After the announcement of Fnatic Mode on the One Plus 7 Pro, Fnatic’s 18-year-old Fortnite player Erikas “ErycTriceps” Vaitkevicius travelled down to London to get his hands on the brand new smartphone built with gamers in mind.
ErycTriceps found some time to reflect on Fortnite esports scene and his personal journey in becoming a professional player.
Let's start right at the beginning. How did you become a pro player to begin with?
I've played games for over 10 years. I was really ahead of the time I played CS:GO when I was 13 or 14 years old but the first game I went pro in was Fortnite with Fnatic. I was just basically playing and streaming the game then Fnatic picked me up. It was very early, at that point the pro scene wasn't developed at all. That was about 10 months ago and things have changed quite a bit since then.
You mentioned that you've played games for a long time, had you always considered the possibility of being a pro player?
I didn't think about it until I played H1. That was realistically the first game that I streamed and got really good in, I had others telling me I was good so I thought about going pro in H1 but by the time I wanted to, the game started to decline.
Earlier you also said how Fnatic picked you up before Fortnite's competitive scene had taken shape. What was it like trying to be a pro player when nobody knew what was going to happen with the game?
Especially if you didn't have a stream, becoming a pro in Fortnite was really difficult. Teams didn't know how the team was going to do and they couldn't tell how well a player was going to perform. I think the reason Fnatic looked at me was because I had my stream as well which is good for them content wise so it's a lot easier to know what to expect. Even if the pro scene doesn't go well, they'll still have my content and stream.
Moving a bit deeper into the pro scene, what do you think separates you and other professional players from the rest of the player base?
I think it's the attention to details, pro players try to master and perfect every single aspect like aiming, building, movement, game sense etc. Regular players don't care about doing that too much.
Do you prefer playing Solos or Duos and why?
I'm happy to play both but in Fortnite, I definitely prefer Duos. In other other games I've always been more of a solo guy like I played solo-queue in CS:GO all the time. In Fortnite, Duos are more fun and more competitive, there's more teamwork involved like if one person goes down you still have a chance to pick them back up. It's just a lot more engaging, there's more communication, there's a lot more dynamics to it.
Would you say Duos are more fun to watch too?
Yes, especially if you can see how people communicate, how they follow each other, how they work off each other. For example, one guy in the end game can build while the other focuses on shooting.
You're down here in London at the moment for the OnePlus 7 Pro event. What was it like playing Fortnite on the new smartphone and how different did it feel to playing on PC?
I've played on mobile a bit before but not that much, it's fun but really hard. I use two fingers, I don't know if that's the play but that's what I do, and it's pretty hard to co-ordinate everything. The OnePlus Pro 7 is just amazing though, the graphics and everything were so good! I was really impressed.
Mobile esports are really taking off at the moment, could you see Fortnite tournaments for mobile players only in the future?
I think it's definitely possible, many people don't think about this but everyone uses their phones, especially kids nowadays who are always playing games or watching YouTube or Twitch. There's a really big player base in that market.
And of course the Fortnite World Cup is going on right now with the qualifier events. How confident are you that you'll be able to make it to the finals and what would it mean to you to make it that far?
In Duos, I think if I can find a partner then I have a really good chance of making it. It's crazy to think that through qualifying alone, you're pretty much guaranteed to make $50,000. That's an insane amount to money not to mention if you make it further, I think the winner takes home $3 million which is ridiculous for just one guy.
There have also been accusations and cases of players cheating in qualifiers recently with one player getting a 14-day ban. What are your thoughts on the cheating and how it's been handled?
I think when it comes to people colluding in Solos, not shooting each other and stuff like that, it's really hard to tell unless it's obvious. It's super hard to catch that but if you do then I think a 14-day ban is ridiculous, that's far too little. They should 100% be disqualified from the tournament in my opinion. Some people aren't at the top level, so for them considering cheating and colluding is worth it because they cheat, have a good chance of placing well and even if they don't get caught, they're back not long after and can play again.
And in general are there any changes you'd like to see in Fortnite's esport scene?
The one main thing is they should have separate game-modes for casual and competitive. There's lots of things to talk about like guaranteed chest spawns, less items you don't need like balloons, the stink grenades should be nerfed or even removed. Also ballers are an issue, if you get a baller you're guaranteed rotation but it's kind of random if you get one or not. If you don't have a baller and you don't get rifts or launchpads in a chest, that's it, you have no end-game because you can't rotate. If the server goes across the map, you'll have to build all the way so you'll get focussed and die.
I think casual should remain how it is, a bunch of weapons, loads of fun stuff whereas competitive should be controlled. We need to avoid major changes before tournaments too. Last week, they removed all vehicles one day before the finals. If previously your play was to land for a baller, that was out the window so you had to change your strategy with one day to adapt, that's insane.