With the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League approaching its first postseason, it seemed timely that four of its best players could have a little bit of fun on the sticks.
This stress free play came in the form of the league’s first showcase tournament, hosted in the NBA 2K New York studio. The tournament, which was broadcast through the online streaming service Twitch featured a four team bracket in single game elimination play. Each team was captained by a professional point guard from the NBA 2K League (Artreyo "Dimez" Boyd of Mavs Gaming, Albano "oFAB" Thomallari of Celtics Crossover Gaming, Shaka "Yeah I Compete" Browne of Jazz Gaming, and Adam "iamadamthe1st" Kudeimati of Knicks Gaming.), who's supporting cast consisted of celebrity influencers like Robert Horry, Brian Scalabrine, A$AP Twelvy, and Ronnie 2K (to name a few), as well as four young female 2K gamers. The action was mostly close throughout the tournament, but ultimately Team Adam defeated Team oFAB, 90-75, in the showcase finale after knocking out Team Compete and and Team Dimez, respectively.
Watching the games on several large screens within the studio, it was surprising to see how well the professional gamers supported the rest of their teams, helping to create ISOs, facilitate ball movements, and open lanes. Throughout play, the players spoke consistently to each other through their headphones and there was a clear degree of communication and strategy going on between them. This was not 2K with the homies. Not surprisingly, the pros featured in the tournament take it seriously. After inking real-life deals with their NBA team sponsors, they spend the majority of their days practicing with their virtual teams.
Thinking about this concept within the interactive setting of the studio, with color commentary, NBA-esque showmanship, and the boisterous crowd, it was easy to envision the possibilities of competitive team-based eSports leagues from the professional to the communal or even the high school level. It also seemed apparent that the expanding sport has the potential to offer those of us who might struggle athletically, or lack the opportunity to play traditional organized sports, another outlet.
This potential impact spoke the loudest. Regardless of if you were on your high school’s varsity squad or not, it’s hard to argue against the dynamic of cooperation and responsibility that being a part of a team can foster. With the continued evolution of eSport gaming leagues, the opportunity to experience these type of lessons may not be dependent on how sweet your jumper is or what your handles look like, as the online team play style of the NBA 2K League requires a similar level of dedication and teamwork to that of traditional organized sports. Teamwork and dedication rings the same regardless of the medium of interaction, and the platform that the NBA 2K League has launched and fostered with events like the showcase tournament, highlights potential for people, regardless of athletic ability, to participate and benefit from the experience of participating in team sports.