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$3 million for winning a game of Fortnite? It just happened to a U.S. teen

A 16-year-old gamer from Pennsylvania has just bagged a cool $3 million for finishing first in a glitzy Fortnite tournament in New York City.

No, that’s not a typo —  Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won three million dollars on Sunday for being really, really good at Fortnite. The sum is the biggest-ever cash prize for a single player at an esports tournament. And get this — the entire prize fund for the inaugural Fortnite tournament was $30 million.

Esports events have seen rapid growth in recent years, and the three-day Fortnite World Cup in the Big Apple, which culminated in Sunday’s showdown inside a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open tennis venue in Queens, has helped to bring esports — and Fortnite — to an even wider audience.

The 24,000-seat stadium had been transformed into a video gamers’ paradise for the event, with massive screens set up in the center to show the games unfold.

As he was announced as the winner of the six-game series, Giersorf climbed out of his seat and raised his arms, before shaking his head in apparent disbelief at his victory.

“Words can’t really explain it. I’m so happy,” Giersdorf said later. “Everything I’ve done, the grind, it’s all paid off and it’s just insane.”

Speaking to ESPN, the champion said, “From the start, I had a big lead. From there I knew I had to have consistent games, which you can’t always rely on placement but also kills. Looking for those kills really pushed me up the leaderboard.”

Second-place Harrison “Psalm” Chang picked up a tidy $1.8 million for his efforts, while Epikwhale (he hasn’t revealed his full name!) finished third, taking home $1.2 million. Nate “Kreo” Kou collected $1.05 million after finishing fourth.

The more-than 100 Fortnite World Cup finalists who participated in the New York event were all male, aged between 13 and 24, and came through an online qualifying period involving a colossal 40 million hopefuls.

For the uninitiated, Fortnite is an online, multi-platform, third-person shooter by Epic Games in which 100 players battle it out on an ever-shrinking map while collecting weapons and building structures. For sure, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Since its launch two years ago, it has become one of the most popular video games in the world, thanks mainly to the popularity of the free-to-play Battle Royale mode. In 2018, the game earned its maker $2.4 billion (mostly via in-game purchases), which, according to research firm SuperData, is “the most annual revenue of any game in history.”

In early September, the Arthur Ashe Stadium will host the singles tennis finals at the U.S. Open, with the winning male and female players each receiving $3,850,000. It surely won’t be long before the best esports gamers are taking home even more money than that as the sector continues its rapid rise.

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Trevor Mogg
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