Collegiate esports players took over the recent TimTheTatman’s Hoedown $100,000 Zero Build Tournament featuring Fortnite and we got to speak with them about their experience during the event, their plans and much more.

With TimTheTatman’s Hoedown $100,000 Zero Build Tournament in the books, and winners crowned, it’s time to reflect on an amazing event. Wrapping up on Sunday, 17th of July, the top three winners were surprisingly all from the collegiate Fortnite scene.

Esports.gg spoke with BenK, RottenTwinkies and Pfluger, Hoedown winners, and some of the best players in collegiate Fortnite. And, in the case of BenK, one of the best casters in the scene as well.

Pfluger’s: “It doesn’t feel real, I don’t feel anything yet.”

“It just does not feel real. It feels so surreal.”

Pfluger went into the grand finals blazing hot after winning Heat 3 with a massive 43-point lead and ended up with third in the grand finals. That meant he took home $10,000 along with a new gaming PC, monitor and chair. It left him with a good problem to have:

“I was trying to sell my old PC, the one before this one and now I’ve won this new PC so I have three different PCs.”

Pfluger at the event. (Source: @PflugerFN Twitter via @IszhtarG Twitter)

Pfluger plans to spend his money investing in safe stocks instead of spending it on way too many things: “My mom suggested that I should invest it into stocks so I’ll probably put most of the money into investing”

He also told us how his family reacted: “It was awesome, my whole family was watching the stream in the living room at my mom’s house and every single time I got an elimination they were screaming for me, they got off their seats. It was like they were right next to me which was such an amazing feeling.”

“They didn’t tell us the prize pool so we thought that the prize pool would be top 25 and I was like ‘Yeah, I could do that easily’ and when I looked up at the screen and saw that it was only top three, my heart sank and I looked over to Ben and we were both just shell-shocked.”

“We had no clue what to do and we just said to ourselves that we needed to play out of our minds and we have to do this and it turned out we did.”

Pfluger has been a part of the collegiate Fortnite community for a long time and is close with the people in the community so he, BenK and RottenTwinkies all met up when they realized that there were other collegiate players.

“Going into Heat 3, we saw RottenTwinkies take the bus driver and we had to meet up with him because we knew he was going to be one of the big competitors so we met up with him and said that we could easily get top 3 in the finals and we did and it’s so unreal.”

“I talked to the UTA esports directors beforehand saying that we were going to be at this event and we wanted to just get our name out there. Ben was up there with the jersey and they were exceptionally excited for us.”

RottenTwinkies: “There were other people who weren’t involved with the collegiate events, so they didn’t get the kind of practice that we did”

RottenTwinkies made the trip from Northern Virginia to Frisco, Texas, hoping to make back the money that he had spent for the trip and a little bit more. “I saw someone tweet out about the event and I had to buy a ticket to be going already in order to put my name into a raffle” said RottenTwinkies. “I found out like a week before the event that I got chosen, so I immediately booked a flight, hotel and got everything done quickly and flew in from Northern Virginia.”

He entered the tournament not even realizing the prize pool distribution. “I thought first place would make like $10,000 and second place would make $7,500 so I was hoping that I’d place top three and I’d make something around that and my plan would have been to buy a new PC and then save the rest.” But RottenTwinkies ended up winning $20,000 “I got double that and a new PC as well and the Herman Miller gaming chair so now I have no idea what I’m going to spend it on.”

He’s in a bit of a predicament trying to figure out how he’ll spend his money. But he notes that he’ll probably use it to go to other LAN events that happen in the future. would’ve been disappointed in myself if I hadn’t finished in the top five but then another part of me just wanted to qualify for finals and just place.” But as RottenTwinkies mentions, there’s been a lack of zero build events, apart from collegiate. “There haven’t been a lot of legitimate zero build events so far so the fact that we played in the collegiate zero build events because there have been multiple zero build events so far, especially the Nick Eh 30 Collegiate Invitational.”

RottenTwinkies placed seventh in the Nick Eh 30 Collegiate Invitational alongside Okis. He explains that him and many other collegiate zero build events that CCA ran had prepared him and the other collegiate players who competed in this event.

“That was great practice for this event and there were other people who weren’t involved with the collegiate events so they didn’t get the kind of practice that we did so being able to play in those events was definitely a big reason as to why we were able to perform so well.”

“The people who were all near me were hyping me up the whole time.”

RottenTwinkies also spoke about his experience during the event and how it felt like to be hyped up by all the people around him the entire time he was playing. He was able to lose the nerves once he realized that he was one of the best players competing there.

“The people who were all near me were hyping me up the whole time. We were in a secluded area in the back because there were PCs in the front that everyone could see and PCs in the back where not as many people could see and I was in the back side so everyone in my area was hyping me up and it was a cool feeling.”

