World No. 1 e-kata player James De los Santos started the year the way he ended the previous one – with a gold medal.

The online karate sensation pocketed his first title this year as De los Santos captured the gold medal in the prestigious SportData eTournament World Series 1 with a 25.3-24.5 win against No. 4 Silvio Cerone-Biogioni of South Africa in the final Friday.

“This is a great way for me to start the year 2021,” said De los Santos after the results were posted Saturday morning on the SportsData eTournament page – a website sanctioned by the Word Karate Federation.

“It’s huge for me to win my first gold in the biggest virtual kata tournament. But there are more tournaments lined up, and this victory motivates me to train harder. My long-term goal would be to maintain the world no. 1 spot for this year.”

Read: De los Santos ready for 2021 campaign

After he earned a bye in the round of 32, De los Santos defeated Nicolas Perea of France 23-24.9 in the round of 16, then edged Norway’s Cornelius Johnsen 24.5-23.1 and downed Nawapon Pattanasakoo of Germany 24.6-23.8 in the semifinal.

Last year, he won a total of 36 gold medals; including 35 in the SportsData eTournament sanctioned meets. He also won two of the five legs of the SportData eTournament World Series.

Read: De los Santos ends 2020 campaign with three more gold medals

The event is the biggest in online competitions since it more than triples the awarded points to the medal winners. He accumulated a total of 18,020 points to top the male senior’s category of e-kata.

De los Santos said that February would be a very busy month for him with seven tournaments on his calendar.

“There are seven tournaments, but what I’m really looking at is the Katana Intercontinental League. There’s also the Inner Strength Martial Arts eTournament I’m looking forward to as well,” he said.

Source: Manila Bulletin (