Season three of the NBA 2K League tips off this month, and with it comes many changes to how the league operates. From new teams to new locales and more money on the line, the 2020 season looks to be better than ever.
Season three will have NBA 2K League teams hosting rivals on their home stage for the first time. While there have been home and away teams in past seasons, that was only represented by the in-game court design and in-game stadium audience. This season teams will compete outside of the NBA 2K League Studio in New York for a more interesting home-court advantage.
Not every team will get the honor of hosting a game in their own city. Only six individual matchups and six round-robin tournaments will be played outside of New York City. Most matches, however, will be played at the new NBA 2K League Studio in Manhattan.
Having matches that occur in a franchise’s home city seems like an excellent way to broaden support for a team, and time will tell if hosting in your own city brings more of an advantage than simply being designated the home team in the NBA 2K League Studio.
An all-new NBA 2K League Studio
The NBA 2K League is moving to center stage in The Big Apple this season. Having spent the first two seasons in Queens, the new facility will be located in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood within Manhattan.
The new location comes with a number of updates. New seating will put up to 200 people in the 13,600 square-foot studio. Guest streamers will have their very own pod to work from. Players will be easier than ever to hear with a mic’d upstage. These upgrades should all be significant for the viewer experience, both at home and in the studio.
The majority of games will be played in the NBA 2K League Studio this season, so the upgrades are a welcome change. Fans will be able to purchase single-night, VIP, or season tickets at NBA2KLeague.com. The league will also choose one studio-hosted game each week as the Game of the Week, which promises to bring a big match with unique experiences for fans at the studio.
This season brings two new teams into the league, bringing the total number to 23. With these additions comes the first intercontinental presence of the NBA 2K League, expanding the league’s reach to China.
Hornets Venom GT
The NBA 2K League affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, Hornets Venom GT, looks poised to challenge the rest of the league this year. Hiring the sixth man on T-Wolves Gaming’s championship-winning roster from last season, Brian “Nacho” Traynor, as Manager of Marketing & Operations, the team immediately got off to a good start with an ex-player and all-around people pleaser helping out the team.
Hornets Venom GT also hired a coach and general manager with a storied history in NBA 2K esports, Lawrence West. West previously worked as a special advisor to Hawks Talon GC in the NBA 2K League. Before that, he was the President and Founder of National Amateur Pro-AM Xposure, working with competitive NBA 2K players.
The team’s roster is complete, and ready to compete, with Hornets Venom GT receiving the first pick in the NBA 2K League Expansion Draft, as well as three picks in the first round of the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft.
Bringing with it a much larger audience, the Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai is both the first team to enter the league outside of North America, and the first team to be unaffiliated with an NBA franchise.
While the team isn’t affiliated with an NBA team, Gen.G has plenty of prior esports experience. With a total of eight esports teams across games like League of Legends, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Overwatch, Gen.G should be able to transition into a new esport easily.
While the Tigers will be representing Shanghai, at least for their first season, the team will practice in Gen.G’s Los Angeles Headquarters. The NBA 2K League is undoubtedly excited to grow within the Chinese market, following in the footsteps of the traditional NBA, which has a growing presence in the nation.
A larger prize pool
More money is on the line than ever before in season three of the NBA 2K League. An additional $200,000, to be precise. This brings the total prize pool to $1.4 million.
With multiple in-season tournaments, six round-robin events, and playoffs at the end of the season, teams will have numerous chances to get paid throughout the season. The season begins with The Tipoff, a tournament featuring a $150,000 prize pool. The second in-season tournament, The Turn, comes with $230,000 of prizes. The winning team of each round-robin event will take home $15,000, with an additional $5,000 on the line each event. Finally, the NBA 2K League playoff champion team will take home $420,000 out of the playoff’s $900,000 prize pool.
With more on the line than ever before, you can expect players and teams to be as competitive as ever.
New NBA 2K League players
With a new season come several new faces to the league. Of the 138 players in the NBA 2K League this season, only 70 were retained from last year. That left 68 roster spots open for the 228 available players for the 2020 draft.
With the first overall pick, Wizards District Gaming selected John “JBM” Mascone from New York. Among the 68 players selected in the draft were five international players. The Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai drafted the league’s first Chinese player, Hu “Luck_Yi_Wesley” Yi, as the 56th overall selection.
The draft has expanded since we reported on its first draft.
More freedom to conduct trades
Trading players were introduced with season two of the NBA 2K League but were significantly restricted. Restrictions on trades still persist in season three, but teams have been given more options on how and when they can trade players and draft picks.
The league’s second season allowed for two trades, restricting those trades to just two periods of time. Season three still has only two trade periods but will enable teams to part with up to five trade assets. That means a team can make up to five trades, changing nearly their entire roster throughout the season.
Trades must still be made on a one-for-one basis, meaning a team can’t, for example, trade two picks for a single player. The league does allow multi-team trades, however.
Teams are also being given the ability to trade next year’s draft picks this season, whereas the 2019 rules limited draft pick trades to the 2019 draft. Seeing as the 2020 draft has already occured, this significantly opens up trade opportunities for teams with a win-now mentality; trading future picks for current players.
The league is clearly expanding in many ways this season and is sure to be an even better fan experience than ever before with all the changes. The 2020 season begins March 24 with The Tipoff Tournament.