[imagesource: Team 33]
For the non-gamers out there, here’s how Fortnite works.
It’s a free multiplayer game where you compete against people online. ‘Fortnite Battle Royal’ features up to 100 players, alone, in duos, or in squads who attempt to be the last player or group alive by killing other players or evading them.
I’ve heard that hiding in or pretending to be a bush usually does the trick.
It’s also a way to earn some serious cash, with top contestants in the game receiving sponsorship from strangers. Live streamers also rack up views which can prove lucrative on platforms like YouTube.
If you’re really at the top of your game (ahem), then you could be recruited into teams, like Team 33, that pay you to play for them.
Team 33’s latest recruit is Joseph Deen, who has barely cleared eight years in age, making him the world’s youngest professional Fortnite player.
According to BBC, the California-based esports team invited him to their headquarters to give him a $33 000 (around R500 000) sign-on bonus, and a high-speed computer system.
“I felt amazing when I got offered the contract,” Joseph told the BBC.
“I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no-one took me seriously until Team 33 came along.”
Question for the room – when was the last time you took an eight-year-old seriously?
“One of my scouts got in touch and said ‘I’ve got to know this kid called Joseph and he is insanely good’,” explained Tyler Gallagher, Team 33’s chief executive and co-founder.
“So they started playing one v one matches as much as they could every day. After a while my scout said ‘you’ve got to sign this kid. If we don’t, someone else will!’.”
I think we can officially say goodbye to the days of LANing in a school hall.
Right now, only two of the top 10 highest-earning Fortnite players are over 18. The first, and so far only Fortnite World Cup, was won by then 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf.
Joseph now holds him up as a bit of a hero.
“My dream is to be like Bugha and play like him. I look up to him because no-one took him seriously until he won the World Cup and I feel the same, as no-one took me seriously until I was signed by Team 33.”
This kid really wants to be taken seriously.
Joseph’s mom doesn’t see an issue with him gaming two or three hours a day after school. I’m sure depositing the equivalent of half a million rand into the bank helps.
Joseph reckons piano lessons have given him an edge.
“Playing piano helped me a lot with the keyboard and mouse. As soon as I started playing on PC I was already really good at Fortnite,” said Joseph.
“I’m good at everything in the game but I’m really good at building and editing my builds and I love doing trick shots. I’m pretty dope at them.”
Joseph’s signing bonus has gone into a savings account until he’s older, which is a good thing.
He might be taken more seriously as a gamer these days, but he’s still at that age where he’d eat sugar with a spoon for breakfast, given half a chance.