A world-class Fortnite player Joseph Deen from California. Fortnite: he was a piano player initially. Now he is a pro gamer. He is an eight-year-old boy.
Joseph Deen tells the BBC about his ambitions after signing with a professional esports team.
The highlight of most children’s eighth birthday is blowing out the candles on their cake. However, for Joseph Deen, it was blowing the ink dry on his freshly-signed contract to be a professional gamer. Joseph deen has become the youngest-ever paid Fortnite player after signing with Team 33 in December last year.
Highlights from the interview
He said, “I felt amazing when I got offered the contract,” Joseph told the BBC. “I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no-one took me seriously until Team 33 came along.”
Joseph, who’s also from California, has been playing Fortnite since he was four years old. And was first noticed by the fledgling esports team 18 months ago.
“One of my scouts got in touch and said ‘I’ve got to know this kid called Joseph, and he is insanely good,” explained Tyler Gallagher, Team 33’s chief executive, and co-founder.
According to the esportsearnings.com website, only two of the top 10 highest-earning Fortnite players are over 18
“So they started playing one v one matches as much as they could every day. After a while, my scout said, ‘you’ve got to sign this kid. If we don’t, someone else will!.”
The first, and so far only, Fortnite World Cup was won by then 16-year-old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, who walked away with $3m (£2.2m) in 2019
“My dream is to be like Bugha and play like him. I look up to him because no-one took him seriously until he won the World Cup, and I feel the same, as no-one took me seriously until I was signed by Team 33.”
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The best part of the interview
Besides, according to the world’s major age certification bodies, Joseph is too young to play Fortnite.
Joseph’s mum Gigi says this isn’t something that worries her, and she lets him play Fortnite for two or three hours a day after school and more at weekends.
“I’ve looked at the game, and I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong. He’s a balanced child and comes from a good family, and he’s not affected by it,” she said.
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As well as gaming, Gigi says Joseph enjoys playing the piano, which both he and his team also say could be a secret to his success.
“Playing piano helped me a lot with the keyboard and mouse. As soon as I started playing on PC, I was already really good at Fortnite,” said Joseph.
“I’m good at everything in the game, but I’m really good at building and editing my builds, and I love doing trick shots. I’m pretty dope at them.”
Gigi says her son’s signing-on bonus has been put into a savings account for him when he’s older.
The bottom line
Fortnite’s cash cup competitions aren’t open to anyone under 13 years old, so he can only enter tournaments with no prize money attached.
Joseph is also desperate to start streaming his matches online and asks Gigi “every day”, but she is still considering the move saying, “he’s only little”.
Even if his mum does give Joseph the green light, his age prohibits him from streaming on Twitch – the largest games streaming platform.
Breaking the rules could be costly both for Joseph and for his new team.
His ambition to be a gaming superstar is also something for which he will have to wait.