Three years later, to the day, his memory is still in everyone’s mind. On July 28, 2019, Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York hosted the final of the first World Cup of Fortnite. By its audiences – 2.3 million spectators in peak -, its cash prize – 30 million dollars -, and the enthusiasm which it aroused, particularly in France, the event will have been without precedent. But also without a future, its second edition is still waiting.
From this crazy summer, a star emerged: Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, the big winner of the solo competition and walked away from the Big Apple richer by $3 million. To get there, the teenager from Pennsylvania, 16 years old at the time, notably had to exclude many French speakers: in this month of July, they were 19, most of them very young, trying the American dream. Three years later, they tell their post-World Cup and, for the most part, their reconversions.
Players washed out by the circuit
Of the 19 brave men to have qualified for the United States, there are indeed only six left to pursue a professional or semi-professional career on Fortnite. All the others have, one after the other, deserted the competitive scene, like by Nicolas “Nikof” Frejavise, one of the last to have hung up, last February, at only 22 years old. Like the others, he was washed out by the wobbly organization of the circuit by Epic Games and the Covid-19 pandemic, which got the better of his motivation.
« Join Vitality (in 2020, when he was previously at Solary)it was a bit of a finish line, says the Frenchman, 29th in the World Cup as a duo. It made me rest a little on my achievements. The game was going in a direction that I liked less and less and then there was the Covid…” Because of the pandemic, the World Cup, in 2019, was indeed the last event Fortnite major in physics until the DreamHack Summer in Jönköping (Sweden)… last June.
“What has always motivated me, these are the LANs, that’s what introduced me to the world of esports. There, I was doing tournaments in my room, in front of my PC, regret Nikof. And then, you never knew when you could go on vacation because the format is never really announced in advance, nor the dates. I didn’t see my family very much… All that accumulated a little, it made me feel trapped in something that I liked less and less and I wanted to take another direction. »
The World Cup, springboard for streamers
“We really had zero lives next door, because the tournaments were announced barely a week before,” abounds Corentin “Hunter” Late. At the World Cup duet, the Frenchman finished 23rd, hampered by numerous technical problems, which have long disrupted competitions on Fortnite. “The World Cup is the moment when things changed for me, a bit like many pro players. The experience was crazy, but in game it was complicated, there were a lot of bugs. Seeing that the problems that have existed since the beginning of the game are not resolved, that you are forced to adapt, it undermines your morale. »
The World Cup is the moment when things changed for me, a bit like many pro players
However, neither of them really moved away from Fortnite : both became streamers and still regularly broadcast their recreational games. “I still like the game so much, but not to the point of playing it all the time”laughs Hunter, who has become a host on Solary’s Web TV, the team of which he was previously one of the players. For them, as for Duong “Kinstaar” Huynh (26th in the World Cup in solo), the competition was obviously a springboard, which allowed them to acquire their current visibility. “At the time, when you qualified for the World Cup, there were 240,000 spectators on the stream, remembers Nikof. These are huge statistics, everything was increased tenfold…”
Valorant, welcoming land
For others, divorce with Fortnite was more radical. “I held out until January 2022. But I couldn’t enjoy it anymore when I was playing the game, I forced myself, recount Clement “Skite” Danglot. Since my decision, I had to restart the game twice, I don’t even watch the competitions anymore… I’m fine without that. » In 2019, he had however finished in 7th place in the World Cup in solo, the best French-speaking ranking. Pocketing $ 525,000 in the process, which still makes him the third highest paid French sportsman of all time, at the age of 22. But that did not prevent him from flying to other horizons.
“It’s a good memory, I went to New York anyway… I’m proud of my journey, but now I’d like to do it again on another game”, he explains. Since February, Skite has gone full-time on Valorantthe latest shooter from Riot Gamesgleaning some results on the national scene. “When I get up, I want to play there, which I hadn’t felt for a long time. Fortnite had become more of a job than a hobby and there I find sensations. Above all, the game is much better at projecting into the future, it’s more structured. »
Taken aback by the resounding success of its esports scene, Epic Games is indeed struggling build a viable competitive ecosystem, with a fixed schedule. Hence the appeal of a more stable, if potentially less lucrative, scene for those with the fiercest competitive instincts. Like Skite, Nathan “Nayte” Berquignol (8th in the World Cup solo) has thus fully embarked on Valorant, in April. For his part, Philippe “Oslo” Carvalho (19th in the World Cup in duo) won the last ZLan, a competition mixing several games, organized by the streamer Adrien “ZeratoR” Nougaret.
For others, back to work
For some, however, the frustration was too great. At the age of 20, Maxime “Blax” Thomas (79th in the World Cup solo) has, for example, already retired from professional player last January. After a three-year break in his studies, he is now back on the job. “I didn’t like the evolution of the game, so I preferred to say stop. It’s still full of memories, crazy events, so I only get good out of it. But I think I’ve done my time. »
Like him, several players, notably Evan “DRG” Depauw (45th in the World Cup solo) or Clément “Dedra” Vaudin (11th of the World Cup in duos) disappeared from circulation, sometimes even leaving all social networks to return to their old life, work or studies. “Many were able to make their extra money, since the cashprizes were enormous, Nikof explains. Me, with what I took, if everything stops tomorrow, I can sit still and think about what I want to do. »
Six irreducible pursue the tournaments
Faced with this wave of departures, six irreducible still kept their place on board the ship Fortnite and continue to participate in weekly tournaments, like always performing Zoubiri “BadSniper” Nafoel (19th in the World Cup in duo) or Idris “Snayzy” Aichouche (88th in the World Cup in solo). “I like the game and I am competitive, advances Malow “BlastR” Orrieux (81st in the World Cup solo), current player for Solary. Recently, I haven’t had the results I want, but I’m giving myself the means to go up, I don’t want to stop at the bottom. But the frustration, I understand. The competition, it’s been four or five years since the game was released, so it’s repetitive…”
For him, as for the others, despite all the tournaments since, the World Cup will still have been a summit. “I was 16, I was able to bring my brother and my mother back to New York, when they had never left France”he recalls. “It’s a crazy experience, both in the game and humanly, adds Hunter. Going to a place like that, playing in a stadium with 28,000 people, playing for millions of euros. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to experience this. » Will Epic Games offer its players a second edition, demanded by all? It’s on the right track: the pandemic is fading, the publisher is starting to organize face-to-face tournaments again, including one in Raleigh (United States), in November. Ahead of potential bigger announcements…