It solely takes a couple of minutes to determine what motivates 21-year-old Ashton “Astonish” Harris, one of many newest abilities signed by gaming and way of life firm XSET. Whereas Harris loves aggressive gaming and enjoying soccer, his household comes first, even when meaning placing his goals on maintain to assist them. Harris, a pro-Fortnite participant, certified for the 2019 Fortnite World Cup and made his solution to New York to compete, however the journey to get there and the street that adopted was a sluggish grind.
There are many households struggling to make ends meet in America; the earnings coming into some households simply isn’t sufficient to cowl life’s primary requirements. That may imply having to make sacrifices, like renting one thing as a substitute of proudly owning it (and paying an enormous markup for a sometimes inferior product over a protracted time period), selecting between requirements equivalent to meals or transportation to pay hire, a utility invoice, or purchase medication; or simply usually being one large invoice away from dropping every little thing. Harris’ household knew this case intimately.
Harris, whose mom and father served within the army, traveled round lots rising up, residing in other places like Paris, Seattle, Germany, and Alabama. Ultimately, his household settled in Atlanta when he was 12 years previous. Rising up, Harris heard loads of speak amongst associates that being a professional athlete or a hip-hop artist was one of the best measure of success. He definitely had his personal goals of sometime enjoying faculty ball and maybe in the future being referred to as as much as the NFL. He performed highschool soccer and excelled at it, however a shoulder harm benched him for a short time and put the added burden of medical payments on his household. He completed out his highschool years enjoying till he graduated however seeing his household wrestle financially compelled him to make some onerous selections.
After highschool, he determined to place his goals of enjoying soccer and going to school on maintain to assist his household. With a restricted family earnings and a number of other members of the family affected by critical well being points, he deliberate on getting a job at Burger King or Goal to assist his mother pay the payments. However on the similar time, he had gotten actually good at Fortnite Battle Royale, and regardless of the restrictions of being a controller participant on a console, he knew he was actually good on the sport. In 2019 when Epic introduced its intentions to do some large cash esports competitions, Harris determined that this might be one of the best ways to assist his household.
“I’d been listening to issues about esports, and after watching Delusion, I heard that Epic had introduced Fortnite esports and all these completely different tournaments developing,” Harris advised The Esports Observer. “I knew I used to be fairly good at this sport, so I wished to attempt enjoying it competitively, regardless that I used to be enjoying it on a console.”
Credit score: Ashton along with his his mother. Credit score: XSET
It was a continuing grind, however he put the work in every single day to get higher. Generally, he would earn cash by wagering, borrowing a small sum of money from his mother, or utilizing no matter cash he had saved up. It was lots like playing in that you could possibly win or lose some huge cash in the event you weren’t cautious, however he saved his wagers small in order that if he misplaced it wouldn’t be the top of the world.
“Each time I earned some cash, I’d play for like $5 -$10, and If I misplaced it, no large deal. However I used to be enjoying in different tournaments, too,” Harris mentioned. “They’d give away $250 – $1,000, and so each time I bought one thing like that, I’d simply give it to my mother and pop.”
Harris typically positioned nicely in a few of the smaller tournaments, nevertheless it was onerous to interrupt via into the higher tier occasions, which frequently required an invitation from the organizer, and people normally went to well-known individuals with large followings within the Fortnite aggressive neighborhood. He admits he didn’t perceive why, when he would place within the high 15 of a contest, he wouldn’t be invited, typically concluding that it was most likely random choice or dumb luck.
“I used to be in a single referred to as the Fortnite Solo Showdown and again then I used to be enjoying beneath the identify ‘Frosty.’ I managed to position 11th or 13th and was really so excited as a result of I believed, ‘Oh wow, I would get an invitation, that is very nice, good.’ Sadly, I by no means bought an invitation. My buddy did although, and I used to be joyful for him, however I used to be confused about why I didn’t get in. I had modified my identify from Frosty and switched electronic mail, and I believed it might need had one thing to do with that, however I wasn’t actually positive what occurred. Actually, I used to be sort of unhappy as a result of l thought I’d get one at 11th, so then I believed I wanted to get first or second place or one thing like that to get in. However wanting again, I assume they had been simply selecting randomly.”
