The Fortnite Pro-Am tournament, Epic’s massive kick-off for their popular game, has come and gone. With a packed convention stage featuring celebrities from all branches of pop culture, over 60,000 fans gathered to see who would win this defining event. Over the course of the three hour event, 100 players participated in three harrowing matches, earning $3 million for charity in the process. Epic Games also showed the trailer for Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch, which was unveiled earlier today at Nintendo’s conference. And, despite the Pro-Am 2018 being the first large-scale Fortnite tournament sanctioned by Epic, they revealed their major plans for the future: the 2019 Fortnite World Cup.
During the pre-show, viewers were introduced to the four commentators, whose broadcasting experience helped hype the crowd and set the mood with some light banter and jokes. Meanwhile, a look at the show floor allowed audiences to see their favorite streamers dance on camera and discuss landing strategies. While many of the players came from a competitive background, many others were participating solely for the entertainment factor. EDM Artist Dillon Francis joked that the pickaxe was his favorite weapon, with his partner, streamer Jeriicho, making a quip about how he almost won a match once. As the pre-show coverage carried on, a surprising amount of players revealed they were nervous. Even top-tier players such as Ninja revealed that they were practicing new strategies.
As it turns out, that’s exactly what they needed.
Pleasantries out of the way, the tournament began with two warm-up matches. Unsurprisingly, the stream focused on the gameplay of high-profile players such as Ninja and Myth. The first highlight of the stream was an early engagement between Ninja and competitive player Gotaga. After taking a defensive position, Ninja aggressively pursued Gotaga. His high-level build skills were clearly on display, as he was able to take the high ground over Gotaga numerous times. However, once Ninja ran out of wood building materials, Gotaga was able to reverse the situation. Despite freezing Gotaga’s movement with a boogie bomb, Gotaga was able to survive and eliminated Ninja. All of this took place before we even reached the half-way point of the match.
The second major highlight occurred late in the game. With less than ten players remaining, Muselk made the dubious decision to start a play with a shopping cart. The audience exploded with excitement, questioning his decision while commentators appreciated, “It’s for charity!” Unsurprisingly, Muselk was hailed with bullets, and after falling a great height, he crawled away with exactly 1 HP remaining. Caught in the cross-fire by other players, Muselk was finally eliminated. The outcome of the solo match was decided by an uphill battle between Kinstaar and Noahj456. In a lighting-fast twist, Noahj456 used a bounce pad to negate fall damage from a massive drop. In a roar of applause, he took down Kinstaar with a rocket launcher.
Following a brief intermission, the duos match began at a quicker pace than the solo warm-up. A few players were lost to the storm, while Demetrius and Gotaga launched into a heated battle with Marshmello and Ninja. Demetrius and Marshmellow were both eliminated, with Gotaga and Ninja both turning to defense as the remaining players swarmed around their rapidly-evolving structure. Before long, the competition was reduced to three players, as Ninja alone faced the final duo of Kinstaar and Sean O’Malley. Despite sustaining heavy damage from rocket fire, Ninja began to turn the situation around. Building furiously, Ninja launched himself higher with a jump pad and finally took down Sean. Roaring in excitement, the crowd cheered for Ninja, who still sought to take down Kinstaar.
Surprisingly, for the second match in a row, Ninja was defeated. Kinstaar ended the match with his ninth elimination. In a post-match analysis of their gameplay, Ninja excitedly gave a play-by-play of their final moments, announcing, “It’s a warm-up for a reason.”
Despite the high stakes of the final match, some players still chose to goof around. Loserfruit and Backpack Kid were seen dancing with various emotes, despite King George and his partner investigating the floor above them. In a fan-favorite moment, the duo simultaneously danced the “Floss” emote, which is Backpack Kid’s namesake dance. Meanwhile, with only 29 players left, Ali-A could also be seen dancing, taunting enemies instead of engaging. For some players, this laid-back approach worked in their favor. Though not the flashiest of plays, their focusing on dancing helped them to outlive Myth and NBA Superstar Paul George, who were quietly seen defeated in the game’s kill feed.
With only five players remaining, Ninja and Marshmello hid beneath the other players, holding out in a 1×1 shack. Ninja was seen edit-peaking, waiting until the others moved before launching his attack. Taking the high ground, Ninja and Marshmello shotgun blasted Kenneth, leaving CourageJD with a smidgen of health. Kitty Plays, stuck in a difficult situation, was taken out by CourageJD. The circle closed in to a microscopic radius, and Ninja and Marshmello were left towering over CourageJD. The duo made quick work of their lone injured opponent to finally secure the victory. Awarded $1 million to donate to charities of their choice, the duo applauded one another to ravenous fanfare. Despite being stuck in numerous messy situations, and failing to win either of the prior matches, it was their slow approach and tactical decision-making that helped them take home their very own golden pickaxe trophies.
In a way, this ambitious event resembled Marvel’s Infinity War: it’s a massive amalgamation of so many popular names, each deserving of their own screen time. Aside from the overwhelming logistics of hosting such an event, there is the inherent challenge of shining a spotlight on everyone, without jarring audiences. Fortunately, and despite numerous quick camera cuts and the rapid introduction of new segments, the ensemble of streamers managed to keep energy sky-high while keeping the narrative of the event grounded.
Furthermore, Epic revealed their major plans for the future competitive scene of Fortnite. Although we already knew about Epic’s massive levels of funding, the competitive circuit has now been named. Soon, players will be able to compete in the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, open to all of their 125 million players. The competition will focus heavily on merit, with placement based on official qualifier matches. Further information about the World Cup, regarding which platforms are eligible, timing, and rewards, will be announced at a later date. For now, Ninja and Marshmello can relish their first victory. The competition is just getting started.
Just another talking head on the internet, occasionally spouting off thoughts about video games. Some recent obsessions include Persona, Overcooked, and, once and forever, Dragon Warrior VII.