• 2KZN (The 2K Zone)

A Crazy Weekend Of NBA 2K League Tournament Finals!

It’s hard to believe that the NBA 2K League Finals were held about 3 months ago, which puts us right in the heart of the League’s off-season. But with everything that is going on with the Expansion Drafts, the Draft Lottery, player retentions, and Team Tournaments, I’m not sure that there is an off-season for the NBA 2K League anymore.

This off-season has seen the addition of Tournaments being run by some of the NBA 2K League teams offering cash prizes as well as highly coveted spots in the Draft for Season 3. This is a new way for prospects to get themselves into the Draft pool for Season 3, and has been very well received. Especially by prospects who have become increasingly unhappy with the grind of the Combine that has been the only way to qualify for the Draft in Seasons 1 and 2. The NBA 2K League did not make it mandatory for teams to host a Tournament, so not all of them took advantage of the opportunity.

But this past weekend, the 2K community was treated to some incredible NBA 2K action with the Finals for three teams Tournaments concluding with live events.

  • The Texas Ticket, the Tournament hosted by the MavsGaming, went down in Dallas, Texas.

  • The XB1 Finals of the Warriors Gaming Squad Invitational Tournament took place inside the 2k Studios located in Novato, California.

  • The District Gaming Classic Finals were held live at the Wizards Distrcit Gaming practice facilities in Washington, DC.

By now, the results of these tournaments is old news, so the point of this article is not to bring you the results, but to give you my personal observations and opinions on the presentation and production of the events from a viewers’ point of view. I will share with you what I think the teams did well and some areas where they could improve on for next year, assuming these will be held again next year.

District Gaming Classic (presented by Wizards DG)

Let’s start in the home of the most recent World Series Champions…Washington DC, where the Wizards District Gaming held the Finals for both PS4 and XB1 consoles in the Wizards DG practice facility. Choosing this facility was very smart because it was broadcast from inside the Wizards DG offices so it was not unusual to see people walking behind the commentators as they were on the air.

It pulls the curtain back a bit and gives the viewer a small glimpse into the Wizards DG corporate offices and practice facility.

Unfortunately, a technical issue prevented us from watching the XBOX Finals. Fortunately, the issues were resolved in time for us to watch the PS4 Finals. However, once the games started, it was a bit disappointing that the viewer could only see game play on the screen and only listen to the voices of the commentators. This is no disrespect to the commentators because they did a great job. But the sounds of the game and hearing the gamers communicate and trash talk adds so much to the broadcast. Taking that element out reduces the enjoyment for the viewer.

It was also very positive to see Zach Leonsis being very active on Twitter as the event was happening. Seeing a team executive at his level taking such an active interest in the event reflects extremely well on the Wizards DG as an organization.

The Texas Ticket (presented by Mavs Gaming)

When I tuned in to the Mavs Gaming twitch channel for the first game of the day on Saturday, the very first thing I noticed was that the only thing I could hear was music that was being played as the games took place. This made it difficult to follow what was happening and took away from the enjoyment of watching the games. The twitch chat was going crazy with countless comments being made requesting that the music be turned off. Unfortunately, the music continued for as long as I watched.

When I tuned in for the games on Sunday, there was a very noticeable difference and the Mavs Gaming deserve a lot of credit for listening to the chat and changing things on the fly as the music was removed from the broadcast.

Now that the music was gone, I was able to see the game action, the actual gamers, and I could hear the gamers communicate with each other and trash talking the other team. This one simple change improved the viewing experience for me significantly because I was able to enjoy and experience the atmosphere…which was electric. I could only imagine what it was like to be inside the facility.

The venue looked amazing and seemed to offer a lot more for the patrons to do such as play arcade basketball. There was also no shortage of celebrities in the house with Dimez and the rest of the Mavs Gaming players for fans to talk to, take pictures with or sign autographs.

Chris Arnold, local Sports Talk Show Host with 105.3 The Fan, was also on hand conducting pre and post-game interviews of the players, which would make any gamer feel like a celebrity. Having someone like Chris Arnold at the event also adds credibility to the event and exposes the NBA 2K League to fans who may not know much about the League.

Although the main stage set up was excellent, the only drawback was that the teams were in line with each other and not directly facing each other which is the more ideal set up. Also, there were more than one game being played simultaneously and unfortunately we could hear the sound of gamers from both games which was very distracting at times and annoying at other times.

From the photos published on the Mavs website, it was clear that the venue offered much more than just the games. Patrons were able to play arcade basketball and had access to the Mavs gaming professional players to talk to take pictures with or get autographs.

Warriors Gaming Squad Invitational Tournament (powered by WR Pro Am League)

Finally, the Warriors Gaming Squad Invitational Tournament Finals (XBOX) were held live in the 2K Studios in Novato, California, which is about 30 miles north of San Francisco.

This Tournament was being powered by the WR Pro-Am League, and they did not disappoint when it came to the live event. Having SnowBikeMike as the host broadcaster added so much to the event as he acted as the event’s host, in game commentator, and conducted pre and post-game interviews and commentary. I have been watching SnowBikeMike for a couple of years now and he has always been very skillful behind the mic. But just over the last couple of months, he has shown even more improvement, and might just be the best 2K commentator not to be a part of the NBA2K League.

Also having Warrior Gaming Squad players at the event to provide expert colour commentary provided fantastic insight of the games from a professional point of view which is not something you get to experience every day. This also added a lot to the event for the viewers.

As a viewer of this event, I was able to watch the game play with a stationary view of the actual players in the bottom left corner of the screen, as the shot would alternate from one team to the other. I was also able to experience the sounds of the game while listening to SnowBikeMike do the play by play with a rotation of WGS players providing colour commentary.

The 2K studios provided a great looking venue, although it was not quite as good as the Mavs facility.

The WGS and WR League got the set up right by having the teams facing each other which only adds to the intensity of the game and players and fosters more trash talking, and there was a gigantic screen showing the game action for the in-studio audience.

The only improvement I can suggest for next year is to have the Finals for both PS4 and XB1 held during live events. For this Tournament, only one live event was planned, and was awarded to the console with the most number of teams registered, which was obviously XB1. Regardless, this to me is not anything major and I still consider this event and the Tournament as a whole to be a major success.

Final Thoughts

Considering this was the first year for NBA 2K Leagues Team Tournaments, those that did host Tournaments did a great job and I’m sure they each have made note of lessons learned which they can apply to next year’s Tournaments, if they decide to do these again.

And for those teams that decided not to run a Tournament this year and take a “wait and see” approach, it is my hope that they are now believers in this idea. They have a whole year to plan and can take the best elements from the Tournaments held this year in order to produce more outstanding events for the next “off-season”.

The NBA and NBA2K League are master at marketing, so we can only expect these types of events to get better and better every year, which gives the 2K players and fans a lot to look forward to in the months and years to come.