For more than a century, the New Year’s Eve ball has dropped in New York’s Times Square to ring out the old and ring in the new. And broadcasters like Anderson Cooper and Ryan Seacrest are there to take viewers through the occasion, a TV tradition started by the late Dick Clark, who emceed a New Year’s Eve special for 40 years.
This year, there will be a new face getting in on the game: 27-year-old Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, best-known for playing Fortnite.
The video game was everywhere in 2018. Celebrities praised the game on social media, parents worried about their children getting addicted, and it was said to have even contributed to 5% of divorces in the UK. Fortnite was also a social phenomenon, rather than just a successful game, largely because it also functions as a social space. The game helped generate $3 billion in revenue for developer Epic Games and has proven to be one of the most popular in the world.
Blevins’ 12-hour, Red Bull-sponsored New Year’s Eve Fortnite stream from the Paramount Building in Times Square, near the perches of Cooper and Seacrest, makes it clear that Fortnite is poised to dominate the new year too.
“It’s a new era of gaming,” Blevins told The Washington Post (paywall). “And a new era of New Year’s Eve.”
The news was originally announced in October at TwitchCon, the streaming platform’s annual convention. The New Year’s Eve event, which will take place from 4pm US eastern time on Dec. 31 until 4am Jan. 1, will feature surprise celebrity guests playing with Blevins—all while overlooking the one million people who will gather to watch the ball drop.
Blevins already makes a reported $500,000 a month from playing and streaming Fortnite. The marathon Twitch special to will likely raise his profile even more. Earlier this year, Blevins became the first esports player to be ESPN the Magazine’s cover athlete. He might not be the last, considering how much momentum the esports industry is gaining.
The first Fortnite World Cup is expected to take place in 2019 with a prize pool of $100 million. According to Epic Games, the action will be spread out over various “organized events, online events, and major organized competitions all over the world, where anyone can participate, and anyone can win.”
Until the next big game disrupts the scene, Fortnite is likely to dominate again in the year ahead.