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The Fortnite World Cup Was A Kids’ Paradise

The people who filled Queens, New York’s Arthur Ashe tennis stadium for this weekend’s Fortnite World Cup were people who love Fortnite, or at least those people and their parents. The bulk of the attendees I saw were young kids, swimming in soccer shorts and baggy Fortnite t-shirts. They performed the game’s emote dances. They played miniature golf holes designed after in-game icons like the Durr Burger mascot and the Battle Bus. They competed in Fortnite trivia contests, demonstrating so much knowledge of the game that one young contestant even corrected the host on a prior day’s question. The World Cup, like Fortnite itself, felt like a kids’ world.

As an adult—and as a reporter—I have to be attuned to the cracks: the cheating competitors, developer Epic’s penchant for stealing dances from real-life artists, the V-bucks scams that proliferate on Twitter and YouTube, the in-game bullying a teacher friend once told me goes on among his students. I’m inherently suspicious of the money swirling around the World Cup, with its $30 million prize pool, and the juggernaut of Fortnite and the estimated $3 billion Epic has profited off the game. But I’m also, frankly, afraid to love anything with the openness of Fortnite’s fans.

A father with their child at the World Cup fan festival
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

What I saw in Queens, however, wasn’t a slavish devotion to an astonishingly popular game. The times the stadium announcer referred to “making history,” one of Epic’s well-worn phrases, felt crassly commercial. There was the drummed-up exclusivity and the carefully-controlled branding of any major event. But the purest moments of excitement I saw weren’t about things that came from Epic. They were about people—fans, players, self-made stars—sharing their passion with each other.

The Fortnite World Cup Finals were the culmination of months of worldwide qualifying matches, hype by Epic Games, and awe at the millions of dollars on the line for winners. The three-day event brought together hundreds of competitors in solo and duos finals, as well as a competition in various creative modes and a Pro-Am featuring celebrities like streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, wrestler Austin “Xavier Woods” Creed, and boy band NSYNC alum Joey Fatone.

The Fortnite World Cup stands
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

According to Epic, the event sold out, but I saw an unexpected amount of empty seats and closed sections in the approximately 23,700-seat stadium. Lines for the accompanying outdoor fan festival were long, with some attractions having posted wait times of over an hour, but the event felt mobbed to me only once: before a concert of electronic DJ Marshmello, for which an event security person told me fans had lined up two hours ahead of time to score some of the limited Marshmello bucket masks, cardboard signs, and noisemakers promised to the earliest attendees. The crowd surged forward the moment the arena doors opened, and the security person told me he’d stopped several people from trying to sneak in before opening time.

The stadium itself was a wall of sound (Epic provided attendees with Fortnite-purple earplugs.). Players sat on a multi-story stage fenced with images of Fortnite’s wood and metal building materials, with overflow on the ground. The stage was topped with giant monitors and ringed with screens showing match details. Players’ face cameras appeared in front of their seats; when they were eliminated, the virtual fences replaced their images. The acoustics were terrible, and the casters’ voices echoed unintelligibly. I watched Saturday’s duos finals from home, where Epic’s website featuring match stats, player profiles, and multiple streams gave me insight into the proceedings that I and other viewers had longed for during the 10 weeks of qualifiers. In the arena, only the main cast was available, and without being able to comprehend the casters, much of the game was just swirling colors and headache-inducing noise.

The Fortnite World Cup stage
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

The crowd’s energy focused things. Friday’s creative finals and Pro-Am were the least attended. More showed up for Saturday’s duos and Sunday’s solos, which were six matches each. People didn’t trickle in and out much, even when ultimate solos winner Bugha headed into game six with a nearly-untouchable 15-point lead. One of the strengths and weaknesses of the World Cup has been the sheer amount of unknowns, with most of the big-name Fortnite streamers failing to qualify. While this could make it hard to have a favorite, it also gave the event a communal feel. It felt like a scrum of people who all play Fortnite, with some being better than others. I saw a few signs in the stadium for particular players or teams, but it felt like attendees were happy to cheer (and sometimes boo) just about anyone who showed up on the big screens. It seemed like many people didn’t care too much who won. They just wanted to watch each other play.

