GameTech: Fortnite world champion takes home $3m

GameTech: Fortnite world champion takes home $3m
Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf celebrates after winning the Fortnite World Cup solo final in New York.

There can only be one. Highlander may have coined the phrase, but Fortnite has owned it. On Sunday, it was the high ground (not the highland) that won the day, with a peerless performance by 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf, better known as Bugha, crowning him World Champion.

Bugha put in one of the greatest Fortnite performances to date, almost doubling the points tally of his nearest rival in second place and taking home an incredible $3m (€2.6m) in prize money. Meanwhile, what made Bugha’s ‘victory lap’ final round especially exciting for Irish fans was seeing Dublin player Joshua Juliano, known as Lolboom, finish in the top six in the final battle, as he came excruciatingly close to a famous win for Ireland in the finals. Nonetheless, Lolboom finished in 58th place overall, with a very respectable 12-point tally, taking home $50,000 for his troubles.

The tale of the finals was all Bugha though, as the teenager from Pennsylvania played with the kind of ice-cold precision and strategic thinking that makes Fortnite far more than just a shooter game.

While Bugha got lucky with a few of the storm placements, finding himself with the high ground in a few of the rounds, there was no luck involved in how he made the most of that advantage, winning the majority of his face-offs with players and rotating perfectly when he found the opportunity. No one was expecting such a dominating performance at the finals. Ordinarily, the organisers spend some time calculating the scores at the end, to ensure that no mistakes are made. In this case, however, there was no need — Bugha had blown away the competition, with 1 Victory Royale and two top ten finishes, along with 18 eliminations. Nobody else was close.

Meanwhile, Fortnite’s most famous player, Tfue, who commands a viewership of hundreds of thousands on Twitch, could only finish in 68th place — ten places behind our own Lolboom. If nothing else, this might have illustrated a shift in power for Fortnite. While Tfue still made the finals, an incredible feat for all the players involved, at 21 he is starting to look like the elder statesman, surrounded by teenagers who are growing up with Fornite glued to their fingertips. In fact, not all his competitions were even teenagers - there were players as young as 12-years-old at the event.

Meanwhile, while Fortnite doled out $30m total over the course of its multi-faceted World Cup Finals last weekend, it will soon be overshadowed by another eSports event, The International, which is due to surpass that total. The International is the world championships of DOTA, a very different game to Fortnite that plays something like chess, mixed with superheros, mixed with farming. The International takes place on August 20 in Shanghai.

Final word, however, goes back to Bugha, the first Fortnite World Champion. Fortnite probably won’t be around forever but we’re pretty sure he won’t be the only World Champion crowned in the years to come. For now, however, there can only be one — and it’s a 16-year-old who just became a millionaire.

WOLFENSTEIN CHANGES

Meanwhile, the champion of over-the-top shooters has decided to switch sports. Wolfenstein, arguably the best of the few remaining linear shooters on the market, alongside Doom, has morphed into an RPG shooter in Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Gone are the linear maps and scripts of the previous entries in the series, replaced by statistics and levelling up and bullet-sponge enemies.

We can’t blame the developers for trying something new, but Youngblood simply won’t be everyone’s (blood) type of game. The focus has shifted to co-operative gameplay and more open-ended levels, meaning players can take on enemies from a few different angles. In addition, enemies have different weaknesses to the various weapons, meaning you need to think a little more about how you attack them. In combination with the levelling up, this makes for a very different Wolfenstein experience.

Thankfully, the two lead characters, the daughters of series hero BJ Blascovitz, are extremely likeable and carry on the Wolfenstein tradition of being very well written despite the silly Nazi b-movie setting that made the franchise famous. In addition, the focus on co-op may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it will be a welcome change for Wolfenstein fans who want to play together.

It’s an interesting diversion for the series, but crazy single player epics are what’s really in Wolfenstein’s blood — so we’re hoping to see a return to those for the next entry.

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