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Millionaire Teens: The World of Fortnite

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Gabriela Patrón
ByPor Gabriela Patrón


When thinking about sports, images of soccer, tennis, and basketball games immediately come to mind.  But one image that few people conjure is that of a teen at a computer, competing online against other players worldwide in esports. However, this scene is increasingly more common, as demonstrated by the Fornite World Cup, an event which distributed over $30 million in prizes.

“ESports,” or electronic games, is an industry that has seen exponential growth in the last decade.  According to Statista, in 2012, the video game market earned $130 million in global income. It’s predicted that this number will multiply by 2022, reaching an annual value of $1,790 million. The grand majority of this income is generated by sponsors and gamer advertisements. The rest comes from the jackpots accumulated during tournaments, as well as tickets and merchandise of these events. Among the countries that top the list of income-generators in the eSports market are the USA (37%), China (19%), and South Korea (9%).  

The Big Stats of Fortnite

Fortnite was released in 2017 and is a Battle Royale-esque game, whose goal is to eliminate competition and be the last player standing. It is a direct competitor to games like Apex Legends and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. In 2018 alone, Fortnite earned around $2,400 million dollars, thanks to microtransactions available for the purchase of accessories within the game.  That’s how Epic Games, tech business and Fortnite developer, reached an estimated value of $15,000 million dollars that year.

EPIC Games decided to take advantage of the game’s immense popularity, in order to launch its World Cup. 40 million players total and worldwide participated in the classifying rounds from April 13th – June 16th, leaving only 100 contestants. The competition was divided into separate teams: Pro-AM, Creative Mode, Duos, and Single Players. 

In the partners tournament, the champions, Nyhrox and Aqua, won $3 million. In the Single Player competition, USA-native, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, just 16 years old, won first place– and $3 million. This is the same monetary value that Novak Djokovic earned upon winning the Wimbledon title this year.

The second place winner was Harrison “Psalm” Chang, 24 year old who won $1.8 million. Third place went to Epikwhale– whose age was kept a secret, but whose prize was $1.2 million. The 13-year-old Argentinian, Thiago Lapp, stands out for earning 5th place and thus taking home a $900,000 prize. Even those players that did not earn sufficient points in order to advance will receive $50,000 from Epic Games. 

ESports and Lessons for the Future 

Fortnite isn’t the first game to organize a tournament with a big jackpot, but it is one of the most popular in recent years. Thanks to the development and popularization of platforms like YouTube and Twitch, thousands of kids and teens across the globe are consuming video game-centered content. 

A dominating assumption says that the only career in the eSports industry is that of a professional player. However, there are an endless number of factors that come together to bring a video game to fruition. There are software developers, programmers, video game designers, graphic artists, audio engineers, musicians, animators, translators, and a large team of those who team up to create a story. And, if you’re an old-school gamer or strategist, you can even be the trainer of a new team. Many people earn their career commenting on and analyzing video game matches for the general public. 

Technology modifies many aspects of our lives, including our forms of entertainment (i.e., video games).  Therefore, we should be prepared to hear more about eSport World Cups in the coming years, as well as the millions of dollars that the industry will mobilize.   

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