Fortnite Summer Smash at the Australian Open is a massive weekend of esports action

This weekend marks the second Fortnite Summer Smash to be held at the Australian Open. In its inaugural year, the Fortnite Summer Smash had a record prize pool of $500,000 and saw amateurs and pros battle it out at Margaret Court Arena. Where players were required to qualify in 2019, the 2020 Summer Smash is an invitational event and will see 90 pro players from around the world competing.

The Fortnite Summer Smash will see competitors from the following countries in attendance;

  • 41 from Australia
  • 16 from Japan
  • 11 from New Zealand
  • 9 from USA
  • 4 from China
  • 3 from Canada
  • 2 from Brazil
  • 1 from Switzerland
  • 1 from Norway
  • 1 from UK
  • 1 from Ukraine

At a press conference held on January 30, 2020, seven international players fronted the media to talk about Fortnite, esports and the Summer Smash.

Fortnite Pros

The seven pros in attendance were;

  • Nyhrox – Emil Bergquist Pedersen, 17 (Norway)
  • FaZe Replays – Franco Sicilia, 23 (Canada)
  • BenjyFishy – Benjy David Fish, 15 (UK)
  • Airwaks – Karim Benghalia, 24 (Switzerland)
  • Jaomock – Brendan O’Brien, 21 (Canada)
  • Ceice – Davis McLellan, 19 (USA)
  • Elevate – Hayden Krueger,18 (Canada)

Interestingly, none of the players had even competed in the Southern Hemisphere before so being invited to the Summer Smash was certainly something they were each excited about. Competing in Melbourne wasn’t the only thing that the pros were looking forward to though.

Asked if they were keen to hear the roar of the crowd as they entered Margaret Court Arena, they weren’t shy in admitting that they loved it. Describing it as an adrenaline rush, the cheers from the crowd is something the pros say spurs them on and encourages them to play their best.

When it came time to assess their competition, of the 40 OCE players competing in the Summer Smash, about 32 haven’t ever played in a LAN before. Asked whether they thought this would make a big difference, the pros thought it might, but was unlikely to make a big difference.

Comparing the scope and scale of the Fortnite Summer Smash at Australian Open to other events they’ve competed in, the pro players said that only the Fortnite World Cup came close. Each of the players was honoured and humbled to be invited to attend though they were being quite cagey when it came to discussing their plans for the matches.

As you’d expect.

Whatever happens on Sunday and whoever comes out on top, it’s guaranteed to be action-packed for fans and viewers.

In the lead-up to the Summer Smash Australian men’s doubles finalists, Max Purcell and Luke Saville met with Norwegian professional gamer Nyhrox and Parpy. The finalists got some hands-on time with Fortnite and talked about their hopes for the upcoming tennis finals and what they thought about Summer Smash.

I was fortunate enough, in the lead-up to this weekend, to speak with Event Organiser Mark Reidy. Asking him why Fortnite at a tennis event, Reidy was quick to correct me.

“We want people to come to the Open and have a good time,” he said. “We have the Australian Open basketball and a 15-day music festival. We have cooking, we have talks, we have everything.

“Last year we had a bunch of kids who’d never been to the Open before, so that was great.”

Thinking back to how Epic, Fortnite and the Australian Open came together, Reidy explained that they were looking for a live, competitive gaming event to host and Fortnite was the best candidate. “We’re a family event so we’re not looking for an R-Rated Shooter, that wouldn’t be appropriate,” he explained. “We also didn’t want something that would need to last an entire week, like DOTA2, as we don’t have space for it.

“Something that we could bump in fairly quickly was essential and Fortnite was a good fit.”

When the Australian Open first approached Epic about featuring Fortnite, Reidy told me that initially, they thought it was an event like Wimbledon. Epic assumed that the Australian Open was very formal and quite proper. Reidy said that once he explained that the Australian Open is basically the opposite of Wimbledon, Epic was quick to get involved.

Coming back and doing the Summer Smash for a second year has had plenty of benefits too. Experience is one thing that Reidy points to as a big help in 2020 as well as being able to invite international talent and players. The plan for the Fortnite Summer Smash is to continue to grow and Reidy sees the event being even bigger and better in 2021, however, for the moment, he’s focused on this year’s event which is rapidly approaching.

In addition to the solo tournament, a charity Pro-Am Trios event is also scheduled. Reidy said he’s expecting it to be a fun and exciting event and with the celebrities already announced he’s right. One of the announced players is Brisbane Lions Mitch Robinson.

Robinson told me that he’s looking forward to the Trios and that he’s sure it’s going to be a lot of fun. As for hosting Fortnite at the Australian Open, he says that it’s a great thing.

It brings more exposure to the OCE and I know there are a couple of big-name players coming over for the event which is great. It’s also good experience for some of the OCE pros that might not have made the World Cup and didn’t get a chance to play against the big dogs.

Robinson competed in the Summer Smash in 2019 and told me was “blown away” by the experience. “I know DOTA and League of Legends sell out auditoriums overseas so I had some expectations but when I got there [Margaret Court Arena] it was bigger than I imagined,” he said. “The number of supporters there for the content creators and professional players, shouting their names and cheering, it was like being at the footy.”

Being a professional footballer, I asked Robinson if there were correlations between sports and esports and he told me there definitely was. “Leadership is a big one. When you play squads communication translates from on-field into the game.

“Another one is the pro players’ persistence to improve and get better. They practice and it might sound silly, but sitting in those chairs and focusing for so long is hard.”

And Robinson would know. Recently, he hosted a 24-hour livestream to raise funds for the RFS and raised $15,000 AUD. He shared the stream with some other big-name Fortnite players, some of who will also be appearing at the Summer Slam. He told me that if he wins the Charity Pro-Am, he’s donation will be going to the RFS to assist recovery from the bushfires.

Fortnite Summer Smash

The Charity Pro-Am Trios event takes place on February 1 with the Solos occurring on February 2.

The Charity Pro-Am will feature Trios made of a sports and entertainment personality, a pro gamer and a content creator. Thirty teams will compete with the winners donating their share of the $100,000 to the charity of their choice.

The Charity Pro-Am will take place on the floor or Margaret Court.

Tickets start at $54 for adults and $10 for children. A specificFortnite Summer Smash ticket is required to access the Aus Open grounds.

Fortnite Summer Smash will take place at the Australian Open on February 1 and 2.

You can purchase tickets to the event from Ticketmaster.

Leo Stevenson
Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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