It’s like stepping into another world, being at a Fortnite tournament. At least, that’s how it felt stepping into the Fortnite Summer Smash, which took over Margaret Court Arena for two days of the Australian Open.
Initially it seemed like a bit of an odd pairing to us – one of the world’s biggest tennis opens becoming home to a stop of the Fortnite global tournament circuit – but here we are, watching it all unfold. Some of Fortnite’s biggest and best players build and manoeuvre their way through the game mere days after names like Naomi Osaka, Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios had graced its surface. Perhaps phenomenons like Fortnite aren’t taken as seriously as they ought to be by traditional sports fans, but housing the Summer Smash at the AO is a step in the right direction.
Competing through six matches, players battle for rank on a leaderboard that awards points based on eliminations and final placement when the match is over. Finish in the top selection of players – or get the victory royale – and you earn up to 15 points.
“The love for some of these players from the spectators is wild…”
Duking it out for supremacy were names like MrFreshAsian, nyhrox, Benjyfishy, and – weirdly enough – Brisbane Lions midfielder Mitch Robinson. The love for some of these players from the spectators is wild, with the admittedly modest crowd (the organisers decided to split the event across two dates, which we think would have affected attendance numbers) going absolutely wild whenever MrFreshAsian or players like LazarBeam got an elimination or talked some trash.
We only bring up the crowd numbers because last year’s inaugural event seemed to pack out the arena, based on pictures we’ve seen. However, this is to say nothing of the audience of over 60,000 viewers on Twitch that tuned in over the course of the two days. It makes sense that an online game would still have most of its audience there.
Commentary was provided by a clutch of well known Fortnite community names like Pookieface and AussieAntics, and their input almost proved to be the most impressive techical display of the day – being able to track and call the almost 100 players operating at any one given time, with hundreds of possible tactical choices being made, the team didn’t slip up and kept the proceedings, even at the highest levels of play, understandable and exciting.
Ultimately, the top prize went to Leevi ‘Breso’ Breslin, from Brisbane, walking away with a cool $100,000. After some upsets along the way, underdogs ‘Looter Is FA’ and ‘Symetrical’ also netted themselves $40,000 and $25,000 respectively. If you’re having a hard time keeping up, that’s fair.
The Fortnite world is dense and thick with bizarre usernames and an even more bizarre end game – where structures materialise wildly across the sky as players attempt potshots and aggressive pushes against each other – but the Summer Smash did a decent job of welcoming both the initiated and the new into what is undeniably a fun game when everything flows like a kind of schizophrenic dance.