American teen ‘Bugha’ becomes solo Fortnite champ, winning $3 mn

Bugha of the US celebrates with the trophy after winning the final of the Solo competition at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup July 28, 2019 inside of Arthur Ashe Stadium, in New York City. (AFP)
Updated 29 July 2019

American teen ‘Bugha’ becomes solo Fortnite champ, winning $3 mn

  • A sense of placement, a talent for building, brilliance in close combat and rock solid self-control — Bugha had it all in the final

NEW YORK: American Kyle Giersdorf, alias “Bugha,” became the first Fortnite world champion in the solo division, winning $3 million at age 16 on Sunday.
Originally from Pennsylvania, the young gamer took the lead in the first of six games and never looked back.
“It’s insane,” the young millionaire said after the final, during which he scored almost double the points of his closest opponent (59 to 33).
Aside from the second of six games, Bugha was remarkably consistent despite playing in the first world cup final, with millions of dollars on the line, in the Arthur Ashe stadium, where the US Open tennis tournament takes place.
“This morning he was worriless, energetic, having fun to make sure he wasn’t stressed at all,” his best friend Colin Bradley told AFP after the final.
In the game, users are dropped onto an island where they must search for weapons and other resources while eliminating other players — all while trying to stay alive.
A sense of placement, a talent for building, brilliance in close combat and rock solid self-control — Bugha had it all in the final.
“He’s one of the smartest players. He knows when to attack, when not to attack, to stay high ground. He’s a strategic player,” Bradley said.
Having a high position is often a decisive advantage, especially in the closing stages of the game, making it easier to shoot other players.
“A lot of people think it’s just a game, but he is practicing, dedicated, determined,” said Bugha’s aunt, Dawn Seiders.
“I think he’s the definition of a professional.”
Epic Games — Fortnite’s creators — have spent a whopping $100 million on the inaugural event, including staging 10 weeks of qualifying culminating in this weekend’s tournament.
Over the three-day tournament, Epic Games gave out $30 million in prize money.
Every competitor is guaranteed to leave with $50,000, making them the envy of the schoolyard when they return home.
On Saturday, gamers using the pseudonyms “Nyhrox” and “aqua” became the first Fortnite world champions in the duo division, winning $1.5 million each.
During Sunday’s final, the crown jewel of the tournament, three players in addition to Bugha also became millionaires: “Psalm” ($1.8 million), “Epikwhale” ($1.2 million) and Kreo ($1.05 million), all Americans.
Argentinian player Thiago Lapp, alias “King,” made a splash at only 13 years old. He just missed the million-dollar mark ($900,000) and finished fifth, employing an ultra-aggressive style that helped him eliminate 21 competitors over six matches, the best after Bugha (23).
“It’s better than watching on TV or Twitch,” said Anthony Peralta, who attended the final.
During the weekend’s highlights, attendees filled about two-thirds of the Arthur Ashe stadium, which has a seating capacity of 23,000.
“I didn’t think it would be this much fun,” said Carlos Dacosta, another final audience member.
“The level of competition that these guy have, it’s crazy.”
“It’s massive, what they’ve done,” said French gamer “Kouto,” whose real name is Issam Taguine and is a member of France’s Team MCES.
“Especially everything they’ve invested in the players.”
After placing second during the “Creative Mode” final on Friday, which offers players new game modes they can discover, Kouto will leave New York with $86,000, which he plans to give to his mother.
For him, the popularity of the game — which is free to play and has 250 million users worldwide — is higher than ever, thanks to its fast-paced updates.
“It’s the game with the most changes,” he said.
“So you can come back four months later and you’ll never feel like you’ve played the same game. That’s what gives the game life.”


Wuhan film captures horror and humanity at coronavirus ground zero

Updated 15 September 2020

Wuhan film captures horror and humanity at coronavirus ground zero

  • “76 Days” is premiering at the Toronto film festival
  • It is the first major documentary from the disease’s original epicenter to hit theaters

LOS ANGELES: Back in February, when few Americans were aware of a distant and oddly named phenomenon called coronavirus, two Chinese filmmakers strapped on hazmat suits and embedded themselves in Wuhan’s overrun hospitals.
There, they captured harrowing footage of terrified citizens hammering on hospital doors, medics collapsing from exhaustion, and relatives begging in vain to say goodbye to infected loved ones.
Now, those images have been edited together by New York-based director Hao Wu (“People’s Republic of Desire“).
Premiering at the Toronto film festival Monday, “76 Days” — named for the duration of the central Chinese city’s draconian lockdown — is the first major documentary from the disease’s original epicenter to hit theaters.
Shot in a claustrophobic, cinema verite style — without voice-over or direct-to-camera interviews — the film relies on the intimacy of the footage of doctors and patients grappling with a terrifying new reality.
Wu first contacted the two filmmakers, one of whom is anonymous for his own safety, after witnessing China’s early lockdown first-hand during a family visit for Chinese New Year.
The footage they sent him revealed how, in the chaos of the disease’s early weeks, they were able to get remarkable access — but at considerable personal risk and suffering.
“It was a horrible, horrible shooting experience for them,” Wu told AFP. “They were fainting, it was really warm. A few times [filmmaker Weixi Chen] wanted to throw up inside [his] goggles, but he couldn’t because once you throw up, once you remove your PPE, you have to get out, you could not come back again.”
“It was like shooting in a war zone,” he added.
Wu also had a personal motivation for pursuing the project.
His grandfather died from cancer soon after the outbreak, unable to find a hospital bed as resources strained under the weight of Covid-19.
“In the beginning I was angry with the Chinese government — I really wanted to find out who’s at fault, what caused this,” said Wu.
But once the pandemic spread — with exponentially greater tragedy — to other countries like the US, the desire to place blame was replaced by a desire to document how “as human beings live through this, how we can share this experience.”


Ironically, despite Beijing’s tight controls on information, access was in some ways easier in China. Privacy and litigation concerns proved far more of a barrier to filming in New York hospitals, Wu found.
Wuhan hospitals desperately lacking personal protective equipment initially welcomed coverage that could boost donations and volunteers, he added.
The film eschews politics and blame to focus on personal stories of tragedy and bravery, hope and despair, which repeated around the world after emerging in China.
Medics tenderly hold the hands of patients locked away from their families, and are distinguishable to viewers only by the colorful doodles they scrawl upon each other’s head-to-toe hazmat suits.
But it remains unclear whether the movie will ever be seen in China, where news about the pandemic has been tightly controlled since day one — leading to many in the West, including US President Donald Trump, accusing Beijing of a vast cover-up.
“I would love to show it in China, because I feel that for the entire country with Covid, it has been such a scar on the nation’s psyche,” said Wu, who hopes it could help his ancestral home to mourn its losses.
“Obviously right now most Chinese feel proud the country has been able to control it. But it is a trauma.”