Fortnite players rallying behind Zenon, 9-year-old banned for age
Fortnite fans took to Twitter after the game’s company, Epic Games, banned a popular 9-year-old player from competitions. Zenon can reportedly continue playing the game, but is barred from competitions until he reaches the game’s minimum age of 13. The money was “not the point, he just wanted to compete,” Zenon’s father told Insider. “I would give up any winnings so he could play.” Esports star FaZe Banks cited the game’s young demographic in a tweet on May 5, asking Epic Games to reconsider their decision. Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Fortnite players are voicing frustration on Twitter over Epic Games’ decision to ban a popular 9-year-old player from competitions due to his age.
The player, Zenon, a Fortnite wunderkind from Brazil, is four years below the age limit for competing in Fortnite battles, but he had recently made it into the Fortnite Championship Series qualifiers, according to Kotaku, which boasted millions in prize money. Zenon can reportedly continue playing the game, but can’t participate in championships until he reaches the game’s minimum participatory age of 13.
Zenon’s father confirmed the ban to Insider in a direct message on Twitter, where he administrates his son’s account. Rodrigo Fonseca called his son a “prodigy” and said that he and Zenon were “upset” with the decision, though he understands the company must enforce its rules, especially when money is involved.
The money was “not the point, he just wanted to compete,” Fonseca told Insider. “I would give up any winnings so he could play.”
Fortnite’s fan base skews young, with 68 percent aged between 10 and 30 years old, according to a May 2018 report by gaming and esports market research group Newzoo. Last year’s Fortnite World Cup winner Kyle Giersdorf was only 16 at the time of his win.
Esports star FaZe Banks cited that young demographic in a tweet on May 5, asking Epic Games to reconsider their decision. “Why create a game that’s clearly targeted towards kids,” he said, “if you’re not going to let them play it?”
—FaZe Banks (@Banks) May 5, 2020
Tweets using the hashtag #FreeZenon circulated on Twitter starting May 5, with tweets getting thousands of likes. The hashtag continues to spread on Twitter as of Monday, May 11.
—Erin (@EriniOS) May 5, 2020—Stephen (@CS_Okose) May 5, 2020
But other fans of the game said that the decision was fair, given that Zenon had broken the rules by entering competitions at his young age, and some even made memes about his age.
—Lhytt (@Lhytt69) May 5, 2020—7C Rare (@RareSZN_) May 5, 2020—michias. (@michiasss) May 5, 2020
Epic Games did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.