There’s more drama brewing in the Fortnite community, this time directed at streamer and pro gamer SypherPK. Earlier this month, Dexerto reported that SypherPK had expressed multiple concerns regarding matchmaking in Fortnite. According to Sypher, the inclusion of skill-based matchmaking in public games had caused players to begin behaving more aggressively and using repetitive and frustrating tactics to win games. It just seemed to suck all of the fun out of the experience.
Eventually, Epic Games decided to test the waters and remove skill-based matchmaking from Squads. For one shining moment, it seemed like Epic Games had listened to fans and removed an unpopular feature. Fans were ecstatic and some expressed that the game finally felt fun again.
Unfortunately, after the change, Sypher noticed that there were now seemingly a lot more AI-controlled combatants in the game. Basically, SypherPK’s concern was that Fortnite had traded one headache for another. Even though the forced negativity that seemed to come with skill-based matchmaking was gone, now players would have to contend with a ton of bots. In other words, Epic Games hadn’t exactly fixed the issue in an ideal manner.
After SypherPK pointed out the number of bots, it seemed that Epic then changed its mind again, adding skill-based matchmaking back into the game. It’s a baffling decision that folks seem to be trying to figure out. However, the majority of the blame has been placed directly at SypherPK’s feet, even though it doesn’t seem like his complaints were the direct cause. Whatever the case, the fan backlash against SypherPK was almost immediate, much to the streamer’s dismay. In fact, the hashtag #SypherRuinedFortnite is currently trending on Twitter.
Regarding SypherPK, one fan angrily tweeted, “Why did you have to run your f*cking mouth. The community was enjoying Fortnite for once and now you ran your mouth and the Fortnite community hates you now.”
According to EssentiallySports, Sypher had in fact reached out to Epic to let the company know how many bots were taking up regular player slots in the new format. Sypher actually played one match wherein the bots outnumbered real players 89-11, which is simply absurd.
As stated before, this is apparently when Epic chose to reinstate skill-based matchmaking, which ignited the controversy all over again. On a slightly lighter note, this anger directed toward SypherPK has encouraged a new brand of ribbing between Sypher and his usual Fortnite streaming crew. During a stream with SypherPK, TimtheTatMan, and CouRage, Ninja repeatedly made fun of the situation.
After repeatedly saying, “F— Sypher” in a joking tone, Ninja explained to viewers that he and Sypher had discussed the bot problem at length in recent months. As Ninja explained, “We talked about it and said [the situation] was kind of a joke. And talked about, you know, better, more healthy lobbies.”
Ninja attempted to explain to viewers that all Sypher had done was reach out to Epic regarding the balance issues, but that backfired. Ninja said, “And Epic, like 2-3 days later, obviously removed the fact that you can’t match 91 bots in a game, and everyone thought it was Sypher’s fault.”
It seems as though Epic Games is having a difficult time deciding on how to handle the bot situation, which is surely not helping the outcry against Sypher. As EssentialSports‘ Samir Satam put it, “SypherPK simply exposed a glaring issue in the game. Epic promptly removed the excessive bots from the game, but people started blaming him, believing he had compelled Epic to bring [skill-based matchmaking] back.”
For his own part, Sypher attempted to clear the air on his Twitter account. He wrote to his followers, “I’m one of the most outspoken people who wanted SBMM changed so the game can be more relaxed and enjoyable. Very strange of you to think that I wanted it back in the game. There was too many AI (60-90% of the lobby) that was the only thing wrong.”
In other words, it appears that there’s a good bit of misinformation spreading through the Fortnite community. Sypher doesn’t seem to have requested for Epic Games to reinstate skill-based matchmaking, but that seems to be how Epic has chosen to handle the bot problem for the immediate future.
SypherPK has had a pretty good year, aside from this controversy. After Ninja had a rather public falling out with his normal Fortnite Duos partner Reverse2k, he joined forces with SypherPK. The two have been playing together regularly ever since in competitive matches.
And honestly, Fortnite hasn’t been ruined at all. If the game’s sales numbers are to be believed, it’s just as popular as ever. Just this week, it was reported that the mobile versions of Fortnite alone had crossed a staggering $1 billion in revenue. The mobile edition of Fortnite only launched two years ago, so players are clearly still flocking to the game.
It’s still odd that Epic decided to reinstate skill-based matchmaking, as that was the problem that kicked off this whole issue in the first place. It could be that Epic is simply testing some things out. Maybe skill-based matchmaking isn’t gone for good, but rather Epic is finding ways of splitting the difference. Removing the huge number of AI players is at least a good start on the road to improving the game, which was Sypher’s point all along.