Kyle Giersdorf, AKA Bugha, has just won the Fortnite solos world championship. No, the prize pool wasn’t $3 million, that was his share of the $30 million prize pool. I am not going to talk about the rise of esports by comparing how much money is won, I don’t need to. Seeing the figures is good enough. I want to discuss the meaning of him being only 16.
Kyle claims to practice 8 hours a day for 5 days a week. If school gets out at 2-3PM, he’s cramming 8 hours of practice into his day along with homework and dinner. Is this what is to be expected by esports pro players now? I hope not. People are already claiming that esports is in a bubble and isn’t sustainable in the long term. 16 year old kids putting 8 hours a day into something has massive trade-offs. We obviously can’t expect 16-year-olds to be consistent world champion competitors while still trying to live a normal life.
This is why I support collegiate esports, almost every other sport played in the United States has a college league that allows athletes to compete at a very high level and still get a degree. Now I’m not trying to say that getting a degree and going to college is the best route for any esports athlete to take, as a recent grad, I feel like the US higher education system is incredibly flawed. However, the US higher education system offers opportunities for athletes to be able to live a somewhat normal life while competing.
If we had a collegiate esports infrastructure that mirrors traditional sports, then kids will be able to compete at high levels while getting valuable experience that teams desire come post-grad recruitment time. But why would Kyle go to college to play, even if they had a team for him? He’s already won the world championship; a college would hold him back. Collegiate esports won’t be for everyone, but we need to be careful with our hopeful teens that see Kyle and then throw away their social lives chasing the same dream. Remember, statistically speaking, you suck at fortnite and will never win. Unless you’re already a top 1000 player in any game, it’s very hard to justify throwing away an education to pursue esports. This is why we need collegiate esports, for everyone else not named Kyle Giersdorf.