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Fortnite
Fortnite
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How Fortnite esports can learn from the H1Z1 pro league

Last week, Epic Games announced they will be pumping $100 million into competitive Fortnite events throughout the 2018/2019 season. To put that into perspective, esports personality Scott ‘SirScoots’ Smith claims the top ten esports titles in 2017 had a total of $91.2 million combined. Epic hasn’t just beaten the previous record: they have obliterated it. What they’ve failed to mention so far is the format for their first esports season. But however they choose to spin it, we surely will not be straying far from the last-man-standing style gameplay we’ve come to expect from Fortnite – and indeed all battle royale games. This formula sees players drop somewhere on the map, loot for a while, then either engage in firefights or hide and try to escape other players’ attention. The inherent problem with this is that when there’s money on the line – in this case, a lot of money – players will do everything they can to survive. The major worry is that this will lead to camping being the most successful tactic, with the players who manage to most successfully avoid fighting ending up being the ones winning.

Last man camping?

The recent Solo Showdown limited time mode was a prime example of this. There was no money on the line, just in-game v-bucks for the top 100 players, but players who made it to the top 25 or thereabouts treated it like they were playing for all the money in the world. Winning a game rewarded players with 100 points, followed by 94 for second, 91 for third, 88 for 3rd, 85 for 4th, then it descended by five points per position in the top 10. vRxthless, the player who came first, had 4881 points over 50 games. That means he got the equivalent of around 45 wins, and five more placements all in the top 10. Which is an incredible feat, but was undoubtedly achieved by a lot of bush camping and hiding instead of engaging other players. [caption id="attachment_104185" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Hiding and healing Hiding and healing right by the edge of the circle was a common occurrence in the Solo Showdown mode.[/caption] Take this Reddit post, authored by the player who placed 11th overall. He explains that a huge part of his strategy to winning 33 out of 50 games was to hide and stick to the very edge of circles. He even said he often purposefully took storm damage for a while to heal up after, to prevent himself from being seen as easily. Imagine this sort of playstyle on a worldwide stage. Fortnite would become the most mundane esport out there, with the casters trying to keep the audience engaged as they watch half the lobby sit in bushes while the other half build themselves 1x1 huts on the edge of the circle.

Potential solutions

There’s been two notable events in Fortnite esports so far, other than Solo Showdown. Nearly two months ago, popular streamer Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins held the Ninja Vegas ‘18 event, featuring a plethora of Fortnite players and streamers. It is one of the only events so far to feature proper private matches with custom matchmaking keys provided by Epic, meaning everyone could play in the same game. The winning player for each match walked away with $2500. Ninja found out a way to keep the games away from being a camp fest though: whoever killed him in each game would receive another $2500. If he won the game, the bounty would roll over to the next match. This meant players would engage in fights in the hopes of eliminating the man himself, to earn themselves some extra dollar. [caption id="attachment_104186" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Ninja Vegas 18 Ninja Vegas ‘18 was a huge success for everyone involved in the event that took place last month in Las Vegas.[/caption] Daniel ‘Keemstar’ Keem has held three Friday Fortnite events in partnership with UMG now too. These are duo matches, and are formatted much differently. Each pair will enter the same lobby as the duo they’re playing against, and they’ll enter a public squads match. From there, the two duos must separately take on all the full teams in the squads match, and after two games, the duo with the most kills overall wins the round. So placing first in the game means nothing if you’ve only got a few kills, if your opponents landed somewhere busy and picked up a lot of kills in the early game.

H1Z1 inspiration

While Fortnite’s esports scene is still very much in its infancy, H1Z1’s is not. Last month, the H1Z1 Pro League commenced, featuring 15 teams comprised of five players each. They all descend upon Caesars Entertainment Studios in Las Vegas once a week. While the game is nowhere near as popular as Fortnite, the H1PL has the gameplay element locked down to a T. Each kill is worth one point (with a melee being worth 10), but if a team survives all the way to the end, their score is doubled. If they place second to fifth, you receive a 1.5x multiplier, followed by 1.25x for the teams in sixth to tenth, while the bottom five teams don’t receive any multiplier at all. It offers a perfect blend of teams trying to survive, while also taking on the others in an attempt to rack up their points. [caption id="attachment_104188" align="aligncenter" width="600"]H1Z1 Pro League The H1Z1 Pro League’s scoring system encourages teams to fight whenever possible. Cloud9 took an early five kill lead in week five round one.[/caption] Jace Hall, chairman of Twin Galaxies - the company behind the league - summarised the essence of this scoring system: “In traditional H1Z1 play, the act of surviving for as long as possible and being the last one standing will award you points. In Pro League it will only award you a bonus multiplier to the points you earned by eliminating others during the game. The fact that a pro player can only get points by eliminating other pro players is a significant change in required strategy, and it drives action of engagement, not the avoidance of it.” One of the other key aspects to battle royale titles is that anything can happen in one match. If you don’t find any decent gear, or have no shields/armour, you can feel hard done by. Battle royale titles aren’t suited to individual games when there’s a lot on the line, and elimination tournaments can feel unfair or unlucky. That’s one of the main reasons H1Z1 is in a league format, spread across a grand total of 20 weeks in two splits, with two games per week. That’s 40 matches in total, and it means no team can complain about being unlucky. If something doesn’t work one week, they can change up their strategy the next week. [caption id="attachment_104187" align="aligncenter" width="600"]SetToDestroyX have an impressive lead SetToDestroyX have an impressive lead, but Epsilon and Rogue will be hoping to close that gap before the end of the first season split.[/caption] In the early stages of the H1PL, SetToDestroyX has emerged as clear favourites, while Epsilon are a way behind in second. During week six, SetToDestroyX had one of their worst performances so far; yet they still placed fifth overall for the week. If the whole event was limited to the first week only, Epsilon would’ve won the entire thing, followed by Rogue. In Fortnite, as there hasn’t been any official tournaments, it’s hard to tell who the top dogs will be. Both FaZe and Team SoloMid have impressive lineups and will probably be the favourites, but many organisations are waiting for more news on what the competitive scene is going to look like before signing any players. The esports industry is hotly anticipating news on competitive Fortnite, and it’s highly likely that this is only the start of the records they’re going to break. It’s the most popular game in the world right now, and Fortnite could be the gateway for thousands of new esports fans and players. Epic just has to execute it correctly. (Disclaimer: I am a contributor for the editorial side of Twin Galaxies, but I have nothing to do with the H1PL.)