Teen gamer scores R42m for being crowned 'Fortnite' world champion

30 July 2019 - 12:26 By AFP Relaxnews
The Fortnite World Cup took place in New York's Arthur Ashe stadium, where the US Open tennis tournament takes place. Every competitor was guaranteed at least $50,000 cash.
The Fortnite World Cup took place in New York's Arthur Ashe stadium, where the US Open tennis tournament takes place. Every competitor was guaranteed at least $50,000 cash.
Image: Johannes Eisele/AFP

American Kyle Giersdorf, alias "Bugha", was crowned the first Fortnite world champion in the solo division of the Fortnite World Cup — a title which netted the 16-year-old a whopping $3m (about R42.7m) prize.

The three-day Fornite World Cup event, which ended on Sunday, took place in the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York, where the US Open tennis tournament is played.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Bugha took the lead in the first of six games and never looked back.

"It's insane," the young millionaire said after the final, during which he scored almost double the points of his closest opponent (59 to 33).

Aside from the second of six games, Bugha was remarkably consistent despite playing in the first world cup final, with millions in prize money on the line. 

"This morning he was worriless, energetic, having fun to make sure he wasn't stressed at all," his best friend Colin Bradley said after the final.

In the game, users are dropped on to an island where they must search for weapons and other resources while eliminating other players — all while trying to stay alive.

A sense of placement, a talent for building, brilliance in close combat and rock solid self-control — Bugha had it all in the final.

A lot of people think it's just a game, but Bugha is practising, dedicated, determined. I think he's the definition of a professional
Dawn Seiders, the 'Fortnite' world champion's aunt

"He's one of the smartest players. He knows when to attack, when not to attack, to stay on high ground. He's a strategic player," Bradley said.

Having a high position is often a decisive advantage, especially in the closing stages of the game, making it easier to shoot other players.

"A lot of people think it's just a game, but he is practising, dedicated, determined," said Bugha's aunt, Dawn Seiders.

"I think he's the definition of a professional."

'IT'S MASSIVE'

Epic Games — Fortnite's creators — have spent a whopping $100m (about R1,4bn) on the inaugural event, including staging 10 weeks of qualifying culminating in this weekend's tournament.

Over the three-day tournament, Epic Games gave out $30m (about R427m) in prize money.

Every competitor is guaranteed to leave with $50,000, making them the envy of the schoolyard when they return home.

Over the three-day tournament, Epic Games gave out $30m (about R427m) in prize money

On Saturday, gamers using the pseudonyms 'Nyhrox' and 'aqua' became the first Fortnite world champions in the duo division, winning $1.5m each.

During Sunday's final, the crown jewel of the tournament, three players in addition to Bugha also became millionaires: 'Psalm' ($1.8m), 'Epikwhale' ($1.2m) and 'Kreo' ($1.05m), all Americans.

Argentinian player Thiago Lapp, alias 'King', made a splash at only 13 years old. He just missed the million-dollar mark ($900k) and finished fifth, employing an ultra-aggressive style that helped him eliminate 21 competitors over six matches, the best after Bugha (23).

"It's better than watching on TV or Twitch," said Anthony Peralta, who attended the final.

During the weekend's highlights, attendees filled about two-thirds of the Arthur Ashe stadium, which has a seating capacity of 23,000.

"I didn't think it would be this much fun," said Carlos Dacosta, another final audience member.

"The level of competition that these guy have, it's crazy."

"It's massive, what they've done," said French gamer 'Kouto', whose real name is Issam Taguine and is a member of France's Team MCES.

"Especially everything they've invested in the players."

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After placing second during the "Creative Mode" final on Friday, which offers players new game modes they can discover, Kouto will leave New York with $86k, which he plans to give to his mother.

For him, the popularity of the game — which is free to play and has 250 million users worldwide — is higher than ever, thanks to its fast-paced updates.

"It's the game with the most changes," he said.

"So you can come back four months later and you'll never feel like you've played the same game. That's what gives the game life."