Second week of Summer Skirmish not without controversy

From an alleged cheating scandal to poor a spectating experience, Fortnite's Summer Skirmish has been a work-in-progress. Provided by Epic Games

The final games of Fortnite's Summer Skirmish were wrapping up. Epic Games' Zeke and Team SoloMid Fortnite player Hamlinz reviewed a few reactions from a variety of streaming personalities who had participated in the first day of Week 2, including the ubiquitous Tyler "Ninja" Blevins.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's been a long day," Zeke said. "But I'm sure what you're interested in are the final standings."

"I'm scared," Hamlinz joked.

"I'm kind of scared," Zeke said. "Let's do this together."

The final standings appeared on screen. Console player iDroPz_BoDiEs finished in first place with 184 points, nearly 20 points ahead of Faze Clan's Cloak, who sat in second thanks to a strong start with two 20+ elimination games. It was an unexpected victory for iDroPz_BoDiEs, but not out of the realm of possibility given the volatility of Fortnite as a competitive title.

"It's just so crazy because iDroPz started out with a 20-bomb," Hamlinz said.

After the event ended, the reaction from the Fortnite community was skeptical. Unlike the majority of competitors, some sponsored by endemic organizations such as Team SoloMid, Faze Clan, OpTic Gaming and 100 Thieves, iDroPz_BoDiEs did not stream his matches. His point of view was absent from the Summer Skirmish narratives as they developed in real time. The outcry led to an investigation from publisher Epic Games, who released a statement regarding his win.

"Our rules do not stipulate that a participant must stream the event, as we do not wish to exclude players who were invited based on their own merit because they cannot stream -- iDroPz_BoDiEs was invited to Summer Skirmish based off his performance in prior Showdown LTMs."

Epic's statement outlined every allegation against iDroPz_BoDiEs and absolved him of each one. The Fortnite publisher also made it clear that it did not want to apply any restrictions to input devices, as to not unfairly punish console players like iDroPz_BoDiEs.

This isn't Epic's first Summer Skirmish hiccup. Last week, the tournament was plagued by server lag, with some players unable to move at times. The format and monetary rewards led to more passive gameplay. Kills weren't worth as much as building and turtling because keeping your team alive mattered more. This week, the format shifted -- Summer Skirmish will use a different tournament format every week -- giving each participant 10 solo games to score as many points as possible. Each elimination was worth a point, each Victory Royale worth five points and 20-plus elimination games worth 10 points along with a $10,000 bonus. The player with the most eliminations in a single game was also awarded $50,000.

The eight-week-long series will award $8 million in total prize money, a mere eight percent of Epic's $100 million investment in Fortnite prize pools for the 2018-2019 competitive season. Rather than impose a strict tournament structure or league like the more elaborate South Korean and Chinese tournaments for Bluehole's battle royale competitor PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Epic has taken a completely different approach.

Like most Fortnite events, Summer Skirmish leans heavily into Fortnite's use of existing streaming personalities with good reason. Fortnite burst into the North American public consciousness thanks to a stream that Ninja held with rapper Drake. Viewers tuned in to Fortnite streams to see their favorite personalities much more than they do for the gameplay, with myriad individual Summer Skirmish streams outpacing the official Fortnite stream in viewership numbers. The official stream flitted between a variety of different streamers' points of views, making sure to capture their reactions to individual outplays and Victory Royales. Players like Timthetatman, TSM's Daequan, 100T's NickMercs, Parallax, and, of course, Ninja, were all involved in the ongoing tournament commentary, even outside of their individual streams.

As a console player, iDroPz_BoDiEs couldn't meet Summer Skirmish's streaming requirement of a two-minute time delay for participants. This meant that, unlike many of his competitors, he didn't have an individual stream to follow as the tournament progressed. In a world where personality is held above all else, he was conspicuously absent from the conversation until the tournament ended and community accusations began. Even with his name officially cleared, it's an unfortunate situation for the Summer Skirmish winner. Since he didn't have a stream, in an odd way, he didn't exist to the general community until the tournament ended and he was declared the winner. Stream or it didn't happen, the community said.

So far, Summer Skirmish has been a heavily viewed series of experiments -- a chance for Epic to shower players with a bit of prize money while testing out a variety of different rulesets and competitive setups in front of a live audience while relying on the popularity of its individuals for publicity. This means that problems will continue to be amplified on a large stage as Epic continues to work out tournament kinks.