With the ongoing Fortnite Champion Series, competitors on all Fortnite servers are fighting for a chance at playing in the grand finals. However, in the midst of the competition the popular Fortnite streamer Nick Eh claimed to watch multiple pro players avoid one another at the same location in order to split the POI’s loot. This sparked an argument of what counts as cheating in competitive Fortnite.
Split POIs in Fortnite
In a typical game of Fortnite players are scattered over a map after dropping out of the battle bus to dive into their favorite locations to engage in the loot-and-shoot gameplay Fortnite is known for. Usually multiple players will end up at a single location, and what follows is a small fight for dominance over the entire POI’s loot pool.
But in a typical game of Fortnite, the cost of defeat is small. If you lose this early fight, you simply start up another game and try again. In competitive events, however, players have a maximum number of games they can play towards their tournament score, and the pressure to make every game count is high. If you end up at a POI with someone else, it might be more valuable to avoid taking the fight in order to make it out alive guaranteed.
The problem comes in when this behavior becomes the expected norm. For the vast majority of Fortnite players, this kind of behavior does not match the kind of games they would play. Although the casual-competitive split in the Fortnite community will always exist, these kinds of added norms only serve to widen it, and the further the competitive scene moves from the mainstream scene the less credibility Fortnite will have as a competitive game.
Cheating? Unsportsmanlike conduct? Or fair game?
Perhaps the biggest reason this is even something to consider is because splitting a POI provides players with an unearned advantage. Because looting and leaving the starting location safely is guaranteed, players are assured access to later parts of the games. If you could play a game of Fortnite and reduce the number of opponents you have from 99 to 80 or even just 90 you will have a slight statistical advantage against a regular player who decides to compete.
But the same is true of players who simply decide not to take every engagement presented to them. Knowing when to pick your fights is a skill, and one that should be rewarded by the competitive scene. Taking every engagement and rushing in guns blazing won’t get you very far and it will likely result in multiple players shooting at you at once.
There can’t be rules which require players to fight because that would completely nullify a totally valid way to play Fortnite and only serve to damage the legitimacy of competitive play even more. Many players suggest that this behavior is the result of pro players opting to avoid engagements in order to give themselves a better shot at winning, and so what it really comes down to is an issue of intent.
I don’t think it would be hard to agree with the statement that agreeing to split a POI prior to a tournament game would be considered cheating. It would mean that multiple players made an agreement prior to a tournament which would affect the ultimate outcome of the game.
However, pros spontaneously avoiding a fight for personal gain without prior agreement might not be considered cheating. A tense standoff where both parties decide the risk isn’t worth the reward is totally valid in a game where getting attacked by a third party is entirely possible, and one of the most likely ways to lose.
But it’s probably fair to say that a competitive culture which fosters solidarity amongst pros is at the very least unsportsmanlike. When hopefuls attempt to play, or casuals tune in to watch, they don’t want to watch opponents cooperating in order to take a slight competitive advantage, and when it happens it makes competitive Fortnite difficult to take seriously.
This behavior significantly lowers the prestige of whoever wins because who would care to respect a winner who only made it out of the early game due to an unspoken agreement? It also raises the barrier to entry, keeping out other professional hopefuls who struggle to win against a community that supports each other to the detriment of everyone else.
Should it stop? Should Epic do something about it? Can anything even be done? These are all questions both Epic and the competitive Fortnite scene are going to have to deal with if there’s any hope for their community to survive.Published 03 Aug 2020, 01:49 IST