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Lessons Learned From Fortnite's Ugly Summer Skirmish Winner Witch Hunt

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FortniteEpic

Fortnite’s second Summer Skirmish event is over, and it was a new kind of mess, one that ended up being a rather ugly affair thanks to a mob-based witch hunt of the winner, but a situation that wasn’t helped by Epic’s tournament set-up in the first place.

The controversy centered on idropz_bodies, a relatively unknown player who rose to the top of the heap on day one, putting up huge kill totals and a number of wins to best a number of much more famous and well-known streamers and players.

The main problem? Idropz_bodies wasn’t streaming his gameplay. This fact, plus his relatively unknown status, plus players trying to look up his past stats online, resulted in a conclusion by the hundreds-of-thousands-strong viewerbase: Idropz must be cheating.

Players said that Idropz was using a mouse and keyboard on PS4, something that is technically legal but would give him an unfair advantage. They said he was being fed kills by friendly players joining his games at the exact same time, friends who were creating brand new accounts for this express purpose.

And yet, none of this was true, at least according to Epic, who has done a thorough investigation of Idropz’s games, something that seemed somewhat mandatory as he did walk away with $130,000 in prize money between his first place finish and his kill bonus awards.

The final standingsEpic

Epic came to the conclusion that no, Idropz:

  • Was not playing with a mouse and keyboard on PS4
  • Was not playing way, way better than usual as stat tracking sites are not the most reliable for that kind of info
  • Was not leaving the lobby multiple times for better bus spawns
  • Was not killing the same people over and over in different games, implying he was being fed
  • Was not killing brand new accounts

In short, literally nothing anyone had said about idropz was true. He was just…a really good PS4 player having a really solid stretch of ten games to place first in this tournament. And he’s not as “out of nowhere” as fans were assuming, he was actually a talented Destiny 1 PvP player, and during the debacle, many old Destiny players were coming to his defense.

Many fans behaved extremely poorly in this whole situation. This is another “reddit detective” moment where supposed “researched proof” turned out to be overstated or nothing at all, smearing a solid player who had put up an incredible performance. While sure, I wondered if something weird was going on too for a while, there’s a difference between say, asking Epic to check into things and spamming IDROPZ CHEATED a thousand times in Twitch chat or writing 4,000 word reddit screeds declaring a “criminal act” occurred during the event, essentially accusing the kid of stealing $130,000 in some sort of elaborate heist. This was mob mentality and a disregard for “innocent until proven guilty” at its worst.

FortniteEpic

And yet I don’t think Epic was entirely blameless in this. The fact that you could even have a million dollar esports event and not require all the participants to stream is ludicrous. In this case, it was like being told a random player you’ve never heard of just put up a 100 point NBA game, yet you never actually saw him do it. I know the rationale is that you can’t stream delay on PS4, which is why streaming isn’t a requirement there, but still, there has to be a workaround for this. And even if idropz was not using a mouse and keyboard, after all this, Epic has come out to say that it’s perfectly fine if you do that on console, in an effort to promote “accessibility” for the game. This is a huge mistake and could backfire horribly if all pros switch to PS4/mouse keyboard to start farming easy console kills, which very well could happen if Epic lets this stand.

Past this, I think Epic needs to do some serious research into the console/PC split of performance. In Summer Showdown, almost all the top point-getters in those fan events were playing on console where it seems to be easier to secure high kill totals and wins. And here in these events, we have two of the top three finishers on night one playing on PS4, when the vast, vast majority of the pool was playing on PC. I’m not sure about night two, but again, I do think this is something that needs to be looked into, and so far, Epic hasn’t done that.

This was just a bad situation all around. Idropz was unfairly crucified by fans who should have waited to see what the truth was before jumping to conclusions. And yet this entire situation could have probably been avoided in the first place if he had been streaming/showing his set-up the entire time, which seems like a pretty basic rule for an event with $1 million in prizes on the line.

Hopefully everyone has learned a few things from this mess, and we don’t see something like this happen again. But we’ll see.

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