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Esports team signs 8-year-old ‘Fortnite’ player in ethically questionable move

A new esports team called Team 33 has signed an eight-year-old Fortnite player in a wild move with questionable legality.

Joseph “33 Gosu” Deen has been signed to Team 33’s Fortnite roster, receiving a US$5000 (AU$6,700) gaming PC and a signing bonus of US$33,000 (AU$44,000). He has been training with the group since he was six years old.

“We are beyond excited to have Joseph on our exclusive Team 33 roster,” said Team 33 co-founder Tyler Gallagher in a press release. “He has shown incredible tenacity and commitment to the team over the last two years and has trained almost daily with our team. It has now finally all paid off and is a momentous day for all of us.” 

Fortnite Creative Mode
Image: Fortnite/Epic Games

Deen stated that the move was “a dream come true”, saying: “While many other teams didn’t take me seriously due to my young age, Team 33 scouted me through Fornite [sic] games and let me train and learn with them daily. I couldn’t be happier today to become an official member of the team.” 

The signing was made at Team 33’s House 33 headquarters in Los Angeles, described as “an award-winning property designed for gamers, entrepreneurs, and music artists” that has been used by the likes of Post Malone, Travis Scott, and Drake among other high-profile celebrities.

Deen is the organisation’s first signing as it looks to build rosters in several esports titles including FortniteLeague of LegendsCS:GO, and VALORANT.

Of course, the move is of questionable legality considering Deen’s young age.

Esports attorney Ryan Fairchild highlighted that Team 33 could use loopholes present in child entertainer laws to sign Deen, but is “MILDLY skeptical that they’ve put that much thought into due diligence at this point.” Other esports teams have had issues with signing minors stemming from tournament rules set by Epic Games.

Within the Fortnite space, there is a minimum age requirement of 13 years for tournaments that became known when FaZe Clan signed H1ghsky1 last June. At the time, H1ghsky1 was 12 years old, resulting in his Twitch channel being suspended and his Twitter account being deleted. As of today having turned 13, he is still with the team and is back on Twitch and social media.

With that rule in place, it is highly unlikely that Deen will be allowed to compete. As of this time of publication, Team 33 does not list anyone including Deen in its game rosters on its website.