For those who have had the pleasure of playing Fortnite — Epic Games’ award-winning, battle-royale video game — there are few things as sweet as seeing the famous “Victory Royale!” screen for being the last player standing on the island.
From building impenetrable fortresses to executing insane trick shots and trolling enemies with viral internet dances, Fortnite dominates social media, the video-game scene and households across the world.
On Saturday, the game drew a crowd at The Alaska Club East, where the Anchorage health club and Wasilla’s Fly Trampoline Park collaborated to host a Fortnite tournament. It marked the first time an e-sports event has been held at The Alaska Club.
The tournament attracted 42 participants ranging from grade-schoolers to participants in their 30s. Players got to choose their preferred console — Playstation 4 or XBOX One, the two most popular of the seven platforms Fortnite can be played on.
Players competed for the first-place prize of a $100 gift card and $50 game card to Fly Trampoline Park, a GameStop gift card and a trophy. Second- and third-place finishers received the same prizes in smaller quantity.
With competitive, headset-wearing gamers deadlocked in the heat of battle, the event also provided a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere complete with neon lights and fog machines. For those who were eliminated from competition, waiting for their turn or just spectating, open consoles were available to play different games such as NBA 2K19.
A majority of the participants were children who were ecstatic to just be at the event with their friends. Win or lose, attitudes were positive.
“It’s super exciting,” 10-year-old Matias Lottinville said. Lottinville, who was one of the first to play, said the tournament was more challenging than playing at home against his friends online.
Julie Pageau, Lottinville’s mother, cheered on Matias while a younger son played Fortnite on his iPhone.
“I thought dad would be here, not mom,” Pageau said, laughing.
The single-elimination tournament began with seven waves of six-person matches. In each match, a victor was decided by their total number of kills. In the second and final round, the matches consisted of four contestants.
In the final round, everyone played conservatively, focusing on building defenses and attempting to snipe opponents from afar. It went down to the wire, with 8-year-old William Smith taking an early lead and maintaining it with four kills halfway through the 10-minute match.
In the waning minutes, 12-year-old Tylen Renfroe took a commanding three-kill lead over Smith and the other two contestants. His lead was too big for Smith or the others to overcome, allowing Renfroe to walk away with a decisive 10-kill victory.
“It was good to win every round and it was super exciting,” Renfroe said. “I thought I was gonna lose in the second round."
Although the tournament was Renfroe’s first e-sports competition, he is a seasoned Fortnite vet.
“I probably play like six hours a day,” he said.
E-sports leagues and competitions have exploded in popularity over the past five years, spawning pro leagues around the globe and creating scholarship opportunities for college students. In Alaska, it’s a sanctioned activity at several high schools.
Given all of that, The Alaska Club hopes to make Fortnite tournaments a monthly occurrence in order to bring more people through its doors.
“A lot of kids play video games right now, so getting them and possibly other people into the gym and its atmosphere while having the event here allows them to see what else they can do," Alaska Club fitness director and youth activities coordinator Ben Griffith said.
The Alaska Club’s next Fortnite tournament in collaboration with Fly Trampoline Park is scheduled for May 18 at The Alaska Club South.