Fortnite

Fortnite caster explains why Solos are "detrimental" to future of FNCS

by Andrew Amos

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Fortnite caster Arten ‘Ballatw’ Esa has opened up on why Epic’s insistence on running Solo FNCS events could kill the game’s competitive scene, stating it’s “detrimental to the development of competitive Fortnite.”

Solos has been the flavor of the month in Fortnite for quite some time. When the World Cup came around in 2019, everyone celebrated Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf’s win ⁠— way more than the Duos side of things.

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There’s been two FNCS solos events in a row ⁠— the Season 2 Invitational, and Season 3 as a whole. Third-party tournaments across the globe, like DreamHack events, have adopted this format more so than any other.

However, there’s been an uprising from within the Fortnite community. Players are disgruntled with how Solos plays out. Some claim it’s too unfair and too random. Others point towards issues with competitive integrity, with splitting POIs and teaming.

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This all came to a head at the end of FNCS Season 3. When top-level pros like Benjyfishy, Khanada, MrSavage, and more placed lower than many expected, people brought into question why Solos is so revered. Some said it was just fresh blood, but many pointed fingers towards widespread allegations of teaming ⁠— including a saga that swept up Bugha.

MrSavage at DreamHack Anaheim Fortnite 2020
Li Hoang for DreamHack
Solos is becoming the most popular Fortnite competitive mode.

Now, the community is lobbying Epic to change things up in the future, and it’s headed by Fortnite caster Ballatw. In an August 18 blog post, the long-time content creator broke down the big reasons why Solos are “detrimental” to the future of FNCS and competitive Fortnite.

“We have just come off a string of solos tournaments, including many major events. It’s not that these events weren’t full of excitement, and I didn’t enjoy them… they were, and I did. I just think that it is short sighted to have that as the main mode,” he explained.

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Ballatw made some big points about competitive integrity and griefing ⁠— two of the biggest issues most players have had with the format. He claimed it was “impossible to uphold” competitive integrity in Solos, and that ‘griefing’ leads to “constantly disappointing” early games.

“Competitive integrity is impossible to uphold in solos. Teaming, colluding in all its various forms is way too easy to hide. Legally doing it in the open is even easier to justify. Out of all of the teaming/collusion scandals that have happened, think about how many of them happened in solos compared to other team modes,” he stated.

He also said the Fortnite map is unsustainable for the format, and is a detriment to not only the playing experience, but the viewing one too. Players will either take 1v1s or flat out avoid each other early in Solos, and either end of the spectrum doesn’t make for exciting watching.

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“The map is actually quite unsustainable in solos in the sense that there are just not enough viable drop spots. This was an issue in the chapter one map, and it certainly is still an issue in the chapter 2 map. When you extrapolate the drops to only 33 teams [Trios format], that issue affects much fewer teams, and early game gets much more interesting overall,” he added.

Balla mentioned that team-based events give a bit more of a narrative to play off, too. Not everyone can be as well-rounded as Bugha, but almost every top-level Fortnite pro can play some role in a team environment and help lead a squad to victory.

It also helps remove some of the “randomness” from the game, like getting sniped from over 200 meters away and having your FNCS journey cut short. No teammates to revive you, no reboots ⁠— just waiting for the next lobby.

“In solos, getting headshot sniped is the end of the run. That random element of someone 200m across the map has just ended an entire game. In trios, you have your team not only to bring you back into the game, but also to share your economy with.”

Balla makes a case for competitive Fortnite to switch to Trios primarily. Squads are too big, and Duos is still way too widely varied. Trios is the nice middle ground between the four, but there’s one overarching theme ⁠— Fortnite needs to do away with Solos as the major mode at every event.

However, what Epic will do in the future is up to them. With FNCS Season 4 around the corner with the new update launching in just over a week, there’s not much time to iron out the kinks with the competitive ecosystem.

One thing is certain though ⁠— if Epic returns to Solos again, the Fortnite esports community might just wither away.