We spoke with Ballatw about competitive Fortnite, changes to the arena system, tournament formats, cheating, and a whole lot more.
Competitive Fortnite fans know Arten ‘Ballatw’ Esa as one of the most accredited analysts in the esport. Over the course of Fortnite’s history, Balla has been the most recognizable voice on official Fortnite broadcasts. He also hosts VoD reviews of professional players on his Twitch and YouTube channels.
We sat down with BallaTW ahead of the Season 4 FNCS to get his thoughts on the current state of competitive Fortnite, the new competitive season, the biggest issues in competitive Fortnite, and a lot more.
We began the interview by talking about how Balla got into Fortnite, his early goals, and how he got into the industry. For the sake of length, we’re going to skip that and get right to the Fortnite talk.
The first Fortnite question I asked was how many Arena points Balla has. He responded by saying he was only around 5,500.
Exactly. That’s what I wanted to bring up. Is there anything immediate that Epic can implement to make competitive Fortnite more rewarding for “casual competitive” players like us?
I don’t think there’s anything that can happen immediately that would do what you want to do. I think that there are things that don’t happen immediately that do what we want – like a real ranking system that you can decrease in, that’s not linear, that’s dependent on the lobby.
There are a lot of changes around that which could work, but immediate changes? The first thing that comes to my mind is a leaderboard. I don’t know if there’s anything immediate that can happen.
How do you feel about Storm Surge? To me, it’s always felt like a Band-Aid for server performance. The Server can’t handle so many people, so we need to have Storm Surge.
I think that if it’s necessary, it’s necessary. I don’t think that it’s a mechanic that ruins the game by any means. I think with 50% chest spawns it’s more rough and random, but both of those things do force the lobby to be more aggressive.
If you’re looking for a gameplay solution to make people be more aggressive, I’d rather other things. It definitely is a Band-Aid but I think anything is gonna feel like a Band-Aid in this case.
We’ve gone through formats that try to incentivize aggressive play – that never works when it comes down to a Grand Finals lobby because the nature of it is that pushing people and playing aggressively is too risky in the grand scheme of things.
I think the best solution that I’d have is try to change that, try to break that risk. Siphon was one that I was pushing for, for a long time and it got added to the game and it did very well at what it was supposed to do.
In this case, Siphon was addressing recovery from fights which is important but still, there is no incentive to go push somebody because you don’t gain anything most of the time.
It’s a crazy risk and it a grand finals level that will happen only in these very tight circumstances when you know you have a big advantage, so to me I think of an idea like if you get a kill, drop a guaranteed mobility item, like one or two Shockwaves, a launchpad something like that. Just guaranteed.
Or maybe a guaranteed weapon upgrade or something like that. You kill somebody you get an upgrade on your Scar or an upgrade on your shotgun or whatever. I don’t know exactly how these things would work out I think that’s just an idea like Storm Surge that might help people play a little bit more aggressively.
. @Ballatw gave us his thoughts on how to incentivize engagement at the top levels of competitive Fortnite – possibly helping server performance in stacked lobbies. pic.twitter.com/QiQog3nBzi
Let’s talk about 50% chest spawn rate. Everyone hates it. Even the most casual player – who knows about it – hates it. It’s hard to tell why Epic changed this – maybe to address pacing issues in core game modes?
I think if they were trying to address pacing issues, they would go about it a different way, although I think there might be some validity to that. I think the biggest thing that you touched on is, casuals don’t even like it.
And so, that’s what I think of when I try to figure out why it went into competitive as well. Is that it’s going to be an unpopular change no matter what and if you don’t put it in competitive and you do put it in casual, casuals are going to choose to play competitive instead they are going to play arena because it has 100% chest spawn. Which is kind of a similar dilemma to siphon a lot of people don’t play pubs.
Exactly, so you kind of have to. If there is any reason at all to do 50% chest spawns in casual, then you kind of have to. You are kind of forced to do it in competitive too from their perspective.