On Friday, I was sitting in the grass outside the stadium trying to surreptitiously vape without kids noticing. (This futile task continued throughout the weekend.) A short, blue-haired kid milled nearby, looking like every other dyed-hair kid I’d seen in the crowd. I watched a young person approach him and ask cautiously, “Are you Sceptic?” It was in fact the 15-year-old duos player. In the finals, he’d jump in childish alarm when smoke cannons went off during the pre-show, triggering all of my uncle instincts even through my computer screen. In competition, he braggadociously flashed the “take the L” emote during the finals and then almost immediately got killed by player Mongraal, a moment that spread widely on social media.

On Friday, he wasn’t that person yet. He graciously took a picture with the fan who spotted him. The telltale selfie pose attracted others, who recognized that he was a player even if some of them might not have known which one. Sceptic was polite and well-spoken in the way grownups praise kids for being. Adults hovered in the background, a protective audience to a crowd that was, in many ways, peers. Sceptic is a professional esports player, but he’s also a streamer with over 1.3 million YouTube subscribers, someone kids can spend virtual time with whenever they want.

Kids dance during a music set of in-game skin DJ Yonder
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Many of the World Cup qualifiers have made their fame on Twitch and YouTube, and while they all made more money in a weekend than most adults at the event—every competitor was guaranteed to take home at least $50,000—they didn’t feel as inaccessible as traditional sports or television stars. Security was tight at the finals, but there was a collegial air to most of the event, a lack of separation between players and fans.

Fans held up signs with their creator codes, a name Fortnite players can enter in the game’s shop to fiscally support their favorite streamers or themselves. More than one person introduced themselves with their creator code during the trivia contests. I was surprised not to find the promotion cringe-worthy, though I might be numb to it from too much Fortnite on Reddit and YouTube. These self-promoters, especially the younger ones, seemed at home in their moments in the spotlight, like they’d come to expect it from Fortnite’s world of clip-sharing and fan art. The World Cup’s “anyone can win” ethos, certainly a big part of what drove its hype, felt repurposed in their hands.

The youngest player to qualify for the World Cup was 13, the minimum required age, and the oldest was 24. Bugha, who won the solos finals and took home $3 million, is 16. Fortnite is a young person’s game.

Fortnite’s adults also skew young. Popular player Tfue is 21; superstar streamer Ninja is 28. During Friday’s celebrity Pro-Am, content creator CouRageJD took a potshot at the age of player and caster DrLupo in a joke announcement for a “Geriatric Gamer Foundation.” Lupo is 32, five years younger than me.

Ninja during the World Cup preview day
Photo: Epic Games

Fortnite’s adults don’t quite feel like adults. Ninja wears brightly-colored clothes and dyes his hair to match. Tfue spent most of his finals matches in a leopard-print vest. I find Lupo preternaturally fresh-faced. Over the weekend, fans hung off the stadium railings trying to get these adults’ attention, shouting “Lupo!” and “Ninja!” even though they were much too far away to interact in any meaningful way. These shouts didn’t feel needy or full of awe. They sounded more like people hollering to their friends. At the end of the tournament, I overheard some teenagers trying to sneak into a restricted part of the arena. “I’m meeting someone,” one said, and the event staff member appeared to almost believe them before refusing.

The adults’ accessibility is a brand, obviously. Ninja wore a yellow World Cup hoodie when he cast some of Saturday’s matches, and the next day I saw dozens of kids in it despite the heat. The game’s adults need to portray the family-friendly image that encourages parents to let their kids play and brings in the money that keeps the machine running. They aren’t perfect: Ninja rapped a slur last year and later apologized. I don’t know if Fortnite’s adults need to be role models, or if that’s just my own expectation as an adult who second-guesses my every word when I squad up with kids. A 24-year-old and a 13-year old aren’t peers, even if they’re competing in the same game. The day before the World Cup kicked off, Sceptic tweeted a selfie with Ninja, their arms around each other. He captioned it “Finally met my Dad.” Ninja retweeted it.

As I lingered at the fan festival after the Sunday crush for Marshmello’s concert had filtered inside, a new crowd appeared. Whispers of “That’s Marshmello!” went up, which attracted more people to the fast-moving cluster. Marshmello is a Fortnite mainstay, having played an in-game concert in February. His catchy beats and simple lyrics make him popular with kids: The entirety of one song’s lyrics go “I’m so alone/ nothing feels like home/ I’m so alone/ trying to find my way back home to you.” I spotted glimpses of a white bucket mask and a purple sweatshirt, the outfit Marshmello would wear during his performance. It seemed like him, but I wondered how anyone would know if it really was. It would be so easy, I thought, to pretend to be the musician for attention.

