The NBA 2K League teams have their eyes on postseason dreams this week heading into the third and final tournament of the season, The Ticket Tournament. All 21 teams travel to Winter Park, Florida to compete on the big stage in The Fortress at Full Sail University. Games begin on Thursday with Pistons GT and T-Wolves Gaming meeting at 4:00 PM ET.
Thursday features five play-in games involving the 10 lowest-seeded teams based on the last four weeks and two first-round matchups. Teams will then compete over Friday and Saturday afternoon to reach the championship game set for Saturday at 9:00 PM ET.
The 20-game tournament has more than just prize money on the line. Unlike the previous two tournaments this season, teams will be competing for a playoff spot to be earned by The Ticket champion. This spot proved vital last year for Knicks Gaming, as the team finished 14th in the regular season and would have missed the playoffs without the automatic bid. Knicks Gaming eventually went on to win the 2018 NBA 2K League Championship.
In addition to the playoff spot, teams will battle for a piece of the $180,000 prize pool. The champion takes home $90,720, while the runner-up gets $29,760. The third and fourth place teams earn $15,360 each, while fifth to eighth place leave the tournament with $7,200 each.
The Ticket predictions
The Ticket opens with five play-in games and two first-round matchups on Thursday. The winners of the five play-in games will be reseeded 12 through 16 and paired against the top-seeded teams (Blazer5 Gaming, Mavs Gaming, NetsGC, Celtics Crossover Gaming, and Warriors Gaming Squad) based on the records over the last four weeks.
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The Ticket Play-In Games
Pistons GT vs. T-Wolves Gaming – Nothing is going right for Pistons GT. It has the worst record in the league, losing by an average of 14.6 points per game. A midseason trade is just not working out for the Detroit crew. Now, Pistons GT faces a surging T-Wolves squad to essentially save any postseason hopes. Expect this to be a blowout in favor of the T-Wolves.
Lakers Gaming vs. Raptors Uprising GC – Lakers Gaming may have the second-worst record in the league, but its games have been close. There is some momentum for Lakers Gaming, and it faces an up-and-down Raptors Uprising GC. NBA 2K League fans expect a dominant game from Raptors Uprising GC, especially after a 12-point win in week 6 against Lakers Gaming. This LA group has improved since then, but Raptors should still hold the advantage.
Heat Check Gaming vs. Bucks Gaming – All season, it seemed Heat Check would turn things around for a positive result. Now, the Miami crew might be looking at its only shot at the playoffs this week. Bucks Gaming is finally getting some balanced offense from its players, and fans have high hopes heading into this week. Look for Bucks Gaming to give a disjointed Heat Check Gaming headaches all night and move on in The Ticket.
Knicks Gaming vs. Jazz Gaming – Last year, Knicks Gaming won The Ticket Tournament and the auto playoff bid after having a regular season record that placed them outside the playoff grouping. It is the same scenario this year, except Knicks Gaming is in much worse shape. Jazz Gaming is much like Raptor Gaming GC with the inconsistency struggles. Viewers may have given up on Knicks Gaming, but do not be surprised if it gives Jazz Gaming a good game and upsets the Utah group on Thursday.
Hawks Talon GC vs. Pacers Gaming – Pacers Gaming has slipped from its form early in the season. Indiana’s team still has the talent to be considered a top team in this league. Hawks Talon GC, on the other hand, is not the same. The Atlanta squad has been average all year and has never produced consistent results to showcase postseason potential. The Hawks get a bad draw facing Pacers Gaming, and the Pacers should be moving on to the next step.
Thursday First Round Games
Wizards District Gaming vs. Cav Legion GC – Wizards District Gaming has looked like a completely different team over these last few weeks. Unfortunately, the D.C. group faces a hot Cavs Legion GC team on a four-game winning streak. The Cavs are going to cause matchup issues for Wizards District Gaming and should win this first round game.
Grizz Gaming vs. Magic Gaming – The Thursday finale is also the best matchup of the night. Both Grizz Gaming and Magic Gaming are outside the playoff picture and at least could use a good run this weekend for momentum to finish out the regular season. Despite being even on paper, Magic Gaming has the talent advantage in this game. The Magic move on to the second round at the conclusion of Thursday’s slate.
The Ticket Champion
The Ticket provides an interesting scenario as far as motivation. One could argue that top teams Blazer5 Gaming and Mavs Gaming have less pressure to succeed as they are destined to clinch playoff berths in the upcoming weeks. The current postseason cutoff is currently set at a 6-5 record between Bucks Gaming and Magic Gaming. Eight teams sit at six or seven wins. Look for Warriors Gaming Squad to make a run with the added pressure of a 7-4 record and lift The Ticket championship banner at the end of the weekend.