Around the same time that news of UCLA Esports’ Fortnite decision went viral, Epic Games published a note on the Fortnite Competitive subreddit announcing that a hotfix would remove the brand new Storm Flip item from the game’s tournaments this weekend. Though the item will remain live in other modes, it won’t be the source of anger and frustration in today’s competitive games.
The Storm Flip item was released only days ago, giving players a portable bottle that, when thrown anywhere on the island, would cause a small (but still quite substantially sized) storm to form temporarily in that spot. The item can be used to flush enemies out of hiding spots and to eliminate weak opponents from a distance.
Some players have called the item overpowered, complaining that it does too much damage and gives the person who wields it too much power. As with past overpowered items, the Storm Flip makes Fortnite feel less like a challenge of skills and more like a lottery — the person who gets the best weapons is uniquely positioned win.
While that’s not too much of a problem during regular gameplay, Epic has heavily pushed the esports aspect of its hit battle royale title with a number of tournaments. Many players have called on Epic to ‘freeze’ the in-game items in competitive play, which would provide athletes with a consistent roster of weapons and explosives. Under current competitive practices, each new (and frequently added) item forces players to readjust their strategies, often with only days of practice time.
In a post on Reddit, Epic said it will temporarily disable Storm Flip in the Week 9 Fortnite World Cup Online Open and in Arena playlists until the tournament this weekend is over. The hotfix that disabled Storm Flip rolled out last night; other game modes still have it.
The news coincided with UCLA Esports’ 2019-2020 season lineup, which was revised to remove Fortnite from the list. According to the organization, a number of issues involving the game’s competitive play resulted in the decision, include ‘game balance’ problems.