Inaugural Fortnite World Cup Ready To Hand Out Record Esports Prize

The Fortnite World Cup finals will be held this weekend in N.Y. at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the total prize pot of $30M is the “largest ever for an esports event,” according to Keith Stuart of the GUARDIAN. The World Cup “represents the title’s entry into the lucrative world of professional games tournament circuits,” and Fortnite’s publisher, Epic Games, has “arranged a three-day festival around the finals, with thousands of fans expected to attend” (GUARDIAN, 7/26). BBC.com’s Joe Tidy notes the climax of the finals will “create the game’s first World Champion and the field is incredibly open with around 30 players seen as potential winners.” The competition to reach the finals has been “fierce and Fortnite’s biggest celebrity player, Ninja, was unable to qualify.” There are also “no female finalists, with the majority being boys under 16 years old” (BBC.com, 7/26). In DC, Eric Adelson notes Fortnite’s “fledgling competitive scene” has been “volatile, unpredictable and maddening.” With the advent of the World Cup, Epic Games has “created a kind of mammoth lightning rod — one that has attracted a world’s worth of players, media attention and controversy.” Epic Games has not yet made any announcement if there will “even be another World Cup and declined to comment when asked if it had given any consideration to future formats or tournaments” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/25).

NO SPONSORSHIP DEALS FOR EVENT: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL’s Adam Stern reports Epic Games has not announced “any sponsorships or linear media rights deals” for World Cup. The event instead “will be streamed on Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and within the Fortnite game itself,” as well as more than 30 additional digital platforms in deals done by Endeavor company IMG. Endeavor Senior VP/Esports Stuart Saw, whose company works with Epic Games, indicated that foregoing sponsorships or linear media rights sales “reflects Epic’s desire to keep the focus on the brand and to keep it accessible” (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue).

STAYING POWER? NBC’s Gadi Schwartz reports Fornite’s popularity has been “waning” over the past few months. However, there has been “so much hype” over the past week about the World Cup that the game’s pull is “once again taking hold.” That is “exactly” what Epic Games is “banking on.” While Fortnite’s downloads and mentions have “slipped slightly” over the past year, experts said that the game’s 250 million users are “keeping it very much in play” (“Today,” NBC, 7/26).

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