For a few days at least, Kyle Giersdorf isn’t going to be hassled for spending so much time playing video games.
The 16-year-old known as “Bugha” to gamers, came away with $3 million Sunday in the Fortnite World Cup solo competition, beating 99 other players culled from some 40 million who hoped to qualify for the event in Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Giersdorf, who lives in Pottsgrove, Pennsylvania, laughed and shook his head as his name was announced after his dominant performance in the finale. Like all champions in the home of tennis’s US Open, he gleefully hoisted the giant trophy over his head and hugged members of his family. “All I want,” he said (via BBC), “is a new desk and maybe a desk for my trophy.”
The rest he plans to save.
In the final round, his championship was “pretty much sealed” after he found a safe spot to look for enemies and amassed a tonne of money for ammunition. “Words can’t really explain it. I’m so happy,” he told CNN Business. “Everything I’ve done in the grind has all paid off and it’s just insane.”
Harrison “Psalm” Chang, one of the oldest competitors Sunday at 24, won $1.8 million. “It’s great representing the old dudes: Experience and composure trump everything,” Chang, a former professional Heroes of the Storm player, said. “Fortnite is a young man’s game, though.”
He said he plans to either “gamble it all or invest” his money, but hasn’t decided yet.
More than 30 nations were represented in the tournament, sponsored by Fortnite’s parent Epic Games. It awarded $30 million to players over the weekend, which also featured a Pro-Am and duos competition. In duos, teenagers Nyhrox and Aqua won $1.5 million each Saturday. Aqua’s plan? Shopping for Gucci shoes.
In Fortnite, the multiplayer phenomenon that has 200 million registered users competing under often inscrutable names worldwide, 100 players are dropped onto an island and must eliminate each other, seeking weapons and building structures along the way, until one is left. Competitors in the game, which is free to download, can play alone, in a four- or 20-person team, with friends or with other players they don’t know.
The Battle Royale version of the game brought in around $2.4 billion in revenue for Epic in 2018, according to SuperData Research.