Fortnite is a game that transcends communities and cliques across the world and its reach permeates an astounding number of niche audiences.
The game has drawn the free time of many, including college football players. Those in the Sun Belt are no exception.
At Sun Belt media day, I talked to each player in attendance about the game and learned a lot about the impact the game has had on the players.
For a few, they’ve never played before. Their reasoning? They don’t want to get addicted.
This is the case for Appalachian State running back Jalin Moore. While he doesn’t play, he says the game breeds competition and the trash talk bleeds onto the field. As for who the best player is?
“(Clifton) Duck is the best,” Moore said. “Look at his tweets and look at his twitch, whatever that is. He’ll wake us up in the morning yelling into his headset.”
As for Coastal Carolina defensive back Anthony Chesley, he says he simply doesn’t have the patience for the game.
“From my understanding, if you go really far and die, you have to start over,” Chesley said. “I can’t do that.”
While most players started playing the game because of its popularity, Georgia State offensive lineman Hunter Atkinson claims he started playing for a different reason.
“I had to get on Fortnite because all my teammates were too trash to play (Player Unknown Battlegrounds),”Atkinson said. “PUBG is tougher because the map is bigger and it’s much tougher to aim… You’re not going to hit me (on PUBG).”
When it comes to how these players perform in the battle royale game, a pattern quickly became apparent.
“I like to think of myself as the second best player in the world, behind Ninja,” South Alabama linebacker Bull Barge said. “I’m a very dedicated fortnite player”
There were some who passed off the credit of being the team’s best player to someone else but among the others who claimed to be the top player were Texas State’s Aaron Brewer and Coastal’s Kilton Anderson.
Another pattern that became prevalent was the amount of kills each player averaged. The most common answer was 4-5 kills. When asked if that was a stretch, I was usually met with nervous laughter.
While nobody there claimed to average double-digit kill totals, Troy linebacker Hunter Reese says he’s seen multiple teammates reach 20 in a game.
“Kyler Knudsen, Jeb Davis and Kaleb Barker are definitely the best I know,” Reese said. “They’ve all hit 20 kills before.”
Some are admittedly maybe not as strong as others, such as Georgia State’s Michael Shaw. Even he, though, claims to average 4-5 kills a game despite stating that center Jamal Paxton carries him in squad matches.
Before they can even tally up kills, though, they need to land first. The most common preferred landing spot was Tilted Towers. As Barge put it, “I want all the smoke.”
It would make sense for a head-hunting defensive star to be aggressive, but this isn’t the case for App State’s Myquan Stout.
“I like to go to the edge, gather some loot and make my way to the middle,” Stout said. “I go to Snobby (shores) every now and then.”
There are other locations that players like to land, such as pleasant park by the aforementioned Brewer and Salty Springs by Texas State linebacker Bryan London.
Georgia Southern running back Wesley Fields has an interesting set of landing zones, to say the least. His preferred drop-spots are Flush Factory, Junk Junction and Risky Reels.
Perhaps the most intelligent Fortnite player to arrive at the Superdome was Louisiana-Monroe linebacker David Griffith.
His knowledge of Fortnite geography quickly became apparent as he talked about the different locations and the quality of several landing spots.
When asked whether they preferred the pump or the tactical shotgun, most players quickly chose the tac. Griffith, however, gave a different answer.
“It depends on the color,” Griffith said. “I’ll take the blue tac over the blue pump but I’ll take a blue or green pump over a gray tac, and vice versa.”
While Griffith knows the game well, the same probably can’t be said for South’s Jamarius Way, who was quoted as saying he would drop a scar for a blue tac every time.
Fortnite has taken over off the field for players throughout the Sun Belt and the result of the added competition has been positive across the board.