Fortnite has 125 million players worldwide. Many millions of those are high school students, and a couple thousand of those are college football recruits.
At The Opening Finals, Nike’s showcase for the country’s best prospects, SB Nation polled the college stars of tomorrow on their Fortnite strategies. What emerged was a distinct profile of how recruits play the game that’s sweeping the nation (Fortnite, not football).
1. Overwhelmingly, recruits prefer an aggressive approach.
We asked four-star Texas A&M cornerback commit Bobby Wolfe if he plays.
“What?” he asked back. “I kick ass in Fortnite.”
The couple dozen players we talked to almost all said they like to fly off the game’s airbus and land at Tilted Towers, a busy metropolis full of resources and opponents to murder. This is the place, as four-star Texas cornerback Erick Young put it, where you find “all the smoke.”
“I’m going to get in them trenches,” four-star Florida safety Brendan Gant said.
Five-star Georgia receiver commit Jadon Haselwood scoffed at the notion of waiting until the clock wound down and trying to eek out a cheap win.
“I guess you could say, try to let the clock run down together, but we see someone, we’re not gonna run from it,” the country’s top receiver said. “We’re gonna go over there and win the battle, get dubs. Me and my squad, we get wins every time we play.”
Wolfe goes into every game with the simplest of mindsets:
“I will attack. I wanna attack.”
2. Every recruit wants to win, but many are content to die trying.
Getting killed in Fortnite only means you get to bounce over to a new game quicker.
“Land, and just go kill people, everybody I see,” four-star Florida tight end Keon Zipperer said. “I’ve got a lot of wins when I got my team. I don’t have any solo wins because I just go rush people.”
Young denied he ever dies when he starts a game guns blazing. Then he paused for a moment of reflection.
“Sometimes I do,” he said, “but most of the time, I’m successful.”
3. Rarely — but sometimes — a recruit will chill and let other players die first, then try to win at the end against fewer numbers.
“I stay away from everybody,” refreshingly honest four-star California DB Chris Steele said. “I go where I know nobody’s gonna be at, and I wait till the very end. I’m a camper. I camp out.”
Three-star Houston receiver Genson Hooper-Price said aggressiveness is usually his hallmark, but there are times and places to make exceptions.
“When I see a bunch of people fighting, I’m like, ‘Ah, that’s bad. Don’t go for that,’ because you go into the fight, lots of noise, everybody attracts to it. You’ve gotta pick and choose your shots,” he said.
While the action-packed and dangerous Tilted Towers is the most popular landing spot, the slightly more serene Dusty Divot is another option.
“Try to hit all the chests there, and then after that, I just try to go hide,” three-star North Carolina receiver Emery Simmons said. “I don’t ever really go and try to kill nobody like that. I mean, I do. You’ve gotta have that gold heavy pump [shotgun] or that blue pump. Other than that, I’ll go and hide until there’s like 10 people left in there and try to go build up somewhere.”
4. Recruits pride themselves as the leaders of Fortnite packs.
You can play solo or with friends. Most recruits make it a group thing.
“Some guys, I gotta carry, so I gotta take down a lotta trees, get a lotta wood. I’ve gotta build up, make sure I can protect them,” Wolfe said. “I’ll be having to revive them and stuff. I’m more like the carrying type of player. Like, I’ll carry you.”
Josh Delgado, a four-star Oregon receiver commit, varies his approach depending on his company. He’s not about to lead a rag-tag army with no talent into a dangerous spot.
“My friends who are not that good, we probably land at like Lonely Lodge or Moisty Mire, but if I’m with [better players], I’m probably gonna go Tilted or Dusty Divot,” he said.
5. A good victory dance — Fortnite’s equivalent to a TD celebration — is vital.
By far the most popular post-round celebration among recruits: