With the recent announcement of the upcoming $100 million tournament season for hit battle royale game Fortnite, we reached out to pick the brain of one of the best in the scene. VPesports staff writer Steven Cropley sat down with a professional player and captain of compLexity Gaming’s Fornite squad Michael “Hogman” Hogman to discuss the scene. Topics ranged from professional player scrims, to newly added stink bomb, and his time on compLexity. You can see the full depth of the interview below.
Steven: First off, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. We know how busy a professional Fortnite players can be these days between practice, personal life, and streaming. So we’ll start there, how do you balance these varying aspects of your life?
Hogman: Hey Steven. Thanks for having me in for an interview! I love sharing my thoughts about this particular topic because I feel that pro gaming is very abnormal from a more traditional career. I feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude towards being in the position that I’m in by playing video games every day for a living, but also know when it’s time to take a break and disconnect. During the weekends, I’m much more focused on my family and relationship than during the weekday grind. From Monday-Friday, I am working about 14 hours a day by streaming in the morning to afternoon, then scrimming into late hours in the night. I don’t have any issues with this schedule whatsoever just because of how happy I am with my job.
Steven: I’ve seen a couple of pro scrim matches and I have to say, while it may be super chaotic and intense to those within the game, from a spectator point of view, the last several zone shrinks seem to be 15 different layers of teams built upon each other until the final shrink when someone shoots out the bottom and everyone comes toppling down with very little actual fighting taking place as each person tries for a higher placement. Did I just catch a couple anticlimactic matches? Do you see this as a problem in terms of keeping people interested?
Hogman: I feel that professional Fortnite players have gotten so good at surviving against other competitors and not taking unnecessary risky fights, so a good amount of them will survive until the storm fully closes and players inevitably die. The majority of these “pro scrims” end in the final storm closing, but I feel that the new Stink Bomb grenade may be able to shake up that meta and help with killing people that are surviving in small bases or areas. I foresee this problem evolving into a developer trial-and-error process to be able to make the ultra-late game a bit more exciting whether from Stink Bombs, or making the final storm destroy structures as it closes, or something else entirely.
Steven: Epic has done an amazing job providing continuous updates to their game in terms of additions, bug fixes, and content. While this is great to keep things fresh for a casual player, it is not optimal for esports as it provides almost weekly changes to the meta, allows for broken mechanics, bugs, and more to slip into the scene by the week. We’ve seen the Overwatch League simply play on older versions of the game until enough playtesting has been done in order to counter this. How do you think Epic will tackle this and how does it impact you and your team as professional players?
Hogman: I feel that Epic has done an immaculate job introducing new content to their game by offering new loadout items, new POIs, mushrooms and apples, etc. I want them to continue their style of innovation on their own game to the end of time because it keeps the game fresh and exciting for everyone who plays it. One thing I really approve of Epic doing is vaulting parts of their game that doesn’t pan out the way they expected. I feel it’s extremely important and respectable to come out and admit that they were wrong or something didn’t work the way they wanted it, and basically scrapping that project that they spent development resources on. The competitive Fortnite scene is ever changing and the best players will always be able to identify the most efficient ways to play out a match no matter what is thrown their way. If you can’t adapt quickly, then you shouldn’t be competing against 125 million other players. I feel that Epic should continue admitting their mistakes, know when to vault a feature, and fix bugs as fast as they can (which I feel they’ve done a great job so far with).
Steven: Now that the professional scene has begun to really get into scrimming and proper practice, which teams or players really stand out to you as the ones to watch with the $100 million season coming up?
Hogman: Because of how quickly Fortnite changes, the top teams of Fortnite change just as frequently. I believe that there are a lot of very talented individuals on several different teams who can adapt quickly in the competitive scene, and I do believe that those adaptable players are going to be the ones who come out on top. I’ll leave it to you to decide who those players are. 🙂
Steven: In addition to that, what words would you share in regards to the difference in how people play in pubs in comparison to scrims? We know that some of the best individual players may shine on their streams with flashy plays and aggression, but struggle in matches as the tempo and goal are drastically different.
Hogman: In pubs, people try to kill other players and get into as many fights as possible. In scrims, people try to navigate through the map efficiently, take or not take fights when they have to, and stick to the game’s objective which is to be the last team standing. Stats, KD/A, kill records, and trap killing the last player in your match is great, but are very small pieces in the puzzle which makes up a top-tier pro player.
Steven: The stink bomb was added to the game today and seems like a good way to force enemies off of certain builds, clear a house, or provide a little cover. Do you think the item will see use in competitive play? Do you believe, although small, the area control is provides will change the dynamic?
Hogman: I think because of the purple rarity that Epic has chosen to give the Stink Bomb, you’re going to see these held to the late game in competitive Fortnite. People will use these Stink Bombs to flush people out of their safe zones near the end of matches, and try to get them to expose themself to being eliminated.
Steven: And finally, what’s it like being apart of compLexity at a time when they’re growing into the space allotted to them by the investment of Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys? A legendary esports organization in its own right, it is creating something big over there. Share your thoughts and experience with us during this time.
Hogman: For me, being part of compLexity has been a huge blessing. They believed in me from the very first time that I met them and told them that I can be a top Fortnite player and team captain, and I still feel that belief from them today. To have such a prominent esports brand invest in me, especially after being backed by some of the most elite names in the world (Jerry Jones and Travis Goff families), I feel like a very lucky guy and I give 110% effort every day to be the man they expect me to be.