I had the pleasure of attending the NRL x LPL Fortnite Finals. At the event, I had the opportunity of interviewing the man who made it possible, Duane Mutu!
The interview has been edited for clarity
GTG: I’m Will with goto.game and I’m here with the Director and Co-founder of LetsPlay.Live, Duane Mutu!
Duane: It’s good to chat, thanks for coming down to the booth at ANZ Stadium, outside of the NRL Grand Final!
This event brings up the question about how people have a drastically different idea of eSports compared to sports, and at a sporting event, have you had any reactions from the crowd?
What’s actually really crazy, is it’s actually the other way around, and I think that’s what I think that the NRL understood, you know, that a gamer is definitely not naturally [a sports player], and that’s a stereotype right? So, we know a lot of the NRL players play, and certainly what we have seen is, people, coming here to play and are enjoying it and getting behind it, and I guess as well that they want to feel like an eSports star and so they get the opportunity to come on stage and play, so it’s going really well.
And the people playing, how do they rank in professional, casual or amateur?
So we got a couple of opportunities today. First of all, we have just Freeplay, so you get to come up and experience it, whether it is console or PC and then it’s just a bit of fun as we head into the Final. But later on, as we do head into the Finals later on in the day, we have 5 of the best players. There was 1100 that entered the NRL League Royale Tournament, and the top 5 are here, and they are very, very good. This includes one player by the name of Jynx, who has won across the streaming circuit, so they are right there, the crème de la crème across ANZ, and then we will have some of the top influencers play, and then, later on, we will have some of the top physical NRL players superstars
Which NRL Superstars can we expect to be playing, and when?
So the NRL Stars we got, we got Benji Marshall, who is a superstar of the game, we got Ryan James from the Titans, Josh Mansour, who is a Penrith Panther, we’ve got Michael Jennings, from Parramatta. They’re all going to come up and they’re going to jump into a lobby with 80 people who got the opportunity to play at home, so they’re going to be playing across ANZ, and then we have got 15 people up here on the stage, including those 5 superstars themselves.
I bet they’re pumped aswell!
Yeah, they are pumped! It’s crazy because a lot of them play when you speak to them off the record, some of them play Fortnite religiously, and they can all tell you who is the best and the worst Fortnite player in their relevant club and you see it integrate into NRL itself, and we have seen it throughout the year, doing Fortnite dances when they score tries, and so yeah, they’re pumped to get down here!
It’s crazy to see the influence that Fortnite has had in the sports world in a whole like you were saying, the communities are sort of merging
I mean, they are, that’s what it has become. I think these games have become so accessible and so easy. Fortnite is great, right? If you think of Fortnite, you can play on any console, it’s relatively easy [to learn], it’s fun, right? Then it became a pop culture phenomenon, the dances, the skins. And I think that translates easily to the mass audience, and NRL fans at large
So this is also the first event with LetsPlayLive, right?
So this is the first big event with NRL and LetsPlayLive. We have done some content with NRL, over the last couple years, which is just straight kind of streaming and letting them play Fortnite, but this is certainly the first big activation, and as you can see behind us, this is a 30×30 square meter site, its decked out with full LED screens, and it is a certainly a big presence here, so yeah, first one that is physical for LPL.
Do you have any plans or is anything else in the works?
Yeah, look, we actually can’t say too much, but certainly as we head into the 2020 calendar there will be more with LPL and NRL, and we are working through exactly what that looks like, but certainly expect more of the same, both here physically and at their larger events, but online content will always play a big part, with streaming, and bringing their league stars to life through different mediums, with twitch and different video games, so yep, definitely more to come!