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NolanLuL Winter Royale Win Marred In Controversy
NolanLuL’s Winter Royale Win Marred By Infinity Blade Controversy

The North American finals of the Winter Royale were reduced to a laughing stock with the recently added infinity blade and aeroplanes proving to be game-breaking additions that reduced the event to a farce. NolanLuL won the Grandfinals in the last game with 9 points, in finals that will be better remembered for featuring items that made professional players truly question Epic’s motive in the competitive space.

The warning signs where there in Day 1’s Heats. The winners of both heats, Psalm and Xycik, primarily used the blade – a weapon that gives you 400HP, allows you to smash through any players structure and makes quick work of any opponents. Such was the vitriol from the community that both players took to social media to apologize with Psalm stating via Twitter that he “sincerely apologize to anyone to died to it[…] I just had to show everyone how silly the sword is.”

The infinity blade was one problem, the stormwings(flyable aeroplanes armed with a cannon) were another. Players made unspoken “non-aggression” pacts which led to the ridiculous situation of the casters, MonsterDface and Alex “GoldenBoy” Mendez, hyping plays of players circling each other and shooting randomly into the sky. 

It was a sad state of affairs for what had the potential to be the best tournament yet for Fortnite. The hype was real for this event, with an open qualifier, an esport mode that rewarded aggressive plays, and the Season 7 meta that many felt was the best it had been in months.

Sadly, Epic had other ideas and goodwill the competitive community has with the developers is wearing thin.

Liquid Chap Makes A Mockery of Day 1

After watching Heat 1, participants in Heat 2 knew what they were heading into – a game that could not be taken seriously. The backlash was fierce from the player base with some not even waiting for the tournament to end to let Epic know how they felt. Liquid Chap, a well-respected pro, took it upon himself to show just what a joke things had become. With a place in the finals secured in Game 1(After his audio cut out it must be added) he went for the blade in Game 2.  Killing the initial carrier off spawn, he then proceeded to build a sign reading “Code Chap” – a reference to Epic’s support a creator platform and somewhat of a meme in the Fortnite community.

It was a defiant move by a player who takes the game more seriously than the developers do themselves. A move all the more impactful because it took place in the middle of $500,000 tournament.

The main losers in all this were the players who never made the Day 2 finals, among those that failed to qualify to include top 5 Solo player Ghost Bizzle and Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who, on stream stated he “didn’t sign up for this.”

NolanLuL Wins Winter Royale – Day 2 Final Standings

NolanLUL Winter Royale NA Final Standings

The final standings of the Winter Royale North America.

Day 2 wasn’t quite as chaotic as the previous day’s effort. Players who had the infinity blade tended to play passively until the final circles.

But ultimately it still had a huge effect on the outcomes of the tournament. For instance, Liquid 72, Legedien and Nistic all scored the majority of their points when in possession of the blade and that’s just the ones we can ascertain from the official stream. It’s terribly unfair but there has to be a huge asterisk on every player’s placement in this tournament.

Having said that, NolanLuL and Liquid 72hrs both found themselves in late game situations in a number of games and deserve praise for their performance. Slobings aswell warmed up and did well in the later games and could be one to watch.

For the record, the winners of each game are as follows

Game 1 – Legedian

Game 2 – Liquid 72hrs

Game 3 – Tyler15

Game 4 – Mmateoss

Game 5 – Armada Kiwiface

Game 6 – NolanLuL

Where Do We Go From Here?

It feels like issues present since the beginning of Fortnite as an esport, are now coming to a head. It’s clear now, if it wasn’t before, that Epic see the tournaments as the ideal way to show new additions to a game that is largely played by casual gamers. There were the shadow stones, zombies and Glider redeploy before the Fall Skirmish Final and the continuing meta changes that show a real disdain for any serious competition. It really does feel that Epic take one step forward and two steps back in regards to esports.

On the other side we have dedicated and hardworking professionals who are trying to navigate a path to success in a game that is constantly changing. And change isn’t just the issue, these aren’t balance changes, this is game breaking additions days before major tournaments that must be a bitter pill to swallow for those that have put in the hours to be at the top of the game.

Fundamentally these two stakeholders want vastly different things. Going forward there is really just two options – either Epic leaves the short money on the table for the chance of creating a true esport, or professional players accept the game given to them and look elsewhere for a fair and competitive game.

Bizzle said it best after failing to qualify and he will have the last word here.