Unlike its name implies, Fortnite will be around for some time yet. Last week, Epic Games announced they were pumping $100m of prize money into the game globally, in an effort to keep the competitive scene thriving.
That will be music to the ears of Alex Corrigan, from Cootehill in Co Cavan, who won the inaugural eStars Fortnite tournament at Croke Park recently. Alex, who is 15, now progresses to the final in Stamford Bridge, London, to represent Ireland for a chance to win £25,000.
“I feel the pressure,” says Alex, “but I think I have a good chance of winning.”
Alex was the top player among thousands of entrants, but there was no luck involved. The eSports contender was clear about what it takes to be an aspiring professional.
You have to put in the practice,” he says. “I spend five hours a day playing Fortnite, making sure I take part in scrims with professional players so that I get better. I think a few of the pros know my name now, from winning a few of those scrims.
If it sounds like something pulled from a traditional sports movie, with a young contender vowing the pros will ‘know his name’, that’s because eSports is a serious business now, and a viable if highly competitive career option for talented gamers like Alex.
The eStars winner even sounds like a hungry young Hollywood fighter, full of confidence and focus.
“I play because I love how competitive it is,” he says, “and because I love winning.” When we ask what excites him about the trip to Stamford Bridge on March 31, the answer was unequivocal: “The money.”
That’s not to say Alex is only in it for the cash, which he says he would spend on a new PC and on his family, and he is quick to point out that he would stop playing if he didn’t love the game itself.
“You have to play a game you love,” he says. “If I stopped enjoying Fortnite, I would move on to another game because there’s just no point otherwise.”
When asked to provide tips for other aspiring competitive Fortnite players, Alex talks up the most fundamental part of the game – the shooting.
“You need to have good aim,” he says simply. “The building aspects aren’t so important anymore because everyone can do it. It can be a little more important when there are only 10 or 20 people left on the field, but it mostly comes down to aiming.”
For his win in Croke Park, Alex played two sessions. He got 17 kills in the first game, although he didn’t win th session, so he decided to try again. In his second session, Alex got 24 kills (almost a quarter of the playing field in total) and won the session.
“I basically just rushed everyone,” he explains. “I fired my gun into the air to draw some attention and then rushed people that were nearby.”
Alex has been playing Fortnite since its second day of release on consoles. He plays on PlayStation 4 and goes by the handle YT_Iamhyper. Even back in 2017, he was clear about his intentions to be competitive and eventually become professional. He has the full support of his family, although he admits the recent win helped on that front.
“Winning at Croke Park showed my family I could do it,” he says. “I think they believe a little more now.”
Good luck to Alex on March 31 — we believe, too!
Sticking with Fortnite, the seventh season of the game is due to finish today and Epic have already been teasing season eight. They have posted pictures of a hook and other pirate-related themes online, including the following rhyme: ‘X marks the spot, treasure abound, loot that has been lost, can always be found’.
Who knows what this season will entail, but the promise of loot that has been lost returning brings up a lot of questions. Will the loadout system change this season? Or is this just a poorly written allusion to pirate-themed micro-transactions.
We don’t have long to wait to find out.