MrSavage triumphs at DreamHack Anaheim's Fortnite tournament

Andrew Vong

ANAHEIM -- Martin "MrSavage" Foss Andersen, 15, needed to have the game of his life.

It was the final game of the $250,000 Fortnite Open at DreamHack Anaheim, and the Norwegian teenager sat comfortably in second place on the 100-player leaderboard. After two days of qualifiers, it all came down to this: the top players competing in eight games in a row, with the player amassing the most points at the end awarded the championship. While MrSavage led all players in the final in terms of eliminations, his overall total was 10 points behind another of the world's best Fortnite players, Timothy "Bizzle" Miller.

With a top-two placement in his sights, MrSavage could have played it safe. If he played with caution and didn't overstep, racking up points for a high placement before being eliminated in the battle royale format, the silver medal would have been his.

That didn't fit the plans of the player recently signed by the 100 Thieves organization. Instead of easing into a top finish, MrSavage decided to put on one of the greatest single-game performances in professional Fortnite history, accumulating nine eliminations en route to a Victory Royale and a $30,000 prize.

"I think that game is going to be my favorite of all time," MrSavage told ESPN following his tournament victory, a newly-shined gold medal around his neck. "When it was top five [in the final game] and there were four other people left, I raised my hands off my keyboard and mouse. I [said], 'I got this, bro. I think I just won.'"

While teenagers winning gobs of cash isn't new in Fortnite -- most notably 17-year-old Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf winning $3 million at the game's World Cup in 2019 -- MrSavage is different from his peers. Although boasting over 2 million followers on Instagram and Twitter at such a young age, the 100 Thieves player is taking everything in stride. Where other teenagers are jumping around the convention center halls, MrSavage carries himself far beyond his age, with some people in attendance at DreamHack shocked to hear that he doesn't turn 16 until November.

When asked about how he deals with fame, the young phenom can't quite explain it. The only thing he can think of is that it's "natural," as if everything that's happening to him was meant to happen this way. His mother, back home in Norway, woke up in the middle of the night on Sunday morning to watch him qualify for the final. His father, who travels with his son to various Fortnite events around the world, had the best seat in the house to watch his son have the biggest moment of his young career.

"It's amazing, he put in so much hard work behind it, so I'm really, really proud," his father, Jonny Andersen, said to ESPN as he stood beside his son.

It's the norm when discussing parents and esports that the idea of their teenage child globetrotting playing a video game would cause strife, but not with MrSavage and his parents. With all of their children, they want them to achieve the goals set out for themselves. On Sunday in Anaheim, the elder Andersen got to see that come to fruition firsthand.

"We try to back up their dreams," MrSavage's father said. "It's about what they want to do, not what we want them to do. A lot of freedom, but with a lot of responsibility. [My kids] are doing great."

In Fortnite, there are many high-variance players, generally from the slew of teenage prodigies making their way up the ranks online or on console. They're the ones that are looking for eliminations from the instant they drop onto a map, falling back on their mechanics and outplay ability to carry them to victories. These are the type of players that generally will have amazing one-off performances but often find themselves falling out of tournaments due to the unpredictability of Fortnite.

There are also "placement players", who are the opposite of those high-variance aggressors. They don't score a lot of eliminations or have the flashiest showings and unlikely to ever win a world championship, but they're smart. They know how to navigate the minefield that is the randomness of Fortnite and make money from it.

To Bugha, who was co-streaming the event on his own Twitch channel, what makes MrSavage such an incredible talent is that he is a combination of both those archetypes. He's intelligent enough not to go all-in on every single map, hoping that his mechanics can bring him to the winner's circle. But he also has those mechanics when they need to be called upon, like in his fateful finale in Anaheim, where his killer instinct won him the title with all the chips on the table.

So, what's next for arguably the world's best player? A promise of a World Cup championship?

With the responsibility given to him by his parents, he's taking everything in stride. No declarations of champions. No trash talk. All he wants is for Epic Games to announce their next big tournament, so he can show up and do what he does best.

"Epic Games haven't announced anything," MrSavage said. "I hope I can keep up my good placings and hopefully win the next one as well."