While Fortnite players can still get their hands on the new NBA cosmetics, the Team Battles tournament has concluded, and the results signal Epic should probably rethink the rulebook for similar events in the future. After nearly a week of 15,000 players for each of the 30 NBA teams amassing points to try and finish atop the leaderboards and earn in-game prizes, the final standings are disappointingly predictable.
The top three teams at the end of the Fortnite NBA team Battles are the Brooklyn Nets in third place, the Chicago Bulls in second place, and the Los Angeles Lakers in first place. The full 30-team standings fall in line similarly, with NBA royalty past and present, like the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, finishing in the top 10, while historically lesser outfits like the New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks dwell in the cellar.
Fortnite NBA Team Battles Top Ten Final Standings
- 1. Los Angeles Lakers – 86,821,005 points
- 2. Chicago Bulls – 56,508,510 points
- 3. Brooklyn Nets – 50,531,567 points
- 4. Golden State Warriors – 48,703,262 points
- 5. Toronto Raptors – 47,034,584 points
- 6. Oklahoma City Thunder – 43,081,004 points
- 7. Miami Heat – 42,899,460 points
- 8. New York Knicks – 42,722,407 points
- 9. Boston Celtics – 42,747,402 points
- 10. Memphis Grizzlies – 41,618,754 points
The NBA Arrives In Fortnite
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Remarkably, the Lakers didn’t just win, they won it easily, blowing out the second-place Bulls by more than 30 million points. It was never really close, and clearly Epic watched that unfold behind the scenes during the week before it was revealed to all of us just how futile competing in the event was likely from the very first day. The Lakers have all the pieces to dominate a fan competition of this sort: modern success, the game’s biggest star in LeBron James, a strong basketball tradition in the city, and of course being the densely populated Los Angeles helps too. As a result, all the Fortnite Lakers participants took home 500 V-Bucks plus an exclusive NBA Championship Trophy Back Bling, while the Bulls and Nets also claimed their own V-Bucks for finishing in the top three.
This was Fortnite’s first Team Battles competition, and Epic says to expect more events like it in the future, but it’s hard to see anything like this happening any other way, where the most prestigious teams in the most populous cities win before an event even really begins. While each team received the same number of players in NBA Team Battles, the competition to enter is tougher in bigger cities. Players had to be lightning-quick to get on a squad last week, and the website was repeatedly down from heavy traffic. The Lakers filled up within minutes, while teams like the Pelicans had open spots hours later.
The most veteran and enthusiastic Fortnite players were more likely to find out about the event sooner, and thus were more likely to be active players too. In an event where repeatable tasks earned points for each team, it was never going to go any other way than this, where those in the middle of the Venn diagram of super-active NBA fans and super-active Fortnite fans were naturally selected to dominate every step of the way.
Picture such an event with the NFL. Surely teams like the Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, and Chiefs all finish in the top ten according to their massive fandoms and/or recent successes. In the MLB, the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, and Red Sox would mop the floor with other teams. Every sport would likely suffer this same issue and it’s really no fault of their own. It’s a problem Epic should want to address.
I find Fortnite in-game events to be irresistible most of the time, but even as I was lucky enough to push through the troubled website and land on the Celtics for this tournament, I knew the rules were skewed so as to be uneventful, and by day three, I had lost any enthusiasm. My hope is Team Battles continue but Epic reimagines the rulebook. Giving players a week to amass millions of points in repeatable tasks ensures only a small subset of teams really have any chance. The rest of the league is just window dressing.
This is an issue some sports leagues try to solve in real life with salary caps. By putting an upper limit on the league’s spending, it encourages parity. Even if one team has Patrick Mahomes, it still needs to work around his gargantuan contract and field an offensive line to protect him–or die trying as we saw in the Super Bowl this past February. It’s ironic that Epic’s first Team Battles event mimicked the league it was hosting. The NBA is a top-heavy league and has been for years. One can’t make a realistic case for all but maybe five or six teams to actually fight through the long postseason and win the championship. In Fortnite, we saw art imitating life.
Try as they might, the Pacers or Kings never really had a shot, not in reality and not in Fortnite. I have no doubt Epic made an earth-shattering sum of money from in-game purchases of the NBA jerseys and other cosmetics, but if it wants future events to be more exciting and engaging outside of the Item Shop, Team Battles could use something like its own push for parity.
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