As Harris continued to play he knew he was by no means going to interrupt out if he didn’t improve to a PC. With no disposable earnings in the home to spend on a high-end gaming rig, Harris requested his mother if there was something they may do to get even some small measure of an improve. When you will have a restricted earnings, your choices are sometimes few and much between. After fascinated with it, Harris’ mother rented him a PC from Aaron’s. Aaron’s, in case you are not acquainted with the corporate, is a rent-to-own retail chain that fees a weekly payment on home goods like sofas, TVs, and even computer systems, with the top purpose being you’ll personal that merchandise over time.
“I requested my mother to assist me improve so I might attempt to compete in these PC tournaments. She couldn’t get me a type of tremendous PCs; It was a PC from Aaron’s, a rent-a-PC. All I might assume was ‘I didn’t even know they offered PCs.’ It was a $250 PC you could possibly purchase on the retailer, however as a result of it was Aaron’s with the rental and all these different charges, it prices far more than that. My mother couldn’t pay for it in full, so she needed to hire it. That was the choice we had on the time. It was dangerous.”
Regardless of the restrictions of utilizing a PC from Aaron’s, a console controller, and a beat-up previous TV he had held on the wall to play, Harris managed to qualify for the 2019 Fortnite World Cup (as highlighted on this YouTube video), which earned him $50Ok USD earlier than taxes. It was a life-changing second for his household and the second when his mother most likely realized that her son wasn’t in his room losing his time enjoying video games.
“The $50Ok was useful; I gave my mother greater than half of that cash [from the World Cup]. I saved some, put it in my checking account. She bought a few of the medical and payments for medication paid off. A little bit on down the street, we ultimately bought my sister a German Shepherd, a service canine. Some individuals are confused about that. They thought I simply bought her a German Shepherd, nevertheless it was a service canine for her medical situation.”
Finally Harris would go on to New York, however feeling the stress of being on the world stage competing for the primary time, his nerves coupled with him being sick would see him place 87th on the occasion. Nonetheless, tens of millions of individuals hadn’t made it so far as he had, and he was happy with the accomplishment. For the subsequent 12 months and a half, Harris targeted on enjoying the sport, getting higher standings in tournaments, and utilizing wagers to generate cash for his household. A couple of presents had been coming in nevertheless it simply appeared like issues had been sort of at a standstill for Harris.
“After the World Cup was actually sort of only a clean,” he mentioned. “Groups reached out to me and I reached out to them however I by no means sealed a deal or a contract. So it was simply principally me being a free agent for nearly a 12 months and a half.”
Within the subsequent 12 months and a half after the World Cup, he would proceed to grind, switching between cell and console to PC and again once more as Epic was determining what platforms it wished to place cash behind. He additionally did this as a result of he was persevering with to do wagers and discover one of the best platform to proceed to assist his household financially.
Credit score: XSET
“It was at that time limit I mentioned that I used to be going to cease enjoying PCS for now as a result of I found out a solution to get more cash quicker,” Harris mentioned. “I advised individuals, my supporters, that I used to be going to take a break from PC and play on console. However the actual story that I advised my closest associates – the individuals who actually knew me – was that it was simply simpler to earn money and provides it to my dad and mom to assist them out. It wasn’t simply me being executed enjoying on PC or that I didn’t wish to play competitively. I simply wished to get fast money so issues might be simpler for my household.”
As time went on, Harris’ mother and pop had been getting a bit involved. He was incomes cash right here and there, nevertheless it simply wasn’t producing sufficient earnings to make a considerable change in anybody’s scenario, and he was lacking out on faculty, and one in all his goals.
“My mother and pop wished me to only go play soccer and see what occurred. I’m enjoying Fortnite and he or she was sort of apprehensive as a result of no person else might actually work in the home aside from my brother, however he has narcolepsy, and my little siblings had been nonetheless in highschool they usually couldn’t actually go anyplace as a result of mother couldn’t take them. That’s why I simply mentioned to her, “Belief me.”
What he didn’t know at the moment was that he had caught the eye of somebody crucial at a fledgling esports firm that will change his life, and he was bringing alongside some associates for the trip.
To be continued…