Fortnite is more than the biggest video game around, it’s the high stakes table for esports competitors.
Epic Games, makers of the hit game, and chief investor Tencent have put $100 million into the prize pool for the first year of competitive play. And when an unknown player won a tournament and its $130,000 prize, he or she learned what it’s like to be on the wrong side of a Reddit witch hunt.
The player, who goes by the onscreen name iDropz_Bodies, didn’t have an esports history and wasn’t a well-known streamer, so when he beat several other better known competitors, he was accused of cheating in a 2,000 word diatribe on a Reddit subforum dedicated to the game.
It wasn’t long before that accusation went viral, with Reddit users piling on (calling it the “Fortnite crime of the century”) and top players spreading the rumor. Epic quickly responded, saying it had conducted an investigation and determined iDropz_Bodies didn’t cheat. He was just that good. And it lightly rapped the knuckles of players who spread the rumor.
“We appreciate the community’s concern around the integrity of the competition, but questioning the results of an individual participant without evidence unfairly tears apart at what should be a crowning moment of achievement for an individual who earned their way there and performed when it counted,” the publisher said.
The tempest in a teapot hasn’t slowed enthusiasm for the game. Fortnite v5.10 recently released and players right now are reveling in the “birthday challenge”—a feature in Fortnite Battle Royale where players are tasked to dance in front of different birthday cakes. (If you play, you’d get it. If not, there’s no amount of description that will make it make sense for you.)
Even with Epic’s statement, some gaming conspiracy theorists are still muttering about the tournament, even as the Reddit user who initially complained about the victory has publicly apologized.
As for iDropz_Bodies, he or she has remained silent, perhaps taking comfort in their well-padded bank account and preparing for the next tournament.
Fortnite is available on PC and all major console systems, as well as iOS devices. It will hit Android devices this summer.