Jake Filicicchia Interview: The Life of A Pro Fortnite Player
If you are even somewhat invested in the world of video games, you’ll be aware of the global phenomenon that is Fortnite. The groundbreaking battle royale burst onto the scene in 2017, offering a gaming format that became and still is a fixture of the gaming zeitgeist. Fortnite, along with the various streaming platforms out there, allowed players to become globally recognised celebrities, streaming to the masses and, if they were good enough, winning huge prize pots from various Fortnite events. In short, Fortnite in a very short space of time became the biggest gaming IP in the world.
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This has allowed budding streamers all across the globe to build a platform, a fanbase and a stable career playing video games and that is exactly what our interviewee has managed to do. We sat down with pro-Fortnite Player, Jake Filicicchia, a member of the global Fortnite top 100. Jake has managed to rack up over 6600 wins, 100,000 kills, has a win ratio of 26.32% and is the number one ranked player in all of Oceania. So it’s fair to say that this guy knows what to do when it’s time to drop from the battle bus.
We sat down with the Facebook Gaming partner and talked about all things Fortnite, their passions outside of the game, we found out what it’s like to be a pro fortnite player and we discussed how he manages to balance gaming with normal life. Without further delay, we introduce to you, Jake Filicicchia, AKA, OnlyGuyLeft.
OnlyGuyLeft Enters The Chat
Callum: Hi Jake, so first of all, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, we appreciate that the life of a pro gamer can be a relentlessly busy one. We just want to start things off with an easy one. So could you first tell everyone a little bit about yourself, tell everyone about your gaming experience, your pedigree within the industry?
Jake: Sure, so I am Jake Filicicchia, I am 22 years old, from Boston, Massachusetts but currently living in Perth, Australia. I moved out here to live with my partner who is also a popular Facebook Gaming streamer and as for gaming. I started when I was a kid as a form of escape. I wasn’t someone that really enjoyed school and games provided a way to forget about studies and stresses that school life brings. My first systems were the handhelds, like the DS and the Game Boy Advance which I used to play Pokemon on all the time. At the time I didn’t really have any sort of connection or interest in FPS games until high school which was around the time that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II came out.
Now initially I didn’t have an online connection and just played the single-player campaign for a long time, got good at that and managed to beat it on the highest difficulty. Then as time went on, we got wifi within my home and I was able to play in online lobbies. From then onwards, I was hooked. I used to rush home from school to play shooters, I would sometimes stay up to the early hours of the morning then walk like a zombie into school the next day. I would sometimes even skip school just to play shooters all day. So that’s how I became interested in gaming.
Callum: Sure, now unlike yourself and I, not everyone is lucky enough to turn gaming into a career in any capacity. So my next question is when did you decide that gaming had the potential to be a viable career path for you and how did you go about making this a reality?
Jake: So I used to watch streamers and content creators a lot. I played a lot and I also kept up with other extra circular activities like football and varsity wrestling but when I got home, gaming was my sole focus. So when I watched these streamers and realised how much I was playing games, I wondered how they accumulated such a following of fans and how they went about making money doing what they do and whether I could do it too. So the question remained, why did they watch other people. Then I realised that a lot of people watch to learn tips and get better at the game.
At the time, there really wasn’t a game that I could play well enough to warrant making that kind of content and for that reason, I thought streaming, at least for a career, was impossible. Then Fortnite came out. I and three of my best friends began playing it regularly, we would play squads which is the four-player team mode in Fortnite and I realised that I was really good. Most games would consist of my friends dying and watching as I came in clutch and won the game on my own and they would tell me ‘You’re insane at this game, dude’.
So they began urging me to create Fortnite content like clips or streaming or something. At the time I didn’t know much about the game or the community. I knew Ninja and sypherpk but outside of that, I was no expert. But my friend said that the stuff I was doing in-game was up there with the best of the best. So I made an Instagram and started posting clips.
It wasn’t until I played my first tournament that it all blew up. In that tourney, I managed to kill a FaZe member and a Ghost member in a 1v2 and the clip of this moment on Instagram got 172,000 views overnight and really put me on the map. From there I decided to start streaming and made a Twitch channel originally but this eventually led me to Facebook Gaming where I am now.
Callum: That’s great and I hope that can inspire someone that is great at a game to believe in themselves and start posting content too. Now Obviously, we will dive deep into your experience with the worldwide phenomenon that is Fortnite. But just before that, you mentioned to me that you are originally from Boston in the US but moved out to Perth, Australia. How has that transition been for you and how does that affect your ability to participate on a global stage with some superstars in your field?
