For the first time ever, Florida will play host to an NBA 2K League eSports tournament this month. The tournament, offering a prize pool of $180,000, will be named ‘The Ticket’ – a 20-game, knockout tournament that brings all of the leading 21 NBA 2K League teams to the sunshine state.
On the eve of the conclusion of the NBA Championship finals, which sees the Raptors rated slight favorites for the NBA 2019 title going into the final showdown, the NBA 2K League has confirmed that this year’s event will be hosted at Full Sail University’s Fortress arena in Winter Park, Florida. Full Sail University is a leading sponsor of the Orlando Magic NBA 2K League eSports outfit, known as Magic Gaming, so it will be very much a homecoming event for Magic Gaming who recently saw a four-game winning streak in the league ended by Bucks Gaming.
The winner of ‘The Ticket’ is guaranteed a playoff spot in the NBA 2K League, which will place immense pressure on every single knockout game. The event will be supported by mobile firm AT&T, which will have an even bigger field than last year when 17 teams contested the event held in New York City. Knicks Gaming were the eventual winners of last year’s event, who used that momentum to go on and win the inaugural NBA 2K League championship after securing a playoff place.
2019’s tournament will see 21 teams lock horns between 13th and 15th June, with all match-ups streamed live across the NBA 2K League Twitch stream and on its Youtube channel. It’s also a step up in terms of prize money, with the prize pool up to $180,000 from last year’s $150,000, with an estimated $90,000 set to go to the winning team. Although this prize money is dwarfed by the $300,000 up for grabs in the NBA 2K League Playoffs, it’s the last chance for any team looking to secure a guaranteed place in the 2019 Playoffs.
How the tournament is seeded will have a huge bearing on the outcome of ‘The Ticket’. The better teams will no doubt want to be drawn against the weaker sides in the competition in the early stages. Interestingly, the seeding system for ‘The Ticket’ is based on teams’ most recent form in the NBA 2K League. Those who have recorded strong recent winning runs will have a clear advantage over the rest of the league. This could play nicely into the hands of homecoming side, Magic Gaming, who have been in fine fettle of late.
Jonah Edwards, head coach of Magic Gaming, said that his troops are “definitely excited about being able to hold home court” at ‘The Ticket’. Edwards added that his team were “confident going in” to the event and with a “good week of practice” behind them, they would do all they can to secure an automatic playoff berth.
76ers GC and Warriors Gaming Squad were the beneficiaries of guaranteed entry into the 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs after winning the two previous tournaments held during the course of this season. However, ‘The Ticket’ will be only the second tournament to be hosted outside of New York with the last event, ‘The Turn’, taking place at the HyperX Esports Arena in the Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Reports indicate that the Full Sail University’s Fortress Arena has capacity for over 500 spectators which should make for a tremendous live atmosphere for each game. It is the largest eSports arena to be situated within a college campus in the U.S. The tournament will also feature musical performances and fans will have the chance to have their photo taken alongside the NBA 2K League Championship trophy.
While many of the biggest and best eSports tournaments are centred around fictional computer game titles, it is great to see the NBA franchise enjoy increased exposure on the eSports stage. The NBA 2K video game offers unrivalled realism compared with many other sports-themed titles, which is why it makes such a fascinating eSport.