The NBA 2K League started off in spectacular fashion, with $100,000 in prizemoney up for grabs and 17 teams showcasing the skills of the top 102 NBA 2K players in the world.
This past week saw teams take the floor for the first time during the THE TIPOFF at the NBA 2K League Studio Powered by Intel in New York City.
Here are 15 takeaways from a wild and unpredictable tournament:
1. The league couldn’t have asked for a better finish, with a back-and-forth championship game capping things off. When the dust had settled, 76ers GC outlasted Blazer5 Gaming to put the finishing touches on a surprising tournament run to take home $35,000 and THE TIPOFF banner. The victory was all the sweeter considering Blazer5 Gaming won the first matchup between the sides in group play and were unbeaten heading into the finals. One thing is for certain: 76ers GC are underdogs no more and will be sure to have a target on their back the rest of the way.
2. Welcome to Radiant’s coming out party. 76ers GC’s mild-mannered point guard let his play do the talking. He provided a steady hand running the offense and constantly found his teammates in opportune spots for easy buckets. Radiant saved his best for last with 17 points, 14 assists and 7 steals in the final, and was awarded tournament MVP honors. The first-round pick doesn’t get the fanfare of other top point guards but staked his place among the league’s best with his efforts.
3. The most surprising team of the tournament just so happens to be the runners-up. Blazer5 Gaming steamrolled their way to the championship game on the backs of dominant interior play and sturdy defense. The duo of OneWildWalnut and Dat Boy Shotz has established itself among the strongest frontcourts in the league. The team showed resilience in battling back from a 23-point deficit vs 76ers GC before coming up just short at the end.
4. It was a tale of two Dimez. The No. 1 overall draft pick put on a spectacular display during group play, jumping out of the gate with a 19-assist outing in his Mavs Gaming debut. He later set a new league scoring mark with 50 points vs Grizz Gaming in sealing his team’s berth in the playoff round. However, Dimez was stifled by 76ers Gaming in the quarterfinals in a lackluster defeat. It was a disappointing way to go out, but not enough to overshadow his overall performance.
5. Speaking of point guards, oFAB did more than enough to legitimize his spot alongside Dimez as two of the league’s top playmakers. The No. 2 overall pick dished out 23 assists in Celtics Crossover Gaming’s opener. That turned out to be just a warmup, as oFAB later turned in a 26-assist, 21-point effort in his team’s final game of group play vs Heat Check Gaming.
6. It was no surprise then that the most exciting game of THE TIPOFF featured the most anticipated individual matchup with Dimez and oFAB going head-to-head. Both players turned in outstanding individual performances, but the real storyline was the epic comeback by Mavs Gaming. The team from Dallas erased what was a 20-point deficit in the second quarter, storming from behind after halftime to pull out the victory in the instant classic.
7. The so-called Group of Death lived up to its name. It was the only group to feature five teams and the only one that yielded a three-way tie at the top, resulting in a cruel outcome for Celtics Crossover Gaming. Mavs Gaming and Pacers Gaming got the nod over the boys from Boston for the playoff round based on point differential, despite all three teams finishing with 3-1 records. Celtics Crossover Gaming had the look of a top-5 team, and despite the unfavorable exit should be feeling good about their outlook heading into the regular season.
8. A star is born, and he goes by the name of Hood. The Cavs Legion GC leading man made a name for himself on and off the court over the span of five days. The first-round pick put on an offensive clinic playing his point-forward role, including a pair of 46-point performances. His entertaining antics in front of the screen endeared him to the masses, even garnering a shoutout on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Hood carried Cavs Legion GC within a couple buckets of a berth in the finals.
9. The title of most disappointing team belongs to Kings Guard Gaming. Thought to be one of the pre-tourney favorites, the crew from California couldn’t escape the group stage. Kings Guard Gaming entered play with the bravado to match their star power with a Big 3 that includes Mootyy, worthingcolt and Timelycook. The trio was never able to get in sync at the same time, with the squad eeking out just one win in OT before packing their bags to head home.
10. The parity of the league was in full effect. Each of the four groups produced ultra-competitive play with close games throughout. Only Magic Gaming and Grizz Gaming went winless in pool play. The regular season figures to be competitive and unpredictable as well, with a slew of talented teams capable of turning it on at any given point.
11. There were naturally some growing pains with gameplay and players gelling on the court. But that’s to be expected with a brand new league. Teams gradually got more comfortable and less pensive as play went on. If anything, the tournament provided a strong base for teams to see what worked and what didn’t heading into Week 1.
12. Game6Drake’s name will forever be etched in the record book. The Bucks Gaming point guard scored the first points in league history, hitting a long jumper vs Pistons GT in the tournament opener. Remember his name for the answer to a future trivia question.
13. Did we mention how great the presentation of the game itself looked? The courts and uniforms popped on-screen and the personalized player likenesses provide a nice added element.
14. With money and bragging rights on the line, the players from each of the 17 teams were heavily invested. Players routinely stood up to celebrate big shots or to exchange banter with the opposing team. It made for a lively, competitive environment, and one that’s sure to increase with playoff implications on the line in the weeks to come.
15. Which teams leave THE TIPOFF as the teams to beat the rest of the way? It’s too early to tell, but outside of the two finalists, the squads from Cavs Legion GC, Pistons GT, Mavs Gaming and Pacers Gaming will be looking to build upon a promising start as we look to next week and the start of the inaugural NBA 2K League regular season.