Jake: Of course, so when I started streaming, I initially had 10K followers on Facebook and I went to PAX East which allowed me to link up with other creators within the field. I was definitely one of the smaller creators of the bunch but a lot of the guys there knew who I was so it wasn’t too uncomfortable. Well, it just so happened that my partner, Natchats was there too. She was visiting the US as she is originally from South Africa but she was living in Australia at the time. She was actually the first-ever Australian based partner on Facebook Gaming.
At the time I had known of her and vice versa but we had never actually met. So Facebook held a little meet and greet at the bar and that’s how we got to chatting. She was visiting on a one-month vacation to the US and throughout that vacation, we basically hung out the entire time. We went to New York and Boston, sightseeing and I probably spend 25 of the thirty days of her vacation with her.
Now that eventually led to us entering into a committed relationship and we had a long-distance relationship for two years. Plus, with Australia’s strict Covid rules, we didn’t really have much of a choice in the matter. So we grinded our streams separately and grew our followings, so scheduling wasn’t really an issue. Not that I am a scheduled streamer anyway. I stream once a day and usually for 2-4 hours but it just at a time that works for me.
I like to mix it up so that I can hit different audiences and attract new viewers to my channel and if I stuck to a schedule, I reckon there would just be the same guys there and it would stagnate in terms of growth, you know? Then, when the time came to make a decision about who was going to move to where, I decided to head out to Australia. The only tricky thing was that I had to schedule content to go out over my 14-day quarantine period so that the fans didn’t think I deserted them. So I posted some planner content on IRL Labs and since then, it’s been pretty smooth sailing.
Callum: Awesome, then with regards to you and your partner streaming on the same platform and trying to be seen within the same space, is there ever any competitiveness within the household or is it a chill thing for you guys?
Jake: It’s absolutely a chill thing, so she would be Fortnite too, Call Of Duty Warzone and Call of Duty: Mobile so there is some crossover there but there is never any direct competition. If anything, we are aiming to grow and learn from each other to push each other forward. She has her brand and I have mine and we try to help build each others as, at the end of the day, it’s mutually beneficial to do that.
Callum: Yeah for sure, that’s the healthy approach to that kind of arrangement. Now just to move on to your bread and butter, Fortnite. You’ll have to forgive me as my experience with the series doesn’t extend much further than the first few months of the BR’s popularity and only names like Ninja or Pokimane enter my world. So obviously, we did our research and you are in the top 100 players globally, ranked in the top 50 globally for Solos, fast approaching 100,000 kills, you have won over 6500 games and you win roughly one in four games. Even as someone from the outside looking in, I know that’s impressive. So firstly I just want to ask, what does one have to do to be that consistently good at a game like Fortnite?
Jake: So when I started I knew that I was good. Though, there were certain things that I was seeing on other creator’s content and gameplay that I couldn’t do. Things like certain retakes or edits or angles. FaZe Sway used to be someone that I watched a lot because they were one of the first players that were able to compete with the best of the best while still being a full-time controller player as opposed to mouse and keyboard. So I would sit and watch his content and learn all the techniques and skills that he was using to keep up with the KBM players.
I would do this by going into Fortnite creative mode, where you can’t die, you can use as many materials as you like, I would put some music on and I would try to replicate these skills for hours on end. Then I would hope that the muscle memory would carry over to a competitive situation. Though, I do think that the consistent grind that I put in played a huge role. I would check the leaderboards and constantly aim to progress each and every day. So I owe a lot to other streamers but equally, to the countless hours of practice I put in?
Callum: Practice makes perfect as they say. So obviously, even with this talent, that doesn’t immediately mean that you’ll have an audience. Usually, there is a moment that legitimizes you as a pro player or acts as your right of passage. Was there ever that watershed moment for you?
Jake: Yeah, so I was in the middle of a game on stream and a guy came up to my wall and I ended up killing him and it turns out that the guy was Ninja. Now, at the time I didn’t even realise and I kept playing but I had Facebook in my name, so people flooded my channel and in the can’t by the hundreds people were writing stuff like ‘Oh my God, you killed Ninja’ or ‘That was Ninja, Bro!’ So that was crazy.
Then ther were other moments like where I killed FaZe Sway. I actually managed to kill him twice and each time the chat did the same thing, it went crazy. It was always so surreal as I began streaming looking up to those guys as a level of talent that I thought I would never reach, but thankfully through grinding I find myself viewing these guys as my peers and my closest competition.
Callum: Absolutely, that must be a strange feeling. Now, this one is just for my curiosity more than anything but I’m sure that readers will get something out of this. Pro Fortnite players like yourself have an innate skill to build structures in-game at an alarming rate, so much so that I can’t even fathom how you do that. So I’m wondering, how do you build at that speed?
