UK-based tournament organizer BLAST, best known for its BLAST Premier series of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments, surprised the esports community when it announced that it had partnered with Epic Games for Fortnite. Besides being a milestone for BLAST, it was also surprising because Epic doesn’t typically announce publicly that it uses third-party tournament organizers to facilitate any of its official competitions.
Nicolas Estrup, BLAST VP of Product, tells SBJ Esports’ James Fudge that the company has been very deliberate in entering into new games; it currently facilitates competitions for Valorant, Dota 2, and its mainstay Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but working with Epic has been a goal for the company for quite some time.
“It took us three years to go into anything other than Counter-Strike, and that was by design in the sense that we wanted to be ready to take on new challenges before we made any major moves,” Estrup said. “With Epic specifically, we’ve been talking to them for quite some time and while the pandemic slowed a lot of these conversations because most of them revolved around big arena events, we finally came to an agreement on working on something in the Fortnite competitive landscape.”
That “something” turned out to be the Fortnite All-Star Showdown, a competition running from June 11-26, designed to fill the void in between the Fortnite competitive seasons. The All-Star Showdown brings back the very best players from previous seasons (Chapter 2 Seasons 5 & 6) to compete for part of a $3 million prize pool. In addition to the solos competition, the All-Star Showdown features a unique skills challenge competition where competitors show their expertise in “building, editing and aiming.” BLAST is handling the production and broadcasts across all supported languages, working closely with Epic, Estrup said.
While Estrup didn’t want to look past what BLAST is doing with Epic right now, he expressed hope that this relationship will continue in the future for similar events outside of the FNCS competitive seasons.
“I can only speak for BLAST, but we’re jumping into this adventure together wholeheartedly to see where it leads and I think we’ll figure it out on the tail end of the All-Star. But it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we’re excited about this project and any possibility to work with Epic and Fortnite in the future – whether it’s related to an All-Star setting or some one-off competition, we’re more than happy to explore that.”
Estrup says that BLAST has been very selective in the games it has entered thus far for a reason. “We’ve talked to a lot of people over the years and the reason why we have not taken on a lot of new opportunities is because it’s just super hard to find partners that are aligned to the degree that we like to be aligned with in order to jump into projects.” Estrup was keen to work with Epic because it was willing to collaborate closely with them, take feedback and input from them, and invest time and money into an event like the All-Star. BLAST was also excited that Epic is thinking outside the box in offering a format that focuses on creative mode, far outside what we typically see in an esports competition.
Finally, Estrup pointed out that entering the Fortnite esports scene is the first of many forays into the battle royale space and all the complexities that come with it like the sheer number of players that are typically involved. The next chapter, teased on social media last week, will involve Electronic Arts’ battle royale game Apex Legends. BLAST isn’t quite ready to talk about that yet but an announcement is imminent. “We’ll talk about that very soon,” Estrup said.
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