Hot favorite Tyler "Ninja" Blevins failed to qualify for the finals, so all eyes for the "Super Bowl of Fortnite" are on streamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney.
Next week, the world's best Fortnite players will descend upon New York City with one goal in mind: to determine the winner of the lion's share of a massive $30 million prize pool. That, and bragging rights for the title of "Best Fortnite Player in the World."
But this isn't some strictly pro-level affair. It's the Fortnite World Cup, a massive, devastatingly popular event put on by Epic Games, the developer that unleashed the battle royale phenomenon into the world. And while there's millions of dollars on the line, you don't have to be an esports superstar like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins (who, incidentally, didn't qualify for the finals) to participate. You simply need to be skilled enough to secure your seat at what is, essentially, the Super Bowl of Fortnite. Put simply, anyone can participate, and anyone can win — as long as they're over the age of 13.
For a multiplayer shooter game that's available on just about every platform (including mobile devices), allowing anyone to compete makes total sense. Epic Games has done its due diligence to make Fortnite accessible for players of all walks of life and all skill levels — so why wouldn't this life-changing tournament be, too?
For World Cup hopefuls, it's more than just a competition. To many, it's a way to break into a professional gaming career. It's been a long road to potential victory that will culminate in a win at the conclusion of the event, which begins on July 26 and ends on July 28. It all kicked off in April this year, with the Fortnite World Cup Online Opens taking place across 10 weekly online tournaments, with several qualifiers throughout two stages that have required players to prove their worth at every turn.
Players will receive different amounts from the prize pool, depending on their performance in the tournament. Winners from solo and duo competitions will receive $3 million apiece, with second place players and teams nabbing $2.25 million. Those who come in third will receive $1.8 million, and fourth place contestants will get $1.5 million. Finishing in the top ranks will net you a cool million — and even those who score dead last will still walk away with a potentially life-changing $50,000.
With $30 million on the line from Epic Games, that's plenty of incentive to put together an intensive training regimen. Fortnite's most popular game mode by far is its 100-player battle royale standoffs, in which players compete in teams or individually on a sprawling map to be the last person standing.
Though they can select where they'd prefer to parachute into the map at the beginning of each match, what happens when they reach the ground is essentially random. It's a mad dash to seek out weapons, shields, building materials, and other items that can help turn the tides of battle. But even though much of it is owed to luck and excellent scavenging intuition, it's very much a game that's all about knowing your strengths and playing to them, by building defensive structures or going on the offensive.
When it comes to prepping for this once-in-a-lifetime event, some players boast 10 hour training days — though there's not a magical number of hours one must play in order to feel "ready" to jump in and compete.
For many players, like Davis "Ceice" McClellan, that training consists of "5 hours of scrims daily" in addition to spectating other players, reviewing VODs from other Fortnite streamers, and playing in Creative Mode to improve his building skills.
For Gen.G's Tina "Tinaraes" Perez and Maddie "Maddiesuun" Mann, their practice plan is to "train heavily," which includes build battles in Creative Mode, pop-up cup battles, or solo squad play.
Some, like 16-year-old Jordan Herzog, spend upward of 10 hours in their homes running through tried-and-true strategies, practicing games with friends, and dedicating their very lives to Fortnite until it's time to head to the World Cup Finals.
Of course, Fortnite "royalty" such as streamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney, with an eye-popping 10 million YouTube subscribers, take a different approach to training: He's already streaming most of his practice as part of his busy online schedule. With Ninja out of the competition, Tfue is something of a high-profile favorite for the World Cup Finals, as he qualified for solos alongside veteran Fortnite players like Zayt and Vivid.
The Fortnite World Cup Finals take place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, with live-streamed coverage via developer Epic Games' official channels kicking off at 11 a.m. ET.
For those who don't have a ticket yet, there are a few (very pricey) options online at second-hand ticket exchanges like StubHub. Outside of New York, viewers will be able to stream the finals via YouTube and Twitch, which makes it even simpler to cheer on your favorite players from the comfort of your own living room.
The Fortnite World Cup may seem like a monolithic event that only the best of the best are invited to compete in, but the truth is, it's anyone's game. That's part of the fun, after all.