When I was on a gaming PC on the floor of Luxor Hotel's extra-large Esports Arena, preparing to play Fortnite among the best players in the world, I could say that my self-confidence not very high was high. I've never played video games competitively before, but not for lack of attempts. I consider myself an above-average player of most shooters, since the early days of Halo and Call of Duty until now Destiny and Overwatch. But the feeling of playing under this kind of pressure and against players of this caliber was alien to me.
But I went to Las Vegas last weekend to see what the first big Fortnite e-sports tournament would look like and specifically what it would feel like to take part in it. Unlike most e-sports competitions, he was part of the public and focused on the chance to play against Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the most popular streamer on Twitch and one of the world's most talented Fortnite Player. Just minutes after my first Saturday night game, one of nine consecutive games Ninja would attend, I was under fire. Seconds later, an opponent approached me and executed me with a shotgun. I never had a chance.
I looked at the big screen behind me and to the left, a huge monitor with the perspective of Ninja spanning the entire back wall of the arena. Below, Ninja played on his own custom machine in the middle of the stage. I wanted to see if it was the Twitch star who brought me out. Luckily it was not; My poor performance was not transmitted to hundreds of thousands of people watching online. But in a way it would have been an honor to say that I personally had to compete against one of the best, even though I had inevitably lost. That's what made the event, officially called Ninja Vegas 1
Battle royale games like Fortnite and Playerunknowns Battlegrounds are popular in part because they have a large number of people – up to 100 – compete on a random and unsafe playing field. You never know exactly under what circumstances you have to fight. This makes it endlessly fun and variable, but it also makes it especially difficult to organize, send and comment in an e-sports setting because action takes place all over the place at the same time.
Normal e-sports games, such as shooters and so-called MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas), typically pit four- to six-person teams against each other, while other classic e-sports competitions for games such as Starcraft focus on one-to-one contests similar to chess. Battle Royale, on the other hand, is a completely new genre with its own formality. A PUBG tournament, held last year at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, was a kind of trial run in a team-based Battle Royale tournament with 80 professional players participating in the same game as part of four-member squads. I saw it live, and although it was a clear job and a lot of fun, it was admittedly difficult to figure out what happened when 20 teams fought at the same time. It was even harder for the organizers to try to capture and process everything for online viewers in real time.
But Ninjas Fortnite event was different. It was not focused on teams, nor was it exclusively for pro players. It was developed to play the strengths of the Battle Royale genre. In particular, the innate randomness of the genre and the idea that every player you can compete with would be an average Joe or one of the best on the planet. To regain this energy, the player pool was opened to anyone paying the $ 75 entry fee, and was made up of a mix of ninja fans, casual gamers, semi-pros, and world-famous streamers. Ninja even had a bounty on his head; Killing him in the game earned you $ 2,500, while winning a game also brought you a separate $ 2,500. Each played live on dedicated machines set up and cabled in a private network on the floor of the Esports Arena.
"This format is something very attractive – the bounties are incredible," Ninja told me in an interview before the start of the event. "It's not just about winning, but killing a top player like myself is a great reward." He said that the format is storytelling and helps create memorable moments from the ingredients that make up these Battle Royale games Give to players. "The more ways you can tell a story and paint a picture, the better it is, there's so much to paint, the developers have to make sure there are the tools in the game that allow us to tell that story." [AsapopularstreamerGuy"DrDisRespect"wroteBeahm on Twitter "Competitive Fortnite will certainly be interesting to watch, I would rather see solos and duos than squads," in Regarding games that have only single or two-person teams. The key, he added, will be to "make superstars of the sport" to help people succeed more easily online. "What made this contest easy to understand was that they created a story about Ninja and his obligations," later responded to a fan .
Like Ninja Fortnite became a fascinating hybrid entertainment event that was extremely accessible to even the most casual of fans. It was part of the meeting, part of the legitimate competition and part of the celebration of Ninja's meteoric rise. At a deeper level, it was a remix of the E-Sport formula that created something completely new and refreshing. The fans not only saw that their favorite player was playing, but they also had a chance to play against him. It's a stark contrast to team-based e-sports like Overwatch or League of Legends which operate more like traditional sports leagues. And professionals and semi-professionals who wanted to make a name for themselves had ample opportunity to do so on the biggest stage possible. (It's no surprise that developer Epic Games has designed a similar forthcoming tournament called Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am, which features celebrity and professional players at this year's E3 in Los Angeles.)