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Fortnite: 13-year-old is game's youngest professional player

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Media captionKyle Jackson says playing games professionally is a “dream for all kids”

A 13-year-old boy from Kent says he is living every child’s “dream” after becoming Fortnite’s youngest professional player.

Kyle Jackson is part of Team Secret Fortnite, which has four members, playing under the name “Mongraal”.

Since launching in July 2017, the survival shooting game, which is free, has been downloaded more than 40 million times.

The teenager, from Sidcup, says he is doing well in most subjects at school.

At the moment, Kyle does not make money from his contract but he will get a share of the prize money from any competitions.

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He started gaming at the age of eight, and three years later says he started to realise he was “probably better than the average player”.

He says he noticed he was always coming top of the scoreboard for every game and was even finishing above semi-pro players.

But it’s not just down to natural ability, Kyle adds. In the school holidays he plays nearly all day and constantly practises to improve.

“If a mistake happens, I will look over it in the replay mode and I’ll see what I could have done better, and I’ll improve on that next time I play.”

Olympic sport?

Kyle’s parents are very supportive and his father has agreed to accompany him when he takes part in competitions around the world.

But there are rules. He says he has a curfew of 21:00 BST and there are other times he cannot play.

“Currently, at school I’m doing very well in pretty much every subject so they’re not really worried about me playing as much as I do. I still have time to study [and] revise.”

Asked if his school friends are jealous of his opportunity, he said: “I guess they are kind of, playing games and travelling all over the world is kind of a dream for all kids.”

And his team mates? The 13-year-old said they were shocked to find out his age but that he is treated the same as anyone else.

What is Fortnite?

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Twitch

Image caption

Fortnite combines cartoon-like graphics with the challenge of being the last player standing

After six years in development Epic games released Fortnite in July 2017.

It is a co-operative survival shooting game that lets players build structures out of materials they scavenge from the game world.

Its most popular format is the Battle Royale mode which pits 100 players against each other, some of whom are in small teams, to see who is the last person standing.

The game is free but players can spend real money on in-app purchases.

Concerns have been raised about hackers getting access to accounts used for purchases and over the potential dangers of children playing the game online with strangers.

Since last year’s release, it has been available to play on gaming devices such as the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, as well as PC and Mac.

It has recently become available on some mobile devices.

E-sports, the practice of watching people play video games, generated £350m ($493m) in revenue with a global audience of about 320m people in 2016, the market research firm Newzoo reported last year.

Sponsorship is the biggest revenue stream, bringing in much more than is raised by the media, advertising, merchandise and ticketing.

But there is also prize money for competitions – the winning team at the 2016 League of Legends world championship shared $1m (£725,933).

E-sports will be included in the official sporting programme of the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.

Team Secret’s Director of Media George Yao said his team did not know Kyle was only 13 when they first watched him play Fortnite online.

“We had no idea. The level of communication they had in the game was at such a professional level, and the sound of his voice is very mature, so we naturally didn’t even think he was that young so it took us by surprise.

“It’s very rare to find a player that is at that calibre at such a young age.”

Mr Yao added no tournaments had been announced yet.


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