If you enjoy Fortnite Battle Royale and find yourself watching streamers playing the game, then you have probably heard about it. Regrouping a variety of streamers, pro gamers and Youtubers, Friday Fortnite has been gathering masses of viewers on Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
Organized by YouTuber and ‘DramaAlert’ host KEEMSTAR in partnership with UMG, Friday Fortnite is a celebrity tournament which matches up popular streamers and YouTubers against each other for a prize pool of up to $20K.
Finding success since its first instalment on the 11th of May, the fourth edition took place last Friday on the 1st of June and featured some of the biggest names in the Fortnite community such as Ninja, Myth, Dakotaz to name but a few. As if the game wasn’t doing extremely well already, the tournament has confirmed the interest of the gaming community for competitive Fortnite while showcasing just how many people follow the game by having many of the biggest streamers and YouTubers play together on the same day and across a common time period. KEEMSTAR shared some numbers regarding the amount of unique viewers week 4 pulled in, saying at least 8,8 million unique viewers watched during the event.
Tuning in to see the end of the tournament myself, I watched the finals which were opposing the TSM boys Myth and Hamlinz and the week 2 champions Typical Gamer and SoaR Thief. The confrontation was intense and after TSM managed to reset the series by winning the first match, everyone watching wanted to know which duo would take it home. By the end of the second match, the combined channels of Myth and Hamlinz reached over 230K viewers, more than doubling the viewers of the Overwatch League channel which averaged around 90 to 100K for the night. Keep in mind that’s not even counting the viewers watching the games on YouTube Gaming. (Perhaps the tournament has something to do with the dip in the Overwatch League viewership?)
TSM Myth and Hamlinz surpass the OWL in number of viewers.
So, how exactly does the tournament work?
A total of 32 players in teams of two are competing in a double elimination format, meaning a teams needs to lose twice to be eliminated which splits up the tournament into a winners’ and losers’ bracket after the first round of matches. Queueing up in the same squad, each duo plays to get the most kills possible without being allowed to sabotage the opposing team that is also trying to frag out. The winner of the match is determined by which team has the most combined kills across two games, three if the kills are tied after the second. Players streaming the tournament will need to have a 2-minute delay to prevent stream sniping. Several rounds are played and the winning teams keep moving up until the finals. The winners of the loser’s bracket finals move up to face the winner’s bracket remaining team for first place but needs to beat them back to back.
What’s the particularity of this format?
At first glance, the format and the win condition should favour teams with an aggressive play style but let’s not forget its battle royale and with bad RNG, anything can happen. The uncertainty of being able to survive a populated area even for the best players has lead to teams developing different strategies and adapting on the fly in response to who their opponents are, how the match is going, the trajectory of the Battle Bus, etc.
Until the first circle closes, teams will usually use one of these three strategies:
- Dropping separately in a popular area and clearing it while trying to get the most kills.
- Dropping separately in a safer area, looting up and trying to catch other random squads rotating towards the circle.
- Dropping with their opponents in a popular area (usually Tilted Towers in that case) and fighting to get the most kills.
After the first zone closes, teams will adapt their strategy depending on how the early game went. If behind in kills or down one member, a team will almost always follow their opponents in the hopes of surviving longer and stealing as many kills as possible to stay in the match. A team can also choose to have one member ‘shadow’ the opposing team (follow and try to kill steal) while the other rushes for kills elsewhere on the map. Mid to late game is all about rotations and deducing where the remaining players are. Since the first instalment of the tournament, teams have gotten progressively better at it, sometimes racking up 30 to 40 kills in one game, but with up to 96 other random players in the lobby, you never really know for sure where the remaining squads are.
The first game of the match will often see teams dropping in popular towns such as Retail, Row, Pleasant Park or Tilted Towers and play the game their own way. A high-risk, high-reward style of play can be favoured in the first game since there is a second game to rely on. However, it has resulted in matches ending promptly due to one of the teams getting overwhelmed by a full squad. The benefits of playing two games is that anything can happen and comebacks can easily happen if the leading duo dies early or loses a member. If down by a lot of kills to the point where playing to win the game won’t allow you to catch up, some duos will even decide to split up to cover two major points of interests and go for as many kills as possible.
Besides the very strategic aspect of the duo-duo v. squad format, the fact some of the best streamers face off and that the goal is to get the most kills makes for very entertaining games. The viewing experience is drastically different from what ‘pro scrims’ currently offer because teams don’t play for placement in the first place meaning fighting is the priority. The most boring parts of the gameplay usually associated with battle royale games at the highest level of play such as ‘camping’, edging the safe zone or not taking engagements give way to aggressive launchpad rotations and pushes as well as more fights all along the game.
As proven by the impressive number of viewers, Friday Fortnite and competitive play has an audience and a demand. For the sake of Fortnite’s esports future, let’s hope EPIC can supply us with competitive play that remains entertaining because like any sport, esports can only thrive if they are watched.
In order, the winners of the first four editions of Friday Fortnite are NICKMERCS and SypherPK, Typical Gamer and SoaR Thief, FaZe Cloak and FaZe Tfue, and TSM Myth and TSM Hamlinz.
Friday Fortnite #5 takes place tomorrow and many viewers are still waiting for Ninja to win one after he lost in the finals of week 3. What about you, who do you see winning tomorrow? Take your pick from the brackets!