One of the oldest veterans of Fortnite fame, Williams “Zayt” Aubin, has officially retired from competitive Fortnite. The announcement came on his stream following a “big announcement” tweet he had made a couple of days prior.
His reasons for the decision stem from him no longer enjoying the game, especially the recent meta. As one of the most respected names who has played the game right from the beginning, his comments about the stagnating and boring meta are reflected by others in the community. Zayt has decided to focus on content creation and, potentially, personally coaching players from now on. Although he is unsure of what his future will look like, he still retains his ties with NRG as a coach and content creator.
Zayt has one of the longest-standing trailblazers and supporters of the game. After the release of “Vivid” and “Chap” from Cloud9, Vivid had announced retirement from the professional scene. With the way things are currently progressing, Chap is in quite a rut. Although Zayt’s departure came as a bit of a shock to the community, with the current state that Fortnite is in, Zayt’s move isn’t all that surprising.
Epic Games had made a name for being the most prominent investors in esports in 2019 with the Fortnite World Cup prize pool of $100 million. Since then, though, Epic’s regard for the competitive scene has only been going downhill. Lots of big names in the Fortnite community had made jokes about the continually dwindling prize pools in Fortnite. Wolfiez recent Tweet comes to mind.
With Zayt’s departure, the vulnerability of Fortnite’s competitive scene is made obvious since Epic cannot incentivize its players properly with its tourney money. FaZe Clan’s Nate Hill has since suggested following a crowd-funding model like that of Dota 2. With a massive player base of around 350 million, Fortnite has endless potential for community-sourced tournaments. For context, Valve recently raised $40 million for its Ti 10 prize pool, which is only 25% of the total money earned through the recent battle pass. All that from a comparatively measly player base of 10 million.
It won’t be surprising if more pro players retire from competitive Fortnite 2021. Releasing mere player skins and weapon skins isn’t enough to sustain a growing esports market. With retiring pros, dwindling prize pools and no word from Epic, it’s yet to be seen how 2021 will pan out for the company and its biggest IP.