“Look, it’s Marshmello!” a mom shouted to her kids, who were busy watching a performance on the fan festival’s small stage. Their dad eventually heralded them over to the crowd, which paused by the end of a zipline ride to form a mass of waving arms and selfie sticks before mysteriously dissolving.

The mom and her family were from Orlando; her kids, ages 10 and 12, love Fortnite and were thrilled to be at the event. She told me she didn’t play but that her kids’ dad played with them. She said her kids had wanted World Cup tickets since the moment they were announced, and when I asked her how she felt about being there with them, she said, “It’s nice to see what they love.” She told me they hadn’t gotten into the stadium in time to get Marshmello souvenirs, but their dad had somehow scored a poster, though she said, with pride, that she didn’t know how.

Fortnite fans admiring a young Marshmello
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Marshmello had vanished, but there was a new crowd. A small kid in a Marshmello mask was wandering by the line for the stage. An adult started up a call of “Hey, it’s Marshmello!” I couldn’t tell if they were related, though the adult had the friendly air of someone used to kids. “Let me know if you need a bodyguard, Marshmello,” he offered congenially. Some other kids waiting in the line asked for the miniature Marshmello’s autograph. They obliged, marching along the row with their bucket mask knocking loosely.

I expected parents to look out of place, the way I felt. But for the most part, they appeared to be having fun. I watched an adult beaming as he filmed a kid during in-game character DJ Yonder’s music set, rushing up to take the kid’s lanyard and store it around his own neck in a move that screamed “dad.” Parents held bags of goodies and food, ushered kids into the shade and waited patiently in lines. They seemed used to their kids’ excitement and by and large happy, or at least comfortable, sharing in it.

Smeef’s parents
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Parents of the competitors beamed with pride. Heading back to the subway at the end of the weekend, I fell behind a couple wearing matching jerseys with “Smeefdad” and “Smeefmom” written on them. They confirmed to a man nearby, with his arm over a young boy in a Ninja Turtles backpack, that they were Europe competitor Smeef’s parents. Bugha’s dad danced unabashedly when his son won; Brazil powerhouse K1ng’s father embraced him as he cried after coming in fifth in solos.

The Fortnite World Cup fan festival with the iconic World’s Fair Unisphere in the background
Photo: Riley MacLeod/Kotaku

Throughout the weekend, I was impressed with how much fun everyone was having. People were excited to be there, getting pumped not just to see the likes of Marshmello but also a kid dressed as him. They didn’t seem as excited to watch Marshmello as they were to just be excited about him with each other. The Epic-produced event of him, though enjoyable, was secondary.

That’s how the whole event felt. Whatever corporate stuff was going on was an excuse for people to gather, the same way Fortnite can function more like a hangout spot than an attraction in its own right. The impressive gameplay in the World Cup finals was a worthy draw, but I can imagine a kids’ party with Fortnite balloons having a similar energy. While only some people left with prize money, a lot more had a great time simply being around their fellow Fortnite fans.

Source: Kotaku.com

Fortnite World Cup Players Who Didn’t Score Have A Sense Of Humor About It

Photo: Epic Games

The point spread at today’s Fortnite World Cup Solo finals was massive, with winner Bugha scoring 26 points more than second place finisher Psalm. But not everyone can win: Four players came away with zero points, but—at least on Twitter—they were good sports about it.

All of today’s 100 Solo finals competitors are immensely skilled players, and even those who came in last went home with at least $50,000. Still, it can’t feel good to be at the bottom, even if it’s the bottom of the top. North America West player Herrions, Brazil player Clipnode, North America East player Funk, and Asia player Arius all came in at zero points today. This performance could feel crushing after coming so far, but the four players took it in stride.

“Oof,” Herrions tweeted, following with “Well you live and learn.” An hour later, however, he tweeted a sad emoji.

Clipnode, who is from Argentina, tweeted his thoughts in Spanish, which translate to “Sorry I wasn’t prepared, I wasn’t given the mouse I wanted and I played uncomfortably. This is my first time playing in front of millions of people who came.” (Correction 11:45pm— “Uncomfortably” was previously translated as “awkwardly.”)

