Just 90 minutes into the first day of the inaugural Fortnite World Cup, 12-year-old H1ghSky1 has a problem. The video-game prodigy is the youngest member of the e-sports organization FaZe Clan, which is holding a pop-up at a sneaker store just off Canal Street. The event, if it had gone as planned, would have lasted all afternoon. Fans of pro gamers would meet their idols and pick up limited-edition merch. But turnout has been larger than anticipated, the kind you might see for a new line of Yeezys—if Kanye were also in attendance. Die-hards camped out overnight before the event, and police had to shut down the street to prevent the store from being mobbed. The store isn’t happy, and the manager pulls FaZe CEO Lee Trink aside to notify him that they’re kicking FaZe out.
Meanwhile, gamers are taking photos with ecstatic fans. Seated at the front of the group is H1ghSky1 (in real life, Patrick Bragaru from Seattle). This is his first-ever meet-up, and he says he’s “shaking” from nerves. He’s too young to compete in the tournament, so he’s spending the weekend meeting fans and cheering on fellow players while his older brother Cristian trails him like a paparazzo. There are 80 or so gamers in FaZe Clan, with millions of followers on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch. In exchange for a portion of the revenue these gamers bring in, FaZe offers access to infrastructure, high-profile sponsorships, and even-greater online exposure