What would you do with $100million?
With the announcement from Epic Games of their $100m commitment to Fortnite as an esport, it got me thinking.
What would this look like and how would they approach esports? Epic are well known for producing two good esports titles in the form of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War, but I happen to think Fortnite esports will look very different.
I’m thinking closer to UFC or boxing nights, rather than League of Legends world finals
If you consider the demographic and the success of streamers such as Ninja and how Epic have creatively played out Fortnite's widespread appeal, it makes sense that they won’t necessarily approach esports in the same way as we’ve come to expect. In fact, I think it should be radical.
A friend asked me just yesterday, in fact: “If you’re Epic right now, how would you structure their esports events?” And it was a question I was happy to answer.
Firstly, there is no need to copy everything we’ve done in esports.
Out go regional qualifiers and national tournaments. Second, let’s not hang around for 10 days going through group stages and best of X number of games to find the top teams. Fortnite is different, whether you like it or loathe it and it needs a fresh approach to its esports too.
In my pretend Fortnite world, I’m thinking closer to UFC or boxing nights, rather than League of Legends world finals.
Think about it. It appeals to the demographic, it allows Epic to include popular streamers and celebrities from sports and music and beyond. In other words, tap in to the very core of the fans that have made it such a big streaming hit already.
Breaking the mould
Here's how my imaginary Fortnite esports scene looks:
First up is FORTNITE 1: VEGAS, BABY. Set in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, a lavish and extravagent centre stage houses a circular roundtable of notable celebs and streamers and top players, collected together in ten teams of four.
You’ve got the team with Ninja and Drake on it, you’ve got a sprinkling of NFL and NBA players among the elite level players who were hand picked by Epic for the Tier 1 tournament.
But before that kicks off, the three-day weekend starts with the Tier 4 guys - the “Championship Cup”. The up-and-coming qualifiers from around the world and those who compete in the turn up and play competition to play in for the event the night before.
This kicks things off for a $25k tournament and the winners advance in to the Tier 3 event the following day.
Tier 3, or “Golden Cup” as it’s called, kicks off on Saturday morning and has slightly more established teams and players involved, a few celebs trying their luck and the champ gets a cool $100k and a place in Tier 2 later that evening.
Tier 2 or “Diamond Championship” takes place on the main stage on Saturday night.
It’s the main undercard event of the weekend and features great players and celebs from streaming and the sports world with a $1million prize at the end of it and a place in the “Battle Royale Championship” on Sunday.
The grand finale, Sunday and the Battle Royal Championship includes all of the top players, teams and celebs for a top prize of $20million first place. Has all the glam of a rock concert and all the pomp and ceremony of the UFC complete with a championship belt for the winners bedecked in jewels and gold.
And that’s just one event. After that, we can look forward to: FORTNITE 2: RETURN OF DRAKE. This would, of course, follow a few months later and then FORTNITE 3: REVENGE OF NINJA three months after that and so on and on.
There really isn’t any need to follow the path of everything we’ve done before. Especially when Fortnite has the unique chance to be all things to everyone, both entertainment and competition, Entertainment Esports, if you will.
So why not embrace the community and fans that brought it fame and fortune already and do something for them rather than follow the tried and tested route of other esports?
It’s time to see what else can work and Fortnite might just be something that can co-exist in the esports world without trying to immitate anything that came before it.