Fortnite’s smashing success has given rise to the most well-paying pro gaming circuit of this year. The prizes have attracted many top-talent players, but who among them end 2019 with the biggest earnings?
When Fortnite developer and publisher Epic Games announced back in 2018 that the prize pool for pro gaming events for the 2018-2019 season would be no less than $100 million, everyone stood up and took notice. Professional gaming organizations quickly moved in to recruit top talent, and many players eager for fame and fortune set off to win some of these far-from-virtual bucks. In the meantime, Epic has repeated its pledge for the current season, organized dozens of events culminating in its first-ever World Cup, and looks strong for the next year.
As the holidays are almost upon us, it is time to warm up a cup of tea to ward off the chill and look back at the five pros that had a very successful 2019 indeed. The below figures include only tournament winnings, not salaries from a player’s organization or streaming earnings.
5. Shane "EpikWhale" Cotton, USA
EpikWhale has been a participant at multiple events, but like the others on this list he made his mark at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, getting the third spot in the solo finals, as well as placing 12th in the duo finals. The 16-year-old from Redondo Beach, California, joined the team of NRG.NA just prior to the event, and walked out with a total of $1.25 million making their way to his bank account. He has since been active in many of the ongoing Fortnite Champion Series and ends the year with earnings of over $1.3 million.
4. Emil "nyhrox" Bergquist Pedersen, Norway
The Norwegian entered the World Cup as a respected, but lesser-known player. His greatest success up to that point was a second place in the Polaris LAN Pro Series in late 2018. However, alongside David "Aqua" Wang, he not only made it to the grand duo final but the pair blitzed through the competition, getting two Victory Royales and edging out their rivals to, with each player getting a million and a half to go with the cup. The duo has since split and Nyhrox left Cooler esports. In the autumn, the Norwegian has had some successes, ending the year with winnings of slightly over $1.51 million.
3. David "Aqua" Wang, Austria
Nyhrox’ partner in crime in taking the first place of the World Cup duo finals, Austrian David Wang did his former teammate one better as he remained a force to be reckoned with in the fall. He has added several first places to his record since, including a Season 10 Fortnite Champion Series trophy for trios alongside fellow Austrians Thomas "Tschinken" Hörak and Klaus "Stompy" Konstanzer, and been a top 10 player in multiple other events. As the year closes, Aqua has won over $1.8 million from his exploits and has shown no signs of stopping.
2. Harrison "Psalm" Chang, USA
Before the World Cup, Psalm was mostly known as a team player, the 24-year-old Counter Logic Gaming player and former Heroes of the Storm pro is one of the oldies on a scene that is often dominated by teenagers. Yet at the World Cup Solo finals, he took one rival after another, clinched a dramatic 1v1 in game four, and eventually ending second with a cool $1.8 million prize to show for his success. He has since returned to team competitions and while he has not had the same kind of rousing success, he still ends the year with over $1.87 million.
1. Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf, USA
This summer, the 16-year-old Pennsylvania Native Kyle Giersdorf became a worldwide sensation as the first-ever player to win the Fortnite World Cup Solo Grand Finals, and his bank account swelled by no less than three million dollars for it. Bugha made everyone stand up and pay attention way back in April as he got first place and a spot in the finals in the first week of qualifiers, but then seemed to lose a bit of steam as the spring progressed. Yet on July 28, the Sentinels player would not be denied. When the smoke cleared and the confetti dropped, Kyle reigned supreme over the Fortnite pro scene.
The fame has had its downsides - he got his social network profiles shortly after the game, and in August was the victim of “swatting” – a hoax call resulted in a SWAT team sent to his house. However, he persisted, true to his words that he will keep competing and getting better. With multiple first spots in the fall weekly events, Bugha remains one of the stars of the North America East scene and ends the year with earnings of some $3.07 million.
It sounds like a pretty good year for these gentlemen. Here’s hoping we see more of them - and many more flashy plays - in 2020!