I don’t agree with it but I think you kind of have to because it’s kind of like, ‘well this game (Arena) is better, but I still want people to play this game’ and to me, its that bad players are better served by a 50% chest spawn, because they get the opportunity to get that dopamine hit of getting a kill because somebody doesn’t get a chest.
That’s something that a lot of people struggle with. So to me, it’s very much that simple. They want that effect for bad players, but if a bad player knew that he had the choice of getting 100% chest spawns, he would rather that even though the other game is better for him.
We sat down with @BallaTW to pick his brain on several trending topics in Fortnite.Here’s what he had to say about the controversial 50% Chest spawn rate and why it’s included in competitive game modes. pic.twitter.com/kQI1M0kgEa
I’m a huge fan of Ninja Battles. Do you think the 60 player format is the answer to certain Fortnite problems like griefing and server performance?
I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about 60 players. I think that we definitely should experiment with fewer people but 60 players is drastic. That’s 13 missing teams.
At the same time, I feel like that does devalue players like Chap, players like Arab who hasn’t played in a Ninja battle but in any case, these are guys who are very good at not only the early game navigating the early game getting a nice split but also rotating through the mid-game which we kind of miss entirely.
I’ve been feeling the last couple of weeks that the 20 team format is more like a glorified zone rule scrim than anything else because everyone comes in the end game with full kits, fully upgraded, max metal, all this stuff.
It also gives you the time to fight. If you do fight off spawn you have time to finish without getting third partied.
That’s really fun, that’s why I think you know maybe remove 5 teams something like that and I mess around with the idea in Elite cup. Well, they used the idea. Let’s kick teams out who are playing poorly throughout the tournament after a certain amount of matches. I think that should be experimented with more. Because it gives both the incentive to fight off spawn or not and also reduces the lobby size to make the games more competitive down the line.
Is lowering the player count in professional Fortnite the answer to some of the major problems plaguing the game (server performance, drop spot griefing, etc?)@Ballatw and @JimmyDangus discuss pic.twitter.com/CzYXxF7P9A
We’ve had a lot of recent org signings in the Fortnite world along with brand-new organizations popping up like Gamma Gaming. It seemed like orgs were divesting in Fortnite early in 2020. Why do you think they’re making a comeback?
There are definitely new orgs popping up and to me, Cloud9 getting back in is huge news because they just completely disappeared off the face of the earth at the end of 2018.
I think that just in general, Fortnite did not decline as hard as people thought it was going to. So this return, this resurgence might be a little bit getting back at that. And I think people are also understanding how to actually get value out of orgs in Fortnite.
Things like the NRG guys, things like BBG really strike me as a new understanding of that. Where they are making content, they’re promoting their players, they’re actually getting people to stream more often not necessarily just tournaments.
I think that there’s a new understanding for orgs in Fortnite, I don’t think its broadcast returning, to be honest. Even though I alluded people were leaving because broadcasts were gone. I think there was a scare at the beginning of the year because there were no comms for a long time about anything. There was no broadcast where you could get those comms there was nothing so everybody was terrified of what was happening. That’s why they left and I think right now they are realizing it was an overreaction.
I loved the days when it was the Liquid boys and the FaZe team and TSM all together, and we don’t have that at all anymore. There’s no allegiance to an organization and a team – it doesn’t mean anything. Do you think they’re missing an opportunity there? It sounded like you did.
So, I think that people kind of misunderstood what I was saying about that topic. I mean, I do agree with what you’re saying but I was just trying to say that there was no link whatsoever between people, right? People were like, ‘Oh. NRG doesn’t have any links between their players.’ And I come back and I say, ‘Yes, they do.’ Right?
Unknown is good friends with Clix, Ronaldo is good friends with all of them, like, Edgey has all of a sudden been a really really fun part of that group when they went to the house.
If there are not links, they’re making there be links. NRG has done a great job with that to make their team be a little bit more – I don’t know – approachable in a sense, because it’s not just one-off players, randomly.
