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Xbox Championship Swept by Great Falls Student

Kris Burgos has a message for all the children who spend hours playing video games and for the parents who think those children will never get to play college-level sports. “No matter what people say about video games not taking you anywhere in life, keep playing, because you never know,” said Burgos.

Burgos is a student at Syracuse University. He beat the odds last week and parlayed his gaming skills into the big leagues when he won the Xbox Live Hoop Madness Tournament in San Antonio, Texas.

“In between sleep and homework, I jammed on the game,” said Burgos, whose family lives in Great Falls.

Burgos was working at the Student Center at Syracuse University when promoters brought the Xbox tournament to the campus. “I asked my boss if it would be OK if I played, and he said go for it. I beat everyone there. It was a total beat-down. From there I played against Marquette online, which made me eligible for the national tournament. In order for me to be in the tournament, my school had to make the Sweet 16. So I was jumping when we made it,” said Burgos.

BURGOS SAID the key to his success is “because of two things. No. 1, I play video games all the time. No. 2, I made myself known. I was easily the loudest guy there. And I’m not that small so I made myself intimidating.”

In high school Burgos was an athlete on the field, not in games. He played football, wrestled and ran track. He contends that being physically skilled at sports doesn’t mean a player can tackle the world of video sports. “Sure, a guy may be good at football, but if he’s a dumb jock, there are going to be too many buttons for him to play. Being able to physically do something is totally different than reaction time,” said Burgos.

In addition to the prestige of winning the tournament, Burgos “walked away with $1,000 cash, $2,500 in scholarship money and tickets to [a] College Hoops Championship game,” said Xbox spokesman Rhodes.

Burgos kept the scholarship money a secret from his parents until after he’d won the tournament. “I didn’t tell them about the money because I wanted to surprise them. My mom totally spazzed out on the phone when I told her what I’d won,” said Burgos.

Tournament spokesperson Jay Williams, a former NCAA star and player for the Chicago Bulls, got to play a game with Burgos after the tournament. “It was great to be back at the site of the Final Four watching two elite gamers go head to head with so much at stake. Kris Burgos really knows how to play ESPN College Hoops,” said Williams in a tournament release.

Burgos was dazzled to meet Williams. “I’m a Jordan-age Bulls fan. Once I met him, he was the nicest guy in the world. It was great to meet him and hang out,” said Burgos.

Now back at Syracuse, Burgos is hitting the books but still finds time to practice video games. “There are some people who have a natural ability, and there are some people who have to practice hard for it,” said Burgos.