Esports.gg chats with FNCS Champion Veno following his impressive win alongside aqua in Chapter 3 Season 2.
The Fortnite Axe of Champions is the most challenging cosmetic item to earn in the game's five-year history. Hundreds of thousands have tried since the Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) competition began in 2018. However, only a handful ultimately ran the table to become the best in their region. Last season, against all odds, Fortnite veteran and World Cup Champion David "aqua" Wang and rising star Harry "Veno" Pearson outlasted 49 worthy adversaries to become the FNCS Champion duo.
Many recognize the European region as the best that Fortnite has to offer. This region boasts the largest number of competitors, prize pools and an incredibly talented list of players. These factors and much more make the seasonal European FNCS Finals a captivating competition. It was an impressive achievement for two of the world's best Fortnite players.
Esports.gg had a chance to catch up with Veno following his monumental victory. The Tundra Esports player lent insight into his mind during the grueling Season 2 Finals.
Veno talks about being contested at Command Cavern
Last season, Command Cavern became the optimal location for many of Europe's best players. Ahead of the Finals, Veno and aqua would have to grapple with the idea of battling the region's top competitors, including Pinq, Anas, Merstach, Malibuca, Chapix and even four-time FNCS Champion TaySon. It was a tall task, but one that Veno said he and aqua carefully navigated the predicament.
"Due to Command Cavern being so big, only the 2 top teams (Pinq & Anas + Merstach & Malibuca) were directly contested off spawn. We did think about challenging them multiple times but opted to land north grotto to ensure we looted up well," said Veno.
"We were being contested by Noahreyli 2 days before in the Cash Cup so even though we knew they were landing at Logjam, we were cautious that they'd challenge us off spawn."
Veno and aqua weighed their options and concluded that Command Cavern was worth the gamble. Furthermore, Veno pointed to consistency as a concept he and aqua strived to achieve throughout the 12 matches. Consistent play in Fortnite is a must and often leads to success — even in the face of fellow European players and Command Cavern residents Th0masHD and TaySon.
"We tried to ensure we were consistent throughout - if you're alive 12 games out of 12 off spawn, you put yourself in the best position to place well," said Veno. "Compared to other teams who are landing worse spots or contested, we knew our main challengers for the title spot would be Th0masHD and Tayson."
Danger lurked at every corner in Command Cavern, but that did not prevent Veno and aqua from shining on day one.
Winning back-to-back matches & holding day one lead
The combination of aqua's game sense and Veno's ability to compile eliminations came into full effect on day one. Following an eighth and third-place finish to open the first two matches, Veno and aqua earned back-to-back Victory Royales in games three and four.
Unsurprisingly, aqua's ability to gain the height advantage placed every player below at their mercy. It was a pivotal moment that set the European duo in a prime position. Although challenging, Veno said these two triumphs had him feeling atop the world.
"Only one way to put it. It felt to be on top of the world. To be in control and the lobbies were feeling like public matches, we felt we were the best and that allowed our confidence to rein over the lobby," said Veno. "The games were tough zones but we played the games exceptionally well regardless of the obstacles."
Veno and aqua held the lead by a small margin to close out day one in pursuit of becoming the FNCS Champion duo. However, leads in Fortnite are a dangerous position to have. These feelings manifested in Veno, who said the day-one lead felt nerve-racking.
"I felt good but also felt I was losing control a little due to me being in 1st, I can imagine 2nd place weren't thinking of losing their 2nd place but thinking of how excited they were to catch us and prove to the entirety of Europe that they were the best of the best," said Veno. "I felt a little nervous going into the final six, but as soon as we won game 1, I was straight back to the feeling of being in control."
An opening Victory Royale on day two put Veno and aqua much further ahead. Regardless, a lot could change over five matches.
Sticking to their strategy on day two
Strategy-wise, Veno said he and aqua made no adjustments heading into the final day of FNCS Chapter 3 Season 2–a decision that helped them ultimately win.
"We did not change our strategy at all. We wanted to keep things simple and the same. Nothing had troubled us on day 1, I think maybe there were some small discussions on maybe a strategy or two, but it was decided to keep to the age-old saying, if it's not broken, don't fix it," said Veno.
