Week 1 of Fall Skirmish has come and gone. For those that tuned in, they could be forgiven for feeling a sense of Deja Vu. In many ways, Week 1 of the Fall Skirmish looked like Week 1 of the Summer Skirmish – beset by server troubles, irritating casting and an unhelpful game mode.
But this isn’t Epic’s first rodeo and expectations were naturally higher going into the Fall Skirmish. They had their work cut out with not one, but two incidents of cheating. Causing a storm in the community and putting Epic in the position of having to hand down punishments for the first time.
In typical Epic fashion, they dropped one of the biggest patches we have ever seen the day before the tournament. Which is going to add a whole other layer of intrigue to this week’s proceedings.
So here are the stories you should keep an eye on when you’re watching Week 2 of the Fall Skirmish.
1) Is It Time For A Competitive Mode?
As you know Season 6 has dropped and with it a raft of map and gameplay changes. There is the new stealth feature allowing you to be invisible for 45 seconds and teleport through walls. A new area above Loot Lake that has an effect on player movement and a number of other seasonal changes that the community is still exploring. Weapons have been vaulted including the LMG, Silenced SMG and Remote Explosives as well as utility items like impulse grenades and jump pads.
These changes a week into the tournament throw up two potential problems.
First, the meta going into today’s game has drastically changed. Jumpads were a key tool for retaking high ground. The nerfed C4 also had a place in the game for destroying structures. Players would have had strategies based around positions of Rifts and the game map of Season 5. All of that work is now consigned to the bin.
Second, the potential for game breaking bugs to have found their way into the game is clear for all to see. It wouldn’t be the first time one of the Season events adversely affected a competitive game.
As Epic continue to push Seasonal content, introduce new weapons and vault olds one’s maybe its time they considered a Competitive Mode that changes at a more sedate pace?
2) Short Rift For Cheaters
The first big cheating scandal for Epic and in some regards it was of their own making.
Funkbomb and Natehill were Duo partners. When Funkbomb died, he did as Epic instructed him to and left the game and went to follow the main stream. It just so happened that the main stream hadn’t been set to the two-minute delay that the player-streamers had been instructed to use. So Funkbomb was able to watch the game and give live call out’s to the still alive Nate. He did, then called out his own cheating, before going quiet. Twitch blew up, Nate and Funkbomb attempted to cover their tracks but it was in vain. The punishment was quick from Epic – Funkbomb would be expelled from the rest of the Series.
Another player caught out was 100T Kenith who left a game while he was downed. Effectively stealing a kill from his opponents. Epic were more lenient this time giving Kenith a warning allowing him to return this week.
What is interesting to note is that what 100T Kenith did was against the rules whereas Funkbomb’s infraction, while obviously against the spirit of the competition, was not actually against any written rule.
No one could defend either of these players actions. However, Epic’s lack of foresight and blunders on the technical side make incidents like these a matter of when not if.
They will need to sort these issues out if they want to be taken seriously as an esport.
3) The Storm Is Over Now
The V6 update released with a bang and after the headline-grabbing stealth mechanic and the vault of a number of weapons there was something a little more low-key which may yet have the biggest impact.
The speed and size of the storm has been changed. Now the storm will close much slower and stay larger for longer. This is a welcome change as one of the main issues we have is that after a slow start the game often ends in a short-lived burst of chaos as players jockey for position in the safe zone.
This change plus the removal of the jump pads will make for the biggest transformation in the end game we have seen.
If Epic can get over themselves and rewards kills over placement Week 2 may see the end of the anti-climatic heal-offs.
4) Should Ninja retire?
It’s been a long time coming but it seems like the shine is finally wearing off Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins. He had a dismal showing in Week 1, with his duo partner SypherPK, and it’s far from a one-off. In fact, it could be argued that Ninja has never really stepped up in a tournament besides the exhibition Pro-Am back at this year’s E3. Whether he actually cares is anyone’s guess. He makes more in a week than most of these Pro’s will make in their entire career. On top of that, his position as Twitch’s first superstar and gaming’s first crossover star is on solid foundations but you can’t help feel that the competitive gamer in him wants to be considered among the worlds best.
But at what point does Ninja’s competitive instincts inversely affect his business? In the fickle nature of online gaming, where opinions change quicker than a pre-pubescent kid in high school, it might be sooner than anyone expects.
5) Can we vault Zeke already?
What more needs to be said? We have now had Zeke as a caster for 10 weeks now and there are scant signs of improvement in that time. If he isn’t screaming at the top of his lungs at standard Pro plays he is struggling to comment on the action in any way that provides insight. It needs to be said – Zeke as a caster is a waste of a chair.
And it’s not like there isn’t a queue of people willing to take a shot at the role. We’ve had informative guest casters like Monsterdface and Courage. Players who know the game and can keep their heads when the action gets heavy. So why haven’t we had them back yet? The short answer – the money as a competitor far outweighs what they can earn as a caster.
But as the community backlash against Zeke grows the price of a poor caster will mount as viewers finally grow tired of what is on offer.
Another poor showing in Week 2 and Zeke’s days will be numbered.
So what are you looking forward to in Week 2? Will it be Zeke’s last? Will the new storm settings shake up the end game? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.