(Reuters) - Like many teenagers growing up playing video games, Jaden Ashman had to contend with his mother trying to put a stop to his obsession before she realised his skills on the controller could help him make a living.
Ashman, who competes as ‘Wolfiez’, set a Guinness world record last year when he became the youngest person in esports history to win $1 million at a single event, placing second at the Fortnite World Cup finals aged 16.
“Me and mum clashed a lot but we figured it out in the end,” Ashman told Reuters. “I would never get my homework in on time. Sometimes it got a bit obsessive with my gaming but we started setting boundaries.
“During solo World Cup week one, I got my PC taken away, so I couldn’t play the first week of the World Cup!”
Spending eight hours daily playing Fortnite with schoolwork left unattended would normally be the perfect excuse for parents to ground their children.
Yet Ashman and his mother managed to work things out and strike a balance when he started earning money.
“I didn’t make that much (at first), maybe $200 here and there,” the home-schooled teen added.
“Then she realised as soon as I got an invitation to the World Cup, it was real.”
Ashman’s rise is mirrored by the increasing number of followers he has on social media. He has already amassed around 750,000 followers on streaming platform Twitch, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
His remarkable success led esports organisation Excel Esports to snap him up as its first official Fortnite Player on Friday, adding to their ranks of players who compete in another online battle game, League of Legends.
“When Excel offered me, (I thought) they are close to home,” Ashman said. “They offered a sports manager to help me with my mindset. They also have (a training facility at) Twickenham Stadium that’s really close to me.”
Ashman will get straight to work when he represents Excel in the Fortnite Championship Series Invitational — an online tournament that kicks off on Saturday.
Some games have a short shelf life, but Ashman is not worried about Fortnite losing its appeal, with over 200 million players worldwide helping Epic Games generate an estimated $1.8 billion in revenue last year.
“Fortnite is going to last for a few more years,” he said. “It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. The numbers are still high, they keep peaking at certain times.
“When it’s done, hopefully I have a big enough brand and following to be able to just transfer over to another game and keep my following.”
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis