Arguably Fortnite’s most insightful caster Arten “BallaTW” Esa was just removed from the FNCS casting lineup. Is Fortnite suppressing valid criticism?
BallaTW has been an in-depth color analyst and play-by-play caster for Fortnite events dating back to the inception of widespread competitive Fortnite. When popular open Fortnite events started popping up - including the now infamous 2019 World Cup - Balla was a leader in the official online broadcast
Despite the ups and downs we’ve endured in the competitive community, Balla was a champion for the Esports scene since the start. When Fortnite randomly decided to stop broadcasting their multimillion dollar Fortnite Championship Series tournaments, Balla picked up the slack on his own channel
Today, Balla unexpectedly announced that he would no longer be on the Fortnite Championship Series broadcast team
I am sad to say I won't be a part of this season's FNCS broadcast.— Ballatw (@Ballatw) September 26, 2020
While super sad, I am proud of the growth in my casting and analysis - and what I've been able to contribute to the broadcast overall, outside of casting ability. Excited to see what's to come on the broadcast.
The ex-Fortnite caster would reassure his fans in a later tweet, “I am happy, because this opens me up to get closer to the community again, allows me to push my own endeavors forward completely in my own way,” he wrote
Balla later took to Reddit and clarified his future plans. Fans and competitive enthusiasts alike can look forward to old-school educational content, viewing parties, long form player interviews, and high quality narrative content
The community in large fears that Balla is simply “finding the light in a dark situation.” With the negative demeanour around his departure tweet, could Balla have been forced out of his position?
The argument has legs to stand on. Last month, Balla wrote a verbose criticism against solos as a competitive gamemode after Fortnite had spent two whole seasons around the playlist
The seasoned Fortnite veteran provides a lot of really solid insight; I highly recommend the read
Epic’s previous stance on free speech
If Balla was removed in an effort to suppress criticism, glaring hypocrisy begins to rear its ugly head
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney condemned Blizzard’s suppression of free speech when a Hearthstone player criticized the Chinese government in support of Hong Kong
Sweeney would double down on that claim, stating it would “never happen on my watch”
Yes, absolutely. That will never happen on my watch as the founder, CEO, and controlling shareholder.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 9, 2019
How different would the two situations be? Not very, if you ask me
I don’t want to discount the possibility that Balla left for a plethora of other reasons. From salary disputes to scheduling problems, it can really be anything. But given his reluctance to open up further - or simply put an end to the rumors - I fear this is not the case
It should be quite evident that this guy has the best intentions for our community. The top competitive Fortnite players rarely unanimously agree on anything - but everyone agrees that this is a huge hit to the competitive broadcast