Tech by VICE

'Fortnite' Champions Say They 'Don't Really Like the Game' in Victory Speech

At the Fortnite Collegiate Starleague finals, two University of Georgia players called out developer Epic Games for its unpopular balance changes.

by Nicole Carpenter
Apr 29 2019, 3:22pm

The University of Georgia’s Fortnite team won its first—and, apparently, last—championship title during the Collegiate Starleague (CSL) finals in Atlantic City over the weekend.

After going undefeated in the event (and throughout the whole season), newly-minted champions Jack Stuttard and Ibrahim Diaz took the stage to accept their prize. The duo used their time in the spotlight to call out Fortnite’s developer Epic Games for the way it’s handling the game’s balance.

“We don’t really like the game that much anymore,” Stuttard said on stage. “We’ll see what happens. Epic is kind of messing around a little bit with the way they are balancing everything.” When pressed for a “better” answer by the host, Diaz added: “We’ve decided we don’t want to play competitive Fortnite anymore.”

The UGA Fortnite players won $6,000 at the finals event after beating teams from the University of British Columbia in the semifinals and finals. But the money earned from playing Fortnite competitively isn’t enough to keep them playing the game. “Definitely quitting playing competitively,” Stuttard told Motherboard over Discord. “It just makes me sad seeing the game I love fall from grace so much. I hope they can turn it around.”

Epic has been criticized a lot by competitive players for the decision-making around balance. Earlier on, players were upset that Epic made large-scale adjustments to the game—specifically, the overpowered Infinity Blade patched in before a $1 million tournament. But now players are confused with some other balance adjustments, like the addition of a hamster ball–like vehicle called The Baller and the removal of “siphoning,” which gives players shields and health for kills and encourages an aggressive style of play. Epic addressed the criticism in a blog post on April 26, citing feedback that Fortnite was “too intense to be enjoyable,” and that it won’t be returning to the game’s regular modes. It's also important to note that the constant balancing and iterating Fortnite is known for comes at a personal cost to the developers working on the game. Last week, Polygon reported that the game's success led to months of intense "crunch" at Epic games.

Stuttard and Diaz wanted to use their platform to “attempt to improve a game [they] loved,” Stuttard told Motherboard. But he wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t criticizing CSL—”I am extremely grateful to CSL,” Stuttard said. “They have been so great to us all season so I was not intending to be ungrateful or distasteful at all. I was just being honest when asked how I felt about the game.”

CSL and Epic did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

Though Fortnite may not be what’s next for the UGA players, Stuttard said he’ll go back to League of Legends until a new game that he likes to play is released. But he doesn’t expect to play competitively, regardless. “I’m definitely more of a casual player and am not very good at any other game I play, but for some reason I’m really good at Fortnite,” he said.

Despite having some balancing issues, it appears that Fortnite players at the professional level are not frustrated with each other.

"Shout-out to the kids from UBA we beat in the semis and finals," Stuttard said. "We hung out with them Saturday night and they were really cool guys. But I'm happy we beat them. We all got philly cheesesteaks at this place on the boardwalk."