Teen Gamer Wins $3 Million in Fortnite ‘World Cup’

31 July, 2019

A 16-year-old American has received a $3 million prize after winning a competition for players of the video game Fortnite. Three other Americans also became millionaires as individual players in the competition.

Kyle Giersdorf was declared the individual winner of the competition earlier this week in New York City. Giersdorf is from the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. In the game, he is known as "Bugha."

Fortnite is an online video game that has about 250 million users worldwide. The company Epic Games created the game. The company also organized the competition, which it called the "Fortnite World Cup." The event drew an estimated 15,000 fans at New York's Arthur Ashe tennis center.

Epic Games says it has spent at least $100 million developing Fortnite e-sports activities over the past year. The effort ended with the championship event, which paid out $30 million in prize money. Players from around the world took part in qualifying competitions over the past 10 weeks.

Kyle Giersdorf took the lead in the first of six games involving at least 100 players and never looked back. He scored nearly double the points of his nearest competitor. "It's insane," Giersdorf said after his win. "Words can't even explain it. I'm just so happy."

The event also named winners in three other divisions. These included a competition for pairs, as well as one for well-known Fortnite players from around the world. Another competition decided the best "creative" players.

Competition winners represented many countries outside America, including players from Europe, Canada, South America and Asia.

In this Saturday, July 27, 2019 photo, provided by Epic Games, Emil
In this Saturday, July 27, 2019 photo, provided by Epic Games, Emil "Nyhrox" Bergquist Pedersen, of Norway, left, and David "Aqua" Wang, of Austria, hold up their trophies after winning the Fortnite World Cup duo championship in New York. (Epic Games via

Some observers noted on social media the lack of any women in the 100 finalists of the individual competition. The lack of female involvement is despite recent studies estimating that nearly half of people playing video games in the U.S. are girls and women.

Epic Games opened up the competition to anyone who wanted to take part, regardless of gender or age. Some experts say the lack of female competitors in the Fortnite contest is part of a wider issue of males mostly dominating e-sports competitions.

In Fortnite's "Battle Royale," players are dropped onto an island where they have to search for weapons and other resources to progress in the game. The goal is to kill off all the others to become the last one standing. Players can battle as individuals or in teams.

The game does not cost money to play. But some items within the game can be bought with real money. Players who progress in the game reach higher levels as they play. Having a high position can give players a major advantage over opponents.

Fortnite differs from some other popular online shooter games because it includes cartoon characters and some unusual, fun elements. Players can choose different "skins" to give their characters an identity. Many of these characters are based on things from popular culture.

One of the most popular parts of the game involves players creating special dances for their characters to perform. Some of these Fortnite dances have gone viral on the internet.

The French press agency AFP spoke to Giersdorf's best friend, Colin Bradley. He said on the morning of the competition, his friend seemed "worriless and energetic" and was just trying to have fun. "He's one of the smartest players. He knows when to attack, when not to attack, to stay high ground," Bradley said. "He's a strategic player."

Some fans said going to the event in person was worth it, even though the competition was also available to watch online. "I didn't think it would be this much fun," attendee Carlos Dacosta told AFP. "The level of competition these guys have, it's crazy," he said.

A French gamer who goes by the name "Kouto" told AFP he was impressed with how "massive" Fortnite had become. "Especially everything they've invested in the players," he said.

Kouto, whose real name is Issam Taguine, took part in the creative player's competition and won $86,000. For him, the popularity of the game is higher than ever. He says a main reason for Fortnite's success is that new and exciting things are always being added.

"So you can come back four months later and you'll never feel like you've played the same game," Taguine said. "That's what gives the game life."

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and online sources. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

What are your thoughts on the game Fortnite and other online video games? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

qualify v. succeed in getting into a competition

drew v. to cause (someone or something) to come

insane adj. incredible, foolish or unreasonable

dominate v. to control or have power over someone or something

advantage n. something good about a situation that helps you

cartoonn. funny drawing of a person or thing

character n. a person who appears in a story, book, movie, game, etc.

strategic adj. helping to complete a particular plan

despite prep. used to say that something happens or is true even though there is something that might prevent it from happening or being true

regardless adv. without being stopped or affected by (something)

pair n. two things that are the same and are meant to be used together

gender n. the state of being male or female: sex