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How did you earn your first Victory Royale? Was it heroic? Embarrassing? Accidental? Involuntary? Did you hide in a bush for 15 minutes and plunk a shotgun shell between the eyes of a bewildered soldier unlucky enough to stumble right in front of you? There are calculated moments in Fortnite. There are people who ride rockets and quick-scope airtight snipes and construct impervious fortresses in the blink of an eye. But even they sometimes succumb to Fortnite's chicanery. This is the nature of Battle Royale. The allure is the unpredictability. To play Fortnite is to understand that sometimes you have no choice but to eat an L, and frankly, that makes Sven Edelenbosch's achievement all the more impressive.
Edelenbosch, a current Swede originating from the Netherlands who streams as Svennoss on Twitch, is currently first in the world for total solo Victory Royales on PC. His win tally stands at 2,274, over 20 more than fellow streamer Ettnix's astonishing 2,248, and about 60 ahead of Twitter-famous socialite and Drake pal Ninja. Between the top two contenders, Sven has played around 300 fewer games than Ettnix, giving his current trophy some extra sheen.
As a teenager Edelenbosch was obsessed with console shooters. He played Halo and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—which he competed in professionally for a couple years—before migrating to PC, where he picked up Arma, DayZ, H1Z1, and PUBG. As a gamer, Sven has always enjoyed the meticulous, technical study that sets you apart in the field, and he found his medium in Fortnite, which is extra impressive when you consider the sheer density of the playerbase. "It's just crazy to realise you are up there, in one of the biggest games out there," he tells me. "Super happy about my achievements so far, that's for sure."
It's surprising, obviously, that such a scrupulous player favors a mode that occasionally hangs you out to dry. Edelenbosch is just like the rest of us; he too occasionally gets a mediocre loot run, or a bad circle. But he also says that that's part of the fun. Battle Royale forces you to think on your feet, to problem solve with a bad hand. "[You need] to be able to think and know what is best to do in what scenario," explains Sven. "The thing with Fortnite is, you can always win a fight even though you pull the short end of the straw and get a revolver, versus the guy that has a shotgun."
Clearly it's working, because right now he's chilling with a 63 percent win-rate. That's more than half of his solo queues. I'm happy if I last more than 63 seconds in my Fortnite matches.
I asked Edelenbosch if he had any advice for the rest of us to up our game, and he wasn't afraid to get specific.
Building, building, building
"Building is 90 percent of the game," he says, repeating a reprise echoed by pretty much every above-average Fortnite player. "If you don't know how to siege someone's tower, or retake high-ground in a build fight, you should work on that. And if you do know how to do that, learn how to do it better."
What to hold and where to drop
As for Fortnite's best weapons, he recommends a pump shotgun, a semi-automatic shotgun, an assault rifle, a flex slot for either a sniper or a grenade launcher, and two medical items, (preferably 10 mini shield potions, and two big shield potions.)
If the battle bus flies over or near Greasy Grove, that will be Sven's first drop priority. If not, he looks for Salty Springs or Dusty Depot. "You'll always find a lot of action here because you'll hear the shots coming from all 3 directions," he explains.
Learn to feint
As for more advanced tips, Sven tells us to work on our feints. For instance, if you're ambushed, you can either build straight up with two sets of stairs, or you can bluff.
"Double ramp out with like four ramps, move back and double ramp the other way," he says. "You gotta try and anticipate his movement, and counter that with either floors, or stairs. If this is done correctly you should have all the time in the world to get above him and set up. From here on usually people are going to try and double ramp up, and back to get above you. Whenever they try this, just shoot the two ramps as soon as they do that and it's a 100 percent kill due to fall damage. People always underestimate the double ramps and think they are safe."
It's funny to hear that from him. As anyone who's made it to the final circle knows, high-level Fortnite is a complete perversion of the game you think you understand. You are happy with your modest wooden homesteads, which sustain cover on a purely two-dimensional plane. Meanwhile, the lifers are sprinkling down walls, staircases, and alcoves from the heavens like a psychedelic Crystal Castles grid.
Unfortunately you can't make it big without learning to build and learning to anticipate what other players are going to build in response. And that skill can only be learned from experience, not taught in a classroom.
There's been a lot of noise about the prospects of a Fortnite esports scene, which obviously seems like a natural extension of the game's ridiculous popularity. Already major companies like TSM and Dignitas are picking up Fortnite teams, despite the fact that no pro league or competitive structure has been formally announced.
Last month, Sven announced that he'd be joining the fold. NRG offered him a contract, and he expects to be competing in sanctioned matches soon: "It's not near yet, but I think we're looking at something like the end of 2018, early 2019."
Who knows what the future holds, or if Edelenbosch will be able to hold onto his top spot? But for now, he's the winningest Fortnite player in the world, and that's certainly worth more than a chicken dinner.