Pennsylvania teenager wins $3M in Fortnite World Cup

The $30 million in prizes won by various teenage Fortnite players may make some parents reconsider berating their kids for "sitting around playing Fortnite all day."
Image: ESports: Fortnite World Cup Finals
Bugha celebrates his win as the first solo World Champion at the Fortnite World Cup Finals e-sports event at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on July 28, 2019.Dennis Schneidler / USA Today Sports via Reuters

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By Brittany Vincent

The Fortnite World Cup Solo Finals champion is 16-year-old North America East player Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, who finished with a staggering 59 points after a whirlwind of a competition. His prize? A cool $3 million, plus the undeniable knowledge that his life has been forever transformed.

"Today's the day," the wide-eyed hopeful tweeted before the tournament finally got under way around 1 p.m. ET on Friday. After its thrilling conclusion, he followed it up with a simple "Today was indeed the day..." capped with a golden trophy emoji. Both tweets immediately began to go viral, amassing likes and retweets in the blink of an eye. He is now officially the best Fortnite player in the world.

To put Bugha's sweeping win into perspective, the second place finisher, NA East player, Psalm, ended up bagging 33 points, taking home a cash prize of $1,800,000. Meanwhile, NA West player, EpikWhale, scored 32 points and received $1,200,000. Bugha kept an iron grip on the lead throughout game 6, with a 15-point lead and 18 eliminations bolstering his spot at the top.

Meanwhile, Fortnite duo Nyhrox (Emil Bergquist Pedersen) and Aqua (David Wang) took the coveted Duos championship. Nyhrox, 16, and Aqua, 17, hadn't topped any lists of favorites, and thus shook the gaming world after performing far more admirably than any of their competitors.

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"World Champions," tweeted Nyhrox after his win. "I love you so much bro @aquaa," he gushed. "This is just kreizy," replied Aqua. Like Bugha, the pair have steadily watched their follower count rise, and their futures sparkle. It’s nowhere but up for these rising Fortnite stars.

Interestingly enough, favorites like Tfue, the fifth most-watched streamer on Twitch, only managed to take 67th place. Tyler "Ninja" Blevins didn't qualify to participate in the tournament, but made a special appearance during two other portions of the World Cup. Ninja still competed in the event's Celebrity Pro-Am tournament, however, alongside EDM artist Marshmello, just as he had in 2018.

Combatants flew in from around the world with stars in their eyes: Their goal? Competing in the first-ever Fortnite World Cup, one of the largest e-sports events in history. As spectators converged on New York's Arthur Ashe tennis stadium, one thing became abundantly clear: Fortnite certainly isn't going anywhere.

The Fortnite World Cup, from developer Epic Games, invited players of any skill level to participate and potentially take home their part of the $3 million prize pool. So long as players were over the age of 13 and managed to qualify for the games of their choice (Solos, Duos, or Creative), they were able to join the biggest players from e-sports organizations around the world for a shot at fame, fortune, and e-sports notoriety. With every participant receiving $50,000 regardless of where they placed, the mere act of competing in the “Super Bowl of Fortnite” was a boon.

The median age of competitors on Saturday and Sunday skewed toward 16, according to an announcer at the competition. If you've berated a teen you know for "sitting around playing Fortnite all day," know that it's certainly amounted to something here.

What's next for Fortnite following its biggest event of the year? Players at home don't have to stop looking forward to content being steadily piped into the game. There's still plenty to come, especially since developer Epic announced that competitive play will, in fact, be continuing for Season 10 of the game. It will kick off with the debut of the Fortnite Championship Series. The World Cup may be over, but that doesn't mean any aspiring pro should let their guard down — or stop training, for that matter.

As far as everything else that's coming during Season 10, the lead-up has gotten somewhat exhausting. Epic has been teasing a steady stream of content updates for the latest batch of craziness for Fortnite since July, when a knock-down, drag-out battle occurred between a massive pink robot and a towering monster. The monster's remains can still be seen on the battlefield.

While Season 10 is set to begin on Aug. 1, we know next to nothing about what to expect from it. But that's just how Epic likes it. The most recent teaser debuted on social media seems to suggest some alterations to the game — like the aforementioned aftermath of the robot battle — could be walked back in a future update. The official Fortnite account tweeted an image of Dusty Depot, one of the first areas on the game map to have been permanently altered when a meteor crashed into it and created Dusty Divot.

Fortnite is no stranger to making huge leaps when it comes to altering the map as players know it. And, given that there's already talk of going back to the way it was in 2017 when it was first launched, it's intriguing to reflect on how far the game has come.

Whatever happens with Season 10 and the introduction of new ways for players to compete, there’s one sure bet about Fortnite: The game has more than carved out its place in the annals of e-sports and gaming history, and there’s no telling where it’s going to go next.