EStars Featuring Fortnite is the UK and Ireland’s most current eSports tournament. There are few emerging competitive events as contentious as eSports. The ever-evolving and iterative nature of gaming makes it impossible to standardise. The specificity of skill for each individual game, and the limited window of popularity for most games, means that there are few eSports stars with longevity. This is in stark contrast to other sports, in which a star may have a decades long career. Gaming does not yet have the history behind it of many other sports. The question of whether gaming can even be considered a sport at all is hotly contested, with numerous voices from Forbes to the Daily Mail and even peer-reviewed journals weighting in on the topic. We at GamEir would love to hear your thoughts, dear reader. If you feel strongly on the topic, let us know in the comments!
EStars in Croke Park
Regardless of what anyone thinks, the eSports industry is quickly growing, both in Ireland and abroad. Founded last year (2018) in March, EStars is Ireland’s premiere eSports organisation. In February, EStars came to Dublin’s Croke Park for the Ireland leg of their Fortnite tournament. For three days – the 15th, 16th and 17th – Fortnite hopefuls battled it out in public games to reach the highest possible score.
There’s no mistaking the sincere love of the game, care, and attention put in by EStars. Prospective champions and their audience entered through a life-sized inflatable Battle Bus. Once through, the sight of rows of battlestations and the booming voice of charming host, Nikita Buffee, greeted us.
Players were scored based on where they placed in the order – with 1st place winners getting the most amount of points – as well as on how many eliminations they scored in their games. To be considered, one needs both a high placement and number of eliminations. Just having one of the two is not enough at this level of play! Players had a short warm-up period first, to get used to their station and get their head in the game. After that – we were off.
All participants had one hour to score as many points as possible through eliminations and placing high on the leaderboard. Primarily, I saw and spoke to two categories of players. The first category tried to shred through as many games as quickly as possible, quitting a game if it seemed unlikely they would get a high elimination count. The second group played a longer game, playing tactically and only quitting if victory was impossible. In the end, both tactics seemed to pan out equally well for competitors.
Throughout, Nikita Buffee’s voice echoed through the hall, narrating high-scoring players and interviewing round winners. Hearing the exploits of other players was exhilarating, and you could feel an almost palpable tension in the room. As well as Nikita, numerous EStars staff populated the hall, helping players and noting scores. They weren’t hard to spot – most of them sported fabulous cosplays!
After an hour of frenetic building, camping, sniping and close encounters, a clear winner arose. At 23 eliminations and a Victory Royale, my session’s champion has a great chance of being in the finals in London next month.
The top 9 players from each of the 10 tournament locations will battle it out in Stamford Bridge, London, for a grand prize of £25,000!
To the uninitiated, Fortnite can seem confusing and anarchic. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Fortnite‘s Battle Royale – which began as a side project for the cooperative Fortnite: Save the World – is a game of tactics and skill. Let’s run through Fortnite‘s core gameplay.
- Players fly over the island in the Battle Bus, a bus that has been refitted with a hot air balloon. They throw themselves from the bus whenever they choose, and parachute to land somewhere they deem tactical.
- Once they hit the ground, players have to swiftly look for weaponry littered around the ground and in loot chests. Meanwhile, they can use their pickaxe to break rocks, trees, buildings and vehicles to gather materials
- These materials are used to build elaborate forts (hence the name!) for defense or to gain a tactical advantage.
- Fortnite is a deathmatch – other players (except those on the players’ team) are kill-on-sight.
- Over time, the playable area grows smaller. Remaining outside the playable area gets you killed. This forces players towards each other over time, meaning that finding high-quality equipment is imperative.
- Eventually only 1 player (or one team) is left!
This is the kind of high-stakes, high-pace gameplay that faces players March 31st in London. It’s sure to be an absolute blast.