So that’s why I was confused about Cloud9, like, there’s no, you know, similarities between any of these players and they have nothing to do with each other except for Avery and Nosh – now it’s Chap and Vivid too – but at the time, Chap wasn’t signed.
But, in any case, ya I think there are missed opportunities. I think that’s a really easy way to get people to know who your org is. And you brought up the examples of, like, Liquid – the Liquid boys – sure, they weren’t necessarily doing many events together but because they were playing multiple duos together, a lot of people wanted – a lot of people loved Liquid, right? The OG Liquid – still, people think about that all the time. OG FaZe, people think about those teams all the time too. Like, even TSM, right?
Daequan. Hamlinz, and Myth. That was – you thought they were gonna rule the world at the time.
Exactly, and so, when you see orgs not have these types of links then you’re definitely wondering. You’re definitely wondering and I think we’re missing an aspect of fandom because of it.
Fortnite esports operate differently than others, where organizations sign individual players rather than a full [email protected] sat down with our @JimmyDangus to discuss this approach and the potential effect it has on fandom in Fortnite. pic.twitter.com/XNCX4qy4lY
Competitive integrity, I think is the biggest one. It has to do with Ninja’s tweet for example, griefing all those different things. I think that needs to be solved.
I think cheating and I think what happened last season was an absolute abomination. Not necessarily like there was a big problem with hacking but what we did as a community was terrible and it affected the competitive integrity of tournaments. Because when the player base and the community start believing that there is a problem whether there is a problem or not, there is now a problem.
Hacking aside, I think teaming is a problem, I think griefing is a problem, I think agreements and collusion are problems, whether we have found them or not.
.@Ballatw on the biggest problem facing pro Fortnite right now: competitive integrityHow big of a problem is cheating in Fortnite? pic.twitter.com/iMKqEYMePQ
Balla is hosting viewing parties for all of the FNCS competitions and is still broadcasting Fortnite with third-party tournament organizers like DreamHack.
You can find Balla on Twitter here, and can catch his weekly FNTASIA podcast on his Twitch and YouTube. He expresses his opinions in written form on his blog, Ballatw.com.
Fortnite v14.40 introduced the much-anticipated Fortnitemares event to the game. Among the major changes that came with the patch, Midas returned from the dead and reclaimed The Authority – renaming it The Ruins.
This wasn’t the only Halloween-related character who was kicking-around the Fortnite map. As players began to log into Fortnite, some noticed a vehicle sitting under a tarp in Camp Cod. It was none other than the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters.
This could just be a small Easter Egg for eagle-eyed fans, but data miners soon corroborated the sighting with some in-game leaks.
iFireMonkey posted a tweet that told fans of some upcoming skins that should be hitting the Item shop in the near future. Two of those cosmetic packs relate to Ghostbusters – suggesting that they’ll be entering Fortnite within the next two weeks.
Bundles added in v14.40:– Ghostbusters Gear– Ghostbusters Crew– Ghostbusters Patrol– Skull Squad PackRise from the crypt and creep on the unsuspecting with this bone chilling Skeleteam! Rattle your bones with the Skull Squad pack!
Fellow data miner, Hypex, added to this speculation with a leak of his own: a Ghostbusters achievement. According to him, players will be able to earn the “I Collect Spores, Molds, and Fungus” achievement by gathering a foraged item while wearing one of the Ghostbusters skins.
We still don’t know whether we’ll be able to choose one Ghostbusters skin to unlock, or if it will be a cosmetic bundle like the newly-released Skull Squad Pack.
New Ghostbusters achievement:Name: I Collect Spores, Molds, and FungusDesc: Gathered a Foraged item while wearing a Ghostbusters outfit during Season 4.
Ghostbusters seems like a perfect addition to the Fortnite universe. The collaboration falls in line with Stranger things from a couple of years ago and gives players another way to celebrate Spooky Season in-game.