Funk had maybe the best attitude, tweeting, “Honestly, it’s impressive getting zero points lmao. Ggs though, still made 100k this weekend.”

Arius tweeted,“0 point wwwwwwwwwww.”

29 other players came in at under 10 points, including popular player Tfue with seven and yesterday’s duos winner Aqua with one. Aqua tweeted, “At least I killed Tfue.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Fortnite World Cup Crowd Cheers Defeat Of Notorious Cheater

Photo: Epic Games

Fortnite fans have had mixed opinions of North American East duo XXiF and Ronaldo since they qualified for this weekend’s World Cup Finals after serving a 14-day ban for cheating. At today’s Duos finals, the crowd booed XXiF when he appeared on the feed, then cheered when he was eliminated.

In May, XXiF and his duo partner Ronaldo were banned from competitive Fortnite for 14 days and dropped from their esports team, Rise Nation, following accusations of being fed kills by other players during the week 3 qualifiers. The duo served their ban and returned to competitive play, qualifying for the World Cup Finals during week 8. While playing in today’s Duos Finals, cheers erupted when XXiF was eliminated during match 4.

The cheering can be heard over the official cast.

The Fortnite competitive Reddit was almost instantly awash in users sharing clips of the moment and writing comments like “YEEEES CAN YOU HEAR THE CROWD YESSSSSSS” and “The loudest cheer I’ve heard so far at World Cup was when XXiF was sniped and knocked out by Mitro.” “I don’t care how many times this gets posted lmao it’s amazing,” wrote one commenter.

One person on Twitter wrote “The crowd is louder when XXiF dies than when a duo wins a game.” Others called the moment “hysterical” and “a beautiful thing to hear.

Ronaldo responded to today’s reaction, writing:

‪Damn today was rough

‪Quick message to my supporters, all of you guys know who you are. I know the crowd and a lot of people still aren’t with us. But I really appreciate everyone that has been with me since the beginning. Things will only get brighter and I will continue to improve‬. Thank you so much to all you real ones.

Another shoutout to my team RiotSquad for supporting XXiF and I even through all the horrible things people are saying about us.

On social media, Fortnite fans largely seem to believe the pair deserve the negative reception. They’ve been angry that Epic didn’t permanently ban the duo from competitive play after cheating, with professional players like DrLupo calling it at the time “a kick in the junk to the integrity of the Fortnite competitive community.” Many players share Lupo’s sentiment, worrying about the message the duo’s qualification sends to others, especially young players.

Others aren’t so sure. “Can we stop the XXiF and Ronaldo hate?” wrote one person on Reddit today, noting the negative reaction could be damaging to the players’ mental health. “I can understand that the community [doesn’t] have a good opinion on them, but booing them during the final and celebrating when they got killed is the proof this community isn’t anything else than a bunch of bitchy and hateful kids,” agreed another redditor.

Fans have been suspicious of the pair since the cheating allegations began. XXiF was accused of cheating in the recent Trios Cash Cup. Earlier this month, XXiF tweeted that he and Ronaldo were helping a fellow Fortnite player’s father, who has cancer, fly to the World Cup, a statement that was met with suspicion by some people on Twitter, who saw it as the pair trying to play good guys. The duo was signed by esports team Riot Squad on July 18th, an announcement that was also met with negativity on Twitter.

Fans’ reactions are understandable—bouncing back from cheating to compete in a high-stakes tournament isn’t the most heartwarming story out there. But the two players followed the rules set down by Epic and came back to qualify of their own merits, ultimately placing 28th out of 50 teams. Their road to the World Cup and the reactions today show a glimpse of the darker side of the high emotions surrounding the World Cup, highlighting both the lengths competitors have gone to to compete in the finals and Fortnite players’ passion for the game.

Source: Kotaku.com

Nyhrox and Aqua Win Fortnite World Cup Duos Finals

Photo: Epic Games

Fortnite duo Nyhrox and Aqua won today’s World Cup Duos finals. The European pair scored 51 points and splits a prize pool of $3 million.

The competition took place today in New York City’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, with 50 teams from across North America East, West, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and Brazil facing off. NA East players Zayt and Saf led the standings through most of the finals’ six games, but Nyhrox and Aqua closed in after back-to-back wins in games 4 and 5, ultimately taking first place.

