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Epic Clears Ninja After An Extremely Stupid 'Fortnite' Witch Hunt

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It has been quite a year for Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, whose Fortnite gameplay has attracted millions of followers across Twitch and YouTube, resulting in him landing sponsorship deals and guest spots on The Ellen Show, in addition to a place on our 30 Under 30 list.

But with newfound fame comes newfound trolls, and Ninja has been under fire by an angry segment of the Fortnite community in what has turned out to be well, something of a frame job, and he’s been cleared by Epic of what the community had accused him of doing.

The way I understand the original story, Ninja was angry that he was killed by a player, whom he accused of stream sniping (someone who would watch Ninja’s stream and try to get into his game to purposefully kill him). The enemy player used an emote which Ninja used as confirmation that he was being sniped (showing off for the camera), and Ninja reported him. In a separate incident, Ninja reported another player who killed him who had a high ping, as you can report players who have connection issues in the game.

NinjaYouTube/Epic

While the first player was never confirmed to have been banned as a result of the report, the second player in question turned up saying that he had his account banned by Epic after his report, that he was just some innocent guy who had been taken down by Ninja, the implication being that Ninja has the power to auto-ban anyone due to his high profile connections to Epic.

The community, mainly on reddit and YouTube, relished the idea that Ninja had done something mean and bad and threads and videos were shared far and wide about the pair of incidents, and turned into memes about how you better not anger Ninja or else Epic will ban you.

In the end, however, this turned out to be an elaborate con job. Epic dug into what exactly had happened here and deduced that the ping-report player had not been banned as a result of Ninja’s report, which was dismissed due to the fact that there wasn’t enough evidence, but that the player later changed his name to that of another banned player to make it look like Ninja’s report had gotten him banned.

The player in question was also caught joking about “ending Ninja’s career” on a recorded Discord chat, so if you believe nothing else, that’s pretty significant in and of itself. It seems like this entire situation was concocted to imply Ninja’s rage can smite random players at will, but that isn’t the case. In the end, all Ninja did “wrong” was to get momentarily angry at a few players. But the community blew it up to an absurd degree to make Ninja look as bad as possible. In Fortnite circles, crying “Ninja got me banned!!” is a recipe to get a whole of attention, and clearly that’s what happened here.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesGetty

It’s a tough situation to be in. Sure, Ninja has gotten angry at other players from time to time, but the guy streams like 60+ hours a week, so you’re going to be able to find a few clips where he’s a bit heated. But the conspiracy theory implications here that Ninja has special banning abilities via a direct pipeline to Epic are ridiculous, and clearly this entire scenario was concocted to try and hurt him.

Ninja has good and bad moments like anyone, but this entire situation was absurd, and the community was wrong to run with it the way they did. But stuff like this is enough clickbait to last drama-hungry redditors and YouTubers a month, so sadly, it seems inevitable that this was going to happen, and it will probably happen again.

I asked Ninja if he had any last thoughts on the incident. “Just honestly that I clearly need to be even better so situations like this can never happen,” Ninja told me. “No trolling, no joking.”

Correction: Originally this article conflated two different reporting incidents, Epic has issued a statement about the second one.

Follow me on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. Read my new sci-fi thriller novel Herokiller, available now in print and online. I also wrote The Earthborn Trilogy.

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