Epic Games has dropped the hammer on more Fortnite World Cup Online Open competition cheaters, and this time around it cost pro player Damion "XXiF" Cook a spot in the $30 million finals in July. Cook qualified for the big show earlier this week, but the way he did so struck an awful lot of watchers as... fishy.
The tweet below, via Polygon, makes it pretty clear why. Immediately after dropping, Cook scored two quick, very easy kills against other players who didn't put much effort into resisting—if anything, they seemed to serve themselves up for the slaughter.
Gonna leave this here @FortniteGame @EpicGames pic.twitter.com/4rfJAaBW0NApril 29, 2019
Eyebrows went up almost immediately, and the suspicions were widespread enough that Cook issued a statement on April 30 denying any wrongdoing.
"Yes I know who Bad and Wuji is, but I also know half the people playing in the qualifiers. I'm bound to run into people that I know or have played against before. I had no idea he was going to land there and have no control over where he chooses to land, but in 1 out of the 10 games I played he chose to land in the same spot as me," he wrote.
"And for people saying Gestyy is my friend or that I'm good friends with him, I'm not. Whatever Gestyy did during the world cup qualifiers and his actions have nothing to do with me. He is a 14 year old who has seen me play at Toronto lans. I'm 22 years old. Gestyy landing on me is as good as any fan landing on their favorite streamer or pro player. I’m innocent and will leave it up to Epic Games to review the situation."
Unfortunately for Cook, that's exactly what Epic did. It did not go his way.
"Based on an internal investigation, we have concluded that a group of players attempted to undermine the Week 3 Fortnite World Cup Online Open competition on April 28 by colluding across several matches," Epic ruled.
"All players involved will receive a 14 day competitive ban and will be ineligible for any Week 3 prizes. This group also included a player whose score would have qualified them for the Fortnite World Cup finals in New York. Consequently, in addition to the competitive ban and loss of prizing, this player will also forfeit their Fortnite World Cup Finals qualification spot. As a result, the qualification spot will be granted to the next highest ranking player on the Week 3 Finals leaderboard for the NA-E region who has yet to qualify for Solos."
It's not clear whether Cook will be allowed to take another shot at qualifying in future weekly qualifiers, which will continue to run until the weekend of June 15-16. I've reached out to Epic to inquire and will update if I receive a reply.
Epic also "took action" against another 698 players for breaking the rules in various ways, and warned that players who try to circumvent bans could find themselves permanently banned from all future competitive play: "We take Fortnite competitive integrity extremely seriously, and we expect all of our players to live up to the standards specified in the Official Rules."