBG's 3.2 million.

As Fortnite does not have an official esports scene just yet, UK-based teams will be able to prepare in advance. We already see this happening elsewhere in Europe and North America with official esport team players present at NinjaVegas18, something Ninja didn’t anticipate happening at first.

We've also seen Team Secret sign 13-year-old UK Fortnite player Kyle "Mongraal" Jackson in the past week.

Despite being behind Europe and North America, the UK is seeing a rise in esports specific venues. The Gfinity arena, ESL UK Leicester studio (and now Haymarket Theatre), the Birmingham NEC, Wembley SSE Arena and more are testament to the continuing growth of competitive gaming here.

 

"We want more than custom matches. We want structure. We don’t want a flimsy 1 by 1, we want a full-on ‘John Wick after being hit by a single bullet’ castle."

 

With the event in Las Vegas’ esports arena proving a resounding success, similar sized UK venues can take inspiration that they too can play host to Fortnite – and it will no doubt be popular.

The world’s most popular battle royale game worked very well in an esports environment, without looking uncomfortable. With the release of the new replay system and custom matchmaking, Epic Games would have been proud seeing their creation come to life on the big stage. However, much more work needs to be done to efficiently create an esports model.

The spectator mode teased, rather than fully delivered on a quality esports experience. Being able to efficiently move between various players will need to be implemented, as is possible in the replay system. Furthermore, being able to have a drone view away from the locked third person would dramatically increase audience awareness, especially in build battles.

Questions remain regarding the format at a grassroots/local level, but it's likely we'll see more from Fortnite in the UK in the future.

It is looking increasingly likely that the solo game mode will be the best for esports. This may of course change with whatever direction Epic Games goes, but for now it appears to be the most plausible.

Duo could be possible in time with spectator improvements. Alas, squads would most likely cause too much chaos, with the audience unable to completely follow all the plays.

Yet, without a specific competitive solo mode, this is difficult to create. Custom matches full of however many players sign up is the basic gist, but we want more than this. We want structure. We don’t want a flimsy 1 by 1, we want a full-on ‘John Wick after being hit by a single bullet’ castle.

For now, the UK can learn from NinjaVegas18 and improve on it. Bring in rulings for maximum players in a match, and limit the players that are able to represent from a team, so UK rosters can prepare recruitment accordingly. Furthermore, same-team players should not be allowed to play in the same match, to avoid cheating.

 

"Fortnite: Battle Royale’s future as an esport - should Epic Games truly want to go in that direction - is there"

 

A rough structure for a UK based solo tournament could look like this:

  • 50 players
  • 25 teams enter with two players representing each team
  • 10 matches consisting of 5 heats of 2 (or 2 of 5)
  • £100 per match, winner takes all
  • £250 to player with most kills at end of 10 games
  • £5 entry fee per player

A £1,250 prize pool will give multiple UK-based teams the chance to get involved. Both players in a team would rotate 1-2-1-2 for five games each. The logistics and kinks would need to be worked out, but remember, this is just a rough idea.

If the aforementioned hubs of UK esports began to showcase Fortnite tournaments, the scene and its popularity in the UK will grow exponentially.

When competitive Fortnite eventually has a general consensus as to how it will be played effectively, the UK will be ready.

There is an abundance of development and testing to be done before Epic Games can confidently speak of Fortnite as an esport, and of course only the solo format has been highlighted.

But Fortnite: Battle Royale’s future as an esport, should Epic Games truly want to go in that direction, is there.

Ninja Vegas 18 has shown us that the potential is there, and the UK is in a great position to build a thriving Fortnite foundation. The audience and passion is there.

Just build it and they will come.

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