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Earlier today, Epic Games released a competitive blog with a ruling on the infamous “pickaxe swinging” controversy

“Pickaxe swinging” has been a staple in competitive Fortnite for many, many months. What is pickaxe swinging, you might ask? It’s not farming materials, I tell you. Pickaxe swinging refers to when players of opposing teams both have to rotate into the next zone and non-verbally communicate with one another to not shoot. The non-verbal communication is hidden within the pickaxe swing, a peace offer if you will

It’s become so prolific to competitive play that just today Epic Games issued an official response via blog post. The post states:

For 2020 (starting 1/20/20), we are taking action against any kind of in-game communication between opponents via signaling in official tournament matches. This includes, but is not limited to:

- Pick-axe swinging

- Emoting

- Toy tossing

- Jumping

Any cases of signaling like those listed above will now result in a teaming/collusion penalty. We want to be explicitly clear that pacifism-style gameplay is still allowed, but if signaling is involved, we will review and take appropriate action for the teaming/collusion penalty. Repeat offenders may be subject to increased penalties.

For additional context, please visit Epic Games to view the full post

“Signaling” is the word of choice Epic is using in this case. Only I find it extremely hard to NOT signal the obvious fact that both you and your opponent must rotate to the safe zone or face elimination. Regardless of actually taking your pickaxe out and smacking it against hot air, pickaxe swinging only works since both parties are cognizant of the fact that peacefully rotating is in their best interests

Additionally, it’s hard to believe that the next iteration of pickaxe swinging isn’t already in effect. Consider holding your building blueprints out while rotating - is that signaling? It can easily be argued that holding your builds out while running is a defensive (passive) mechanism such that if you were to get shot, you would have an immediate response of placing your own builds

If we are getting into these antics… unsure of what is and isn’t a clear form of signaling, how can we have a rule in the first place? There’s absolutely no structure to how/when/where this rule can be enforced; it makes no sense

If it were up to me, I would do two things to mediate the issue at hand

First, I propose to amend the official Fortnite tournament rules to stipulate that overly passive play that includes signaling with opponents should only be permitted if it directly benefits the player himself. A player on a long rotate is a perfect example of fair play under this rule. On the flip side of things, pulling away from a fight when you realize it’s your friend would be a violation to this rule

Second, and more importantly, is the addition of viable mobility to this competitive meta. To understand why the pickaxe problem developed in the first place, we must backtrack to its roots. We can definitively trace pickaxe swinging in competitive play to the start of Chapter 2, when all mobility was erased

You see, it was the necessity for players to survive until endgame that forced pickaxe swinging to be the most appealing option. If you can’t launch pad to zone, the least you can do for yourself is not engage the fellow rotators on foot. Adding launch pads, shockwaves, or even bounce pads into the current meta is the healthiest way to combat a player’s necessity to signal in the first place

Epic, the ball is in your court. This ruling is vague and opens up even more questions than answers. Please continue the dialogue with the community as we move into the next tournament circuit

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Author Bio

Michael Hindi

Michael “Hindog” Hindi is an active Fortnite player and journalist from San Diego, California. His involvement with competitive Fortnite dates back to Season 5 - both on the battle bus and with a pen & paper.


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