The second season of the NBA 2K League is approaching. The league, which is a joint venture between the NBA and Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of the NBA 2K franchise, kicks off on April 2 and will run through the beginning of August (the league announced the full schedule, which you can find here).
Let’s take a look at the league, how it’s structured and some of the changes heading into season two:
- Each of the league’s 21 teams will participate in 16 regular seasons contests, all of which will be played at the NBA 2K League Studio in New York City.
- Games will be played weekly on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.
- All games will be live-streamed on the league’s Twitch channel.
- The prize pool has been increased to $1.2MM – a 20% increase over last year’s award – and teams will receive a portion of the pool based on tournament wins and league playoff outcomes.
This season will feature a female professional esports player for the first time after the Warriors drafted Chiquita Evans during the March 6 draft. The inaugural season didn’t feature a female player and the league set out to solve the issue. It searched the data and found that male players weren’t passing the ball to female teammates enough during games and it skewed the evaluation metrics.
”It made us put more emphasis on how good a player was when they got the ball in their hands,” managing director Brendan Donohue said earlier this month. ”That’s the only part of it they can control.”
The league also added sessions to its transition program (similar to the NBA’s rookie symposium) to help Evans and other female players overcome challenges they break into a male-dominated space.
Which NBA Teams Are Participating?
The inaugural season consisted of 17 teams and the Knicks took home the championship. This season, four more teams (Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Minnesota) were added via an expansion draft. Here’s the full list of NBA 2K clubs:
- Blazers: Blazers5 Gaming
- Bucks: Bucks Gaming
- Cavaliers: Cavs Legion GC
- Celtics: Celtics Crossover Gaming
- Grizzlies: Grizz Gaming
- Hawks: Hawks Talon GC *
- Heat: Heat Check Gaming
- Jazz: Jazz Gaming
- Kings: Kings Guard Gaming
- Knicks: Knicks Gaming
- Lakers: Lakers Gaming *
- Magic: Magic Gaming
- Mavericks: Mavs Gaming
- Nets: Nets GC *
- Pacers: Pacers Gaming
- Pistons: Pistons GT
- Raptors: Raptors Uprising GC
- Sixers: 76ers GC
- Wolves: T-Wolves Gaming *
- Warriors: Warriors Gaming Squad
- Wizards: Wizards District Gaming
* Expansion teams
Format Of The Game And Rosters?
Each team is made up of six players with each participant controlling one player while 5-on-5 competition takes place.
The competitors don’t play with pre-existing created players but rather in Pro-Am mode, where there are presets based on each position to ensure balance among teams, meaning one player will not beat the other because the former has the skills of LeBron James and the latter has Michael Carter-Williams‘ arsenal (sorry, MCW). Players choose which of the traditional five positions (point guard, shooting guard, etc) and which archetype (playmaking slasher, sharp-shooting defender, etc) they will use for the season.
How Are The Players Compensated?
The league’s 126 players are compensated between $33-37K, depending on where they were drafted, and each player is on a six-month contract. Relocation and housing costs are provided by the league and the players received health benefits and retirement plan contributions as well.
Teams are made up of professional esports players, thus they are not restricted by amateur status, so they are eligible to sign endorsement deals. Several players are well known in the gaming community and already have deals in place.
Can Players Be Traded?
During the first season, trades were not allowed. For the second, the league added two designated trading periods. One was a two-week period that ended on October 10. The other has yet to be determined, but it will occur during the 2019 season. There have been five trades in league history, per the league’s transaction log.
How Are Playoff Teams Determined?
Eight teams make the playoffs in total. There are three tournaments during the season — The Banner Chain: The Tipoff, The Turn, and The Ticket. The winner of The Ticket clinches a postseason spot, along with the teams owning a top-seven record during the regular season. If The Ticket winner is already in the top seven, then the top eight teams gain entry to the playoffs.
Key playoff dates:
- Wednesday, July 24, 2019: Postseason begins.
- Saturday, August 3, 2019: The 2019 NBA 2K League Finals (best-of-five series).