A 16-year-old just won $3M playing in the Fortnite World Cup

More than 2 million people watched the best in the world compete for big money.

Oscar Gonzalez Former staff reporter
Oscar Gonzalez is a Texas native who covered video games, conspiracy theories, misinformation and cryptocurrency.
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Oscar Gonzalez
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Fortnite World Cup logo

Fortnite World Cup took place in New York City. 


Battle royale game Fortnite has become a phenomenon. The free video game from developer Epic Games has generated billions of dollars and become an obsession for gamers of all ages. That surge in popularity has brought Fortnite tournaments for eager esports gamers to watch and compete in. The biggest of them all is the Fortnite World Cup, and the one who took it all on Sunday was Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf. 

The Fortnite World Cup Finals, with a $30 million prize pool, took place July 26 to 28 in New York City at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

Who won the Fortnite World Cup

Sunday was the last day of the event and it was all about the solo tournament. Players from all across the globe who qualified in smaller tournaments competed, and it was 16-year-old Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf who won the $3 million first-place prize and the title of the best Fortnite player in the world. 

Giersdorf started the day strong, winning the first of six games. In the next five games, he continued to place high and accumulate more eliminations, giving him the point lead. He kept the top spot throughout the day and had a commanding lead in the last game, where it seemed almost impossible for him to lose.  

Giersdorf was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Monday to talk about his daily routine of spending a half-hour warming up before practicing and strategizing for the day. He also explained the origins of his name "Bugha," which was what his grandfather would say to him as a baby to make him laugh. 

Twitch tracking site Githyp estimated 1.3 million people watched the Sunday finals via the video game streaming site. On YouTube , there were half a million tuning in for the event. There were also viewers on Microsoft's streaming service Mixer, and players were ble to watch the finals while playing Fortnite thanks to a new service from Epic. 

Saturday was the duos tournament, and the European team of Emil "Nyhrox" Bergquist Pedersen and David "Aqua" W. took the championship, winning $3 million. The players won two of the six games giving them the most points among the 50 teams competing. 

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What is the Fortnite World Cup

Epic announced the 2019 Fortnite World Cup in June 2018. Plans were to have weekly tournaments starting in late 2018 with the finals in 2019. In March, the developer changed its plans, with qualifiers for the Fortnite World Cup starting in April.

Players earned points in either single or duos weekly tournaments to qualify for the finals. Those with the highest points total were invited to the event and play for the first prize of $3 million as well as the crown of the best Fortnite player in the world. 

What is the tournament format

In both the duos and solos event, players/teams compete in six matches. They earn points after each match based on how they placed and how many eliminations they accumulated. The player or team with the most points after the six matches is crowned the winner. Duos split a prize of $3 million, while the solos winners keep the $3 million all to themselves.

Who competed in the Fortnite World Cup

Epic says there were more than 40 million players who participated in the qualifying events for the Fortnite World Cup across six regions: NA East, NA West, Europe, Brazil, Asia and Oceania (Austalia and New Zealand). From those qualifiers, the field is now down to 50 duos and 100 solo players. Some of the players competing are Turner "Tfue" Tenney, Noah "Vivid" Wright and Timothy "Bizzle" Miller. One notable player who didn't make the cut was Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who failed to qualify for the World Cup. 

The Fortnite YouTube channel has several profiles of players competing at the finals. There's also the Road to the World Cup Finals Part 1 and Part 2 showcasing both the well-known and lesser-known players competing this weekend. 

World Cup Loot

Epic not only set aside $30 million for the players competing, but it also gave those watching the World Cup some free cosmetics. Fortnite players who link their YouTube accounts to their Epic account could receive YouTube Drops. Viewers had  to watch the event for at least 20 minutes to receive the World Cup Spray and Red Line Wrap. 

Players could also receive a World Cup style outfit for the Fishstick skin if they log in to Fortnite from July 25 to 28. 

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is a battle royale game, which means a large number of players start a match and the last one who survives wins. Each game has 100 players landing on an island with only pickaxes equipped. They'll have to find new weapons, grenades and other items in order to survive and eliminate other players.

What makes Fortnite unique is the building aspect of the game. Players can scavenge materials such as wood, metal and brick to create walls, ramps and floors to quickly build their own forts, hence the name. These structures help protect players from bullets and can provide vantage points against opponents. The best Fortnite players are not just good with a gun, but they can also build quickly to defend themselves.

Originally published June 13.
Update, July 22: Adds more details. July 23: Adds more streaming details. July 24: Adds free content details.  July 25: Adds more event info. July 27: Adds duos tournament results. July 28: Adds solo tournament results. July 29: Adds viewer stats. July 30: Adds show appearance.

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