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'I just wanted to have fun': UT Arlington student wins top $50,000 prize at Fortnite tournament in Frisco

Benjamin Kocurek, a soon-to-be sophomore at UT Arlington, says he surprised himself when he took home the top prize on Sunday.
Credit: TimTheTatman Tailgate
UT Arlington student Benjamin Kocurek won $50,000 at a Fortnite tournament in Frisco, Texas.

DALLAS — For Benjamin Kocurek, there are 50,000 reasons why his latest Fortnite win was a bigger deal than most.

The University of Texas at Arlington student was a big winner on Sunday, taking home the top $50,000 prize in a Fortnite tournament in Frisco in front of both a large in-person crowd and tens of thousands more online.

Kocurek, who goes by Benk_live online, told WFAA he didn't expect to win that weekend and that he had recently stepped away from competing in esports events. But, his experience helped.

"My competitive experience kicked in and I was able to pull out a win," he said.

The event was known as the TimTheTatman's Hoedown Tournament and was part of the overall TimTheTatman Tailgate that was hosted by the popular YouTube streamer and esports organization Complexity at The Star in Frisco.

With a $100,000 prize pool, there was a lot on the line for participants. But for Kocurek, he just wanted to have a good time.

"I had no expectations going into it, which is why it was kind of wild that I was able to do so well… I just wanted to have fun and try my absolute best," Kocurek said.

The mechanical engineering major described the event as a unique experience for him as he played on the big stage with a roaring crowd just behind him.

"I’ve never been able to compete on a stage like that, that’s so big. It was really cool having people cheering you on. I was really crazy, definitely nerve-wracking," Kocurek said.

He wasn't the only UTA student to have success that weekend. A student known as Pfluger online got third place in the same tournament and took home $10,000 himself.

Although Kocurek pulled out a $50,000 win, he told WFAA he still wants to step away from competing and focus on commentating for esports broadcasts, specifically for collegiate Fortnite events. He continues to be involved with the UTA Esports Club, as well.

"Collegiate esports is awesome. There’s no reason that anybody who cheers for their college football team shouldn’t be cheering for their college’s esports team," Kocurek said.

As for what Kocurek plans to do with $50,000, he offered a simple answer.

"I have absolutely no idea."

"I think most 20-year-olds would have no idea what to do with $50,000. I didn’t think I would see those kinds of numbers for a long time in my bank account," he said as he laughed. "I'm probably going to stick it into an account with compound interest and forget about it for 30 years and see what happens."

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