Epic have yoinked prizes from hundreds of Fortnite players in the first week of their World Cup open qualifiers, for reasons ranging from fraudulently entering in multiple regions to full-on cheating. They punished over one thousand players in all over the first week’s competition, most of them temporary bans. That’s a whole lot of cheaters for a single stage of a single competition, though in a game so popular (and with so much prize money) it’s but a single fleck of spittle in your tea. I would be fascinated to see the World Cup’s companion Creative building competition somehow ends up another hotbed of scandal.
Fortnite Battle Royale’s World Cup started qualifiers on April 13, inviting people to have a crack through online tournaments running weekly until June then culminating with in-person Finals in July. Each week has a prize pool of $1,000,000 (£770,000) shared between winners and the Finals will have a pool of $30m (£23m) so there’s plenty of incentive for cheating beyond the usual reasons of bragging rights and mock-glory.
Qualifiers are divided into regions, each with only a handful of qualification spots, so many players tried to improve their odds by breaking the rules and playing in multiple regions. Epic explained in Friday’s announcement (while we were on our Easter hols) that evading region locks caused them to slap 1163 accounts with 14-day bans from competitive play, 196 of which were prize winners who forfeit their share of the cash. 48 accounts got fortnight bans for sharing, including nine winners. Eight accounts were banned for “teaming”, the practice of forming alliances with should-be rivals, including one winner. One person was smacked for “intentionally disconnecting to avoid giving points to another competitor.”
Curiously, only one account has been permabanned for using cheat software. That seems remarkably low for any online game, especially one with cash up for grab. Perhaps they’re waiting to ban more, or they couldn’t detect them all, or… people genuinely didn’t cheat much? The figure so low I can’t believe it’s the full picture. You old cynic, Alice.
But that Creative competition? I wanna see people get busted for illegal building techniques, for tricks and exploits placing blocks in impossible places, for concealing giant rudey bits only visible when the pieces align from a particular perspective, for… c’mon, builders, do your worst. Cheating in a “creative” building competition would be an excellent story.