8-year-old signs $33k contract to play Fortnite professionally

  • Aged eight, California native Joseph Deen signed a $33,000 professional contract to play Fortnite.
  • He is one of the youngest pro-gamers in the world, but he can’t enter competitions until he’s 13. 
  • Deen began playing Fortnite aged four and believes playing the piano may have helped him.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

At eight years old, most of us were probably playing with our friends or being reminded to do our homework.

However, that’s not the case for all eight-year-olds — apparently, some are already on huge salaries.

In December, California-born Joseph Deen signed a $33,000 contract with highly selective eSports team Team 33, the BBC reported.

Deen will join their talent roster to compete against players all over the world in Fortnite.

“I felt amazing when I got offered the contract,” Deen told the BBC. “I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no-one took me seriously until Team 33 came along.”

For Deen, the contract is a result of four years of work as he began playing Fortnite aged just four.

In 2019, Fortnite had almost 250 million players — earlier this year, Statista said Fortnite had now amassed 350 million

One of the youngest Fortnite players before Deen was Kyle Jackson, who became the youngest professional player aged 13 in 2018 after signing with Team Secret.

“One of my scouts got in touch and said ‘I’ve got to know this kid called Joseph and he is insanely good,'” said Team 33 co-founder and chief executive, Tyler Gallagher. “After a while, my scout said ‘you’ve got to sign this kid. If we don’t, someone else will!'”

Although Deen might have a contract, he’ll have to wait a while before he’s allowed to enter competitions like the Fortnite World Cup.

The minimum age for participation is 13, so Deen has five years to get even better at the game.

The 2019 winner of the tournament was 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, one of Deen’s role models.

“We can groom him to be a top-level player at a young age and enter him in major cups immediately when he turns the appropriate age, just like the $3m cup Bugha won,” Gallagher said.

“Joseph is legally allowed to be in tournaments with no cup,” he added. “We also plan to build up his online presence through YouTube which is also legal. With his online presence, we plan to build merchandise for him and sell that as well.”

Deen believes that playing piano at an early age may have helped him as it allowed him to gain better control of his keyboard and mouse.

His mother, Gigi, allows him to play the game between two and three hours a day and longer at the weekends.

“I’ve looked at the game and I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong,” she said. “He’s a balanced child and comes from a good family and he’s not affected by it.”

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