After an offseason that took over half a year, the NBA 2K League is set to kick off its second season with The Tipoff Powered by AT&T on Tuesday, April 2. Fans can watch the first game of the new season when Raptors Uprising GC face Mavs Gaming at 5 p.m. ET on Twitch.
The tournament features each of the 21 NBA2KL teams, which means fans get to see the debut of the four expansion teams (Hawks Talon GC, NetsGC, Lakers Gaming, and T-Wolves Gaming). Teams are split into seven groups of three where each team will face the other two teams in the group.
The top team in each of the seven groups will move on to the bracket stage, and an eighth “wild card” team will be selected based on tiebreaker criteria. Teams that qualify will compete on April 6 for a share of the $120,000 prize pool (up $20,000 from last year’s Tipoff tournament). In addition to lifting the first trophy of the 2019 season, the winning team will take home $52,500 ($17,500 more than 2018). Second place will earn $37,500, while third and fourth each get $15,000.
Fans will not have to wait long to see the 2018 NBA 2K League champions, Knicks Gaming, in action. The top team from 2018 is set to face NetsGC at 8 p.m. ET and ends the first day of the Tipoff against Magic Gaming.
21 Teams. 7 Groups. 5 Days. 1 Champion.
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) March 28, 2019
With the first tournament of the year, there will be some nerves to shake off for the rookies. The NBA 2K League is different from your typical esports competitions. The pressure can be felt in the in-game arena as your opponent is sitting 10 feet away from you. Players will taunt each other during the games, and the energy picks up with each dunk or clutch three.
Group 1 features an almost all new Mavs Gaming squad built around Artreyo “Dimez” Boyd, a Cavs Legion GC group that might still be searching for an in-game leader, and Raptors Uprising GC that is hoping a veteran team can lead them to some early success. Unlike Mavs Gaming with Dimez, Cavs Legion GC may hit a roadblock without someone to take over the game. Raptors Uprising should not have the nerves that were mentioned before but may struggle with the Mavs Gaming skill. It is looking like Mavs Gaming group to lose.
In group 2, some interest stems from the 2018 champions Knicks Gaming, expansion team NetsGC (the first expansion team to take the stage), and Magic Gaming. There should not be any question that Knicks Gaming is the favorite here, but the battle between the other two could get interesting. Magic Gaming was a tiebreaker away from making the playoffs last season, while NetsGC could set the tone for the other expansion teams set to debut this week. The two face off at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Group 3 kicks off day two of the Tipoff with second-year teams Grizz Gaming and Wizards District Gaming and expansion team T-Wolves Gaming. Wizards District Gaming may have been the most vocal team in the league last year but will enter 2019 without its MVP finalist, Austin “BooPainter” Painter. Even though veterans Johnathon “JT” Fields and Ryan “Dayfri” Conger are more than capable of carrying the team, Wizards District Gaming will have to find a way to make up for its lost star. If there is any group that each team can finish 1-1, it would be this group.
Three veteran teams make up Group 4 with Heat Check Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming, and 76ers GC. Kings Guard Gaming has a lot to prove with its roster this year and may fall victim to two blowouts on Wednesday. Heat Check Gaming and 76ers GC are two of the best teams in the league going into the season, and their matchup on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET may be the game of the group stage. Both sides return a majority of the lineups from last season and have revenge in their eyes after last season’s playoff disappointment. Look for the loser of that game to be in contention for that wild card team slot.
As #NBA2KLeague players are starting to get into market for Season 2, a reminder that there are now 2⃣1⃣ teams in the league.
Here's a look at the franchise map ⤵️🌎 pic.twitter.com/kYKFGizmEQ
— NBA2KLeague (@NBA2KLeague) March 14, 2019
Group 5 has two teams striving for more consistency in 2019 than the previous year, Pacers Gaming and Warriors Gaming Squad, and another expansion team in Hawks Talon GC. Warriors Gaming Squad made waves at the draft, not only by drafting the league’s first female draftee in Chiquita “Chiquitae126” Evans, but by forming what seems to be a contender in 2019 with one of the best drafts in the league. This separates Warriors Gaming Squad from Hawks Talon GC as a below average team. The bad news is the inexperience of the team will cause issues against a veteran-led Pacers Gaming. Pacers Gaming will have to hold off Warriors Gaming Squad but should come out on top with the 2-0 record.
More questions surround the teams in group 6 than the rest of the groups combined. Celtics Crossover Gaming represented some of the most confusing 2K results last season. The team would dominate playoff teams with ease and then the next game would struggle to keep up with another. Is 2019 going to be a fresh start for the Boston crew, or will the viewers see the same inconsistency on Thursday? They will still be favorites over Pistons GT and, the last expansion team, Lakers Gaming. Lakers Gaming could be a dark horse for this group with its choices to focus on building the team with veterans in the draft versus possibly higher-skilled rookies.
Group 7, the final group, features another three second-year teams with Bucks Gaming, Blazer5 Gaming, and Jazz Gaming. Blazer5 is a fan favorite and for good reason. The team was consistently near the top of the standings and produced some great games last season. Heading into 2019, Blazer5 returns 2018 MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey and poses issues for both Bucks Gaming and Jazz Gaming. Bucks Gaming is yet again entering the season lacking a “wow” player. Its 2019 debut has 0-2 written all over it, while the Jazz Gaming squad has some pieces in place to see at least one win and a competitive game against Blazer5.
Fans can enjoy the first action of the 2019 NBA 2K League on the league’s official Twitch channel starting on Tuesday, April 2 at 5 p.m. ET.
Proud alum of the slimy pebble, Slippery Rock University, and DePaul University. Making the transition from four years in traditional sports to esports. Happy to turn my obsession with NBA2K, CSGO, and Rocket League into content.