This summer saw the world’s first esports tournament for Fortnite, the hugely successful battle royale game released by Epic Games in 2017. The event took place in New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium from 26th – 28th July and featured 100 solo competitors and 50 duo teams competing for prizes from a pool of $30 million.
The tournament was streamed on several well-known platforms, garnering 1.3 million viewers on streaming giant Twitch, and a further 500,000 audience members on YouTube.
Players competed in six matches of the multiplayer game, accumulating points in a simple system based on their placement at the end of each match, and their number of eliminations. The player with the most points collected after the six matches won, earned a top prize of $3 million, the largest pay-out to date for a champion of an esports tournament.
As with many sports, the focus of the tournament rested on the solo participants. First place went to 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf from Pennsylvania, represented by esports organisation Sentinels. Despite his success, Kyle has since been the target of various online attacks. His social media was hacked into just hours after his history-making victory, and he has recently been the victim of ‘swatting’. The prank of ‘swatting’ involves people interrupting streamers whilst they play by faking emergency calls to get a SWAT team to attend the location where the player is based.
In Kyle’s case, this took place at his home address, where he was luckily recognised by one of the officers attending the incident.
One talking point of the tournament has been the absence of female players in competitive gaming. This summer’s tournament saw no female soloists, despite there being 100 participants. This doesn’t match up with Fortnite’s user base which shows that 35% of the game’s players are female, or the wider gaming population, which is estimated to be 46% female. Many have suggested that Fortnite’s biggest user base – young males – are the problem. Some hardcore gamers can promote exclusive and elitist attitudes towards the games that they are heavily invested in, deterring female users when this is expressed in derogatory and misogynistic insults. However, one victory for female gamers was seen at the Fortnite Cup weekend, with esports team FaZe Clan introducing their first signed female player, Ewok.