The second place winners were European duo Rojo and Wolfiez, with 47 points and taking home $2,250,000. Third place winners, with 45 points, were Elevate and Ceice from NA East, who split a prize of $1,800,000. Fourth place winners were Saf and Zayt, who scored 44 points and took home $1,500,000. You can see all the final standings here.

Game 1 was won by Zayt and Saf, who qualified during week 4. NA East week 10 qualifiers Zexrow and Vinny1x took game 2. Week 10 qualifiers MackWood and Calculator, also from NAE, won game three. Games 4 and 5 were won by Nyhrox and Aqua, who qualified during week 4. Game 6 was won by European team 4zr and Noward, who qualified during week 8.

The Fortnite World Cup continues tomorrow at 1pm Eastern time with Solos finals.

Source: Kotaku.com

The $30 Million Fortnite World Cup Kicks Off Today

Photo: Riley MacLeod (Kotaku)

The event that competitive Fortnite players have been waiting for finally gets underway today at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York. Hundreds of pros will be present at the three-day Fortnite World Cup, and thousands or millions more will be watching. When all is said and done a few will end up a whole lot richer.

The event will begin with an opening ceremony at 12:30 p.m. ET. Nobody knows what Epic has planned for it. There could be dancers. A new mode might get announced. Maybe Lil Nas X will show up and perform a special new Fortnite remix of “Old Town Road.”

Epic Games announced it was spending $100 million on Fortnite esports back in February. There have been innovations in how esports are streamed, controversies over certain screen resolutions getting banned from competition, and no shortage of attempted cheating along the way. Some of those cheaters even eventually qualified for this weekend’s event. Now fans will get to see if the spectacle it’s all been building up to has been worth it.

Here’s the rest of the schedule for the Fortnite World Cup:

  • The Creative Finals will take place at 1:00 p.m. showcasing the talents of Ninja, Faze Cizzorz, and other big names as try to overcome unique challenges in custom game modes.
  • The Celebrity Pro-Am begins at 4:00 p.m. featuring teams made up of Fortnite celebrities alongside actual pro players competing for a share of the $3 million prize pool to be donated to the charity of their choosing. Big names involved in this portion of the World Cup include WWE star Xavier Woods and actor Dante Basco, best known for playing Rufio in the 1991 movie Hook.
  • Saturday, July 27, is when the competitive side of the tournament begins, starting with the Duos Finals preshow at 12:30 p.m., followed by the main event at 1:00 p.m., capped off by the winners ceremony at 4:45 p.m. The best 50 teams from around the world will compete across six matches with the pair who get the best record being crowned the champs.
  • Sunday follows a similar schedule for the solo matches. The preshow kicks off at 12:30 p.m. followed by the finals at 1:00 p.m. and the finals winners ceremony wrapping up the entire three-day event at 4:45 p.m. Only 100 players from the 40 million who tried to qualify over the last few months will be playing in the final battle royale.

You’ll be able to watch the entire event streaming live on the Fortnite Twitch channel.

Source: Kotaku.com

Previously Banned Fortnite Duo Qualifies For World Cup Finals

Yesterday, Fortnite duo Damion “XXiF” Cook and Ronald “Ronaldo” Mach qualified for the World Cup by placing third with 91 points in the eighth week of North America East duo competition. On May 3, both players were temporarily banned from Fortnite and were dropped by their esports team, Rise Nation, for alleged cheating in previous competition. The duo’s qualifying match yesterday could be a redemption story, but some competitors, commentators, and fans don’t see it that way.

On April 29, another pro Fortnite player accused XXiF of teaming with other players in Solo qualifiers. Player HighSky shared clips that showed other players appearing to purposefully let XXiF kill them so he could earn points, which is against the World Cup rules. According to Dexerto, Ronaldo had also been accused of teaming with a player involved in XXiF’s suspicious kills.

On May 3, Epic Games wrote a statement that did not include any players’ names: “Based on an internal investigation, we have concluded that a group of players attempted to undermine the Week 3 Fortnite World Cup Online Open competition on April 28 by colluding across several matches. All players involved will receive a 14 day competitive ban and will be ineligible for any Week 3 prizes.” After that, both XXiF and Ronaldo were dropped by their esports team due to “recent allegations being confirmed by Epic Games.” XXiF denied any wrongdoing, but Epic issued him a 14-day ban and gave his qualifying spot to the next highest-placing player, Clix. Ronaldo confirmed to Kotaku that he was also temporarily banned. After the bans wore off, both players competed in subsequent qualifiers, eventually earning a spot in this week’s Duos competition to compete in the game’s New York World Cup in July.