Jake: So this is only possible thanks to custom binds. The default controls and bindings that you get ‘out of the box’ so to speak, aren’t fit for purpose. So Fortnite has a full remap now that allows you to customise your controls to your preference. Plus, some controllers are custom made to enhance performance, such as Scuff gaming. I would personally use the Xbox Elite II controller and I play claw. I’ve played claw ever since I was a kid and have adapted my bindings to allow me to press everything I need to press as fast as possible without taking my fingers off the analogue sticks, which would mess with my aim.
Then it’s down to you to commit the movements to memory and find a system that works for you. For example, I play claw but 90% of my friends hate claw. They say that it hurts their fingers too much so they use paddles, which you find on the Scuff Gaming controllers. So it’s just about finding what works for you.
Callum: Well that clears things up for me at least. Even with the luxury of binds and controllers, I doubt I could pull off that level of intricacy. So next thing I want to touch on, I assume that streaming is at odds with Esports. So with that in mind, have you ever been in a position where you have stepped back from chasing the leaderboard ranks to appease fans watching your stream.
Jake: Yeah of course, so there is a mode within Fortnite called Arena and this is basically a much smaller circle and loads of players fighting to be the last one standing in a tournament style mode. This is a mode that is made for those that want to fight the best of the best and prove they are the best player. However, I’ve found that Arena doesn’t make for good streaming content. As I won’t be able to engage with the chat, thank fans for subscribing or donating or anything like that. In that game mode, you need to give it your full focus as small margins count.
So if I play Arena, I tend to do that off-stream. In Arena, you don’t get easy kills, you don’t get people who are just there to mess around and it’s unforgiving. So I guess the sacrifice I make is that I give up high-level gameplay for gameplay that allows for more interaction with my fans.
Callum: So in 2019, you were contacted by Facebook Gaming and were offered a partnership that would see you earn enough to quit your job and play, stream and create content full time. So with big platforms like Twitch out there, we have to ask. What makes Facebook Gaming the right fit for you and what made you choose to go with them back in 2019?
Jake: So like I said, I initially did have a Twitch Channel and that most mostly because I thought that Twitch was the only streaming platform around. On Twitch I managed to accumulate a reasonable following but nothing like a have now. So one night that I wasn’t streaming I was online and I made a post searching for two partners for a tourney for a trios competition and I was able to find two guys, one of which I already knew who was on FB gaming and wanted to play the tourney as well.
It was a last-minute thing because the tourney was set to start really soon when I sent the message so I quickly stated my case, told them my stats, told them I was signed to an Esports team that does really well and after that they wanted to test me and said lets 1v1. Which suited me down to the ground because I’m best when working solo. So I beat both of them 5-0 in a first to five and they were like ‘You’re insane, let’s play the tournament.’
We ended up placing well in the tournament and I remember dropping sixteen kills in my first game, so I was playing really well too. So after that, they urged me to come over to Facebook Gaming and I didn’t really know that it was a thing at the time. They said they would help me set up a page and send over some of their audience to help me get started and transition. So that’s what I did.
I immediately loved the change to FB gaming. I liked the way that the page allowed for likes and shares and it is much more accessible content, which is great for all creators rather than just the largest names that dominate the Twitch space. Plus, FB Gaming is much more personal and I can see who all my fans are, where they are from and don’t have to refer to them by their screen names. It makes for a much more intimate atmosphere and I think that’s why FB Gaming won me over.
Callum: The only issue that FB Gaming might bring about, especially for a Fortnite streamer such as yourself, is the fact that FB has a much older user base on average compared to the likes of say Twitch. What are your thoughts on that and has it ever been a problem for you?
Jake: I would say that appealing to an older audience, even in the Fortnite community is better. You build a community of more mature people. Look at it this way, I play games and that is how I pay my bills, so from a business perspective, it makes more sense to target the older crowd as 13-18-year-olds and younger simply don’t have the money to spend to support my channel and help me grow. However, the 24-40-year-olds, they can and more importantly, they want to see you grow. Plus, with an older audience, it can lead to a much more deep connection with my community of fans.
Callum: Yeah I get you, then just before we finish up with some more light-hearted, quick-fire questions, I’d like to ask you something outside of gaming, to let fans peer behind the curtain. So what are your main passions outside of gaming?
Jake: My other passions and hobbies outside of gaming would be mostly related to fitness. I think a lot of people hold this belief that the average gamer and especially a pro gamer, is unfit and unhealthy. However, I feel it doesn’t have to be that way because there is always enough time in the day to do all the things you have to do. I have my routine planned out so that ill play somewhere between 2-5 hours a day.
