Just imagine receiving a £23,600 signing bonus at the age of eight.
Well that’s what happened to Joseph Deen, an eight-year-old from California who became the youngest-ever professional Fornite player in December 2020.
Known in the gaming world as 33 Gosu, Deen signed a professional deal with California-based eSports team Team 33, and boy did he get quite the bonus.
After signing his contract, Deen was given a £23,600 signing bonus, as well as a high-speed computer system worth around £3,600.
The youngster told the BBC: “I felt amazing when I got offered the contract.”
“I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no-one took me seriously until Team 33 came along.”
Team 33’s chief executive and founder Tyler Gallagher said that Deen caught his eye months before the eight-year-old put pen to paper.
“One of my scouts got in touch and said ‘I’ve got to know this kid called Joseph and he is insanely good’.”
“So they started playing one v one matches as much as they could every day. After a while my scout said ‘you’ve got to sign this kid. If we don’t, someone else will!’.”
Since it’s release in 2017, Fortnite has become one of the most lucrative games in history. As seen by the prize money at the inaugural Fortnite World Cup in 2019, there’s some serious cash to be won, and Deen takes a lot of his inspiration from the current world champion, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf:
“My dream is to be like Bugha and play like him. I look up to him because no-one took him seriously until he won the World Cup and I feel the same, as no-one took me seriously until I was signed by Team 33.”
Despite Deen’s excitement, some legalities may hinder him from entering the pro-gaming world just yet.
According to the world’s major age certification bodies, Joseph is too young to play Fortnite, as the game is rated PEGI 12 or ESRB “teen” certification due to frequent mild violence.
The contract will remain intact, but Deen will not be able to compete in Fortnite competitions with cash prizes until he is at least 13 years of age, but he can still enter tournaments with no prize money involved.
“Joseph is legally allowed to be in tournaments with no cup,” said Gallager.
“We also plan to build up his online presence through YouTube which is also legal. With his online presence we plan to build merchandise for him and sell that as well.”
His age also prohibits him from streaming on Twitch, the platform which many early Fortnite gamers made a name for themselves.
Deen’s mother Gigi said this regarding Team 33’s contract:
“The contract is to protect him really. He can pull out whenever he wants and it’s totally flexible. It’s on his terms and my terms. It’s like a child actor really – they would do more work than he’s doing.”
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Deen is the second youngest pro-gamer in history, behind fellow American Victor De Leon III , known online as “Lil Poison”, who signed his first pro deal aged seven.
All in all, Deen has an exciting future ahead of him in the world of professional gaming, so expect to see him in the eSports headlines real soon.