Yesterday, new accusations of cheating surfaced against XXiF, with a clip posted to Twitter depicting another player appearing to land near XXiF and let themselves be killed. XXiF did not respond directly to the accusation and instead tweeted: “Yall are reaching. See ya in NYC.” XXiF has not yet responded to request for comment, nor did Epic Games yet respond about whether it will look into these latest allegations.

Ronaldo told Kotaku in a Twitter direct message: “XXiF and I felt it was unfair the first time we were banned, we served the sentence and came back to qualify. Everyone still wants to see us fall which is fine because in NYC we’re going to win the final event and prove them all wrong.”

Some professional Fortnite players have responded to the duo qualifying. Team Liquid player Vivid tweeted, “Fair play to XXiF and Ronaldo, I think they deserve a spot in WC [World Cup] regardless of what they did before. Congrats!!! NOT! You just let [a] cheater into your biggest tournament. Can’t wait for you to explain their story line to a young audience. Should BE REAL INTERESTING.” Player Tfue said sarcastically in a stream, “I don’t think they’ve ever cheated, but I know where I’m landing the last week of duos.”

Caster and player DrLupo tweeted, “A cheater qualifying for a $30,000,000 tournament is a kick in the junk to the integrity of the Fortnite competitive community. Love or hate the game, this should be unanimously agreed upon… I feel for everyone who grinds their butts off to work on their gameplay, only to get pushed out of qualification for NYC by that duo.”

DrLupo also made a video reacting to the duo’s qualification in which he appears to be upset. He reviewed yesterday’s clip depicting alleged cheating and said he doesn’t think it’s cheating, opening his video by saying “I don’t think they’re stupid enough to have cheated again.” DrLupo acknowledged the players’ skill, saying, “I’ve not a single time said that they’re not good players,” but, he continued, “If they’re allowed to go to New York, I’ll be forced to commentate their gameplay, and I will do so appropriately, but it’s one of those things that I’m not going to be happy about.”

The official Fortnite casters also seem torn. At the end of the finals cast, caster Sundown said, “In terms of XXiF and Ronaldo, it’s very easy to pile on and be negative. There’s a lot of opportunity for a lot of you to go out and be a lighthouse, and what you decide to do is in your own hands, but let’s not take away the accomplishment and gameplay they showed today.” (Sundown’s comments are on Twitch at about 9:48:40). Caster Ballas, meanwhile, gave a pointed look to the camera when XXiF and Ronaldo’s qualification was announced.

On the Fortnite competitive subreddit, fans also expressed frustration with these two players being allowed to play again and to qualify, with some saying they felt the decision shows that there’s little consequence to cheating. “Cheating will set the standard for competitive Fortnite and cheating will not matter,” wrote one. Many fans placed the blame on Epic for lax rules. One fan wrote, “Don’t hate on Ronaldo and XxiF. They are skilled players, who are still 100% scumbags, and did serve their punishment. Whether that punishment was fair or not is a whole different story. If there is anyone to get mad at in this situation it’s Epic.” Another wrote, “Forreal [sic] they served their punishment quietly and came back and qualified. This is all on Epic for not banning them from the tournament in the first place.”

There’s no denying XXiF and Ronaldo are good players, albeit also players who appeared to have made a bad decision early on in the World Cup qualifiers. They aren’t breaking any official rule by continuing to play and qualify. Whether or not XXiF cheated in this latest qualifier is up to Epic to decide, as is how the developer responds. The Fortnite World Cup lives and dies on its narrative that anyone can win big. XXiF and Ronaldo’s story isn’t as feel-good as some come-from-nowhere player rising to be a star, but it’s still bittersweet proof that anyone can qualify.

Source: Kotaku.com

Video Of Odd Behavior In Fortnite Match Leads To Accusations That Pro Was Cheating

Earlier this week, Fortnite pro Damion “XXiF” Cook was accused of colluding with other players during a World Cup open qualifier match in which he took second place, earning $4,000 in prize money and a spot in the eventual finals this summer in New York. In a statement, XXiF denied any wrongdoing, but that hasn’t stopped calls for him to be banned amid a climate in which fears about cheating are running rampant.

