© Supplied

Meet Hutchie - one of Southern Africa's best Fortnite players

With a boom in South African Fortnite tournaments there has been a rise in the player community of top talent. One of Southern Africa’s best players and well known faces is James “Hutchie” Hutcheson.
Written by Sam Wright
7 min readPublished on
Hutchie has cemented himself on the scene as not only the player to beat but also the player you want to be friends with. His infectious positivity, constant grin and general demeanor makes him an inspiration to many young players and a friend to many more established competitors.
But how did Hutchie, the Botswana native, become a name synonymous with South African Fortnite? I first met the current student almost three years ago at a local gaming event. He’d travelled a distance to attend and offer support - as his nature. He’s constantly supporting the local esports and gaming scenes, even before his Fortnite fame hit. At the time he was playing COD but transitioned over when the popular Battle Royale title launched. This is his story:
When would you say the gaming bug hit?
I can't remember the first game I ever played but I do know that I was 4 years old. I was in the UK visiting my aunt on my dad's side and it was the first time I learnt about the internet. I remember the one day I got really bored and so I went on my aunt's computer and Google searched online games. I tried so many different games for the first time. My dad couldn't get me to stop playing. On the last week of being in the UK my cousin brought over his Sega console for us to play together. He saw how much I enjoyed playing on it and knew I couldn't get anything like it on Botswana so he gave it to me. My favourite game was Sonic the Hedgehog.
That infectious smile

That infectious smile

© Supplied

How did you transition from Sonic to competitive titles?
My competitive nature has always been there. Competitive sports was my life. I was chess captain at school, played hockey for the Botswana national team, was named best tennis player and swimmer at school…. You get the idea. Gaming was never my thing up until a friend of mine got FIFA and started hosting tournaments for fun at his house every day for the kids in our arena. That was when I started applying my competitive nature. Then my friend got COD. He would bring his PS3 to my house and leave it there because I had internet and he didn't. That's when I got introduced to online gaming. It was not long before I bought my own PlayStation and continued playing COD. In Black Ops 2 there was a competitive mode called league play. I could play against South Africans and try to beat them. After Black Ops 2, I got picked up by a team and my competitive journey began. Sports in Botswana was not going anywhere and so I stuck to gaming as my new competitive adventure. I've always loved trying to be the best. Competition fuels me. Working with a team of friends, high energy, lots of practice to learn new ways and strategies to get you the win is why I love competing.
And now you’re one of South Africa’ favourite Fortnite players. What is it about Fortnite that you love?
I love the different dynamic to gaming that Fortnite brings. The building aspect is SO unique. It's not the typical on the ground shooter like other games. It's also my first battle royale game. It's not like other games where you make set classes, go in and try not to get out played. There's so many utilities in the game that you can use in different situations to win you a game. The game meta changes so many times it's fun adjusting to using new things. Let's not forget about the silly aspects of the game too: from dance moves you see in the real world being brought into the game, to a celebrity such as Marshmello having an in game concert, the crazy skins that come out and the map changes with every season, it definitely ensures that you never lose interest. Fortnite as a competitive game also gives the community a chance to compete for a spot at big time tournaments so, unlike most games, you don't just have the major competitive organisations having all the fun.
In the last few months we’ve seen you more in South Africa than Botswana. Most of that is probably attributed to local Esports venue, tournament organiser and MGO ATK Arena signing you on as their Fortnite representative. How did that happen?
It's no surprise that I was struggling in Botswana when it came to gaming and streaming because the internet service providers there are terrible. I was failing to stream and I had bad internet to compete. I started having very inconsistent streams. This was also around the time my competitive Fortnite journey began. I got a job at a computer sales company part time so I could help my parents pay for a better internet package. This still wasn't enough. Fortnite tournaments became more frequent (every week) and I travelled every weekend to Johannesburg to stay at my teammate’s house so I could compete and stream. Back home I could only stream after midnight so my schedule was: university in the morning, work in the afternoon, nap when I get home, stream at midnight till 4am, sleep and repeat. You can imagine how straining this was. At the end of last year I was close to quitting. I decided to give gaming and streaming one last shot. I travelled to a friend in Cape Town, I stayed there for one month as he had good internet and I’d have no distractions so I could pursue my passion. I attended the ATK Arena opening evening. In January they reached out to me after hearing my story, my struggle and my goals and decided to assist me. They offered me a chance to come to Cape Town and use the ATK Arena as my playground. I’d train there before the big Rand Show event that happened earlier this month. I also worked in their tech team and helped out at the venue where I could.
It’s a fairytale story - but how did you parents support this interesting career choice?
My parents never liked gaming and would take away my consoles if I played too much. They began to loosen the chains after they influenced me to do a university course I didn’t want to do. After struggling at school and having to change my course of study they realised they needed to let me live my life. Since then, they’ve supported me every step of the way - sometimes going as far as watching my past streams! However, I’d not call gaming a career choice. I’m left with 1 year of study and am still focusing on my studies. I want to graduate!
One year on you’ll have you degree, but what else do you see in your future, specifically your gaming?
My long term goal is to be living overseas and finally having the fair means to compete with the best in the world. I want to represent my country and Southern Africa. As a Fortnite competitor from Africa it is enormously difficult playing at the high levels we know we can compete at because we are held back by high ping. It is also made more difficult because local tournament organisers and gaming organisations turn their heads to the game because it doesn’t have open custom game access. I think Fortnite Africa can be noticed if we another form of Bravado’s Project Destiny - but with Fortnite players.