Fortnite World Cup winner Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf and FaZe Clan member Soleil ‘Ewok’ Wheeler headline the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 Games list for 2020, recognizing young adults breaking ground in the esports and gaming industry.
The Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which started up in 2011, is one of the most prestigious awards in any industry. 600 people across 20 industries in the US and Canada receive honors each year, including 30 individuals from the gaming industry.
Names like Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins, Yiliang ‘Doublelift’ Peng, and Jacky ‘Stewie2k’ Yip have made the list in previous years. Their 2020 awards recognize some of the youngest rising stars of the industry, including Bugha and Ewok, as well as some older faces making waves once again.
Bugha, the Fortnite World Cup 2019 solos champion, stands atop of the list as one of the most recognizable names in esports.
“A high school junior, Bugha qualified for the Fortnite World Cup Finals from a field of 40 million and went on to beat 99 players at Queens' Arthur Ashe Stadium to become the esports' first solo champion, taking home $3 million in prize money,” wrote Forbes.
Ewok’s explosive rise in 2019 also gave her a nod on the list. The deaf Fortnite streamer burst onto the scene after Tim ‘TimTheTatman’ Betar hosted the 14-year-old star in May, and she’s now one of the most influential members of the community.
“Wheeler, who is deaf and plays under the name Ewok, participated in the Fortnite World Cup and has more than a quarter of a million followers on streaming platform Twitch,” wrote Forbes. “This fall, she joined Microsoft's Mixer to stream exclusively."
“Amyoony is a professional streamer best known for his Fortnite gameplay and family-friendly content,” wrote Forbes. “Amazon's Twitch this summer signed him away from YouTube, where he was one of the platforms top streamers with 4.7 million subscribers. Amyoony has partnered with brands like Axe, Amazon Studios and Electronic Arts.”
Fighting game professional Dominique ‘Sonicfox’ McLean was recognized for their efforts to increase inclusivity in esports, all while dominating multiple titles across the genre.
“They won five championships at EVO and were voted Best Esports Player at the 2018 Game Awards,” wrote Forbes. “McLean is very open about being queer, nonbinary and part of the furry community. Known for their sportsmanship, they donated $10,000 to an opponent's father's cancer treatment.”
Rumay 'Hafu' Wang rounds out the group of streamers and pro players named on the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Games list. The G2 Esports Teamfight Tactics pro was recognized for her numerous wins across the Riot Games autobattler and Hearthstone.
“She has nearly 800,000 followers on Twitch and has won multiple Major League Gaming events,” wrote Forbes. “In June, she was announced as the number one Teamfight Tactics player during the newly released game mode's beta phase.”
With games like Fortnite taking over the mainstream, and streamers getting deals in the millions of dollars, the esports and gaming industry has slowly entered the spotlight.
As the industry continues to grow, more personalities will be recognized for the efforts and highlighted as ground breakers in gaming.
Check out the full Forbes 30 Under 30 2020 Gaming list below.
Forbes 30 Under 30 2020 Games list
- Kezia Adamo, Programmer at StudioMDHR
- Nick ‘Nick Eh 30’ Amyoony, Player and Streamer
- Brent Batas and Julian Gari, Co-founders of AutoAttack Games
- Joseph Bentley, Head of Beyond Entertainment
- Justin Britch, Head of Development at Obsidian Entertainment
- Maxx Burman, Co-founder of KitBash3d
- Bonnie Burton, Producer at Bungie
- Rebecca Ford, Community Director at Digital Extremes
- Lauren Gaba Flanagan, Co-founder at Theorycraft
- Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf, Player for Sentinels
- Renee Gittins, Executive Director at IGDA
- Richard Henkel, Product Lead at Riot Games
- Kyle Holdwick, Senior Gameplay Engineer at thatgamecompany
- Mary Kenney, Writer at Insomniac Games
- Nicole LaPointe Jameson, CEO of Evil Geniuses
- Keizac Lee, Partner at Kowloon Nights
- Dominique ‘Sonicfox’ McLean, Player for Echo Fox
- Shayna Moon, Associate Producer at Santa Monica Studio
- Spencer Perreault, Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft
- Stephen Ellis and David Steinberg, Co-founders of Pipeline
- Jasmine Roberts, Creative Technologist at Google Creative Lab
- Sam Rosenthal, Founder of The Game Band
- Ketaki Shriram, Co-founder of Krikey
- Justin Stander, Founder of Askiisoft
- James Sun, Senior Product Manager at Twitch
- Hanako Tjia, Agent at UTA
- Rumay ‘Hafu’ Wang, Player for G2 Esports
- Soleil ‘Ewok’ Wheeler, Player for FaZe Clan
- Carrie Witt, Art Director at Owlchemy Labs
- Zhenghua Yang, Founder of Serenity Forge