Hundreds of fans, semi professionals and big names from the world of e-sports, YouTube and streaming Twitch descended at the Esports Arena at the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas yesterday for a tournament Fortnite unlike anything that we have seen before The event was named Ninja Vegas 18 and possibly the first big tournament Fortnite Battle Royale since the game was launched in September 2017. It was organized around the massive Twitch streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, whose reach and popularity has made him a celebrity practically overnight.
However, unlike traditional games that can easily become competitive team-based sports such as Overwatch or League of Legends Fortnite is a multiplayer game massive that involves up to 100 people competing in the same game. So, for this event, the organizers tested an unprecedented format. For $ 75, any fan or casual player could buy a ticket to compete in three of the nine solo games, split up to three separate heats, along with guest professionals, streamers and semi-professional players. (I was one of those casual players who competed in the tournament, although I lost miserably in all three of my games.)
Each game included from 75 to 85 players, with a total of 233 competitors, including Ninja. All matches were played live on the Esports Arena floor, and each player received a dedicated stand and machine to compete. With their anonymous names, you never knew who the other players were, so each competition rewarded the intelligent and careful game that treated each opponent as if they could be one of the best on the planet.
If you killed Ninja in a game on your own, you won $ 2,500. If you won the match, you also won $ 2,500. Doing both: killing Ninja and winning, he generated $ 5,000. But if Ninja emerges unharmed and wins the game, the reward in his head will be transferred to the next game. Indeed, the event was of nine micro-tournaments, with Ninja acting as the guiding thread. It was the reason why more than 680,000 people simultaneously tuned into Twitch at one point of the night, a new platform record for concurrent viewers, to see the event through their player's perspective.
The same Ninja is among the most skilled players Fortnite in the world. He is an ex Halo professional, was an athlete of electronic sports signed for years before retiring to the stream last year, and his popularity stems in part from how accomplished and composed he is under pressure with hundreds of thousands of fans who watch him play and win often every day. He is also known for befriending and playing with celebrities such as Drake, Diplo and Joe Jonas.
But Ninja performance by itself was not what made the event so fascinating. He won four top-10 finishes, including two seconds and a hard-won victory, with the prize money he earned going to an Alzheimer's charity of his choice. But it was the intense and mind-boggling performances, all from relatively unknown players who came to Las Vegas, especially to make a name, which made the first tournament Fortnite a unique and entertaining experience.
These are four of the best moments of the nine-game series:
The player who won Ninja murdered and won the first game continues to win the second
One of the most shocking events in the tournament involved a player, a college student from Los Angeles who uses the online name "Blind", who showed his skills in the first game of the night beating Ninja in a one-on-one fight. You can see the moment he defeats Ninja here:
Blind won that game thanks to a careful and strategic game. However, he had not finished there. Buying a ticket for the tournament meant that you have to play three games in a row, so Blind entered the second game of the day even more hungry. Although he did not kill Ninja, he won the second game, achieving two consecutive victories in a fantastic performance. You can see his two-game win below:
Speaking to The Verge after, Blind, who wishes to remain anonymous as he is not yet ready to tie his real name to his online identifier , said he came to the tournament Fortnite waiting to sign. He said he spent the last month competing against other top players through Discord's exclusive chat servers, where practice games and other training sessions are often organized between professionals and semi-professionals. Already, Blind says he is watching professional organizations arrive.
The player who came in second place in the first match kills Ninja in the second game
To win his first game, Blind had to beat a very skilled and meticulous player called "Niibs", who was sitting right next to me throughout my three parties angry in the heat one. That said, I got a seat in the front row of Niibs performance at all times. His loss to Blind, as seen above, involved the last player who had the coveted land, which put Niibs at a serious disadvantage when the circle closed.
But in the second game, Niibs recovered his loss by recovering the $ 2,500 that was taken from his fingertips at the last possible moment to ensure a death in the middle of the game no less than in Ninja. When asked if he knew he had beaten the namesake player after the match, Niibs told me no. I was focused on winning and reaching the end. Unfortunately, he did not win the game, but he took home that $ 2,500.
Ninja scores his first, and only, victory in the fourth game
Ninja did not have the best of luck in heat one, but returned for the heat two with a new list of opponents and managed to perform much better. In the first game of the series, Ninja secured a victory with a modest total of 5 kills by overcoming a player who stopped onstage to compete in one of the few highlights at the Esports Arena.
The fight was tense, with Ninja's opponent taking a rocket launcher and a health advantage. Feeling that the player had run out of ammunition, Ninja pushed aggressively with his shotgun and found himself in a tense deck building battle that ended with a good burst of shotgun in the most vulnerable area of his opponent, winning the Ninja combat and provoking a celebration victory that included some of its exclusive graphic overlays on screen and some ingenious dance moves. You can see the final fight and the celebration by moving to 01:24:00 here:
A 14-year-old competitive player Fortnite surprises everyone with a victory
The biggest surprise of The night came late, in match eight in the third heat, when a player known only by the crowd as "4DRStorm" managed a tremendous three-game losing streak to win the game. He started by throwing an entire tower using a rocket launcher in a strategic move that saw his opponent's booty rain down from the sky in front of him.
4DRStorm went on to secure a direct rocketship followed by a rocket winner of the game on the only other player left standing. It was an incredible performance, showing extreme confidence under the pressure of hundreds of thousands of online viewers and hundreds more in person, with the same Ninja commenting that he had already been knocked out.
When he won the match, and the Esports Arena camera selected him live, the crowd was pleasantly surprised to see a bright-eyed teenager who turned out to be only 14 years old. He did not know what to say when asked what he thought of his victory, and was visibly shocked to have secured victory. But his skills, confidence and composure in the game are undeniable, and it is clear that he has a bright future in e-sports if he stands firm.