It may be a long time till we see the best Fortnite players on the planet back in a room together.
Covid-19 brought the globe to a standstill in 2020, and while restrictions are slowly starting to ease up, we still feel the impact every day. In December, Fortnite developer Epic Games released a blog post detailing their stance on the future of in-person tournaments in relation to the pandemic.
“With so much still unknown about what is practical and safe, we do not plan to hold in-person events in 2021, including a Fortnite World Cup” explained the article. They went on to add, “We will continue to provide online competitions throughout 2021 with the hopes that physical events, in some form, can return at some point in the future”.
Epic has not issued any further updates during the last six months, and the online Fortnite Champion Series has continued to be the primary competitive focus. Now though, new information has surfaced which seems to indicate that the company’s outlook remains pessimistic.
A recent press release from regional tournament organizer Iowa Esports has gained traction among the Fortnite community on Twitter. The announcement confirms that the “Midwest Open Circuit” LAN event, planned for June 12-13, has been cancelled following fresh correspondence with Epic Games.
We are sad to announce that ‘Midwest Open Circuit’ LAN event has been cancelled.— Iowa Esports (@iowaesports) May 31, 2021
Read below: pic.twitter.com/YYGZDeCiwS
“Today, Epic Games notified us that they will not allow any in-person events to take place due to the pandemic” wrote Iowa Esports, “They stated that they do not plan to allow in-person events until Q2 2022, or when the global impact from Covid-19 has diminished”.
Not only does this mean that we cannot expect Epic to host any official in-person Fortnite competitions for at least another year, but also that smaller third-party LAN events are likely off the cards too. This includes the previously rumored DreamHack Winter tournament pegged for November 2021.
While this latest statement is not much different than Epic’s original guidance, many fans were hopeful that the easing of restrictions and successful vaccine rollout across North America, Europe and other territories would help to speed the process up.
Some look at what’s happening in other esports, for example the Valorant VCT Stage 2 Masters, which took place in Reykjavík last week, as a sign of what is currently possible. Unfortunately however, the truth is that from a logistical perspective, running a Fortnite event is significantly more difficult.
Whereas the majority of shooters use teams of 5 of less, Fortnite matches contain 100 people, which in turn requires more support staff, a bigger production crew and increased security. Additionally, with Fortnite’s core demographic being so young, most players would need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
If the second Fortnite World Cup follows a similar format to its predecessor, it will probably feature 10+ weeks of qualification. Epic won’t want to start these qualifiers until they are 100% confident that the Finals can go ahead, which adds another few months to the wait time.
Ultimately, health and safety always has to be the key decision maker. All we can do is trust that Epic Games is doing everything they can, and dream that the next Fortnite LAN is not too far way, even if it’s just a Secret Skirmish style invitational with little to no live spectators.