“I was really nervous coming into it and then I qualified for finals after the first game and I could’ve left and still qualified for finals so I realized that there wasn’t really a reason for me to be nervous because I was a good player and I was confident that I could continue to play well”

The best part for RottenTwinkies though? When his phone started blowing up after he was able to clinch game one of the Grand Finals with messages from his friends and family: “I got so many texts because my whole family was watching it at home. I didn’t realize they were watching at home, my brother was watching it and he showed them all that there was a livestream for it so after the first game they were all watching it.”

“They were all in the family group chat, talking and watching it together. I got so many messages after I won the first game after every game I’d go on to my phone and see over 30 messages hyping me up, it was really nice to see.”

BenK: From Caster to Champion

Unlike others who placed in the top three, BenK isn’t primarily a competitor. He’s one of the regular faces on the CCA feat. Fortnite broadcasts, casting over other players. But he has experience competing in events in the past. Having played the game since it first came out and he has previously made the finals at DreamHack Dallas. BenK talked about how came back from vacation the day before the first heat and went in not having played much for the last two weeks.

“I really had absolutely no idea what to expect as far as skill level went, I had just gotten back from vacation the day before the event, I hopped on some zero builds with Pfluger the night before, we talked about what the meta was, he updated me since he’s been practicing a lot more because I haven’t competed in a long time.”

“We loaded up and went into our heat looking to just qualify and not do anything crazy, we figured the competition wouldn’t be too crazy so we wanted to chill, qualify and figure out what we would do for finals.”

BenK echoed what Pfluger had said and talked about how they weren’t expecting to see top three take home so much of the prize pool. But in the end it turned out really good for them as the teammates were able to take home 60% of the entire prize pool along with the peripherals.

“My heart dropped, we were talking about it the whole time. We were like ‘Okay, first place in many tournaments usually gets like 25% of the prize pool so we were expecting like $20,000 to $25,000 for first place and then the rest of it would be split.” said BenK.

“But when we saw the top three were taking home 80% of the prize pool we all freaked out, we couldn’t believe it. We all looked at each other in disbelief, we were all really stressed out because there were some really good players there.”

BenK with his winner’s cheque. (Source: @TimTheTatman Twitter)

Benk went into the event knowing that chances are the best players would be from the collegiate Fortnite scene because most of the best players who are not pros and are above the age of 18 are collegiate players.

“The thing about this tournament that drew me and Pfluger and understandably drew RottenTwinkies in as well was that this tournament is 18+, basically the prime age for Fortnite when it comes to competing is 16 to 17 years old so we knew the best players weren’t able to compete already.”

“There really aren’t that many people who can play that aren’t pros that are not within the CCA and are very good. When me and Pfluger saw the list of people come out and saw RottenTwinkies’ name on it, we knew that we were going to be the main three guys.”

BenK reiterated how came into TimTheTatman’s Hoedown with no expectations but then aimed for top 10 after qualifying for the grand finals. He ended up with 195 points in the grand finals which was 43 points more than what RottenTwinkies had gotten in second place.

“Pfluger is a better player than me by far when it comes to build competitions, RottenTwinkies as well, they both place really well in CCA events and I’m mainly a caster so I had literally no expectations and no stress so after we qualified and we did pretty well, I went into the finals aiming for top 10.”

“I’m not sure why but every time I loaded into a game, the moment I jumped out of the battle bus I felt no pressure. I was so confident with my fighting, I took every single fight that I could. I think I had 35 eliminations at the end of the night which I think was over double of second place.”

The first thing BenK did after winning? Called his parents of course. “I called my mom immediately afterwards and let her know but she didn’t really believe me. I told her that I won $50,000 and she went ‘What?’ and then my cousin who’s at the house started yelling ‘What are you talking about?’ and they didn’t believe me because I don’t compete anymore and they knew that I don’t compete. My dad just told me that I needed a tax guy” A pretty expected reaction your kid calls you and says that they’ve just won $50,000. And if there’s any more tournament wins in the future, then BenK’s dad is definitely right as he’s going to be needing the help of a tax guy very soon.

But BenK finished by stating that his main focus is still going to be casting events and looking to improve on that front. “Recently I fell out of love with it, I didn’t have the motivation to grind the game like I used to and wasn’t seeing the results that were making me happy so as soon as the casting gig came along I did it and I still get to stay involved and work with the game that I love so casting is really where my focus is right now and I want to stick to casting.”

He’s had a big year so far since his first cast back in March up until now. In between then he’s casted alongside Nick Eh 30, he’s been flown out to Orlando, Florida. And now he’s just won $50,000 at TimTheTatman’s Hoedown $100,000 Zero Build Tournament featuring Fortnite.

It’s yet to be seen what happens next but we’re fairly certain that all three of these guys will continue to thrive whether it be in events as competitors or as a caster, in BenK’s case. Go give BenK, RottenTwinkies and Pfluger a follow on Twitter to keep up with their journey.

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Adrian Malhiers -

Adrian Malhiers

| Twitter: @AdrianMalhiers | Twitch: AdrianMalhiers

Adrian is an 18 year old gamer and content creator out of India who started off playing mobile games such as Clash of Clans and then found his way over to moderating esports events and writing about them. He's currently busy trying to improve at NBA 2K22.