How to Play Fortnite Competitively: Zero Build, Building, Arena, More

Latest posts by Cody Perez (see all)

In the years of my career covering Fortnite since its founding, I have seen countless players hoping to get better at the time. They wish to improve their gameplay and see their victory royales go up.

While some just want general improvements, others are aiming for the highest echelon of Fortnite. They want to know how to play Fortnite competitively.

Be it for the simple fact of looking better online or because they even want to go pro someday, knowing how to play Fortnite competitively is a daunting task. There are many facets to this, ranging from your skills to the actions that you make on and off the battlefield. Fortunately, you are not alone in this.

Having covered Fortnite and esports in general since 2018, I have spent a lot of time following the greatest pros in the battle royale scene. In addition, I have spent much time improving gameplay for myself so that I look and play better.

With these experiences in mind, here is what you should know about how to play Fortnite competitively.

Bottom Line Up Front

The bottom line is that playing Fortnite competitively is easier said than done. There are two main parts to this, being what you do on the battlefield, which is just as important as what you do off of it. First, there is your skill in battle royale matches. You need to make sure that you are practicing and improving always.

If you are learning to build, watch breakdown videos of various practices like those 90s, making sure that you have double ramps to protect you and how to gather materials more easily. Practice what you learn immediately after in modes like Creative and Battle Lab.

For doing better in fights and Zero Build, I recommend playing modes like Team Rumble or the Creative modes where it is all about fighting. Gun Game is a great option since it forces you to learn most gun types. For me, playing with family members who are in their Fortnite prime actually improved my gameplay.

Outside of the battlefield, make sure to play Arena to get ranked and build your portfolio. Participate in Fortnite tournaments and build yourself a platform online as a content creator on Twitch, YouTube, etc to get recognition.

If you’re playing the game online right now, you should be streaming at the same time. It will earn you money and the fame that is necessary to go bigger than where you are currently.

Fortnite Has a Mixed Competitive Scene


Before we go deeper into how to play Fortnite competitively, there is an elephant in the room that we must address. In all honesty, Fortnite has the most mixed competitive scene at this time in Chapter 3. There was a time where Fortnite esports and competitions looked absolutely bonkers.

But the pandemic killed any hopes of that continuing. At this point, though, the blame lies squarely on Epic Games itself. I have talked about it many times in my career but I will keep it brief here. The state of the competitive scene in Fortnite is in a quite poor place right now.

This is due to the lack of official support that Epic Games is giving its own game. The developer has effectively scaled back on any major events that are of note. There are the occasional one-off tournaments and events that will happen but they are not anything of note.

You could argue that this makes sense since the pandemic renders in-person events for now obsolete. However, there are plenty of competitive titles that are thriving right now by using a primarily online platform.

The Apex Legends Global Series, League of Legends as always, the Call of Duty League, PUBG Mobile, and many more are showing that it is possible to adjust and still work in these trying times.

Epic Games has had plenty of time now to figure out what to do with its competitive scene and, in my opinion, it looks like the developer has just given up for now.

It is seemingly waiting for the pandemic to pass to a point where in-person events are the norm again and then bring back the Fortnite competitive scene in a major way. This is a mistake, in my opinion, but it is worth noting for aspiring pros or players just looking to get better.

Fortnite World Cup 2019 Was One of the Biggest Esports of All Time

Fortnite World Cup 2019

The peak of Fortnite’s competitive scene was in the summer of 2019. None of us knew about COVID-19 or other horrible events that would be going on in the world right now. Instead, it was a simpler time, so to speak, and Epic Games graced us with its plans for the competitive year.

It began pretty much in 2018 and carried into 2019. There were regular, weekly events that would happen online. Players would compete against one another in hopes of qualifying for the greatest Fortnite event that year: the Fortnite World Cup.

It went on for months with teams competing in solos, duos, and squads to earn that place on the main stage. Then the summer came and the Fortnite World Cup was an extraordinary event.

I would even say that, while Fortnite’s competitive scene is the weakest out of its competitors today, the Fortnite World Cup was the single greatest esports event of all time.

Better than anything that LoL has done, better than what Dota 2 has done, CS:GO, and so on. There was just nothing like the Fortnite World Cup before or since it, perfectly representing the phenomenon that was this battle royale game.