Will you be grabbing a Ghostbusters skin if/when they come to Fortnite? Let us know on Twitter @FortniteINTEL.
Another month, another DreamHack Solo competition to help carry us through a week of competitive Fortnite. The tournament began on October 8, when the NA-West region completed its stage to kick things off for the month. Last night, October 2, Europe capped off October’s DreamHack competition.
The tournament has showcased some household names, some off-ping warriors, and some rising stars that call North America home. Here are the entire results of the DreamHack Open featuring Fortnite October Finals.
The NA-West region is, as always, the first to wrap up the DreamHack October tournament. Players on NA-West finished the tournament on October 8, with Demonspect taking home first place. He finished six points higher than 77 Xarez in second.
Rising star in the region, Reet, came in third and one of the established juggernauts in NA-West, EpikWhale, finished in fifth. Nosh and Maken rounder out the top ten. Other noteworthy finishes outside of the top ten include WHofishy at 12, VerT at 14, Marzz_Ow at 20, Jamper playing off-ping at 25, Skqttles at 26, Wavy Jacob at 36, MackWood at 45, and H1ghSky1 at 47.
Furious, one of the top controller players in any region, walked away with the win in NA-East with a score of 307 points – 7 points higher than skqttles in second. Furious padded his victory by winning two out of the six games.
After Skqttles was Degen in third and Okis in fourth. Other noteworthy finishes include Paper at 10, MackWood at 16, Zexrow at 17, Slackes at 18, and Th0masHD competing off-ping at 19. Here’s a look at how the top 15 looked at the end of the tournament.
One of the established Fortnite pros in the EU region, K1nzеll, took home first place in the DreamHack October finals, finishing with 334 points – 23 points above DaeZinhoo in second.
MrSavage, a favorite in any competition in which he plays, came in third with 285 points. His longtime teammate and one of the most popular Fortnite pros in any region, Benjyfishy, barely cracked the top 15 and finished in 14th place.
DreamHack will return in November, but this time with a Duos tournament rather than solos. Most Fortnite players prefer team-based modes, and the Duos format will be an interesting break from the Trios FNCS that we have this season.
We’ll keep you updated with everything happening in the Fortnite esports scene, so make sure to stay tuned to the website and follow us on Twitter @FortniteINTEL.
Fortnitemares 2020 is set to last for two weeks, giving players enough time to complete all of the challenges.
Fortnitemares 2020 is only a few days old, but not everyone is a fan of the new game mode. For those who haven’t gotten a chance to play, core Fortnite modes allow players to respawn as Shadows after they die.
Shadows are very difficult to deal with and can be nearly impossible to face in end-game situations. Almost all games come down to a couple of players versus a dozen or more Shadows. The only counters to the Shadows are Iron Man’s Gauntlets and a sky base.
The event, by itself, is a unique one. Unfortunately, casual Fortnite players don’t have a choice when it comes to playing with or without Shadow zombies.
On the other side of the coin, Epic have released challenges for players to complete during the Fortnitemares 2020 update. The rewards are worthwhile, so you’ll want to finish these challenges before the event ends.
Both groups – those who want to finish all of the challenges and those who are waiting for “normal” Fortnite to return would benefit from knowing when the event ends. According to several data miners, Fortnitemares 2020 is set to end on November 2.
This will make Fortnitemares 2020 the longest Halloween event in Fortnite history – lasting 12 days. We have almost two weeks to finish your challenges and earn the exclusive rewards.
Those who dislike the new Fortnite format can play Arena mode in the meantime. Zombies, RPGs, and other controversial items aren’t in Arena, although this is a much more competitive way to play the game.
We spoke with Ballatw about competitive Fortnite, changes to the arena system, tournament formats, cheating, and a whole lot more.
Fortnite, Competition, Ghostbusters
World news – US – BallaTW on competitive integrity, format changes, org signings & more | Fortnite INTEL