Imagine being eight years old and getting $33,000 along with a $5,000 PC after becoming a pro gamer. For Joseph Deen, better known as Gosu, this became a reality last December when he signed with eSports organization Team 33, making him the second-youngest professional gamer ever.
California-based Deen has been playing Fortnite since he was four years old, and was first noticed by Team 33, a relative unknown in the community, 18 months ago. “I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no one took me seriously until Team 33 came along,” he told the BBC.
A Team 33 scout spotted Deen’s talent and started playing one-on-one matches with the boy, eventually realizing that if they didn’t sign him, someone else would.
Fortnite is rated T (for Teen) by the ESRB and has a PEGI rating of 12, though anyone who’s played a Call of Duty online match will know age ratings are rarely a deterrent to kids. However, his young age does mean he won’t compete in Fortnite competitions with cash prizes until he is 13, though he can still enter tournaments where money isn’t on offer. He’s also restricted from Twitch until his thirteenth birthday.
“Joseph is legally allowed to be in tournaments with no cup,” said Team 33’s chief executive and founder, Tyler Gallagher. “We also plan to build up his online presence through YouTube, which is also legal. With his online presence, we plan to build merchandise for him and sell that as well. So in our view if we can make $33,000 out of all that we do over the next few years we win, and that is what we are shooting for.”
Team 33 added that it plans to “groom him to be a top-level player,” which may be a poor choice of words when talking about an eight-year-old.
There have been concerns over someone as young as Deen signing a contract, but his mother, Gigi, is unconcerned. “The contract is to protect him really. He can pull out whenever he wants and it’s totally flexible. It’s on his terms and my terms. It’s like a child actor really – they would do more work than he’s doing,” she said.
Deen isn’t the youngest-ever pro-gamer. According to the Guinness Book of Records, another American player, Victor De Leon III, known online as “Lil Poison,” holds this honor after signing a pro deal in 2005 at the age of seven.