Then around that allotted time, I’ll spend time with the girlfriend, go to the gym, go to the mall, take the dogs for a walk. Whatever it is, there is always time to make it happen. Then when there isn’t, there is always the option to make the fans aware that I won’t be streaming that day and most of them will be cool with that. Then the following day they will ask what I did on my day off so it opens up new conversations and intrigue for when I return. The fans are respectful of my time and my needs and that’s why I work so hard to please them when I am live.
Callum: Yeah, of course, after all you as human as anyone else. So we just want to finish up with some quick-fire questions so feel free to be as deep as you like with these. Firstly, what was/is your favourite season of Fortnite ever?
Jake: My favourite would have to be chapter two, season three. The reason being that there were certain places on the map where you could encounter a boss. So at Catty, for example, you could find an AI boss that, if you managed to kill, would drop a gold shotgun and a shockwave launcher. I think I liked this because it gave more incentive to drop at these different points of interest and allowed those that sought out this challenge to be rewarded with unique and high-level loot that no one else on the map would have.
Callum: Next up, what is the game that you play if you ever find the time to play anything but Fortnite?
Jake: I’ve always had a passion for shooters and I love the battle royale format, so Warzone is a natural fit for me. It’s probably the most played game that I commit any time to outside of Fortnite. Although, it’s much more of a social thing. I would play with friends from school or with my girlfriend and because it doesn’t really matter if I win or lose, it’s a way that I can relax and unwind while still gaming and doing what I enjoy.
Callum: Are there any games that aren’t battle royales that you would ever spend any length of time on?
Jake: Honestly, not really. Battle Royales are my sole focus, hence the name OGL. OGL stands for only guy left which is what you have to be to win a battle royale. Its a gaming format that I have built by brand around and that’s because I enjoy these types of games so much, so I don’t really stray too far from the BR scene.
Callum: What is the best Battle Royale Out there that isn’t Fortnite?
Jake: Unsurprisingly, I would say COD: Warzone. If I was going to play any other game at a competitive level, it would definitely be that one.
Callum: Next, What are the best changes and worst changes since launch to Fortnite?
Jake: So the best changes are the ones that are added to the POI’s to add extra content to the map. For example, at the moment there is a spaceship on the map and if you land there, you can take part in a little minigame. You have to collect time and there are five little balls, then if you collect them, you’ll be brought into a room with chests and if you collected all the balls, you get the best loot from the chests. Basically, what these additions do, is make the game more accessible for new players and get higher level loot earlier. Meaning that they stand a chance of competing against more experienced players. It’s a means of levelling the playing field and I’m all for that.
As for the changes I don’t like. Gameplay-wise I have no issues but I’m not all that fond of the in-game concerts that the game does. One, because I’m not a Travis Scott or an Ariana Grande fan. Then two, because these concerts go on for days and don’t allow players to actually play the game at all. Meaning that you’ll lose streaming days and you won’t be able to climb the leaderboards. So I guess I wish they didn’t make these concerts mandatory at least.
Callum: Then are there any changes that you would propose for the future?
Jake: So something that I have wanted for a long time is an input in the matchmaking process that allows you to only compete in matches with controller players or KBM players. As while you can definitely compete and become as good or better than KBM players, the game is geared to naturally suit those players on the PC platform and for that reason, I think it would be a step toward fair and balanced competitive gaming if there was a way to make sure you are playing against only those players with those peripherals.
Callum: What are your thoughts on the abundance of third party skins and assets being added to the game?
Jake: I’m a pretty avid collector of Fortnite skins so I’m all for the third party skins. I buy the majority of them and while I won’t use most of them, I feel that as a creator in the space, I have to have them. Maybe this is just a way for me to justify my addiction to Fortnite skins but I also feel that if these skins become rare and desirable, buying them ahead of time is an investment.
Then lastly, where you dropping?
Jake: So far, Catty Corner has been my favourite drop for the last three seasons. It’s in the corner of the map and it’s a big snowy hill with a weather station. So I always land on the top of the hill, fight and then rotate down, hit the vending machines and then I go from there. I’ve worked out the best routine for me and it seems to be working as the stats are constantly improving.
So that was our interview with the incredibly talent Jake Filicicchia, AKA, OnlyGuyLeft. If you want to check out his streams or his socials, you can visit his FB Gaming channel, his Twitter or Instagram right here. He has assured us that you will be more than welcome. Are there any other interviews you would like to see from us in the future? Let us know in the comments section below and as always, thank you for reading.
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