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Everything we know about Zenon

If you somehow haven't noticed, kids love Fortnite. In an October 2018 survey from Statista, 45 percent of American parents said that their children had played the game. Many of these kids play casual rounds with their friends, but what happens when they have the skill to play professionally?

Epic Games had to address this situation when, Zenon, a nine-year-old from Brazil, competed in official tournaments. Epic banned him because of his age, causing controversy across the Fortnite community. However, the situation was less black-and-white than either side of the debate believed. Zenon and his dad's desire to have fun clashed with Epic Games' need to stay impartial and comply with the law.

This is the story of a young Fortnite player who earned the support of fans across the world. While he experienced a slight setback in his budding gaming career, he will surely have plenty of opportunities down the road. Here's everything we know about Zenon.

Zenon was banned from competitive Fortnite

After Epic Games found out Zenon was playing competitive Fortnite, the company banned him from the game's competitive playlists until his 13th birthday. The ban happened during one of Zenon's streams in May 2020. In a clip of the incident, you can see him receive a suspension for 1,459 days and cry while his father comforts him.

In a statement to Insider, Epic Games asserted that Zenon was only banned because of his age. The ban is set to expire once Zenon is 13, the minimum age for playing competitive Fortnite. According to Fortnite competitive rules — such as those for the Fortnite Champion Series Invitational – players must be 13 years of age or older to play competitively.

However, these rules also state that a player under 18 can play with a parent's permission, making the guidelines a little ambiguous. Content creator ErinIOS interpreted the rules as stating that any minor can compete with a guardian's consent. In the replies to ErinIOS's tweet, however, others seemed to believe minors fall between 13 and 18 years of age. To add to the confusion, the rules being cited are meant for tournaments with cash prizes — not Arena Mode, which is what Zenon was ultimately banned from.

Stars like Ninja disagreed with Zenon's competitive Fortnite ban

Prominent Fortnite players quickly found out about Zenon's ban and took to Twitter to express their opinions.

Ninja argued in a tweet that Zenon shouldn't have been banned from Arena Mode since it doesn't have prize money. He pointed out that competitive rules may state that the player must be over 13, but the other aspects of Fortnite don't have those regulations. While he felt that banning Zenon from high-stakes competitive play lined up with the rules, the Arena Mode ban seemed too extreme to him.

FaZe Banks also defended Zenon and criticized the ban. "Why create a game that's clearly targeted towards kids if you're not going to let them play it?" he tweeted, pleading with Epic Games to "let the kid play."

Many names in the Brazilian Fortnite and esports community supported their fellow player. Dexerto collected and translated notable tweets from Brazil's professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends players. They believed that Zenon's ban discouraged the development of young talent in esports and that younger players should have the freedom to follow their dreams.

Fortnite players across Twitter supported Zenon

The Fortnite community came out to defend Zenon through the #FreeZenon Twitter hashtag, which started circulating on May 5, 2020. Ninja himself used the hashtag in his tweet criticizing the Zenon ban. Months after his ban, Zenon had accumulated a lot more fans on social media. According to Zenon's Twitter, his Twitch channel reached 300,000 followers in August 2020. That same month, his Twitter account hit 100,000-followers.

International fan communities on Twitter also materialized in support of Zenon. The Zenonverso Twitter account represents fans in Zenon's native Brazil, where they consider themselves the followers of "Master Zenon." Zenonverso also serves as a touchpoint for international communities like American Zenon. The American Zenon Twitter account translates many of Zenon's tweets and shares news about his accomplishments.

Other Zenon fan communities across the world include Zenon France and Zenon Russia. With one fan's encouragement, some Zenon fans created multiple "dimensions" of Zenon, such as President Zenon. It's safe to say Zenon has received a lot of love from the gaming community.

Before his ban, Zenon made it into the FNCS Invitational

Right before his ban, Zenon competed and placed in the Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) Invitational open qualifiers for solo play. Only the top players in each region qualified for this tournament, including invited players and successful Champion ranked players. Compared to previous Fortnite competitions, the FNCS Invitational at that time used a new scoring format.

The FNCS Invitational also limited player invitations to the hundreds. Up to 500 players per region received an invitation to take part — 100 each from four different categories of previous FNCS players and up to 100 players with direct invitations.

Zenon placed in the open qualifiers, meaning he showed the skill to compete with established names. Unfortunately, Fortnite stats trackers don't seem to have Zenon's results, likely due to his ban from competitive play. But if Zenon had been allowed to play in the FNCS Invitational, he would have competed for a share of a $2,000,000 prize pool. That would've been a lot of money for a nine-year-old kid.

Zenon and his dad play for fun, not money

As part of its reporting on the ban, Insider reached out to Zenon's father, Rodrigo Fonseca, for comment. Fonseca stated that he and his son were upset with the decision, but he understood the importance of enforcing rules. He mentioned that, if he could, he would "give up any winnings" to let his son play because Zenon only wants to compete.

If you follow Zenon's YouTube channel, you can see how he and his dad use Fortnite to have fun and build their relationship. In one video, he carries his father in duos and they celebrate together when he snags first place. Zenon and his dad make Fortnite even more of a family affair when they bring along Zenon's sister for trios. Zenon's sister, by the way, appears to be another young talent. Maybe she'll become a YouTube and Twitch star, too.

Thanks to his dad's support, Zenon still frags on Twitch and YouTube

Zenon can still stream on Twitch because his dad, Rodrigo, runs his channel. You can see him playing with Zenon in every stream, and Zenon's "About" tab has his father's information instead of his. In Zenon's Twitter bio, you can also see the statement "ADMINISTRADO PELO PAI," which means, "ADMINISTERED BY THE FATHER" in Portuguese (via Google Translate).

In a Twitch clip from August 2020, you can see how Zenon's dad keeps an eye on him during streams. During "Just Chatting" segments and transitions, the face cam shows Rodrigo's face. Once the stream transitions to gameplay, you'll see both Rodrigo and Zenon's face cams. The clip of Zenon's ban also shows that Rodrigo sits next to Zenon while they stream.

Zenon also has a successful YouTube channel that features clips of his gameplay. Every once in a while, it also has vlogs with Zenon and his family where they do fun activities like unboxings or throwing pies at each other. The channel had nearly 350,000 subscribers as of August 2020.

Zenon streams for a Brazilian Esports organization and has multiple sponsorships

Zenon's talent appeals to both fans and gaming businesses, giving him plenty of connections in the industry.

The young gamer streams for DETONA Gaming, a Brazilian esports organization that signed him in April 2020. According to DETONA's Twitch channel, its teams play competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Valorant. DETONA may not have a Fortnite team at press time, but who knows — perhaps Zenon can become its first member once he's old enough to compete professionally.

Some of the most popular gaming hardware companies sponsor Zenon, including Razer, DT3sports and Aorus. He runs plenty of deals and giveaways that his dad advertises on his stream overlay and YouTube intros. And as a proud partner, he uses his sponsors' equipment in his setup. His Twitch channel lists the equipment he uses, including a monitor, motherboard and video card from Aorus. His streams have a keyboard cam that prominently shows his Razer keyboard in action. You can also see a DT3sports chair behind him when he plays.