On April 29, another pro player by the name of HighSky shared a clip on Twitter of the beginning of a match in which XXiF drops into the same area as two other players, “Bad and Wuji” and “gestyy.” The footage shows Bad and Wuji hitting the ground near XXiF and beginning to pickaxe a chest rather than immediately pick up a nearby gun on the ground and find cover.

After XXiF makes short work of him, gestyy, who has seen the two fighting, decides to drop into the same area. Gestyy reaches for a low quality gun, then appears to fire at a wall before XXiF finishes him off as well. In the video, HighSky suggests the two players purposefully made themselves easy targets for XXiF because they lacked enough points in the rankings to have a shot at qualification themselves.

“Some really good [plays] from XXiF though on two insanely talented players that were not in the running anymore,” he said. He went on to share clips from two previous matches which appear to show Bad and Wuji and gestyy being similarly eliminated all too easily.

The clips went viral, blowing up on social media as well as the Competitive Fortnite subreddit, where many called on Epic Games to investigate and ban XXiF for appearing to team up with other players in a game that’s integrity relies on everyone fighting equally hard to be the winner.

On April 30, XXiF posted a statement on Twitter denying the charges, saying that while he was friends with Bad and Wuji, gestyy was just a random fan and none of what happened in the video was in any way planned. “I had no idea he was going to land there and have no control over where he chooses to land, but in 1 out of the 10 games I played he chose to land in the same spot as me,” XXiF wrote. “I can’t speak for the second guy, as I would never land on two people fighting – it’s something I can’t comprehend or put reason/meaning to.”

Bad and Wuji also released a statement on Twitter trying to explain the bizarre encounter, chalking it up to poor decision making and a bug that prevented him from immediately picking up the gun when he first tried to. “Please stop slandering my name,” he wrote. “I’m tired of these threats and messages going around when I’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t waste my time anymore with this bs.”

Lots of Fortnite players remain unconvinced, though. A post last night on the Competitive Fortnite subreddit linked to a video showing XXiF playing a random match while on a team with gestyy, seeming to contradict XXiF’s claims that he and gestyy weren’t friends in any way.

In the end, this is all a determination for Epic Games to make, and this isn’t the first time the community has gotten ahead of itself in calling for bans. Earlier in April, allegations of cheating were leveled at another player called Dubs fn when a screenshot surfaced of him appearing to be discussing cheats in a Discord channel. Video footage was later shared that showed him making some incredible shots during a qualifier match in which he went on to earn second place. After confirming that it was looking into the accusations, however, Epic eventually dismissed them.

Unlike banning people for using aimbots to gain a competitive advantage, teaming up requires a more subjective analysis. The World Cup rules define collusion as players working together to deciever or otherwise cheat other players, including by agreeing to land in specific locations, communicating in some way, or intentionally dropping items for opposing players to pick up. Given how much the existing allegations against XXiF rely on assumptions about what kinds of decisions talented players should and would make in various circumstances, it’s both easy for conspiracy theories to multiply and hard to arrive at any sort of definitive answer.

That’s part of the difficulty in running an over $30 million, multi-month tournament for a relatively young esport without much infrastructure in place. In addition to how many open qualifier matches take place each weekend in the lead up to the finals event in July, the battle royale genre in general, and Fortnite in particular, is especially messy to regulate. Every match contains 100 players making moment-to-moment decisions about where to find better equipment, when to fight, and when to run. Unlike other battle royales, Fortnite also includes building, exponentially increasing the number of ways a player can react to any given situation. Any sort of cheating related to match fixing can be difficult to root out, but Fortnite provides many more layers to sort through.

On April 19, Epic announced that it had caught 1,163 cheaters in just the first week of open qualifier matches. We’re now headed into only week four of ten. Every week consists of three hours of play across two separate days, with the top competitors from the first sticking around to compete on the second. The top scoring players on the second day not only earn spots in the World Cup, they also take home thousands in cash prizes. Even once a player has qualified, they can continue competing, and why wouldn’t they with the chance to win more money on the line. With so many matches, so many players, and so many different motivations going into matches, there are all sorts of opportunities for untoward behavior. Perhaps it’s not entirely shocking that one of the community’s pastimes during the lead up to the World Cup now revolves around trying to find and call out instances of cheating.

Epic has not yet publicly weighed in on whether it’s currently reviewing the case involving XXiF and did not respond to a request for comment.

Source: Kotaku.com