A BRIT teenager whose mum once chucked out his Xbox in a row over his gaming has won nearly £1million playing Fortnite.
Jaden Ashman, 15, had not earned a penny from gaming until two months ago — but split a £1.8million prize with his Dutch partner after coming second in the duos section at the game’s World Cup.
He is now eyeing up a career as a professional gamer after treating mum Lisa, who used to scold him for “wasting time” playing the hugely-popular shooter-survival game.
The delighted schoolboy said: “I’m lost for words. My Twitter has been blowing up and I’ve had a load of messages from friends.
“I’m definitely going to buy a house but I haven’t got a clue where. And some Gucci shoes. I might buy a car for my mum too, as she drives a little Fiat 500.”
Fortnite’s Battle Royale game sees 100 players dropped on a cartoon island where they find weapons, build structures and kill each other. The last player standing is crowned the winner.
Jaden — whose user name is Wolfiez — has played the game since it came out in 2017. He plays up to ten hours each day and employed a tactics coach for the World Cup.
Since qualifying two months ago for the event in New York, he has also signed a £48,000 a year deal with gaming team Lazarus.
Jaden added: “At the start, my mum was against me playing Fortnite, but I’ve proved to her that I wasn’t wasting the hours each day in my bedroom playing instead of doing my homework.
“I’m not planning on getting this money and just quitting. I’ve still got a full career of gaming ahead of me.
“I’m in Year 10 but maybe I will try to push to quit school.”
But that is not the intention of mum Lisa Dallman, 38, who is adamant he will finish his GCSEs at Abbs Cross Academy in Hornchurch, East London.
Lisa — also mum to James, six, and Katie, ten — said: “I’ve been quite against Jaden and his gaming.
“He’s only 15 and his schoolwork was a priority to me. It’s not been easy. We’ve had our differences.
“I’ve thrown out an Xbox and snapped a headset because I’ve got calls from school saying he is falling asleep in class.
“Jaden is very academic and I want him to do well. I didn’t realise how big this all was. I thought he could play video games but needed to concentrate on school work. The turning point was when he got through to the World Cup.”
An estimated 40million players tried to get through to compete for the £24million prize pot in New York, but only 178 made it.
All qualifiers were guaranteed to take home £40,000, as well as playing in front of 20,000 fans in the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium and millions more online.
Eleven Brits took part including the world’s youngest pro Kyle Jackson, 14, of Sidcup, Kent. He landed £242,000 by coming sixth in the duos.
The winners of that competition and last night’s singles took home around £2.4million — more than Sir Andy Murray got for winning the US Open at the same stadium in 2012.
But Lisa only became aware of Fortnite’s earning potential and Jaden’s gaming ability when his ESTA waiver — allowing him to travel to the US — was declined after he ticked the wrong box.
She was forced to apply for a US visa for her son and swelled with pride when she saw him listed as a “professional athlete” on forms.
Hit game is worth £6billion
By James Beal
FORTNITE has held its first World Cup two years after the game’s launch, having amassed 250million players in that time.
Here’s a few more imp-ressive Fortnite figures:
- 500,000 — number of digital copies sold in first month after launch.
- £2.4billion — profits from Fortnite in 2018.
- 13 — The number of countries where Fortnite topped the iTunes chart.
- Two million — number of times the game has been downloaded on the Nintendo Switch.
- 68.8 per cent — number of players who spend on in-game purchases.
- £24million — total pot of prize money to be won at Fortnite World Cup.
- £2.4million — the prize for the singles event winner and split between duos’ winning pair.
- £908,000 — Jaden Ashman’s share of the cash for coming second in duos event with teammate Dave Jong.
- 10 hours — time Jaden plays Fortnite each day.
- £4,000 — how much Jaden’s new monthly contract with esports team Lazarus is worth.
- 178 — number of competitors in tournament.
- 11 — number of Brits playing at the event in New York.
- 30 — number of countries represented at the World Cup.
- Zero — number of women in the final, although organisers stressed many females had attempted to qualify.
- £5.8billion — current net worth of Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite.
Lisa, who split from Jaden’s dad Hugh — a school’s learning mentor — when her son was young, added: “Jaden said to me, ‘Mum, I want to take you on holiday to New York and show you what I can do’. And he really has.
“I was watching in the players’ lounge. I don’t understand the game so I didn’t know if he was dead or alive. Then they took us down to see him. When they came second, I couldn’t believe it.”
Fortnite has become a global phenomenon since its launch by Epic Games in 2017 with an estimated 250million players taking its value to around £6billion.
The Sun visited its first World Cup — held at the tennis stadium in Flushing Meadows in Queens — where fans queued to have pictures with their favourite characters.
Those on show included Raptor, clad in a yellow balaclava and brown flying jacket, and Overtaker, who looks like Top Gear’s Stig. Fan Jon De Marco, 13, of Virginia, told of waiting 50 minutes for a selfie with a man dressed as a bush.
The characters’ dance moves — including the floss and “take the L” — are just as famous and have been copied in goal celebrations by footballers such as Barcelona’s Antoine Griezmann and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
But it’s not just the players who achieve star status. The Sun found Justin Conrad, 43, signing autographs for fans — even though it is his son Aydan, 20, who is one of Fortnite’s biggest stars.
He told of Aydan leaving the family’s trailer park home in Ohio to make hundreds of thousands of dollars playing in California.
And another dad, Chris Fairholm, 54, spoke of moving home by 60 miles just so player son Jarret, 22, could get a faster internet connection.
Chris, of Iowa, said: “We see it as top-level sport. If you want to be the best, you have to practice like the best.”