It may be time to start grinding. All signs point towards an imminent return for in-person Fortnite competition.
In early 2020, the Covid pandemic brought large gatherings around the globe to a standstill. Sports matches were played with no supporters, concerts were cancelled, and even shows at smaller venues and cinema trips were out of the question.
Esports suffered the same fate, and tournaments were either taken online or called off altogether. Epic Games announced that in-person Fortnite events would be suspended indefinitely.
As vaccines rolled out and the world began to inch back towards normality, certain titles experimented with holding LAN competitions again, and now many have live audiences too. The decision wasn’t so easy for Fortnite, with the large lobby sizes making logistics and safety considerations that much harder.
However, things are starting to feel more optimistic:
Last summer, in an email sent to certain orgs, Epic confirmed that they did not plan to allow in-person events until Q2 2022 – which we are now in. Their latest update on the subject came in November, when they stated that they were accepting applications for third-party tournaments again, though they did not comment on the future of official Epic-run LANs.
We saw the first of these third-party affairs with the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl 3. Though this was only small scale it was a huge win. The show itself was incredibly exciting to watch, and just one of the contestants tested positive for Covid.
In a recent tweet, BBG Calc predicted that upcoming media days are being used as “test events” for bigger in-person tournaments. A selection of pro players have been invited to attend an in-person media session, to conduct interviews and record content ahead of this season’s FNCS broadcast.
Popular Fortnite caster and analyst Reisshub will also be going, and though he said he doesn’t know much about what to expect, he estimated that around 40 or 50 players had been invited. While this a decent number of people, they are unlikely to all be together most of the time and realistically it’s unlikely to provide much insight as to how a LAN would look.
Test or not, these media days are yet another indicator that Epic Games is starting to ramp things up. The release of Zero Build has put Fortnite back in the public limelight, and in-person events could be a key ingredient to keeping that momentum going.
It’s probable that Epic’s first official LANs will be invitationals with no crowd, similar to the Secret Skirmish in Chapter 1. This could work for something like FNCS All-Stars, perhaps accompanied by a Zero Build competition for content creators.
As for the next Fortnite World Cup, we can only guess. An event of that magnitude is definitely feasible for 2023, but it takes a lot of planning, so it comes down to whether Epic is confident enough that it would go ahead to begin committing resources… if they haven’t already.
If it were to happen, I’d anticipate an announcement well in advance of qualifiers to give everyone time to prepare and also to prolong the hype cycle. With in-person events back on the cards, the success of Zero Build, and Creative 2.0 on the horizon, we could well witness a Fortnite boom reminiscent of 2018 in the coming months.