In “Fortnite,” one player reigns over everyone in a fight to the last man standing.
On Saturday night, Daryl John, known online as Bugzvii, stood tallest among stiff competition to win the first-ever Simon Cup at the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor.
John outlasted 63 other players to take the trophy. As he hoisted it, he basked in the glow of his victory — and a $50,000 shopping spree to Simon malls.
“I’m so happy I took the opportunity to pursue gaming and to make it this far,” John said.
The 20-year-old from New York almost didn’t make it to the grand finals.
Players had to earn their trip through one of three qualifying tournaments. John took 16th in the New York qualifier, earning the final spot. But he said there was little doubt in his mind he’d be vying for the grand prize.
Players competed over five rounds and earned points based on their placement and number of kills.
Under the bright lights of the arena and in front of a packed crowd, John promptly failed to score a point in the first round. But he settled into a groove and scored points in each of the next four rounds.
“I came in here confident,” he said. “I knew how my game was, and I played in an arena without the stage and audience, but it helped it feel more natural here. I had more confidence and wasn’t nervous, like some of the competitors.”
Sixteen players earned their spot in a California qualifier, and 32 players booked their trip via an online qualifier, including eight players from the Las Vegas Valley.
“We designed this for that amateur gamer to give them that pro experience,” Allied Esports CEO Jud Hannigan said. Allied operates the HyperX Esports Arena as well as others.
Bugzvii was first entering the final round of play but said he knew things were far from settled.
“I knew I still had to perform,” he said. “I knew if I died early, that’s it. I’m out. There’s no way I can become first. I was just going through my game.”
As the final scores were tallied, an energetic crowd erupted in applause Saturday evening.
“It’s amazing,” John said. “Coming in first out of these 64 players is just astounding.”
For Bugzvii, the celebration was officially on, including a trip to the Forum Shops at Caesars.
“I’ll do a little shopping now,” John said with a smile. “I’ve got to satisfy myself a little bit, but I’ll use most of it for things in the future.”