Olivia R. July 10, 2019
If there's one thing Epic Games doesn't shy away from, it's completely changing Fortnite's meta right before, and sometimes during, major esports tournaments.
An Air Strike weapon was introduced in the game's most recent update. Players can clear out areas with a simple toss, since Air Strike does 75 damage per hit to players and a whopping 200 damage to structures. With each Air Strike sending 20 bombs to the chosen area, it's easy to see why this weapon changed the game's meta so dramatically.
But with the World Cup just under two weeks away, esports pros were quick to speak up about the major update.
League of Legends shoutcaster and analyst Isaac "Azael" Cummings Bentley opened up a discussion on Epic's seemingly loose weapon introductions.
“This is the difference between using esports to find and celebrate the best players in the world and using esports as an advertisement for your new game content. Really sucks for the players," Azael said.
That was in response to a tweet by esports insider Rod Breslau.
"Epic about to add AIR STRIKES to Fortnite two weeks before players compete for 30 million dollars. Very cool," Breslau said.
"And by 'very cool,'" Breslau continued, "I mean, 'please kill me.'"
But not everyone in the esports industry was as critical of the major change. ESPN senior esports editor Darin Kwilinski seemed excited by the Air Strikes.
"I love this," Kwilinski said. "My take: Epic's history of big changes before tournaments notwithstanding, esports lives in a digital realm, meaning changes should be expected (big or small). It's two weeks before the tourney - a lot of time to practice. The best will adapt and rise."
As many Twitter users argued with Kwilinski, he decided to tweet out more blunt opinions on the matter.
The seasoned writer explained that traditional athletes often adjust to game changes during tournaments, like weather.
"If a pro Fortnite player can't adjust to a new item in TWO WEEKS, maybe they shouldn't be a world champion," he concluded.
Whether pros can or can't adjust to the game-changing update, Epic is no stranger to making these major game adjustments with seemingly no mindfulness to the competitive side of Fortnite. A few months ago, Epic took away The Baller and other vehicles due to bugs. Then, during the World Cup Qualifiers, Epic announced they would be back in Arena.
Pros, like NRG Esports' Benjy "Benjyfishy" David Fish were quick to express their disappointment.
When it comes to the Air Strikes, this new weapon will most likely change the way people build, a big aspect of the competitive scene. They easily destroy buildings, forcing competitors to rethink their strategies and plans just days before the largest Fortnite tournament in history.