Fortnite’s growing competitive scene makes players notice the skill gap between streamers and professionals.
With Fortnite's competitive scene growing as the game becomes more popular, many players have begun to notice a disparity between professional players and streamers. Streamers usually garner most of the general public's attention, as their focus is divided between gaming, networking, and branding, making them easily recognizable. Professional players, on the other hand, spend more time focusing solely on mastering the game, from learning how to optimize controller settings to discovering the quickest and most effective ways to get around areas and eliminate competitors.
Many argue that streamers do not deserve the recognition they receive, as mainstream audiences perceive them as "the best Fortnite players," when really they are just the most recognizable ones. Streamers, however, put a lot of effort into creating and curating their content, whether it’s going live on Twitch, uploading match supercuts to YouTube, or engaging with audiences on Twitter. Their community and social reach comes from their brand identity, which makes it a huge priority for streamers to network and market themselves.
One of a streamer's main jobs is to market themselves, as the foundation of their career relies on it. These players do not have as much time to focus on mastering gameplay, as they have to play the game while entertaining an audience. They have to keep their gameplay engaging and to do that, some streamers have to sacrifice their focus to chat, tell stories or answer fan questions. Audience interaction keeps people coming back to a streamer, so many prioritize it over playing the actual game. Interacting and engaging with audience members is a streamer's main job, whereas, mastering gameplay falls to the wayside.
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Professional players, on the other hand, don't have to worry about entertaining a crowd for the most part. These players master the gameplay by practising for long hours of the day. Most of them don't have branding deals, streaming schedules, or audiences to entertain, in fact, many of them don't have a following at all. Most professional players are not very well known before they rise to the top of the Fortnite scene. They might participate in a few tournaments and competitions, but otherwise, they keep away from the public eye. This is because, to them, the most important aspect of their career is to master gameplay, not brand themselves.
A Fortnite competitive player strives to dominate under any circumstance. Oftentimes, these players surpass streamers in Fortnite Regionals and even the World Cup. Streamers might be much better than the average players, but competitive players are even better than that. They maximise the amount of time spent learning the intricacies of Fortnite, much more than a streamer is capable of doing as they entertain hundreds or thousands on Twitch or YouTube.
Additionally, competitive players have much more time to participate in tournaments, as it is their sole priority. Streamers have much less time to participate in tournaments, as their priorities are divided. When streamers do participate in competitions or tournaments, however, they usually do not perform as well as professionals. For example, 2019 World Cup winner Bugha consistently ranks highly when he participates in tournaments, whereas top Fortnite streamer Ninja rarely ranks in even the top ten.
Both streamers and professional players are good at Fortnite, but they are good at the game in different ways. Streamers are better at making gameplay entertaining, whereas professionals have a deep understanding of the game that makes them interesting to watch in their own right. Streamers and professionals both possess a knowledge of Fortnite that most people do not, but the gap in their skill is what separates them from one another. Some streamers, like Tfue, prioritize gameplay over brand recognition and networking and are able to hold their own in competitions much more than others. Tfue recently beat Bugha in Lachy's Trio Cup, coming in third while Bugha came in fourth.
Tfue exemplifies that streamers can still find the time to master gameplay, as his streams are more focused on the competitive aspect of Fortnite, rather than being strictly entertaining. Tfue also finds the time to compete relatively frequently, consistently coming out on or near the top when he does compete. Despite the fact that he has a social presence, Tfue still makes gameplay his priority, which allows him to hold his own in the presence of strictly competitive players like Bugha.
After the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, many skilled and expert-level players came out of the woodwork as they claimed huge cash prizes for their victory royales. Bugha, Psalm, and Nyhrox are top players that come to mind when talking about Fortnite competitors. These three players rose to the top of the Fortnite competitive ladder, playing countless hours of the game in order to master it. These players are in their late teens or early twenties, which proves that dedication and knowledge of the game matters more than age or industry experience. Being a professional simply means a player has mastered the game and everything about it, and as Fortnite's competitive scene shows, anyone no matter what age or rank they are, can take the title.
Much to the dismay of many Fortnite players, the 2020 Fortnite World Cup will not be held this year, due to the difficulties coordinating the various regions of the tournament online. According to Epic Games, there will not be any more physical Fortnite competitions until at least early 2021. Epic Games posed the possibility of more online tournaments, but none of them will be as big or widely renowned as the Fortnite World Cup.
This is sad for the Fortnite competitive community, but it also gives professionals the time to hone in on their skills and polish gameplay. It will be exciting to see what new skills returning champions have learned in the time spent away from the physical side of the competitive scene. Even more exciting is the possibility that new players will rise to the top, utilizing the large gap between competitions to their advantage.
Unlike the streaming side of Fortnite, where it seems like the same giants have dominated for years, the Fortnite competitive scene is ever-changing. Players evolve and grow, learning the game inside and out, all while learning their own capabilities and setbacks in-game. There is so much room for growth and improvement that new players are constantly joining and competing to be the best. In the competitive scene, there is no need for marketing or networking with others, passion for the game itself can be enough to lead players to the top.
Images via Epic Games | Tfue