Ali ‘SypherPK’ Hassan is one of the longest-running Fortnite streamers on any platform. While his contemporaries left for games like Warzone, Sypher and his community stuck it out – flirting with those games but always coming back home to Fortnite.
We sat down with the Trap King himself for an interview. The opportunity was sparked by his upcoming collaboration with the Klarna “Playing for Keeps” event. We get into that and a whole lot more, ahead. Enjoy!
An interview with SypherPK
Tell me about your partnership with Klarna “Playing for Keeps”
Klarna reached out and wanted to put together a cool show for the viewers where they can get involved. We’re trying to do a challenge where the viewers get selected to go against me.
I’m a pretty competitive gamer and really good at the game, so there are things Klarna is going to throw in to try to mess up my gameplay and allow people to get some wins on me. If they end up winning, there’s a magnitude of prizes they can get. The big thing is my gaming rig. That’s the big prize. If someone beats me in Fortnite, they’ll be worthy of it.
What’s the format? 1v1, Kill Race, Boxfighting?
They have a lot of different Creative Maps that they’re going to be experimenting with. Some of them are gonna be a little more competitive, some of them are gonna be, like, 90’s races, the Fall Guys map – mainly Creative Maps. That way, it’s a little bit more fun and less sweaty. It gives people more of a shot at actually beating me.
Onto trending Fortnite topics, it seemed like you felt as though Fortnite missed an opportunity with Fortnitemares. What are some changes that you would make to create the ideal Fortnitemares 2020?
They did a great job at bringing in zombies in a unique way. In the past, they only brought in zombies as NPCs and they were kind of annoying; they would get in the way a lot of times and weren’t fun to fight against. This time, the switched it up and made the players the undead ghosts.
The big problem is that when the hype of being a ghost wore off, people started backing out of the game once they died instead of playing it out. It’s also a little bit underwhelming when you get eliminated – knowing that your only options are to back out or to play the rest of the game as a ghost.
We saw Warzone implement a system where the undead could come back into the game as normal players. I think Fortnite could have had its own unique twist on allowing the undead to return. It would give players an incentive to keep playing rather than backing out or charging at the first player they see to get into the next game.
What’s on the SypherPK wish list for Season 5?
More unique items, for sure, but I’d definitely like to see some game-changing things introduced to Season 5 like we’ve seen in previous seasons. In past Fortnite seasons, we’ve had implementations that really change up the game. Like when they first introduced Reboot Vans, when they first introduced Siphon, fishing, vehicles, picking up players.
These are all very memorable changes that really shook up the game of Fortnite and made it better. We haven’t really seen big, significant changes like that in a while.
I would like to see a more revamped competitive system. Arena, right now, feels like a glorified Pub with Siphon. It doesn’t really feel like a true ranked mode. I would like to see a true ranked mode in Fortnite.
I’d like to see some sort of mechanic where, when you get eliminated and thirsted, you have a second chance of coming back. I’d like to see a revamp of the Reboot system; core-changing mechanics to really shake-up Fortnite. It’s been a while since we’ve have some significant changes to really alter the pace of the game.
You mentioned adding a true ranked system to Fortnite. What are some changes you’d make to the current Arena system to bring it more in line with a “true” ranked system, as you say?
I would change the whole point system. I would introduce a more traditional ranking system like we see in other games. You know, Bronze all the way up to Masters with actual weight on the games that you’re playing – where you truly feel like you can de-rank and gain rank while you’re playing based off of placement and kills.
At first, it was kind of hard to compare because there weren’t battle royales with solid ranking systems that made sense. You could compare it to Overwatch and CS:GO but those are different game modes.
After having experienced Apex Legends rank system – they have a traditional Bronze to Apex Predator – their ranking system actually incentivizes you to play smart and play for the win. Every game feels like it matters.
Fortnite’s current point system – once you know what you’re doing, it’s hard to lose points. You’re always gonna be gaining points. Once you make it to Champs, players are just W-keying and they don’t really care about that particular match – and neither should they because there’s no real weight to it.
An actual ranking system with a better scoring system that punishes players who die off spawn and really rewards players who get placements and eliminations would be fantastic. A leaderboard to flex your rank would also be fantastic.
Fortnite might have the biggest skill gap of any game in existence. Did you see that coming? The ceiling of how good someone’s mechanics could be in Fortnite?
I didn’t see that as a possibility until they really fleshed-out the Creative System. Initially, the only way to gain skill in Fortnite was to actually play the game. When you play a battle royale – especially when you’re not that good – your progress is extremely slow. You can spend 10 minutes looting and farming and you might die to the first player you see. You just spent 10 to 15 minutes in a match and you barely gained any knowledge.
Once they fleshed-out Creative and Playground, players could now just focus on the gameplay and mechanics. Really quickly, after that, we saw the skill gap start shooting up and reaching levels that we’ve never seen before. Even today – people are still pushing the limits of building and editing in Fortnite.
Do you have any theories as to why the competitive Fortnite player base is so young when compared to other esports?
I actually have a very strong theory, in my opinion, as to why that is. Some people initially thought that it came down to brain processing speed. The young guys have a fresh brain and they’re able to play Fortnite at that level. I don’t think that’s the case.
There are so many esports out there and, so far, age 30 seems to be the time when pro players stop being able to keep up with the young guys. In Fortnite, it’s like 14-18 (years old) a Fortnite player’s prime, whereas in other competitive scenes it might be 18-22.
My theory is pretty simple. Fortnite has only been out for three years. The most important mechanics in Fortnite are building and editing. After that comes decision making and aim. Decision making and aim can be transferred from other games. The things you can’t transfer from any other game are the building and editing mechanics. And those are the most imporant mechanics in Fortnite
So, in the past three years, only people who have had time to grind a significant amount to improve their building and editing are gonna be top players in Fortnite. The only people who can do that are younger kids who have fewer responsibilities. The older you get, the more things that will be on your plate.
There are some people who are older – 24, 25 – that we’ve seen do well in the World Cup. Most of those people are pro players from other games like we saw with Psalm, who also had the time to grind the game of Fortnite.
The (average) 20-year-old, when Fortnite came out; most of them were working, in school, had other responsibilities – weren’t able to put those hours in that the younger kids were able to put.
Why do you think so many people love to say, “Fortnite is dying,” when we all know that it’s not?
Let’s say that you’re a Fortnite viewer/player and your favorite streamers were Ninja, Courage, TimTheTatMan, Tfue. A lot of the time these communities are revolving around streamers and their communities, as well.
If those were your favorite streamers, you might think, ‘well, Fortnite is surely dying,’ because none of those people play Fortnite anymore, their communities have moved past Fortnite, and none of their friends play Fortnite.
The reality is that there are so many people who are getting into Fortnite and so many people who are still playing Fortnite. They put out record numbers six months ago. The game is not dying, however there are communities that have been built around the game that have moved on, giving members of that community the impression the game is dying.
Favorite Fortnite Season?
I think my favorite Fortnite season was in between Season 7 and 8 when Siphon was in public matches. The was the most fun I’ve had on Fortnite. 7 and 8.
Least favorite Fortnite Season?
Season X is definitely one of my least favorites, but after experiencing the content drought of Chapter 2 Season 1, I would say that was my least favorite. That whole season lasted 4+ months and they only added the Harpoon. So that was probably my least favorite season.
Favorite Fortnite event
The Black Hole. For sure.
Sypher will be streaming the Klarna event tomorrow, October 27. Tune in to watch him compete with his fans and viewers for massive prizes, including Sypher’s own gaming setup. You can find him on Twitch at Twitch.tv/SypherPK and on Twitter @SypherPK.