In Depth

How to win $3m playing Fortnite

US teenager banks record-breaking prize fund at yesterday’s Fortnite World Cup

A US teenager has won a record-breaking $3m (£2.4m) jackpot after clinching the Fortnite World Cup crown on Sunday. 

Kyle Giersdorf, a 16-year-old who’s known by his gamer nickname “Bugha”, became an “instant millionaire” after beating 99 other players in a one-against-all battle in the esports final, Bloomberg reports. 

The event, held at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, which typically hosts the US Open tennis tournament, also saw 16-year-old Emil Bergquist Pedersen, a Norwegian who plays under the name of “Nyhrox”, and 17-year-old Austrian player David “Aqua” Wang splitting a $3m prize fund after beating 50 teams to win the Fortnite duo championship, the news site says. 

Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, said the event was the “most participated-in tournament of all time”. Over 40 million players from across the world qualified in the hope of securing a spot in the final, according to The Independent

The $30m (£24.4m) prize fund, split over four categories - Creative, Celebrity Pro-Am, Duos and Solos - was also the “largest prize pool in the history of esports”, the news site adds. 

What is the Fortnite World Cup?

Fortnite, a Battle Royale-style game that pits 100 players against each other in a vast open world, is one of the most played video games of all time, having amassed a player base of over 200 million gamers since its launch in 2017. It’s no wonder that Epic Games wanted to cash in on the game’s success with a multi-million dollar esports event.

The Fortnite World Cup saw tens of millions of players compete in online qualifying events over a ten-week period, the BBC reports, with the inaugural finals taking place over the weekend. Only the 100 best players made it through to the solos final, where gamers fought against each other until only one remained. 

The World Cup final was a sellout, with all 23,000 seats at the Arthur Ashe Stadium being taken. 

While the event was one of the biggest of its kind, an even larger esports championship will take place later this year. 

The International 9, an esports event for players of the strategy game Dota 2, will offer a prize fund of $30.8m (£24.9m), narrowly beating the total prize money handed out at the Fortnite World Cup, notes Forbes

How do you become a professional Fortnite player?

As with traditional sports, it takes intensive practice to become a professional Fortnite player.

Kyle “Mongraal” Jackson, who pocketed $375,000 (£300,000) during yesterday’s final, told The Daily Telegraph that he had been spending between eight to ten hours a day training for the event. Jackson had competed in 17 tournaments this year, prior to the Fortnite World Cup, helping him to prepare for the pressures of competing in front of thousands of fans.

There are even coaches on hand to help budding Fortnite players improve their skills ahead of a tournament. 

According to Inverse, coaches - known as “senseis” in the Fortnite world - will often watch players live stream a competitive match, or examine a recording from a gaming session and provide feedback to the player. 

Coaches often command an hourly rate, says Business Insider. The coaching world doesn’t appear to be particularly lucrative, with coaches charging between $15 to $35 (£12-£28) per hour, although that may change now that the competitive scene has erupted. 

Once players feel that they are ready to face the world’s best gamers, they can sign up to compete in tournaments. Each event has its own qualifying format, with the best players being invited to battle one another in front of a live audience.

As with most sporting events, the bigger tournaments offer the largest prize funds. Accumulate enough wins during a year, and players could find themselves waving goodbye to their nine-to-five job for a life in professional gaming.

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