NBA 2K: A 20-year franchise
The original NBA 2K was released last century -- way back in 1999. The basketball simulation video game was developed by Visual Concepts and published by Sega Sports for the Dreamcast console.
Much like its first posterboy, 76ers icon Allen Iverson, it proved a game-changer. In 2005, the developers were bought by Take-Two Interactive. Take-Two Interactive launched NBA 2K20 in September 2019 for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.
Cloudbet adds NBA 2K League markets to its stable of esport offerings
The best and brightest light up the NBA 2K League
The NBA 2K League is a 50-50 joint-venture between the National Basketball Association and Take-Two Interactive, which pits teams of professional gamers against each other. The coronavirus-affected 2020 season has been shortened to a six-week regular season, with players remoting in from their home markets. Launched in 2018, the NBA 2K League was the first official esports league operated by a US professional sports league, and has grown in size, stature and prize pool each year. Season three has just tipped-off.
Players receive six-month central contracts, and like real-world athletes are allowed to sign other endorsement deals. First-round draft picks start at $35,000, with other players on $32,000. A multiyear deal was signed from the start with Twitch to live stream all games, and are now simulcast on YouTube. Reflecting its popularity, an agreement with ESPN has just been announced to air the 2020 season on its networks. You can also catch all the action at Cloudbet.com.
Games are played five-on-five, in a format that differs from the console game, with each player adopting an archetype with preset skills rather than their own MyPlayer avatars, or those of specific NBA players, to keep ratings similar.
The five archetypes and their characteristics are:
- Point guard: Shot-creating slasher, shot-creating sharpshooter, slashing playmaker, sharpshooting playmaker or playmaking shot creator
- Shooting guard: Playmaking slasher, sharpshooting defender, slashing shot creator, sharpshooting shot creator or pure sharpshooter
- Small forward: Shot-creating slasher, sharpshooting shot creator, pure sharpshooter, slashing defender or sharpshooting slasher
- Power forward: Slashing rim protector, rebounding athletic finisher, slashing post scorer, two-way rebounder or sharpshooting rim protector
- Center: Post-scoring athletic finisher, slashing rebounder, pure rim protector, slashing stretch five or rebounding post scorer.
Real-world mirrored in draft system
The 2018 draft saw the inaugural 17 teams choose six players each - one for each position in the first five rounds, and one player for a position of their choice in the sixth round. These 102 gamers became the first NBA 2K professionals.
Testament to the boom in the popularity of esports, the league added four expansion teams for 2019 (from Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Minnesota). The 2019 draft saw 75 players drafted to fill out the 21 team rosters. History was made in the fourth round when Chiquita “Chiquitae126” Evans became the first woman drafted in by the Warriors Gaming Squad.
After T-Wolves Gaming triumphed over 76ers GC, two more teams were added for 2020: History was made once again as international esports behemoth GenG. Tigers from Shanghai became the first team outside of North America to participate.
Hornets Venom GT is the other season three expansion team. In all, the draft saw 23 teams fill their rosters with 68 players from a pool of 229 over four rounds.
As the popularity and size of the competition grows, so too do the stakes. The total prize pool this year has jumped to $1.4m (from $1.2m in 2019 and $1m in 2018). The playoffs will have a total prize pool of $900,000, with the champions sharing a healthy $420,000 (from $360,000 in 2019 and $300,000 in 2018).
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Betting on the NBA 2k League with Bitcoin
Cloudbet will be streaming the feed and offering competitive winner markets for those keen to get in on the action. All you need to do is open an account to get going.
As with any kind of sports betting, it generally pays to do your homework. Fortunately, the League’s website is loaded with information to glean. Team pages provide news updates, player profile pages include personal stats, and stats tool allows you to delve a little deeper. Draft pages also cover the events in-depth.
Right now, there doesn't seem to be a clear team favourite to lift the title, but we’ve highlighted a few names to watch and who have the potential to take their teams all the way in 2020.
Major NBA 2K Award Winners
MamaImDatMan - Blazer5 Gaming: 2019 Season MVP
BearDaBeast - T-Wolves Gaming: 2019 Finals MVP
OneWildWalnut - Blazer5 Gaming: 2018 Season MVP; 2018 Defensive player of the year
Godddof2k - Cavs Legion GC: 2019 Defensive player of the year
Reizey - Magic Gaming: 2019 Rookie of the year
2019 All-NBA 2K First Team
Arooks - Bucks Gaming
Ramo - Pacers Gaming
MamaImDatMan - Blazer5 Gaming
OneWildWalnut2k - Blazer5 Gaming
Ofab - Celtics Crossover Gaming
2019 All-Defensive team
Breadwinner LA - 76ers Gaming
Type - Warriors Gaming Squad
Yusuf_Scarbz - Kings Guard Gaming
Godddof2k - V+Cavs Legion GC
Gradient - Warriors Gaming Squad
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