What I Learned From Watching Ninja Stream "Fortnite" on Twitch
From his strategies to his personality to his popularity, Ninja is a force to be reckoned with on Twitch. Earning at least $500,000 per month for his streaming play (not to mention the extra from sponsors and YouTube), he is the envy of many fellow gamers and streamers. After reading and listening to all of the hype—both good and bad—I finally watched Ninja stream Fortnite for myself. Here is my honest analysis:
Ninja's Fortnite Strategies
First, I will discuss what most viewers want to see when watching a Ninja stream: how he plays. As one of the best Fortnite players in the world, fellow Fornite players analyze and scrutinize his gameplay every day to try to improve their own strategies. Here is a breakdown of Ninja’s Fortnite basics:
- He plays with a keyboard and mouse
Gamers who are used to a controller might snub the idea of using a keyboard and mouse for Fortnite, but as I quickly learned, it makes aiming much easier and more accurate. And if you can master playing with a keyboard, you will be able to toggle your weapons and options much faster.
- He knows the map and where to look for key items and supplies
It might go without saying, but anyone who knows the map immediately has an edge over those who don’t. He knows where he wants to land and how to find key items and supplies, which typically includes a med kit, shield, and firepower.
- He never stops scanning his surroundings
The first time I watched Ninja, I thought I was going to vomit. He jumps and rotates his camera every second to keep moving and stay aware. I’m used to it now, and I also understand the importance of the “spastic” movements. A moving target is harder to hit, and his non-stop scanning ensures he will see other players coming. I was also impressed by his ability to spot—instantly—another tiny, ant-sized player off in the distance. Ninja has honed the same scanning prowess honed by lifeguards, who train themselves to have the ability to actively scan their surroundings and see things others will miss.
- He has flawless mastery over the controls and how to use different items
Obviously, one needs mastery over the controls to become a great player, but Ninja seems extra sharp. In the game, you need to be able to switch between weapons and different items without hesitation—to the point where it becomes instinct. If you encounter an enemy, you can’t be fumbling with the controls. You can’t take a split second longer than the other player to grab your weapon and fire or you’re eliminated. Even when he’s not battling an enemy, Ninja constantly switches between weapons and the harvesting tool as he goes along, which serves as constant practice. He not only knows which items are in which slots and is ready to call on them instinctively, but he reinforces these reflexes every moment of the game.
- His build skills match his combat skills
First time players to Fortnite might be annoyed by the need to build. Let’s face it, it’s more fun to run around looking for enemies to shoot than master building structures. Building structures, however, is very important. You can instantly protect yourself from enemy fire, elevate yourself to higher ground, and set traps for enemies. In short, don’t slack on the building skills.
- He is aggressive
Again, it might go without saying, but Ninja plays aggressively. In addition to what has already been said, he often lands in the same vicinity as other players, rather than off in the distance, and quickly takes down those unprepared. He will shoot at enemies far in the distance with confidence (somehow managing to see them before viewers do). Lastly, he won’t hesitate to confront enemies hiding in their structures, rather than hiding himself or waiting for players to come to him. This allows him to get more kills, and of course, more Victory Royales.
- He practices every day
Practice makes perfect. It’s very hard to expect to gain the same skill level as Ninja unless you can practice for as many hours per week as he does: bottom line
Ninja’s Business Sense and Work Ethic as a Streamer
Whether you like him or hate him, you can’t deny that Ninja doesn’t slack off. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining that he doesn’t deserve respect simply because he plays video games for a living. That’s simply unfair and ignorant, in my opinion. Ninja works a full time job streaming his gameplay and has a very consistent work schedule. He got to where he is by working hard as an e-sports gamer before streaming on Twitch. Just like any athlete, he got to where he is through hard work, practice, and dedication. What’s not to respect about that? Yes, the popularity of Fortnite helped, but that didn’t make him a great player. That didn’t get him out of bed every day to stick to a consistent schedule. Stumbling upon luck and being at the right place at the right time are definitely gifts that deserve credit, but Ninja deserves credit, too. And even though he has said some controversial things and might act immaturely at times, my inclination is that he’s much smarter than people realize.
Naturally, Ninja has a lot of assistants and managers (such as his wife) helping out, but his work with sponsors, going along with cheesy gimmicks on stream (Pon Pon Merch!), and daily YouTube postings only add to his success and the hard work involved in growing the “Ninja machine.”
Ninja’s Personality while Streaming
One of the first things I ever read about Ninja was the comment: “He acts like my 10-year old!” Maybe a few years ago he was more immature, but this isn’t the Ninja I saw during my viewing. Sure, you have a few “moments” here and there, but overall the guy seems pretty level-headed. And also remember that he’s married, which takes a bit of responsibility. The 26-year old gamer might be a different Ninja than earlier articles about him have reflected when he was younger, or it might be that the internet tends to pounce on every little slip-up. Either way, the gamer was more mature than I would have thought, and generally manages chat with professionalism and respect.
A very recent article reported how he thought an enemy player was able to kill him quickly because he was sniping—watching Ninja stream during the same match in order to have a competitive edge. I’m not sure how this is even possible, but when I watched the clip, I do agree that Ninja over-reacted. His “evidence” for the sniping was the enemy player emoting (dancing) after the kill. Heck, if the screen told me that I just killed Ninja, I’d dance too! I could be wrong, but doesn’t the game show you the name of the player you killed? I’m not sure why Ninja thought this was evidence and not simply a celebration of the player realizing he killed Ninja, but Ninja reported the player right away. The player defended himself and claimed he was not sniping, and Ninja later apologized. I brought this up to say that I see both sides here. Yes, I think Ninja over-reacted and jumped to a conclusion, but I also understand how constantly being watched by tens of thousands of people on a daily basis might mess with your mental well-being. And who hasn’t had moments like this?
Becoming as Successful as Ninja
Lastly, I thought I would address the question that’s on the mind of many Ninja fans: how do I become as successful as Ninja? While anything is possible, as they say, realize that Ninja’s success didn’t come overnight. He was already a successful e-sports competitor (Halo) before he tried Fortnite, and so he already had a large fan base. And then he happened to get involved in Fortnite at the right time—right as it was becoming popular. Those who hope to become “Fortnite stars” now have to compete against the thousands and thousands streaming Fornite every week, not to mention Ninja himself who commands the bulk of the audience. In addition, Ninja’s success only fuels Ninja’s success. In other words, his name is everywhere. If someone searches for the highest Twitch earner, they will find Ninja. Best Fortnite player? Ninja. In other words, stream Fortnite if you enjoy streaming and playing Fornite, not because you will likely become the next Ninja.