Special to VPEsports
Summer Skirmish is a series of tournaments for Fortnite, hosted and organised by the developer behind the title: Epic Games. Taking place over the next eight weeks, there’s a total sum of $8,000,000 up for grabs for streamers, so-called professional players, and selected individuals that performed well in the Summer Showdown event.
This is the first effort from Epic Games to start distributing the $100,000,000 it pledged to reward competitors with in the next year. The first instalment of Summer Skirmish – which was a $250,000 duos event – took place just a couple of days ago and it was a monumental mess up, though it should hardly be surprising when we really take a look at it.
50 teams comprising of two players were set to play in 10 separate rounds, though it would have all been over if, or when, a particular team managed to achieve two Victory Royales. When it came down to it, however, only four rounds were played and the tournament was called off early – here’s why we’re not too shocked.
Format encouraged cowardice
First off, the format for the tournament wasn’t great. With so much money on the line, most of the teams opted to play slow and reserved in an effort to survive until the end – sounds reasonable, right? Think about it from a spectator’s perspective though: watching players camping inside of towers or their own makeshift buildings instead of running around, out-gunning opponents, and displaying impressive building kills isn’t much of a spectacle. In fact, it’s plain boring.
Epic Games should be embracing the strengths of its title: sheer skill and popular personalities. Something that Keemstar and UMG’s Friday Fortnite tournaments do is place emphasis on the rivalries between players, creating an WWE-esque experience that is typically missing in esports. Fortnite Fridays doesn’t have a perfect format – it pits those competing against random players in a public lobby – but it forces teams to show they’re the best by getting more kills than their opponents in any given game.
Summer Skirmish did have an incentive for teams to obtain the most kills with $6,500 up for grabs, but it evidently wasn’t enticing enough to encourage players to play with any sense of urgency or exhibitionism. Instead, what spectators watched was slow, scared, and reserved gameplay that led to a ridiculous amount of players remaining alive in the last few storm circles. Anywhere from 20-30 players were around in the late stages of a round and, due to Season 5’s circle-shifting update and outrageous lag, a lot of them were wiped out by the storm itself.
Lag was the biggest enemy
Epic Games had seemingly severely underestimated the demand on its custom servers when hosting the Summer Skirmish, as every single round was plagued with brutal lag. This caused the professional players and personalities to skip around, fail to build, miss simple shots, and perform other blunders that wouldn’t usually be a factor. Even worse though, it meant a lot of players died to the storm in the latter half of each round when circles became smaller and more mobile. We’re pretty sure that the storm should have won the cash prize for getting the most kills.
It’s been said that Epic Games has known about issues centering around lag in custom lobbies for a long time but has failed to fix them. Perhaps the most sensible move would have been to hold off on hosting this tournament until these issues were ironed out and no longer a common complaint. Instead, it went ahead with Summer Skirmish and left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth when it comes to Fortnite esports.
The four rounds that actually happened were all hosted on North America servers, but Epic Games invited players from outside of this region to compete. This added to the connection issues, reinforcing the logic behind regional online competitions and the absolute need for server upgrades.
Even after cutting the tournament short, Epic Games still crowned “winners” and awarded the prize money. The main point of having a tournament consist of numerous rounds is to afford each team with an equal chance of performing well, especially since the random elements of the game can make some rounds harder than others. We’re not sure the best move was to entirely neglect the last six rounds and identify winners based off of those four, laggy, shambolic instances that ensued – instead, Epic Games could have restarted the tournament with a new format and improved servers in a week or two.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t have been surprised the very first tournament from Epic Games wasn’t an overwhelming success because of just that – it’s the first attempt. The developer should continue to experiment with tournament and round formats during the Summer Skirmish series, and fix the server issues while it’s at it. At the moment, the prospect of Fortnite esports is one that’s hard to get particularly excited about.