Colin interview: Inside the mind of a Fortnite coach
In this interview, Esports.gg sits down with Colin Schlichtenberger — a veteran in the Fortnite scene and accomplished coach.
Colin Schlichtenberger is an accomplished member of the competitive Fortnite scene. He began his adventure as a player in 2017 but has since moved into a coaching role. His most significant achievement as a coach occurred in 2020 when he helped four-time Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) winner Tai “TaySon” Starčič take home his first title.
Overall, players coached by Colin have taken home more than $1.1 million under his tutelage. More recently, Colin joined the United Kingdom-based esports organization Guild Esports as a talent scout and academy coach. Colin is also a certified professional esports coach, having completed a two-year learning program.
Esports.gg had the opportunity to speak with Colin. We discussed various topics, including the early days of Fortnite, his coaching philosophy, the future of competitive Fortnite, and much more!
Colin's intro to Fortnite and coaching methods
When did you get into competitive Fortnite, and how did it come about?
Colin: “I started playing Fortnite just from the start when the game first came out in Chapter 1. I played until 2019 when I started making the switch to coaching because I struggled with time. I played a lot of scrims back then and was grinding a lot. Then I had to start focusing more on school because A-Levels were right around the corner. So, I quit playing, switched a little bit, and started coaching some friends, which developed into better players.”
What led to your decision to stop playing and become a coach? Were there any specific moments?
Colin: “I switched from playing Fortnite six hours a day because it was exhausting, and you can’t really study after that, to just three or four hours of normal coaching in my free time. I think I was always interested in coaching. I’m a big football fan. I was always playing football, and I really liked the technical part of pretty much all games, even traditional sports. So, coaching was the next step.”
How did you perfect your craft as a coach?
Colin: “I would say experience. Just working with a lot of different players of different skill levels and from different regions. I work with players from all regions to this point, so that’s the main thing, just experience. Trying different stuff, failing, succeeding, and learning from both things.”
What do you feel sets you apart from other Fortnite coaches?
Colin: “On the one hand, it’s my age. I’m only 20, so I feel I have a good connection with most players. It’s often really easy to start a conversation and then actually learn new stuff together in the player-and-coach relationship. On the other hand, I’m a bit of a statistics nerd in both traditional sports and esports. I like to look through all the statistics I can possibly get and use those to my advantage.”
Colin explains what it's like to coach the top Fortnite players and his general philosophy
You’ve coached some of the best players in Fortnite history, including TaySon. What have you observed that makes this type of player better than others?
Colin: “Their confidence, especially for TaySon, because I worked with him when he won his first FNCS, so he had no crazy success before, and he still had this huge confidence. Every call we went on, he already pretty much knew what he was doing wrong. He knew what he had to do better to be a better player in the next tournament. He was extremely confident in himself and his ability to learn.”
Do you have a general coaching philosophy that you preach when working with different players?
Colin: “I like them to fully focus on the game and their main craft. I try to help them in the best way possible, but even in the VOD reviews, I want them to observe their own games and see what they can do better. I help wherever I can and make stuff easier for them, but at the end of the day, they are the players. They have to be ready to play and learn stuff themselves.
When we VOD review, I try to get them to understand it themselves, so I don’t have to tell them what they are doing wrong.”
What sort of preparation goes into the FNCS heats and, more importantly, the Grand Finals? How do you ensure a player is ready for the task ahead?
Colin: “In Fortnite, that’s the biggest challenge we have as coaches and players. You never really know what will happen. Sometimes, everything changes one day before a tournament, or a random player is contesting you at your spot. So, we do the most possible, which is working on a game plan and adapting to every eventuality that could appear.
We need to know all options we have, different zones, where to rotate, what to do mid-game, what to do when we’re scuffed, and what to do when we are randomly contested. Just getting ready for everything we can.”
Joining Guild Esports and experiences within the organization
Guild Academy logo
You signed on to be the Academy Coach for Guild Esports last year. What has that position been like since you joined?
Colin: “It’s been great. A big learning experience. There are a lot of crazy talented people on Guild. My main job right now is finding talented U.K.-based players and developing them in Fortnite. I also just re-signed for another year.
There’s a lot of stuff going on with Guild, and they also do a lot of amazing things for the community–mental health drop-ins and open play evenings, for example. On the education side, they provide college courses.”
Tell us a bit about your role as a talent scout. How do you go about finding up-and-coming players? What steps do you take after?
Colin: “We have a few tools in Fortnite, of course; Fortnite Tracker is the main one if you want to look through leaderboards and find players. The website allows you to look through certain nations, and I’m looking for U.K.-based players. Most of the time, I look for the most promising players on the leaderboard.
The next step is looking at their age because we mainly want a player who is 15 or 16 years of age. Then, I watch their gameplay, get to know them better, learn their playstyle, and see if there are things I can easily improve.”
Colin's take on Fortnite Chapter 4 and advice for up-and-coming players
Tell us about your process since Fortnite Chapter 4 launched. What do you focus on to prepare players for the competitions ahead?
Colin: “I think this Chapter is the most I’ve played the game in years. I spent the first week grinding the game with my IRL friends, just exploring all the new stuff. I also started watching scrims and will watch more with the tournaments coming soon. Hopefully, we’ll get a few more balance adjustments.”
What adjustments would you like to see this season?
Colin: “Mainly the [Shockwave] Hammer. Of course, you need something fun in the game and a good rotational item, but it needs to be balanced. The uses should go from four to two.”
What is your opinion on competitive Fortnite since the World Cup? Is the game heading in the right direction?
Colin: “There have been some ups and downs. The last Chapter was probably a down. This Chapter will hopefully turn things around, leading up to more LAN events next year and more big tournaments that will bring more hype. I think Fortnite is still the best game ever, so if they keep it balanced and host more big events, this game will be back on top.”
What advice would you offer to someone who thinks they have what it takes to compete in Fortnite?
Colin: “It’s extremely important to focus on your personal life and health if you want to be a professional Fortnite player. My biggest advice is that you should use the time you have carefully. If you know that you can only play for four hours a day, which is alright, you must use that time wisely. You should practice in creative with a group of people, play arena, play scrims, and VOD review, I think you can definitely make it if you use that method.”
What do you hope to see from competitive Fortnite in 2023?
Colin: “I want to see more LAN events and a system where each season, Elite Cups lead into FNCS qualifiers, and then a big LAN tournament. Do intercontinental LANs now and then. Just get more hype going around the game.
You can find out more about Colin by visiting his website. Also, you can follow Colin's Twitter account to stay up-to-date on what's happening with Guild Esports and Guild Academy.
Stick with esports.gg for more interviews and news from the world of Fortnite.
Matthew "MJP" Pryor
Editor | Twitter @MJP_FN
Matt “MJP” Pryor began following esports in 2008 when Halo 3 was on top of the world. He is now a Fortnite fanatic who has watched the game’s casual and competitive development since the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. Matt plays the game often while reporting on everything from skin collaborations to tournaments and everything in between.