E3: Fortnite Pro-Am gives fans a taste of the game’s future in esports

June 14, 2018

In the many years I’ve been covering esports, I have never experienced an event like the Fortnite Pro-Am.

Inside the newly opened Banc of California stadium in downtown Los Angeles, UFC world champion Demetrious Johnson is chatting away with WWE superstar Xavier Woods on one side of the room. On the other, internet sensation “Backpack Kid” is doing his signature “floss” dance for fans.

The best way to describe the Fortnite Pro-Am is to imagine a snowglobe filled with 2018’s pop culture shaken violently, leaving room for the biggest names in games, television, sports and music to hang out before walking out onto the stage under the scorching summer heat.

Outside the arena, a line of fans spanning two miles waited patiently to get inside the stadium to watch their favorite Fortnite personalities play live for $3 million in charity. “Ninja” and “Myth” are now household names to the teenagers waiting to get in. Even with NBA superstar Paul George in attendance, almost all chatter inevitably turns to Fortnite’s poster boys — Luminosity’s Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Team SoloMid’s Ali “Myth” Kabbani — whose careers have seen a meteoric rise overnight.

“This is amazing,” Myth said to me minutes before walking out of the tunnel to start the event. “It’s great to see gaming step into regular lifestyle culture and mainstream culture. It’s the most beautiful thing to see.”

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