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The Fortnite World Cup Finals May Be the Biggest Thing in Sports This Weekend. Here’s How to Watch

The Fortnite World Cup final will take place this weekend, July 26-28, in New York City. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, has set aside $30 million in prizes for the final rounds of its tournament event.

A free-to-play title for both mobile devices and traditional game consoles, Fortnite has taken the world by storm, ever since its battle royale mode became free for players in September 2017. The game challenges players in marksmanship and building ability as everyone on a map fights for the title of last person standing.

While new battle royale games have iterated on the Fortnite formula, the game continues to be a force in multiplayer online gaming. And to prove it, Epic Games is hosting a gargantuan championship event called the Fortnite World Cup.

Fortnite World Cup schedule, and where it's streaming

The 2019 Fortnite World Cup matches begin on July 26 at 1 p.m. Eastern. Viewers can tune into the Fortnite World Cup on the game's official Twitch and YouTube channels. In addition, Epic is streaming the Fortnite World Cup at fortnite.com/watch.

The Fortnite World Cup finals schedule offers a wide array of events. Prior to the start of the first match each day, viewers can enjoy the pre-show starting at 12:30 p.m. Eastern. After the pre-show, viewers will be able to watch 50 teams compete in the Duos finals matches on Saturday, and 100 players compete in the Solo finals matches on Sunday.

Before the final two days of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup, Fortnite will showcase a celebrity match at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Epic Games' last celebrity match, at the E3 conference in Los Angeles drew stars like comedian Joel McHale and football player Marshawn Lynch. This time, Fortnite's World Cup celebrity match will feature names like wrestler Xavier Woods and actor Cody Walker.

The winners' ceremonies will take place on the final two days of the tournament, Saturday July 27 and Sunday July 28, at 4:45 p.m. Eastern, both days. A full schedule of the Fortnite World Cup finals weekend can be found on Epic Games site as well as entire list of every athlete playing to win.

Big battles, even bigger prizes

Fortnite's prize pool is a testament to how big e-sports has gotten. According to Epic, the game's months-long tournament will pay out $100 million in total winnings by its conclusion on Sunday. This weekend's 2019 Fortnite World Cup finals will hand out $30 million in prize money—with the top the 100 solo players and top 50 duo players winning a guaranteed $50,000 each. But the overall champion of the 2019 Fortnite World Cup will pocket an impressive $3 million prize.

A prize pool this large makes the Fortnite World Cup Finals arguably the biggest sporting event this weekend—and undisputedly the most lucrative. The Tour de France, which concludes in Paris on Sunday, pays out just $2.5 million overall, with $556,000 going to the eventual winner.

How can a free-to-play game afford to give out so much money in prizes? Fortnite's approach to optional, purchasable content is a big reason, says Jamie Madigan, author of the psychology book Getting Gamers. "Many other games let players buy cosmetic items (avatar skins, voice packs, etc.), but Fortnite lets you buy something more with the battle pass, which differs from other games," he says. "The battle pass doesn't rely on random chance like loot boxes do, which a lot of players appreciate. It lets you make easily understood and observable progress towards unlocking things."

Though Fortnite has seen a dip in popularity as of late, as of this time last year, it had raked in $1.2 billion in revenue, which can make for one heck of a war chest. In addition, Epic Games has used Fortnite's popularity to attract lucrative partnerships. In October, Cynopsis Media reported that Fortnite World Cup sponsorships would cost brands as high as $25 million—five times the cost of a Super Bowl ad.

Regardless of who wins the 2019 Fortnite World Cup on Sunday, the event has shown that free-to-play titles can carry just as much cachet as games with a traditional price tag—or a major, global, athletic event for that matter—lending further credence to the idea that the business model, and e-sports, are here to stay.

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