For a few days at least, Kyle Giersdorf isn’t going to be hassled for spending so much time playing video games.
The 16-year-old, known as “Bugha” to gamers, came away with $3 million Sunday in the Fortnite World Cup solo competition, beating 99 other players culled from some 40 million who hoped to qualify for the event in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
Giersdorf, who lives in Pottsgrove, Pa., laughed and shook his head as his name was announced after his dominant performance in the finale. Like all champions in the home of tennis’s U.S. Open, he gleefully hoisted the giant trophy over his head and hugged members of his family. “All I want,” he said (via the BBC), “is a new desk and maybe a desk for my trophy.”
The rest he plans to save.
In the final round, his championship was “pretty much sealed” after he found a safe spot to look for enemies and amassed a ton of money for ammunition. “Words can’t really explain it. I’m so happy,” he told CNN Business. “Everything I’ve done in the grind has all paid off and it’s just insane.”
Harrison “Psalm” Chang, one of the oldest competitors Sunday at 24, won $1.8 million. “It’s great representing the old dudes: Experience and composure trump everything,” Chang, a former professional Heroes of the Storm player, said. “Fortnite is a young man’s game, though.”
He said he plans to either “gamble it all or invest” his money, but hasn’t decided yet.
More than 30 nations were represented in the tournament, sponsored by Fortnite’s parent Epic Games. It awarded $30 million to players over the weekend, which also featured a Pro-Am and duos competition. In duos, teenagers Nyhrox and Aqua won $1.5 million each Saturday. Aqua’s plan? Shopping for Gucci shoes.
In Fortnite, the multiplayer phenomenon that has 200 million registered users competing under often inscrutable names worldwide, 100 players are dropped onto an island and must eliminate each other, seeking weapons and building structures along the way, until one is left. Competitors in the game, which is free to download, can play alone, in a four- or 20-person team, with friends or with other players they don’t know.
The Battle Royale version of the game brought in around $2.4 billion in revenue for Epic in 2018, according to SuperData Research.
As with electronic devices of all types, the game can be addictive, as Britain’s Prince Harry noted. “That game shouldn’t be allowed. Where is the benefit of having it in your household?” he said in April. He added, “It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It’s so irresponsible.”
Like it or not, there’s a ton of money moving in and out. A 2018 Goldman Sachs report stated that esports have landed venture capital investment totaling $3.3 billion since 2013, and $1.4 billion as of the middle of last year. “We [the esports industry] look like the NBA did in late ’60s, early ’70s,” Canaan Partners’ Maha Ibrahim, who has led the firm’s investment in Gen. G, said in April.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the 28-year-old who is one of the best-known Fortnite players in the world, described in an ABC interview the commitment required and estimated that he plays at least 10-12 hours a day. “One hour is not enough,” he said, adding, “So many people underestimate and undervalue time in [the game]. If you’re playing like an hour a day, you’re not gonna ever be at a level that you want to be at.”
To get good at the game takes two to five hours a day, according to Blevins, who also thinks it’s smart for parents to hire tutors to help their kids.
“There are people who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars at the age of 16, 18 playing that game,” he said. “Would you ever insult a parent or question a parent for hiring a coach? Like a specific coach to help them get better at soccer or football? No one’s gonna be like, ‘Why would you do that?’ It’s the same with Fortnite. There’s money in it.”
And Giersdorf’s haul puts him on another level.
“He’s such a good player, it’s impossible to not know who he is,” Perri Cox, a 17-year-old spectator, told CNN. “I don’t think casual players knew of him, but if you were following the competitive side of things, you definitely were aware of him.”
If you test what you know, it increases your ability to retain the information you just read.
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