On July 28, 2019, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf became the first-ever Fortnite world champion. At 16-years-old, he won the first (and thus far only thanks to the ongoing pandemic) Fortnite World Cup, taking home $3M USD of a $30M prize pool. Since that win, he has worked to grow his personal brand through YouTube and Twitch, recently signing with talent agency VaynerGaming. He has cultivated 1.4M followers on Twitter, 3.5M subscribers on YouTube, and another 3.5M followers on Twitch.
Now, Giersdorf is looking to leverage that following to make esports more accessible – so every kid has the chance to experience a journey like the one he’s enjoyed so far. To that end, he recently announced a partnership with discount retailer Five Below to develop an affordable line of gaming peripherals.
“It’s not a secret that gaming is expensive,” Giersdorf told The Esports Observer. “There are so many kids getting into PC gaming that are disappointed they’re unable to afford quality products to play with. Thanks to my partners at Five Below, we are able to offer a quality collection of products at a really affordable price. I never expected that I would win something like the Fortnite World Cup, but if I was never introduced to the world of gaming, I would have never been on that journey to win. It’s really become a mission of mine to open the door for more kids to get into gaming and see all the fun opportunities it can offer you.”
Accessibility is a challenge that isn’t often discussed with regard to esports, but particularly in regions like the U.S. where PC cafes are not widely available the up front cost can be a factor. To play soccer with some friends, a kid only needs a ball and maybe some shoes. To play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with any hope of pursuing a competitive career, one needs not only a quality computer, but a good mouse, keyboard, mouse pad, headset, and microphone.
Bugha’s new line includes each of these mandatory peripherals as well as a headset stand and two subwoofer speakers.
“The Five Below team did a great job doing research into what the majority of PC gamers like about the gear they game with. I really just wanted to make sure that my collection was designed in a way that when kids bought it they immediately felt comfortable using it. It was also really important that we offer all the gaming accessories needed, so for under $70, kids are creating an entire gaming station.”
Giersdorf intends to make gaming accessibility a personal mission going forward. “Being someone who has succeeded at the highest levels of ‘esports,’ it’s a really cool feeling to be in a position to help more kids start on their own journey inside the gaming industry.”
For Giersdorf, giving more people access to esports and gaming isn’t just about potential career opportunities. “Regardless of the title, gaming is more than the grind of high-level competition. It’s about finding friends, hanging out with those friends, building relationships, failure, winning, teamwork, and more. If I can play a small role in opening the door for more kids to get a chance to experience the world of gaming, I would say that’s a huge accomplishment for my career.”
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