ESTNN looks at the last two years of competitive Fortnite and theorizes that another Fortnite World Cup is on the horizon.
Competitive Fortnite Battle Royale fans and players alike have eagerly awaited the return of offline, in-person LAN tournaments. DreamHack Anaheim in February of 2020 marks the last event of the like, and the competitive Fortnite landscape changed forever shortly after. In March of 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic — which has killed more than 5 million people worldwide — caused the indefinite delay and cancellation of many international traditional sports and esports leagues.
Fortnite arguably suffered the most of all other esports titles only eight months following the $30M USD World Cup tournament. The year was 2019, and Fortnite Battle Royale crowned Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, David “aqua” Wang and Emil “nyhrox” Bergquist Pedersen as its first-ever World Champions. The developers soon announced the Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) — an online competition with a staggering $10M USD prize pool.
With no sequel to the historic Fortnite World Cup in sight — Epic Games continued these online seasonal multi-million dollar FNCS tournaments. Fans and players awaited an almost certain Fortnite World Cup 2 announcement, but that never materialized. COVID-19 remained a dark shadow over competitive Fortnite with no return to LAN events in sight.
The first event since the pandemic has been officially announced, and there's a certain optimism in the scene. Today, ESTNN talks a walk back through history in the pandemic-era of competitive Fortnite and highlights the importance of the game's return to LAN.
The FNCS, Some LANs & a Pandemic
Only three Epic-sanctioned LAN events have occurred since the Fortnite World Cup; DreamHack Winter 2019, The Australian Open Summer Smash 2020 and DreamHack Anaheim 2020. While each was compelling, none carried the same importance as the Fortnite World Cup. Both DreamHack events were open to players of all skill levels, and the AO Summer Smash featured primarily Australian players with a few top names from other areas involved.
Since Norwegian player Martin “100T MrSavage” Foss Andersen claimed victory on February 23, 2020, at DreamHack Anaheim, LAN events have been nonexistent. Instead, the Fortnite Champion Series carried the competitive fanbase through an uncertain period. More than $50M USD in winnings will have been given out once the upcoming FNCS Grand Royale concludes. The prize money and consistency have been a net positive for competitive Fortnite. However, most professional players would agree, nothing beats the feeling of an offline tournament.
The Importance of LAN Competitions
Fans would almost unanimously agree with that sentiment. Watching a few hundred players compete in the same venue for millions of dollars and a physical trophy is unrivaled. The crowd's energy mixed with the nerves of each zone pull and off-spawn fight is what makes competitive Fortnite unique. Bugha's dominant Fortnite World Cup victory is still arguably the most significant moment in the game's competitive history. Unfortunately, those iconic moments have been few and far between ever since, at least on a worldwide stage.
Instead of LAN competitions, the FNCS is the accurate benchmark for the game's top talents. Players such as three-time FNCS Champion winner Tai “TaySon” Starčič have made history during the pandemic. Despite being a relative unknown before Chapter 2 – Season 2, TaySon has ascended to one of the best Fortnite players in the world. However, he and others have failed to replicate Bugha's success after the fact. The reason being Bugha's Fortnite World Cup win happened in front of millions and garnered attention beyond just esports news outlets.
The harsh reality is that the FNCS does not garner that same attention as a worldwide in-person competition. Also, Fortnite's status in the gaming culture has trended slightly downward since 2019; it's part of a game's natural lifecycle. Unfortunately, the result is a group of talented players such as TaySon and countless others not reaching the same level of stardom.
So, what do LAN events mean to the world's best players? Everything. The prize pools are massive, competition is immeasurable, there's worldwide intrigue, and it's an ideal setting to crown an undisputed Fortnite Champion. LAN events build stars and Fortnite is due for another breakout on a global scale.
Will There be Another Fortnite World Cup?
Many are wondering if and when another Fortnite World Cup will occur. Well, it seems that is the likeliest of outcomes. Epic Games has repeatedly stated that in-person tournaments would not return until more is certain about the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. On that point, more and more people receive the vaccine every day, and there are precautions Epic Games and other organizers can put in place to protect attendees.
With Fortnite Chapter 3 potentially and the end of Chapter 2 – Season 8 looming, Epic has announced the first-ever FNCS Hype Hour Show. This intro leads into the FNCS Grand Royale finals, and Epic has promised “an announcement regarding plans for 2022.”
This lone line of text has led many to believe a Fortnite World Cup 2 announcement based on a recent blog post. It's also worth noting that Twitch announced plans for the annual Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl Fortnite event. Unlike last year, Streamer Bowl 3 will happen in a LAN environment. What's more, DreamHack recently revealed that its Winter event later this month will host the first Fortnite LAN since 2020.
There's reason to believe another World Cup is on the horizon. Potentially a new chapter, two already-planned LAN tournaments and an announcement set for November 19 figures to be enough to have hope. If that theory proves true, we can fully expect the interest in competitive Fortnite from a global perspective to increase and previously retired players to return.
Hopefully, Epic's November 19 announcement paints a more precise portrait of where competitive Fortnite will be in a year. Otherwise, the Fortnite Champion Series will remain the go-to event for the world's best players.