The 2020 World Cup was canceled, as it should have been, and we have not seen it return since. This is all understandable but Epic Games, for some reason, took this time off from almost all competitive events, including major online ones.

How to Play Fortnite Competitively

With all of the negative energy out of the way now, here is what you should know about playing Fortnite competitively. For starters, there are a few areas that you should improve when it comes to your gameplay.

The main areas that I think are most important are teamwork, looting, surviving, winning fights, building (if it’s in the game mode you’re playing), and no building if it is not.

General Tips for Playing Better


Some of the general tips that I have for playing better come down to your teamwork. Sure, you can be a phenomenal solo Fortnite player but I think it is still crucial to learn about team synergy. In fact, if you are a struggling player, teaming up with people better than you can improve your gameplay.

I know this from experience. I was never into competing and all that as a teenager in games, and I was honestly pretty garbage at them. Come 21 years old, in the midst of primetime for most pro players, and I was terrible.

I started babysitting an 11-year old boy who was the son of my coworker. He destroyed me in every game that we played, which was honestly not hard even for someone 50 years old or older to do.

But I played so many multiplayer games with him alone that I started to become better at every game I played. Today, I am 28 years old and I think I play more like a teenager in their prime because of years of teaming up and playing against him. Meanwhile, he is a young adult trying to go pro himself.

I’m no phenomenal player or even an aspiring pro but surrounding myself with someone better than me helped me to get better. I have even seen this more recently with my fiancée becoming a fantastic Fortnite player (literally better than me by a long shot now) recently by playing with her younger brother every single day for hours on end to improve.

And even if you and your friends are all in an inexperienced place, practicing together is still valuable. Modes like Team Rumble and the Battle Lab can be your testing grounds for improving your overall gameplay.

Above all else, though, you have to put in the time and effort. You need to be consistently practicing every week and every day if you can. I don’t think you need to make a full-time job out of it but putting in the consistent time will improve your gameplay.

Tips for Maximizing Loot Farming

Fortnite Command Cavern

Moving into more specific tips, there is the act of looting. You cannot succeed in Fortnite without the gear to fight. When it comes to loot, there are some tips that I always give players. If you suck at fighting, what you should do is head to a named location that is out of the way.

Right now in the game, I would say a place like Logjam Lumberyard or Synapse Station. Somewhere in a corner that no one goes to or a place that is near the end of the battle bus’ path. There are likely to be fewer players here but you should always go to a named location, no matter your skill, to get loot.

As you play and get better at looting, I recommend moving to more significant areas, starting with mildly popular spots like Sleepy Sound or The Daily Bugle. If you get really good at fights, you can do what I do and stick to these places and dominate everyone who goes there.

Or you can go to more popular places like The Fortress, Command Cavern, and Tilted Towers. Finding more players to defeat will net you more (and typically better) loot overall.

How to Get Better at Rotations and Circles

Another key part of survival is understanding the circle and storm. You need to make it to the next circle to survive. I have seen far too many players in the past, including myself, mistakenly die from looting too much and not paying attention.

Keep an eye on the first circle when you drop and immediately have an idea of where you want to go. Loot until the storm is about to start closing or just begins to, and then find yourself a means of getting to that destination. It can be a vehicle, gliding, getting shot out of the blimp cannon, and so on. Just make sure to always have a plan.

The storm scout is a weapon in the game currently that is amazing for this. I recently got a win just for using it with my trio for the first time. I was keeping an eye on the next circle location with it and heading there first. We were able to take out anyone who showed up after we got there and were prepared enough to easily win the match.

Building Basics Explained

Fortnite Building

Fortnite has it in the name: “forts.” Building forts and other structures are the keys to victory in any mode that is not Zero Build. It is also one of the trickiest parts of the game and one that I have not even mastered myself. But here are the basics that you should know about when it comes to this.

As you likely already know, gathering mats is key to the building. The easiest way to do this without taking away too much from looting is to strike at objects that you see while you run. You’re running past a tree, for instance, strike at it and then hit the weak point once or twice that appears.

You will earn a handful of mats from this. Keep doing this over and over, mashing at walls, doors, ceilings, and so on just a little bit quicker as you go about your business. This will gather mats in a timely and consistent manner so you are ready for building.

