By Phineas Rueckert
Thousands of fans packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing this weekend. The venue — traditionally home to the U.S. Open — was filled not with the sound of bouncing balls and grunting athletes, but rather the furious clicking of video game controllers.
Sixteen-year-old Kyle Giersdorf, who goes by the name ‘Bugha,’ was crowned the winner of the first-ever Fortnite World Cup Finals on Sunday. He pocketed a $3 million prize, beating out an all-male competition, CNN Business reported.
Fortnite, for the uninitiated, is a so-called “open-world survival game” where players compete for resources in order to defeat their competition and become the last person standing.
As of March 2019, more than 250 million people around the world were registered Fortnite players, according to Statista.
A total of 100 players took part in this weekend’s solo competition, after participants were determined through an intensive 10-week global bracket. Players who failed to score a single point on Sunday were nonetheless rewarded heftily for their participation in the tournament: players who placed numbers 21 to 100 received a $50,000 consolation prize.
Fortnite fever didn’t just take place inside the stadium.
As Andrew Webster wrote in The Verge, outside of the venue were “a number of attractions pulled directly from the game, creating what’s best described as a miniature theme park,” which included a mini-golf course, a robotic llama called DJ Yonder and kids drinking something called “slurp juice.”
Arthur Ashe Stadium, for its part, will remain quiet for the next month. Its next event, “Arthur Ashe Kids' Day” will take place on Aug. 24 to kick off the U.S. Open.
Epic Games, which organized the Fortnite event, did not respond to the Eagle’s requests for comment.