Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won the first Fortnite World Championship on Sunday. Thanks to record prize money, the 16-year-old is now a millionaire. What he intends to do with the money says a lot about the scene.
The greatest athletic triumph of his life had already been in the offing for hours. Kyle Giersdorf alias “Bugha” was nevertheless visibly overwhelmed when he officially won the first world championship of the video game Fortnite on Sunday. When he held out the massive trophy to the sky in front of over 20,000 spectators, his parents and siblings at the New York tennis stadium, he was three million dollars richer. It is the highest prize money ever paid for a video game tournament.
“I can’t put it into words,” the 16-year-old from Pennsylvania told ESPN. “I’m so happy, all the work has paid off. It’s just crazy.” In a Fortnite round, 100 players abandoned on an island fight against each other until only one is left.
With a victory in the first of six final laps, “Bugha” got off to a good start: “My strategy was to build up a big advantage early on, which worked, and then just be consistent.”
The youngest participant is 13 – and now has 50,000 dollars in the account
That also worked, before the last lap his lead was practically impossible to catch. Half a decade before he comes of age according to American law, Kyle Giersdorf now has the equivalent of about 15 Ferraris on his account.
“This will change his life”, says Darcy Giersdorf after the victory of her son, who trains eight to ten hours a day on the screen. “He’s been playing video games since he was three years old, that’s his passion. He told us that he could win (the World Cup) – he gave everything, and he actually made it.”
There was $30 million to be spent in New York in total. 50,000 dollars alone were guaranteed to anyone who qualified for the final round. Among them were the best placed German Jan “fwexY” Kaur (31.) as well as the youngest World Championship participant, the 13-year-old Lion “Lyght” Krause (80.) from Gütersloh.
The Austrian David “aqua” Wang became team world champion together with his Norwegian partner, the two share three million dollars. They are huge sums that are paid out to mostly underage players.
“Bugha” won 35 times its annual earnings in a single day.
However, the balance sheet of Fortnite developer Epic Games puts the prize money in proportion: the company is said to have earned almost 2.4 billion dollars last year alone with the game, mainly through so-called in-game transactions. Gamblers exchange real money for the game currency in order to buy better equipment for their characters.
The figures also show how fast E-Sport has grown. In 2009, the world’s best-paid gamer earned around 86,000 dollars – all year round. “Bugha” almost got 35 times that amount in one day.
What do teenagers do with a fortune like that? “I want to save all that money and use it for my future.” It’s like sentences from a textbook for PR consultants. The 16-year-old and the other stars of his scene have been media professionals for a long time, fully trained to make the best possible use of the lucrative opportunities offered by the digital world.
His Triumph day, of all days, was largely analogous: “I didn’t touch my mobile phone”, Kyle Giersdorf answered the question as to whether he had already looked at the reactions to his World Cup victory. “And to be honest, I don’t know what to expect when I turn it on.”
Quelle: Fortnite World Masters