My final article of the year is always an interesting one. I’m simultaneously thrilled that the season is over but also sad that it has come to an end. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t leave you — my wonderful audience — with a hitter to close the season. No need for a sappy intro (he says after making a sappy intro), let’s get into our 5v5.
- Warriors Gaming Squad Came Out to Play
*Slams table* WE GOT ONE! By “we” I mean me, and by “got one” I mean finally got a prediction correct!! Admittedly, I wasn’t too confident about my pick, but the Warriors proved to us all why it was the smart pick. They finished with the highest win percentage of any champion ever, having lost only five games all season long. Their 12-0 record stands as the only undefeated group stage record that we’ve seen since the format changed and to top it off, we can finally stop wondering if Warriors Gaming Squad was ever going to win the title. Despite their weird bracket stage losses in THE TIPOFF and TURN, their obscene talent carried them through their three hardest series of the year. What I’m trying to say is that it’s just another year where winning 5v5 banners means nothing towards winning the 5v5 championship.
- The OGs Get Crowned
CB13, Mama Im Dat Man, and Kenny Got Work were all going to finish their careers as legends, whether they won a championship or not. Their iconic play styles and overwhelming accomplishments put them up there with any of the all-time greats. BUT in the modern era of sports, we count rings, and if you don’t have one, you will always be perceived as missing one. When you finally get one, any questioning of your legacy is done. For these three guys to have accomplished as much as they have and still be yearning for that one final prize should show you just how valuable it is to them, but also to anybody who wins it after. It’s really hard to be a champion in this league. As we get further and further into the league’s future, these rings will only become more valuable and I hope we remember just how hard the early championships were to win. Because damn, the only way that CB13, Mama Im Dat Man, and Kenny Got Work were able to win one, was to do it together. And that’s really all that needs to be said.
- Finals MVP: Mama Im Dat Man
There’s so much to say about Mama Im Dat Man. Controversial or not, he is one of the most important people in league history. If you go back to the first couple of seasons of the league, the average guard was mostly pretty lifeless. Mama made it cool for guards to be big figures. He wanted the trash talk. He wanted to brag. He wanted to rally you up. The difference was that he did it all while kicking everyone’s ass. As things currently stand, he’s the all time leader in points, field goals made, 3-pointers made, and by my own 2KR statistic, he’s the most valuable guard ever on a per game basis.
A finals MVP for him feels like a long time coming, but that shouldn’t diminish the fact that he finally got it done. The league’s premier trash talker, a guy who helped basically launch this league, backed up the talk again like only he can. There will never be another Mama. I don’t think we could handle one anyway. But him winning the title feels important to the league. It shows that the league’s biggest talker can also be the league’s biggest winner. Come to think of it, when you throw in Dayfri, Bear, and Dimez, maybe you have to be a big talker to win finals MVP. So, let’s all tip our cap to Mama Im Dat Man. The only player in NBA history to make it rain on NBA TV.
- An Ode to NBL Oz Gaming
As I’ve said in articles before, I love being wrong. Being wrong means that I missed something and it gives me a chance to learn from what I missed. I, like many others, was very wrong about NBL Oz Gaming. So what did I miss? I missed how an elite defensive front court can win you any game, regardless of the competition. I missed that even sophomore second round pick shooting guards can make a star leap in the middle of a season. I missed that it’s unfair to judge an international point guard before they get into the league. And maybe most of all, I missed how powerful it can be to have a quality former player as your coach. When you read all of that in a row, and you put it all into a big pot, it reads perfectly like a good team.
So how did I miss it then? I missed it because I judged too soon and ignored the obvious signs of a good team. There will never be another NBL Oz Gaming, but I would be mistaken if I didn’t tip my cap to one of the most important seasons a team could ever have in the league. I hope that their season ends up impacting how we look at international players in this league because of how solid Harry was all year. No player or team will ever be able to copy it, but I hope it inspires future teams to turn over a few more stones than they previously would have. Cheers to NBL Oz Gaming for embodying what a good team in this league should be. Good vibes, good defense, and an undying #downunderdog mentality.
- We Need to Start Talking About Banners
As mentioned above, neither team that won a banner won the 5v5 championship. But this season, it got even worse. Neither 76ers GC or Hornets Venom GT even won a round this year, and went 1-4 combined in the playoffs. To go a step further, the teams that they played in the banner finals, T-Wolves Gaming and Blazer5 Gaming, didn’t win a round either. The two teams that actually made the 5v5 championship didn’t win a series on stage all year. This is now the sixth year in a row where a team that won a banner didn’t win a championship. This has gone from an interesting side note, to a full on terrifying trend. Why does this keep happening? Is it the parity of the league? Is stage gameplay that random? What is the cause for this very strange trend? I do not have the answer, nor do I ever think I will. But I can promise you this, the first team to win a banner and a title in the same year, they, in my opinion, will be the best team of all time. At this point, it is truly the last mountain to climb in this league.
Well team, that does it for another incredible 2K League season. I want to thank you for being such a great audience and reading these fun articles (infodumps) all season long. I’ve really appreciated your feedback all season, both online and in-person. I want to thank Trenton Reed for being a great co-writer this season, he smashed his daily preview article every week. I want to thank Colleen, my primary editor, as well as Tox and Andrew Hohl for making them look so good on the website. It’s an honor writing about this league, and one that I do not take lightly. While it’s goodbye for now, I’ll see you for Season 7. So long and goodbye, I’m going on vacation.