The NBA 2K League’s second season begins this week. After a successful first season, the league is expecting many new viewers to tune in this year. What should you know for season two?
What is the NBA 2K League?
The NBA 2K League is a professional gaming league formed by Take-Two, the creators of the NBA 2K series, and the NBA. It is the first official eSports league operated by a US sports league. It currently consists of 21 teams, all of which are operated by NBA franchises.
How do games in the league work?
Games are played 5v5, with each player being unique. No NBA player likeness is used. The game is set up in a way that removes any CPU, making it strictly skill-based. They are played pro-am style, meaning they mirror the 5v5 game mode from the NBA 2K games. All games this year will be played at the NBA 2K League studio in Long Island City, New York. Games are streamed live on Twitch, the world’s largest streaming site. There will be commentary similar to a real NBA game. League Partner AT&T has created the “AT&T Game Day Show”, which will run during the tournaments and playoffs.
When are games played?
The season starts April 2nd and runs through August 3rd. This season, regular season games will be played Wednesdays from 6-11 p.m. ET, Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. ET and Fridays from 6-11 p.m. ET. Individual team schedules can be found on the team’s websites. There are also three tournaments again this season: The Tipoff, The Turn, and The Ticket. Tournament games do not count towards the teams’ win-loss record but serve as a tiebreaker for playoff teams if needed. This season, AT&T has introduced “The Banner Chain”, with each tournament winner receiving a part of the banner.
The league playoffs are set to start June 24. Over three days, the top seven teams, along with the winner of The Ticket, will battle it out for a chance to play in the Finals. If the winner of The Ticket has a top-8 best record, then eight teams will play in the playoffs. The semifinals and quarterfinals will be best-of-three, followed by a best-of-five Finals.
What do teams win?
According to the league website, the Tipoff tournament will have a prize pool of $120,000. The Turn and The Ticket will each feature a prize pool of $180,000. The 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs will have a total prize pool of $720,000, with the NBA 2K League champions receiving $360,000 from that pool. Overall, the prize money increased by $200,000, totaling $1.2 million.
How were teams selected?
The 17 teams from last season were given the ability to retain two of their six players. The remaining 68 players were placed into a pool, and eight were drafted by the four expansion teams. From there, the remaining 60 players were available for retaining by their original teams for the cost of one forfeited 2019 draft pick. All players who were not protected or selected in the expansion draft were added to the draft-eligible pool, which included other new participants, for the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft after successfully completing the NBA 2K League Combine requirements.
Who should I watch?
Last season, Blazer5 Gaming went 12-2, won the Turn, and secured the number one seed for the playoffs. The squad was led by MVP and Defensive Player of the Year OneWildWalnut. Walnut primarily ran the center and averaged 21.1 points, 14.0 rebounds, 2.6 blocks, and 2.2 steals. Blazer5 only added two new players during the offseason, so they not only have a lot of league experience, but the experience is shared. Their chemistry will be fun to watch.
The reigning champions, Knicks Gaming has a lot more going for them than the actual Knicks. Last season, the team only went 5-9 in the regular season but won the Ticket, which granted them the eighth seed in the playoffs. From there, they went on a Cinderella run, eventually sweeping Heat Check Gaming 2-0 in the Finals. Defensive stopper Nate Kahl won Finals MVP, but was not retained and was selected second in the expansion draft by cross-town rival expansion team NetsGC. This team also only added two new players, so expect them to have a much better regular season, and aim to repeat as champs.
A few days before the 2018 league playoffs took place, it was announced that the league would be adding four new teams during the offseason: Hawks Talon GC, NetsGC, Lakers Gaming, and T-Wolves Gaming. Each team was able to select two non-retained players, meaning each team has at least two players with league experience already, with all of them adding at least one more experienced player.
For further details on the NBA 2K League, check out https://2kleague.nba.com/.