UNI student Tyler DeBondt wins ‘NBA 2K20’ Global Championship


On February 22, UNI junior physical education major Tyler DeBondt won the “NBA 2K20” Global Championship. After competing with players from around the world in Burbank, Calif., he won the grand prize of $100,000.

The tournament featured eight qualifiers that faced off in best-of-three matches in the basketball simulation video game. Each NBA team within the game could only be used once per player. Because of this, DeBondt tried to save the better teams for the finals.

DeBondt trained every day in order to get ready for the tournament. He said he has been playing the “2K” series since “NBA 2K9,” and he doesn’t play many other video games besides “Madden” and “Fortnite.”

“I played for four to six hours per day with different teams to get ready for the tournament,” DeBondt said. “I had to practice with nine different teams in case every series went to a best-of-three.”

His favorite part of the event was getting the opportunity to compete. During high school, he was a four-sport athlete who enjoyed competition. Now, DeBondt plays “2K” to get a similar feeling of competition that is demonstrated in basketball. When he’s playing “2K,” he said that he feels the same highs and lows that he felt during high school competitions.

DeBondt stated that the “meta” of the game varied from player to player, meaning that he devised his own unique approach to the tournament. For DeBondt’s strategy, he tried to turn his opponent over as much as possible while shooting a lot of three point shots. Going into the tournament, DeBondt said that he felt these tactics gave him the best shot at winning.

DeBondt also previously participated in a 250K MyTeam tournament. After making it to the final 16, he lost a 10-point lead. DeBondt said that this loss helped him to prepare and move forward.

“I learned a lot this year from competing,” DeBondt said. “I think the thing I learned the most was just how to keep my composure no matter what. I believe this competition will help me in future events as well. Going out to LA was a great
experience for me.”

After winning the competition, DeBondt has made plans for what he’ll do with the prize money. Part of it will go to his little brother, who has been a major supporter of Debondt’s throughout his tournament efforts. Besides that, he plans on saving and investing the rest of his prize.

In addition to the cash, DeBondt got a sense of relief after winning. He said that he feels as if all of his life, he had come up short in sports. Throughout his high school sports career, DeBondt made it to sub-state four times but never made it to the state level.

DeBondt had advice that he wanted to give to those who are looking to get into competitive eSports.

“Just follow your dreams,” said DeBondt. “Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you put time and effort into pursuing your dreams, you will be successful.”