This article is part of our Fortnite series.
The third edition of the Summer Skirmish Series is now in the books and, uh, it wasn’t great. To be fair, it was better than the initial outing, but then again, that wasn’t a very high bar to surpass. It just feels like after three weeks, Epic still hasn’t found something that works completely. Sure, there were some things to like about this week, but there is still a ton of room for growth.
Before we get too deep, let’s run through what this week’s format was. We were back to duos in what Epic dubbed “Race to the Crown.” In this format, a win netted you four points while notching five or more kills in a game got you two points. The first duo to reach 13 points would end up with the tournament win and the $60,000 grand prize. There was an additional incentive of $6,500 going to the team with the most eliminations in each match.
Right off the bat, this format was incredibly odd. The biggest issue was that there was only two ways to get points and since there was no odd values, teams ended up tied for the majority of the day. This led to a ridiculous amount of confusion when it came to the final few games as not even the casters knew what what happening in terms of the standings. Especially when trying to create a new esport, which Epic is attempting to do make not mistake, communication and understanding NEED to be clear. It seems obvious now, but you should never run into a situation where two teams tie by virtue of the scoring being almost predisposed to result in a tie.
Not only was the scoring odd in that respect, the fact that there was a cap on points for kills was a huge oversight. I’m glad that kills were important since it led to slightly more engaging gameplay than the first week, but no other “major” incentive (sorry, $6,500 doesn’t count) besides reaching the cap had the same net effect. Instead of the camping happening the entire game, the camping just got moved to the mid-late game this week. Once teams got their five kills, they simply backed off and played for the win instead of playing for the kills.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not faulting the players here. When it doesn’t matter if you get a ton of kills, there’s no point in being aggressive. But the passivity just makes for boring gameplay, in my opinion.
With that being said, I will admit that even the campy late games we saw this week were more exciting than the campy late games we saw in Week 1. A lot of that has to do with the changes that Epic made to the timing of the zones in the last patch. There’s much less time between zones and the zone starts moving in the sixth circle now, which forces teams to move around a lot more. This did lead to some pretty intense moments like this.
Everything leading up to those moments, though, was a snoozefest of the greatest proportions. While the meta has long been “get the high ground,” these tournaments have morphed things towards “build tunnels to protect yourself for as long as possible.” Rather than engaging, teams just hug the zone and build tunnels around them. Team Liquid is the best as this, as you can see the clip below. It’s a weird thing to claim you’re “best” at in a Battle Royale game, but here we are.
So yeah, that gets real boring to watch after a while. I would much rather see teams do a lot more pushing and get into actual buildfights that take a bit more skill than simply building walls around yourself.
This moment happened towards the end of the tournament when one team was within striking distance of the the 13 points needed for the win. Knowing that nugget, they pushed on a team and picked up the kill needed to cross the threshold. It was one of the few moments of pure aggression across both days of the tournament and I would love to see more of that.
One thing to note from that clip, though, again deals with the scoring. While the format was indeed “first to 13 points,” it seems that not everyone knew that you had to actually play out the game first. That team celebrated, ended up dying soon after, and then the team who actually won that game won the entire tournament. Epic needs to do a better job of informing players of the full rules to avoid confusion like this in the future. Given the stakes, whether that be the money involved or the prospects of a Battle Royale-genre game actually making it in esports, it was an embarrassing oversight that should never have happened.
Speaking of confusion, there was also a moment within the first few games that just can’t happen in a tournament with this amount of money on the line. During one of the games, two teams didn’t get into the lobby at all and another team had one player’s game crash as they loaded in. This resulted into two teams not even getting a chance at points and another player having to play out the game solo. This absolutely should never happen. As soon as you get word that players don’t load in, the game should be restarted. Even if some kills have already happened. Especially when you consider that one of the teams that didn’t get in, Team Liquid, was on championship point at the time. Since they didn’t load up, they lost out on a chance to win the whole thing right then and there, and actually ended up losing the tournament altogether. With $500,000 on the line, no one should lose out on a game due to game crashes or failing to get into a lobby, plain and simple.
The biggest thing Epic can do to improve these tournaments comes down to the scoring and overall format. Yes, this is a survival game, but having the main focus be on just surviving leads to boring gameplay. There absolutely cannot be a cap on the number of points you can earn through kills.
If kills mattered from start to finish, a team that would have been mathematically ruled out in last week’s format could have made an impossible comeback by blitzing through the lobby. That would create genuine action instead of the forced quarrels that we’ve seen just by virtue of the zone closing in on everyone in the final seconds. I’d much rather see intense gunfights and buildfights than intense “omg the zone is closing in, who has more health and will survive deadly ticks from the zone?!” moments.
Rather than first to “x” number of points, it should be whoever has the most points after a set number of games. This, too, would allow situations where teams have to play more aggressive in order to win. Rather than just trying to hit a certain number, you have to outpace other teams the entire way. This would create a much more engaging set of games that would have plenty of action from start to finish.
We’ll see what Epic has in store for Week 4 of the Summer Skirmish, but I expect things to keep heading in the right direction since Epic has been making strides each week. Time will tell if those strides are enough to fix all of the problems at once.