By: Hali Hetz
For those of you unfamiliar with the wildly popular video game, Fortnite is a new free Battle Royale-style video game that allows players to not only destroy, but build structures on the map. Players drop into a designated area with 100 total players, competing to find loot, such as guns and healing aids, and survive a shrinking circle known as the Storm until there is only one person remaining. The premise is similar to that of the 2012 film The Hunger Games’ in that players must eliminate each other in order to reach the goal of being the last man standing.
The Erie Otters can often be found playing Fortnite together when they’re not on the ice. The video game is not only a fun pastime to keep the players busy when they have down time, but facilitates team bonding as well. Communication skills are important in many aspects of life, and hockey is no exception. The verbal communication skills put into practice while playing Fortnite are integral for on-ice strategizing between linemates in a hockey game.
Top 3: Himself, Kurtis Henry, Kyle Maksimovich
Worst Player: Anand Oberoi
Favorite Drop Spot: “Salty Springs. It’s just in the center of the map so you don’t have to worry about the storm.”
Tactics: “Building bases is big, and I like sniping.”
Defenseman Jack Duff is hailed as the Otters’ premiere video game connoisseur. As such, he is by and large the best player on the team when it comes to Fortnite. Duff enjoys playing the team-mode of the game in which you can form squads to conquer the game together. “There’s four of us in a squad and we’re all trying to win,” Duff explains. “Your adrenaline builds pretty fast.” The squad relies heavily on effective verbal communication skills for success, very similar to the on-ice communication between linemates when playing hockey. In addition to exercising verbal communication skills, playing Fortnite “just brings the guys closer together,” facilitating crucial team bonding off the ice.
“Jack Duff is our video game addict. He’s unreal at every video game.” -Kyle Maksimovich
“He’s also a professional fisherman, too.” -Steve Tuholski, Equipment Manager
“Versatile.” -Victor Fernandez, Otters Beat Writer
“He goes to Tilted Towers and just lights it up.” -Kyle Maksimovich
“He’s probably as bad as me. A little better than me, but not that much better.” -Anand Oberoi
Top 3: Himself, Jack Duff, Owen Headrick
Worst Player: Anand Oberoi
Favorite Drop Spot: “My top two are Pleasant Park and Greasy Grove. Some of the boys just like the name Greasy Grove.”
Tactics: “When it gets to lower amounts of people, start building a fort. When someone starts shooting at you, you usually just start building like crazy until you figure out where they are, and then build a ramp up to shoot them.”
Kurtis Henry is touted as one of the best Fortnite players on the team, behind the masterful Jack Duff, of course. When Duff and Henry team up, the results can be quite impressive. Henry recalls a day recently when he and Duff were playing on a squad with Owen Headrick and Chad Yetman, and together they won three out of four total rounds for a 0.750 win percentage. When it comes to developing on-ice skills off the ice, Henry says that Fortnite “helps our communication skills, for sure. We’re always shouting out where they’re coming from, where the shots are, where people are, but I think it’s really good for us because, while we play it a ton because it’s really fun, it’s also a team bonding thing when we win, so we’re all fired up for each other.”
Top 3: Ivan Lodnia, Owen Headrick, “anybody BUT Jack Duff, really… He’s probably as bad as me. A little better than me, but not that much better.”
Worst Player: Himself
Favorite Drop Spot: “There’s a little hotel at the top of the map. That’s where we like to drop a lot. Not a lot of people know about it so we’re usually alone there.”
Tactics: “Just find a good bush and hide in it. You can bush hop probably until the final circle.”
Goaltender Anand Oberoi also likes to get in on the action when it comes to team bonding over Fortnite, but has to take a little bit of a different approach since he just isn’t as skilled at the game as some of his formidable teammates. In fact, everyone unanimously agreed that Oberoi was the worst Fortnite player on the team. “I just drop on the top of a mountain usually, away from everyone,” Oberoi says of his strategy, “and I just hide in the bushes. I avoid all confrontation at all costs.” Those of us who are not Fortnite masters can certainly relate to that tactic as there’s not much worse than dropping into a spot with a lot of other players (like Tilted Towers) and getting eliminated before you can even find a weapon. When Oberoi’s squad is feeling bold, “the first couple games we’ll go to Tilted Towers, get a little warmup in, and then start playing seriously after that.” Of course, it’s difficult to escape Tilted Towers without a Jack Duff on your squad.
Oberoi also pointed out communication as a major factor in team Fortnite success that also translates to the ice. “We’re all obviously big on communication on the ice, and in Fortnite, as weird as it is, we all have to be on the same page. So when people are coming up on us or if we’re going to go up on someone, we need to be able to tell everyone where the other people are.”
Top 3: Jack Duff, Kurtis Henry, Himself
Worst Player: Anand Oberoi
Favorite Drop Spot: “I really like Salty Springs.” Alternatively, “There’s a spot—it’s kind of off the grid—we call it Ol’ Faithful, right beside Snobby Shores.”
Tactics: Combo of choice is the assault rifle for long range and shotgun for short range.
The captain on the ice for the Otters also often finds himself the captain of the squad in Fortnite as well. Kyle Maksimovich most often plays with Headrick, Lodnia, and Lajeunesse, although he’ll join the party with anyone who’s online at the time. “It’s fun; you always log into Xbox and see everybody on, join the party, and talk and get to play games together. We see each other enough at the rink but we don’t know too many people in the city so it’s pretty fun to just play with them.” For Maksimovich, video games serve as a bonding agent amongst teammates as well as family and friends. “Most of my friends have PS4’s, but my little brother actually has Xbox, so he plays Fortnite too now.”
Best/Worst Player: “Owen Headrick definitely puts in the most hours. He puts in so many hours but he can’t get the wins.”
Favorite Drop Spot: “Headrick loves Greasy Grove. We call it Greasy Heady. He loves going there, it’s his favorite spot.”
*(Headrick declined to comment. Quotes according to Maksimovich)