Fortnite Esports Competitive Gaming Epic Games

Cheating in competitive Fortnite is nothing new, or even in any other game with online tournaments when there are hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, on the line, then some players will do what it takes to get a slice of the pie.

In recent seasons, there have been many accusations of cheating from mutually choosing not to engage with players, manipulating storm surges, and even players being in the same voice call communicating with each other. During Season 3's FNCS tournament, one player even managed to qualify for finals using third party hack software and went undetected, until they chose to make it public and expose the issue that competitive Fortnite has.

Because of this, and the enormous public backlash for not being stricter, Epic Games has finally decided to address cheating and get more stringent with dishing out punishments and bans. In a recent blog post, Epic Games detailed a new set of rules that must be followed from now on. The blog post mainly focused on colluding, the act of two or more players working together to help place better, and smurfing and third-party hack software.

Regarding colluding, Epic Games detailed a list of what is classed as colluding and what isn't:

What is Collusion (Not an Exhaustive List)

  • Consistently working together with the same opponent. This includes fighting together or working together against a third player or third team who encroaches on a shared location or shared drop spot.
  • With this clarification now in place, we’re now taking a greater stand to action if conclusive evidence is found linking opponents to common goals together.
  • Staged engagements among colluding teams to deceive event admins. As an example: Manipulating storm surge factors intentionally by trading damage with no intent of elimination.
  • Pickaxe swinging (or other actions) used as a form of signalling to opponents.
  • Sharing loot or leaving items with or for opponents for their gain.
  • Intentionally feeding eliminations to another team.

What Isn't Collusion (Not an Exhaustive List)

  • Consistently dropping in the same location each match.
  • Announcing a drop spot on social media.
  • If you believe you're good enough to stake your claim publicly on a spot, be prepared to defend it. Players contesting your claim is part of the game, and should be encouraged.
  • Choosing to not engage in combat at certain times.
  • Coaching using the in-game replay tools.

One of the main problems is trying to prove colluding. Sometimes events could play out in a game that may look like colluding but turns out to be innocent, which means that Epic Games will need to spend a lot of time looking through tournament VODs to spot the possibility.

During the Season 2, FaZe Dubs and Waffleslul were accused of colluding during a Solo Cash Cup. Both players landed at The Rig and appeared to leave each other alone entirely while also engaging with other players at the location. There was also evidence that they split the vault loot to maximize their chances of survival. Because of this, FaZe Dubs was banned from competitive tournaments for 30 days. 

It can be a sticky situation though. During Season 3's FNCS tournament, both Bugha and his teammate Stretch both landed at Misty Meadows despite being a Solo tournament. As it wasn't beneficial for them to engage, they both looted in peace, which isn't against the rules. However, it is a similar situation to Dubs and Waffleslul, who were colluding, so it could become difficult for Epic Games to prove, which could mean many cheaters continue to slip between the cracks.

During the Season 2, FaZe Dubs and Waffleslul were accused of colluding during a Solo Cash Cup. Both players landed at The Rig and appeared to leave each other alone entirely while also engaging with other players at the location. There was also evidence that they split the vault loot to maximize their chances of survival. Because of this, FaZe Dubs was banned from competitive tournaments for 30 days. 

Another added form of colluding is pickaxe swinging, which is an act of signaling to opponents that players don't wish to engage until they have rotated into the zone. It is rarely beneficial for two players with full health and shield to engage while running from the storm, as the winner will likely leave the fight in the worst position than when they started. However, this isn't possible, so all players can hope that nearby players don't choose to engage with them.

Coaching has become popular during tournaments, with top players having a coach guiding and giving advice during the tournament. This guidance has been confirmed not to be cheating, so players can continue to get advice and tips from coaches as they play.

In addition to colluding, Epic Games also touched upon smurfing, which is extremely frowned upon in online gaming:

  • Traditional Smurfing: Playing on an alternate account that has a lower Arena Rank than your main account in order to illegally participate in tournaments or events that are only eligible for lower Arena Ranks. This type of smurfing will not be allowed in any official tournaments that are only open to those in lower Arena ranks.
  • Illegal Restarts: Playing on an alternate account AND a main account in the same tournament window. This type of smurfing will not be allowed in any official tournaments, unless otherwise indicated.

Some tournaments can only be played by players who have reached Champions League in Arena mode, while some allow players in the lower Contender League to play. It has now been confirmed that if a player is in Champions League on their main account, they cannot play in a Contenders League tournament to play against lower-skilled players, which will make it easier to place higher.

They have also stated that all third-party software that hacks the game in any way is banned. This software can make players hit shots regardless of accuracy, allow players to see opponents through walls, and even change the rarity of items in unopened chests. These will now result in bans if detected.

Written by David Coulson

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