By Elizabeth Dilts
NEWYORK (Reuters) – American teenager Kyle Giersdorf won $3 million (2.4 million pounds) on Sunday in New York after taking the top prize in a tournament for the popular online video game Fortnite.
Geirsdorf, 16, from Pennsylvania, was one of at least 100 players competing for $30 million in total prize money, as the booming popularity of video and online games has drawn top-dollar investments and fuelled the emerging professional sport.
Global revenues from esports, or professional video game competitions, will hit $1.1 billion in 2019, up 27 percent since last year, thanks to ballooning revenues from advertising, sponsorship and media rights, according to a report released earlier this year.
Playing under the name “Bugha,” Giersdorf won the solo finals portion of the Fortnite World Cup by scoring 59 points, 26 more than his nearest competitor “psalm,” according to the Fortnite World Cup Leaderboard, posted on the game’s website.
“Words can’t even explain it. I’m just so happy,” Giersdorf said in an interview at the event at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York, posted by organizers on Twitter. “Everything I’ve done, the grind, it’s all paid off. It’s just insane.”
Giersdorf did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Launched in 2017, Fortnite’s popularity has helped Epic Games reach a $15-billion-valuation last year. It competes with other games like Electronic Arts Inc’s Apex Legends and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Overall, the global video and electronic games market, excluding revenues from esports, will generate $152.1 billion in 2019, up 9.6% over last year, according to a report by gaming analytics firm Newzoo.
(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)