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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — A junior from the University of Northern Iowa won the first ever NBA 2K20 Global Championship, taking home the grand prize of $100,000.

Ty DeBondt was one of four people from the United States who qualified for the championship, an elimination process that spanned several months.

“It’s been a long process and during that I had a lot of support … people in my corner that have helped me get to where I’m at … Hopefully it keeps growing because I have a lot of fun with it,” said DeBondt.

A former multi-sport athlete in high school, DeBondt was looking for a new hobby to occupy his time. Combining his love for competition and basketball, he started to play 2K.

“Last year I just played it just for fun, and then towards the end of the year last year, I kind of got into the competitive scene. It really just took off from there,” said DeBondt.

Practicing three to six hours a day, DeBondt focuses on perfecting skills for every player across all existing teams. From dribbling combinations to shooting techniques, he practices it all. When it came down to the final game, he felt prepared.

“I was extremely confident playing him, but at the same time, you know what’s at stake. But I wouldn’t say I was that nervous,” said DeBondt.

Going forward, he plans on giving some of his prize money to his brother, who helped him along the way, while saving the rest so that he can pursue a career in esports when he graduates.

“If I can do this even for five or six years and love it and make decent money … being able to compete … I want to make the most of that,” said DeBondt.