Esports are inherently egalitarian pursuits when it comes to age; if you’re a talented player, the game doesn’t care how old you are. Apparently the professional teams that are being built around the games don’t care how old you are, either, as evidenced by the recent hiring of a British 13-year-old as part of the first-ever four man professional Fortnite team.
Fortnite, the multiplayer, battle royale shooting video game, is wildly popular with teenagers across the globe, so perhaps it’s no surprise that one of the most successful players of all is himself a teenager. When Team Secret — a professional esports outfit most well known for its Dota 2 squad — decided to be the first group to hire a professional Fortnite team, it knew it wanted an established team. After extensive research and scouting it got the quartet it targeted, it just didn’t realize one of those four players is still in middle school.
As first reported by ESPN, Team Secret reached out to an established team of four players who stream together on Twitch. They included a pair of Norwegians, a Latvian and a British teenager who happens to be all of 13 years old. That youngester, Kyle Mongraal Jackson, lives on the outskirts of London and has been a serious, competitive gamer since he was just 9 years old.
Now, four years later, he’s a precedent-setting professional, both for his age and the game he’s helping start down a professional course.
Never mind that Team Secret CEO John Yao had no idea Jackson hadn’t even set foot in high school yet when he reached out to him. That didn’t matter. What was important was Jackson’s talent and his role as part of a strong, cohesive team together.
“It’s a big opportunity for me, and I sat (parents) down and explained everything that could happen,” Jackson told ESPN. “I discussed it with them thoroughly, and they’re very supportive of everything.
“I’m over the moon. I can’t believe I’ve got this opportunity. I’m very excited to start playing at a professional level properly with Team Secret. It’s like a dream come true.”
No matter how excited Jackson is about his Fortnite future, he does have to keep in mind some of his other obligations, primarily his schoolwork. From the sound of his interests, he may be studying in classrooms for quite some time, too.
“I’m very interested in astrophysics,” he said. “My dream when I was younger was to be an astrophysicist. I just find space so interesting. We’ve explored basically none of it, it’s just waiting there to be explored.”
Astrophysics and a budding esports career? Who has time for other typical millenial pursuits like social media?