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Fortnite Battle Royale: the game making teenage millionaires

Tom McArthur
·Page editor
Kyle Giersdorf wins the solo cup at the Fortnite World Cup. Image via Epic Games.
Kyle Giersdorf wins the solo cup at the Fortnite World Cup. Image via Epic Games.

A packed stadium with thousands of screaming fans isn’t what many people imagine when they think of computer game competitions.

And yet this was the backdrop for the Fortnite World Cup last weekend, which saw the world’s best gamers compete for a share of $30m in New York — the largest prize pot in the history of the fledgling sport.

The professional video gaming industry, known as e-sports, is on course to be worth one billion dollars in 2019 and most of its top ‘athletes’ are in their teenage years.

Sixteen-year-old Kyle Giersdorf —known as Bugha—bagged the $3m (£2.4m) main prize by beating 99 other players to win the Solo Cup.

The payout is more than golfer Tiger Woods made for winning the 2019 Masters Tournament.

London teenager Jaden Ashman, 15, got a cut of $2.25m (£1.8m) for coming second in the duos event with his playing partner. Jaden told the BBC he hopes to buy his mum a house, despite her once throwing away his X-box.

And another Brit, 14-year-old Kyle "Mongraal" Jackson from Sidcup, Kent, also walked away with prize money of $375,000 (£308,000).

Fortnite, created by US firm Epic Games in 2017, reportedly has around 250 million registered players — and a peak of 78 million monthly players was claimed in August 2018 for its most popular Battle Royale version.

READ MORE: Your Fortnite cheat sheet: The low-down on this year's top game craze

It is free to download, but users can spend money on in-app purchases.

The Fortnite finals saw forty million players whittled down over several weeks to 100 qualifiers who battled it out on giant screens at the Arthur Ashe stadium in New York.

Around 1.3million people watched the finals action live at its peak on streaming service Twitch, the Dexerto esports blog reports.

Chart: @StatistaCharts
Chart: @StatistaCharts

And, like many things teenagers do, it’s not without controversy.

Prince Harry recently called for the game to be banned earlier this year as he blasted its apparently addictive nature.

Harry said: “It’s created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible”.

But with e-sports growing rapidly and even bigger prize funds planned, expect to see a few more millionaires who can’t legally buy alcohol —or even energy drinks— as young gamers go professional.