By Kristian Cuaresma
The NBA 2K League unveiled the pools for its upcoming annual start-of-season tournament THE TIPOFF. The four groups – 2 per conference – were decided in a draft inspired by ban picks commonly found in other popular esports leagues. Having finished top two in their respective conferences, Wizards DG, Hornets Venom GT, T-Wolves Gaming, and Pacers Gaming were separated into four pools and rewarded with the first picks, ultimately deciding which four teams they wanted “sent away” from their group. This new group of four were then asked to send away the next four teams. The process continued until four pools of 6 teams were created.
Here were the final results and what it means for NetsGC:
- T-Wolves Gaming
- Jazz Gaming
- Pistons GT
- Blazer5 Gaming
- Lakers Gaming
- Cavs Legion
- Pacers Gaming
- Warriors Gaming Squad
- Kings Guard Gaming
- Mavs Gaming
- Bucks Gaming
- DUX Infiniti
- Wizards District Gaming
- Gen.G Tigers
- 76ers GC
- Celtics Crossover Gaming
- Hawks Talon GC
- Heat Check Gaming
- Hornets Venom GT
- Raptors Uprising
- Knicks Gaming
- Grizz Gaming
- Magic Gaming
THE TIPOFF Storylines to Watch
The Rivalry Continues
NetsGC and Hornets Venom GT will be given an immediate opportunity to write the next chapter in a brewing rivalry. When the stakes have been high, these two teams have repeatedly crossed paths, with Hornets Venom GT sweeping NetsGC in the 2020 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, and Brooklyn returning the favor in a sweep during the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The last time these two teams clashed in a tournament was in season four’s THE TURN, in which NetsGC were swept 2-0.
The Next Stop in the Subway Series
Territory was both gained and lost in the season four “Battle for New York”, with NetsGC and Knicks Gaming splitting its four matchups. Sophomore shooting guard Doc and All-Star center Shotz returns for Brooklyn, while the dynamic backcourt of Duck and OriginalMalik, and center Glo are back for New York. While both organizations made the playoffs last year, an early victory in season five for NetsGC against its state rivals would represent an early claim to the title of “King of New York”.
The Next Generation of Point Guards
NetsGC point guard Tate and fellow rookies King Haad (Hornets Venom GT), FantaSZN (Raptors Uprising), and Kapp (Magic Gaming) will begin their respective careers in the same pool for THE TIPOFF. None of these players are expected to play mistake free basketball at this point in their career, but the rookie that can lead his team out of pool play will temporarily silence any doubts of their ability to fill in as a lead guard.
Can NetsGC Live Up to Expectations?
The top two teams in the Eastern and Western Conference were given the ability to “send away” a team to another pool, ultimately ensuring these teams wouldn’t have to play against each other until THE TIPOFF playoffs.
Here’s a breakdown of what these top teams did:
- T-Wolves Gaming sent away Warriors Gaming
- Pacers Gaming sent away Jazz Gaming
- Hornets Venom GT sent away Gen.G Tigers
- Wizards District Gaming sent away NetsGC
The Western Conference “ban-picks” were straightforward. Utah and Golden State were last year’s third and fourth seed respectively. Jazz Gaming is bringing back a majority of its Western Conference championship roster, including superstar point guard Splashy and former number one pick Ria. Warriors Gaming is a final four staple and will be bringing back its entire roster from season four.
With how open the Eastern Conference is expected to be, Washington and Charlotte could only make educated guesses with its picks. Hornets Venom GT sent away the Gen.G Tigers who narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. This past offseason, the Tigers traded for the No.1 overall pick and drafted point guard Gallo.
Meanwhile, the defending back-to-back champions Wizards DG, used its pick to send away NetsGC. Washington may have swept Brooklyn in last year’s Conference Finals, but both franchises lost its star point guard in the offseason. The public opinion is that NetsGC will fall victim to having had to fill out its roster with three picks late in the draft. Can Brooklyn keep up with these other teams that have high expectations and seemingly hold some level of respect from last year’s top seeds?
Complete Breakdown of Draft
#1 – Wizards DG sends NetsGC to Group D
#2 – Hornets Venom GT sends Gen.G Tigers to Group C
#3 – T-Wolves Gaming sends Warriors Gaming Squad to Group B
#4 – Pacers Gaming sends Jazz Gaming to Group A
#5 – Jazz Gaming sends Kings Guard Gaming to Group B
#6 – Warriors Gaming Squad sends Pistons GT to Group A
#7 – NetsGC sends 76ers GC to Group C
#8 – Gen.G Tigers sends Raptors Uprising to Group D
#9 – Kings Guard Gaming sends Blazer5 Gaming to Group A
#10 – Pistons GT sends Mavs Gaming to Group B
#11 – 76ers GC sends Knicks Gaming to Group D
#12 – Raptors Uprising sends Celtics Crossover Gaming to Group C
#13 – Blazer5 Gaming sends Bucks Gaming to Group B
#14 – Mavs Gaming sends Lakers Gaming to Group A
#15 – Knicks Gaming sends Hawks Talon GC to Group C
#16 – Celtics Crossover Gaming sends Grizz Gaming to Group D
#17 – Lakers Gaming sends DUX Infiniti to Group B
#18 – Bucks Gaming sends Cavs Legion to Group A
#19 – Grizz Gaming sends Heat Check Gaming to Group C
#20 – Hawks Talon GC sends Magic Gaming to Group D