After the unmitigated disaster that was Summer Skirmish week one, it’s a little surprising that week two was enjoyable at all — let alone one of the most fun esports events of the year so far. But, here we are.
So, in advance of Summer Skirmish's third week, let’s take a look back at what worked so well with week two of Epic’s summer Fortnite tournament series.
In hopes of earning back a bit of community good will, Epic threw everything from the first week of Summer Skirmish out the window and started from scratch. The tournament still featured somewhere around 100 pro players and streamers, but this time, Epic didn’t drop all of those players in one single, cramped, lag filled lobby. Instead, Everyone simply joined the matchmaking queue and jumped into a few solo games; 10, to be exact.
Players could rack up points for things like getting kills or winning games and at the end of each player’s 10 matches, their score would be totaled. Once everyone finished, those were the standings for the tournament. It’s a simple system, that isn’t all that different from a solo version of Keemstar and UMG’s Friday Fortnite tournament. Thankfully, it’s also a far better system than the one that Epic used for the first week.
In this format, we got to watch some of the best players in the world really show off their skills. Rather than compete against other top-tier teams, these players got to remind us why we watch them in the first place: They’re simply better than 99 percent of the people they get into regular games with. On top of that, seeing players go for 20-kill games — a special milestone that offered both bonus points and a cash bonus of $10,000 — was a thrilling event every time it happened or, in the case of a few unfortunate players who ended matches with just 19 eliminations, almost happened.
Few things in esports events are as easy to overlook as the spectating. Most often, if the average viewer notices the team it at all, something is probably wrong. During the first week of Summer Skirmish, the spectating was impossible to ignore. Whether it was accidentally switching from an intense fight to a player doing nothing or focusing the stream’s attention on the wrong side of the circle when the action was starting, the frustrations were nearly constant.
Despite all these problems, the spectating team at Epic wasn’t deterred and headed into week two ready to make things better. And boy did they ever. Rather than trying to add excitement to the games by constantly switching perspective from one player to another, as they had done the first week, Epic’s crew instead decided to stick mostly to a single streamer once that player got near the end of one of their games.
In some cases, that meant watching the last three kills in a game, while in games, you might have sat through the last 10. Thanks to the focus on one streamer at a time, the audience and commentators often got to spend a healthy amount of time watching a single player, allowing story lines and narratives to emerge that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Sometimes, part of playing Fortnite is waiting. Sitting in a tower or walking through a field, going over your weapons, your materials and your place on the map and trying to plan your next move are all important parts of the game, and those are the parts that Epic was willing to show us in week two. A streamer sitting in their tower talking to their stream about how bad it was that they didn’t have shields, or how risky they’d have to play with no mats, was more interesting and charming than anything in Summer Skirmish’s first week.
These moments were human, funny, filled with personality and exactly what these competitions should be about. The streamers are the stars of the show here and letting them shine is exactly what Epic should be focused on for Summer Skirmish.
As a popular TSM streamer and widely considered to be one of Fortnite’s best players, that Hamlinz was playing in the tournament likely confused fans at first. But when he showed up on the broadcast, live in Epic’s studio, it quickly became clear that this was the right decision. Bringing Hamlinz in as a co-caster for week two of Summer Skirmish was a stroke of genius.
As anyone who has watched him stream knows, Hamlinz is a funny and naturally charismatic person. Even more than that, he can make detailed information about Fortnite gameplay and strategy fun to listen to. After a couple hours of warming up — after all, this was his first time ever casting the game — Hamlinz proved he could bring some of the informative side of his stream straight to viewers during the tournament as well.
Hamlinz constantly had tidbits of information about why a player was building a certain way, how they might want to play the upcoming circle, how they could maximize their kills or even what he would have done in a similar position.
It was interesting, accessible and vastly entertaining in a way esports commentary rarely is. While expert commentary doesn’t always have to mean that the two players are of equal in-game skill levels, Hamlinz’s Fortnite abilities brought a whole new kind of perspective to the matches and helped make each game that was spectated significantly more entertaining.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like we are going to be getting another Summer Skirmish event like this in the near future. Week three’s tournament will be a duos competition that once again returns to the private servers of week one. But hopefully, Epic will take the lessons it learned from the successes of week two to help make Summer Skirmish as fun for the viewer as possible.