If a birthday celebration wasn’t enough for x2 Twin Jordan Eckley last week, the Renegades player booked his spot at the Fortnite World Cup Solo Tournament as one of five solo Oceania representatives to compete in New York later this year. Jordan spoke to Taffy about qualifying for the $30 million event in late July and the upcoming final qualification round for the Duo Tournament with his brother Jesse Eckley.
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After seven weeks of competition the Renegades scored their first qualified competitor for Epic Games’ Fortnite World Cup in the Solo category with x2Twins’ Jordan Eckley claiming victory in last week’s qualifier. The win also came with an AUD$3500+ prize purse, just a fragment of the USD$30 million on offer at the World Cup finals in New York in late July.
“My last game popped when there was 10 minutes left to queue, so when my game finished there were a couple games still going. I was in a Discord call with a bunch of people and they just let me know when all of the other competitors were dead,” Jordan said.
It was an intense finish to proceedings with Jordan claiming one of his two victory royales in a one-versus-one, before having to wait for final results to process. In all, Jordan won 2/10 matches played, averaging 4.6 eliminations/match and 35.2 in placement/match, getting him over the line ahead of fellow competitor Worthyy.
“I knew I had at least a really good shot [at winning the qualifier] when I had won the previous game with the 1v1 clutch. I knew in that game that I had to go big or I wasn’t going to make it.” - x2 Jordan Eckley
Jordan now switches his focus to duo qualification with brother Jesse, who together put the Oceanic region on the map back at IEM Katowice as well as their dominant performance at the Australian Open Fortnite Summer Smash. Even though Jordan has qualified for solos, he will still be competing in the remaining qualifier as practice ahead of the big event.
“There’s definitely relief [after qualifying], but it’s a big confidence boost going into the last weeks – you know you’re already going to New York so you can play way more confidently.”
For a long time, the twins had perfected their placement playstyle, with a heavy focus on survival in order to be the last man standing whether it be solo or duo events. However, with Epic Games opting for an elimination-heavy format, it took some time for the twins to adapt, with a stark contrast when compared to their opening weeks’ results.
“[In the World Cup qualifiers] we did okay to begin with, we were pretty consistent but we weren’t getting enough kills. The scoring system in OCE for these qualifiers favour kills a lot and Jesse & I were focusing on our placement playstyle way before that for the old format, so it switched to complete aggression. We were adapting to the new format with this new playstyle and it took us a little bit, but I think both Jesse and I are there now.”
Adapt they have - while Jordan qualified in last week’s finals, brother Jesse continues to improve and is in line for a great shot at the final solos spot in the coming weeks. As for duos, the recent practice semi-final results speak for themselves - the twins blew apart the competition with four of their ten matches won, an average of ten eliminations/match and finishing 15th or better in all games played.
“It’s just been us flipping our playstyle on its head into full aggression. You see the other teams that are qualifying, they’re getting 20-kill wins almost every game – you just can’t afford to play passively in every game because you just can’t qualify without the kills.”
“Initially we could have chosen to be upset about the format but there’s always stuff changing in Fortnite, so we learned to adapt a little – you’ve got to expect that about Fortnite.” - x2 Jordan Eckley
Many professionals in the Fortnite esports space have spoken out against developer Epic Games over making abrupt and game-changing updates a day or even hours before a scheduled event. One such change was a major map update the day prior to IEM Katowice; an update that forced players away from their pre-planned tactics.
“I hope [Epic] don’t make too many changes to the map like before IEM Katowice. A lot of people didn’t have plans for drops, so hoping for few changes right before the event.” Jordan explained.
While Jordan understands the sentiment of the argument from other competitors, ultimately Fortnite has continued to proven to be everchanging so his focus is on adapting to the changes as they come as quickly as possible, whether the changes come as in-game adjustments or meta shifts from event formats.
“It’s hard to tell what Epic are doing sometimes, they’ve done some changes like the big shotgun change, no more one-pumps…it’s kind of weird. It’s out of our control at the end of the day, so I try not to worry about that kind of stuff and just focus on adapting and learning any new weapons as quickly as possible.”
“I wouldn’t mind this kill-based format & scoring for the actual World Cup matches, because that’s going to be 100 actual professional players where getting kills is going to be harder, whereas in qualifiers you’re literally playing against anyone in opens, the kills are generally a lot easier to get.”
Preparation has been the key to success and with plenty still needed from the squad with only two chances left to qualify for solos & duos, Jordan remains committed to attending as many weekly events as possible regardless of prequalification.
“We haven’t got much on the calendar for now other than scrims or Fortnite Fridays. A bootcamp in North America would be a big help; their practice is a lot more frequent and of better quality than in OCE, as well as getting used to what World Cup games might be like.”
As for what awaits him, and potentially Jesse for duos, at the World Cup finals? Jordan isn’t worried about the players he takes on, he’s just excited to play high-level Fortnite; a luxury not often afforded in the Oceanic region.
“I don’t think it matters too much, there’s no particular player or team we want to play – I’m just keen to play a really high level of Fortnite. We’re kind of limited in OCE so more just being able to play high quality Fortnite and learn as much as possible.”
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Article & Interview by Nicholas ‘Taffy’ Taifalos
@TaffyAU on Twitter