Heading into the last match, Veno and aqua were in a position to win the FNCS Axe of Champions. However, with four-time FNCS Champion TaySon and two-time FNCS Champion Chapix on their heels, Veno and aqua needed to dig deep.
Veno explained that earning zero points in the 11th game had him nervous. Thankfully for Veno and aqua, TaySon and Chapix also fell early. Veno credited aqua with an uncharacteristic team discussion that helped the duo push through any adversity.
"Going into the final two [matches], I had made a mistake the game prior making us have a 0-point game. Thankfully, Tayson and Chapix had made their first mistakes of the entire tournament and gotten a low-point game as well," said Veno.
"Our approach was to keep playing how we've been playing, after I had screwed up I felt the walls closing in and the nerves starting to set. That's when aqua gave a little team talk (he's not used to these at all) to try and keep me motivated because he could tell I was falling into a pit."
Veno comments on becoming an FNCS Champion
Ultimately, Veno and aqua towered over the region's best duos. The two FNCS Champions accumulated three Victory Royales and 43 eliminations over two days and 12 matches. As a result, their 362 points put them 22 ahead of second and granted Veno his first major victory.
We asked Veno about his reaction when he realized that he became the FNCS Champion. Furthermore, we wanted to know how it felt to bring Tundra Esports its first Fortnite Championship.
"I was at a loss. I didn't feel any emotion and couldn't cry or laugh. The only thing that was happening was there was this big smile on my face that I couldn't wipe off. I was so excited to get that pickaxe and bring Tundra an FNCS win in its first real Fortnite season," he said.
In addition to claiming the Axe of Champions, Veno also collected $150,000 — his highest earnings in Fortnite thus far. We asked Veno how he plans to spend the money. The FNCS Champion gave a response showed that his knowledge in and out of Fortnite is quite similar.
"I'll give it [the money] to my parents," he said. "Maybe buy a house and rent it out and make small but steady profits. I don't have any plans but to keep competing and showing the world what I've got."
Veno's Fortnite inspirations & his dream duo partner
Many of Fortnite's current top players began playing the game at a young age. As a result, they have spent hours upon hours watching others to draw inspiration.
Veno named World Cup Finalist and DreamHack Anaheim 2022 Champion — Martin "MrSavage" Foss Andersen — his favorite player. Moreover, he credited his father as another contributing factor to his drive and success.
"Always been a big fan of MrSavage, still my favourite player. I didn't really have any other inspirations other than him," he said. "Outside of Fortnite, I'd say my dad, real world characters don't do it for me, never had any posters or anything, I kind of had my Dad's inspirations Rocky films and lots of rugby players and David Goggins etc."
We asked Veno who he would like to team with outside of the European region if he had the chance. Surprisingly, Veno denied wanting to part ways with fellow FNCS Champion aqua — even in a fantasy world.
"I'd stick with Aqua," he said. "We fit each other very well despite what people think, playstyle-wise and relationship-wise. I wish I spoke German though, he loves being in those discords. He is an excellent teammate. He has impossible standards which is one of the things I love about him because it forces me to hold myself also to those impossible standards."
Veno's time with Tundra Esports & what's next for the FNCS Champion
Veno — now the reigning Fortnite FNCS Champion — experienced a rollercoaster ride since first signing with an organization. After spending just two months with Falcons Esports, Veno left to join Tundra Esports. He called the situation interesting and hopes to produce content while growing the organization.
"It was extremely interesting," he said. "I hadn't been in a professional UK esports brand before and was interested to see how one ran and what personalities I could meet within the org and what talent I could help them bring in. I am still very passionate about the content we are going to produce."
To round out our discussion with Veno, he restated his excitement following the FNCS win. Additionally, the reigning Axe of Champions holder shouted out to his friends, family and organization.
"Happy to be the FNCS winner, will never stop talking about how we won 300K. Shoutout to my friends and family and org family. Couldn't have done this without their support."
As it stands, Veno has already accomplished more than most competitors could hope. Here are some of his top placements since turning professional:
- 1st in FNCS Chapter 3 Season 2 with aqua
- 2nd in Solo FNCS All-Star Invitational
- 7th at DreamHack Summer 2022
- 2 Duo Cash Cup victories with aqua
- 1st in DreamHack Cash Cup Extra with Queasy and Anas