How to Get Better at Building

When it comes to getting better at building, it is all about practicing and speed. You can open up the build menu as always by pressing the correct key on your platform, like B/circle on a controller. While in this build mode, there are four basic components: walls, floors, ramps, and roofs.

Together, you can chain these up to instantly create a structure to defend yourself. You can also edit existing builds that you have to create a door to enter the fort, open up a window to snipe through, and so on. Practice around with the basics of building a double ramp, some floors, and so on to fight players.

One way that I like to look at building is that it is like a fighting game. You know how there are combos in fighting games, right? Press left, then right, then left plus A, up plus B, or some weird asinine combination to do a set of moves and so on.

Building can work like that. Create a combination of builds that you prefer to use in battle. It could be something like ramp, ramp, floor, floor, ramp, ramp, wall, wall, wall, wall, or some bizarre combination. Create your combo or take a content creator or pro’s idea and then practice doing it.

Do it over and over and over until you can do that “combo” in literally a fraction of a second. But make sure to go as slow as you need to at first for your muscle memory to kick in and learn those movements naturally in the order you want.

Fortnite Zero Build Explained

Fortnite Zero Build

While building is not necessarily my thing, Zero Build certainly is. In this game mode, it is the permanent place for players to compete against one another where the building is disabled. That makes Fortnite a more pure battle royale experience, similar to other games in the genre space.

How to Get Better at Zero Build

When it comes to getting better at Zero Build mode, it is all about your fights. You are not able to cower behind cover and think of what to do so I recommend getting more aggressive in this mode. I’m not an aggressive player myself but I find myself initiating fights more in this mode.

In fact, I think that starting fights is much more important in Zero Build than in any other mode. It is not as important in build modes since you can just build to defend yourself and then fight back. I think you should either snipe from afar and pick off enemies first or sprint then slide to get in their face and destroy them up close.

Vehicles can help with this like using the tank or armored battle bus to dominate the battlefield since people cannot hide behind structures.

How to Win Fights and Survive More Often

In general, fights are the most important part of Fortnite. If you cannot win a fight, you will not usually win the match even if you get down to the top 10. If you struggle with fights, you should be playing team modes. Have a team where everyone generally knows their roles.

In my team, I am the sniper/scout for the group. Outside of looting, I typically stay a good distance from my teammates while we are moving. I will go ahead of the group and look out for enemies ahead with my sniper rifle or scoped assault rifle.

Once I find enemies, I will mark them for my team and then make a plan. My usual plan involves one or two strategies. I will either initiate the fight with snipes while my team flanks the enemy or the opposite. My team will start the fight and I will take a long route to go around the enemy undetected and finish them off.

That is my role, of course, but there are other roles. Some players will be the loot finder, primarily focusing on finding and holding loot while the other team looks for enemies while also looting. Some players will be the designated driver, seeking out and piloting vehicles to be the architect behind your escape plan.

Still, other players will be the aggressive solo or duo player(s). These ones will challenge fights upfront and usually start them, while the other player(s) stick back and do long-range engagements. Sometimes teams will even split up and tackle different locations at the same time then meet up later on.

There are countless different strategies so you just need to find what works for you. But, again, if you are a struggling player in fights, the best thing you can do is find a good team to surround yourself with. Practice in Battle Lab, Creative, and so on to get better.

And above all else, find the weapons that work for you. I am not a great shotgun player, I admit that, so you will not usually see me using one. Others might not want to use an SMG or sniper rifle, for example. Find what works for you and try to stick to that.

Fortnite Tournaments Explained

Fortnite Competitive

Once you have a hold on your gameplay, it is time to move into the competitive scene. There are two main parts to the Fortnite competitive scene, the first of which are tournaments and events. These are the showstopper main events that everyone looks forward to, such as the World Cup.

While there are not too major events these days, Epic will regularly offer some tournaments for players to participate in. These typically have some requirements like a certain account level and have two-factor authentication enabled.

Many of the tournaments these days are even open to everyone, regardless of rank or skill. Most of the players who enter here are serious about competing and it can be a good judge of how good of a player you are. As for how the tournaments work, here is a general rule of thumb.

In many tournaments, it is points-based. This is just an example but, for instance, a tournament could last for three hours. In those three hours, you are allowed to play up to 10 matches. The points that you earn in those 10 matches will determine your placement.

You will get points for every elimination that you get in a match and the higher your placement is. The key will be to maximize the time that you have and absolutely do the max amount of matches.

