10,000 attend Fortnite World Cup

Virtual players drop onto virtual island

By Shannon Liao, CNN Business
Via CNN

RL Grime (left) and Airwaks (right) celebrate after winning the Pro-AM during the Fortnite World Cup Finals e-sports event at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

(CNN) - Fortnite is growing its physical presence with a giant, three-day sporting event that kicked off Friday and included a competition that pitted pros against amateurs.

The Fortnite World Cup brought together 10,000 attendees in the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium, and over 180,000 more viewed online. Bigger events are planned for Saturday and Sunday and may draw even more attention.

The game involves 100 players dropping onto a virtual island and battling it out until one remains standing. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, put various spins on the game for fun events on Friday, including a celebrity competition better known as Pro-Am, or professionals versus amateurs.

So who won the $1 million prize? Airwaks and RL Grime took the Pro-Am prize by outmaneuvering the competition.

Airwaks, 24, from Switzerland, is a former League of Legends professional player who has now set his sights on the Fortnite World Cup. It's his second time winning a pro versus amateur Fortnite event, after taking home the award in June.

His duo partner, RL Grime, 28, is an artist known for his trap music. When interviewed during the winners' ceremony, he credited Airwaks with improving his skills, including teaching him to move around Fortnite island more deftly and survive into the end game.

Although the two didn't survive to the very end in any of the four rounds, they won because of an accumulated 52 points from scoring kills.

All the money won from the celebrity tournament is going to charity. RL Grime said he will donate his cut of the million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which he described as a "great civil rights organization." Airwaks said his share will go to World Wildlife.

The duo beat out the likes of Ninja, Dr. Lupo, Cloak and other professional-celebrity pairings. Still, the announcers for the show emphasized that everyone won — even those who scored zero points got to donate $20,000 to charity.

Earlier in the day, teams competed for the Creative Cup, in a different game mode where they had to collect coins and avoid obstacles. The team Fish Fam racked up $1,345,000 in prize money over the course of several games. Zand, 25, a Denmark-based player who helped Fish Fam to victory, said he took off his shoes during the competition because "if you play like you're at home, you'll play better."

Famous Fortnite streamer Ninja also competed in the Creative Cup, and his team placed fifth, for a total prize of $295,000.

"To experience how far Fortnite has come since season one, from last year's Pro-Am to this year's, it's just been amazing. I love this community," Ninja said.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.