You also want to use your time wisely in those matches, trying to place as high as possible and survive long enough to get the most points.

Other tournaments, though, may eliminate players based on getting eliminated in matches themselves. You really need to be flexible and keep an eye out for upcoming matches that are happening in Fortnite, which you can easily see in the lobby.

Crossover Tournaments

Fortnite Events - Competitive Tournaments

A special form of tournaments is crossover ones. These will be a crossover with a property, like a Marvel tournament, or a person like a content creator. Usually, these are themed around skins that have arrived as part of this crossover experience.

Players will typically have the chance to earn these skins or other cosmetics for free if they do well in the special tournament. These are meant to be casual experiences, though, so they are actually great practice tournaments for those players looking to get their feet wet, so to speak.

These event tournaments will generally have specific rules like only being for duos or solos or squads.

Fortnite Arena Mode Explained

The other side of the competitive scene is the Fortnite Arena mode. This is the tried-and-true competitive experience that is always waiting there for you 24/7. Arena is the ranked mode for battle royale players. This is where you go to play the most competitive and sweaty version of Fortnite.

It is also the place to improve even further and see how you compete against other like-minded players. When you first do Arena, you will play some placement matches that will put you into a starting division, which is usually pretty low on the totem pole.

As you gain Hype points, you will move up through the ranks and divisions. The early ones are going to be easier while the higher divisions are where you will find the most skilled players, including even pros.

On the other hand, this is also where you can gain access to the occasional cash tournament where the real money is on the line.

If you’re truly looking to go pro, you will want to earn as much Hype as you possibly can to move up through the ranks. But you want to be careful in the higher ranks not to do badly in matches or you could move down.

To earn Hype, it is all about eliminations and placement in the match. I recommend playing Arenas with some friends and working together to move through the ranks.

Build a Platform for Yourself


Finally, if you truly want to become a pro, you need to stand out. You need to be recognizable. One of the mistakes that some of the best players in the world make is not having a name for themselves. It matters not if you are number one on the global leaderboard if no one knows who you are.

As such, I recommend starting a Twitch and YouTube account. Start streaming every single time that you are grinding matches online. You may have no one watching you at first but you can grow over time by just grinding out streams while you play. This is especially true if you play at weird times that no one else does.

The point of this is not to become the next Ninja or Shroud in terms of content creation, though that can help, too. It is to get your name out there. This is how aspiring pros get recognized and can sign with a pro team. If you can show your skills to them through past videos, it will up the chances of them wanting to sign you.

But if you’re just a name without any evidence of your skill, organizations will likely look elsewhere no matter how talented you are.


Question: How Do I Train for a Fortnite Tournament?

Answer: To train for a Fortnite tournament, you should take the tips above and apply them to your gameplay. Starting grinding Arena where other hopeful competitors are found. Grab yourself a team to compete with and work together to practice in Arena, Battle Lab, and even regular matches.

Question: How Do I Get Into Fortnite Competitive?

Answer: Getting into Fortnite competitive involves first improving your skills. If you feel your skills are good enough for now, start grinding out Arena matches.
Raise your rank as high as you can go and, if you get high enough, you can start competing in actual tournaments. If your skill is not up to par yet, be sure to play regular matches, practice with friends in the Battle Lab, and lockdown what weapons are for you.

Question: How Do You Play Fortnite Professionally?

Answer: Playing Fortnite professionally is the final step after the last two questions. Once your skill is great and you are ranked in a high division in Arena, it is time to work towards being a pro. To do this, amass a following by working on Twitch, YouTube, and so on.
Anytime you are playing Fortnite, you should be online streaming your gameplay. This will give you an audience, even a small one, that enjoys your gameplay. This can lead to larger successes and eventually a signing, hopefully, onto a professional or even amateur team.


Learning to play any game competitively is all about the journey and not the destination. You need to always be practicing and improving, even if you cannot see the results immediately. That consistency will make the difference for you in the end.

Now that you have learned a bit more about playing Fortnite competitively, there is still so much more for you to experience. Thankfully, we are already here for you.

In my opinion, your next goal should be to find out what weapons you prefer to use in battle so you can prioritize looting those. Our general weapons guide to Fortnite is the first step towards learning about that.

For more interesting readings check out:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top