The NBA 2K League kicked off in-person competition for its fifth season with The Tipoff tournament at the new NBA 2K League Studio at The Pavilion at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. T-Wolves Gaming from Minnesota took home the trophy at the end of the tournament. The league in February announced it was moving in-person play to Indy for the new season, and Head of Business Development Lindsay Ullman says finding the right home for the fifth season was important, particularly following two years of remote play due to the pandemic.
Ullman talked about bringing the league to Indy in an interview with Inside INdiana Sports Host Bill Benner.
“Indianapolis has a rich history of basketball culture, so we felt like it was time to bring the next iteration of basketball – virtual basketball – to Indianapolis,” Ullman said. “Indianapolis has been the host of many iconic sporting events, and we believe that we can be one of the next ones.”
This season will feature a combination of in-person and remote play. Prior to the pandemic, in-person events were held at a 115-seat studio in New York City.
The new season will consist of eight tournaments, which include 5v5 games featuring the 24 official teams in the NBA 2K League, as well as 3v3 games that include amateurs who qualify to play. The teams are competing for a $2.5 million prize pool, which Ullman says is a 65% gross year-over-year increase.
Ullman says the NBA has really embraced the growth of esports over the last several years.
“I was talking to one of our players…and he was telling me how [when] esports started, people were literally packing their own Playstation or Xbox, plugging it in and competing in tournaments,” she said. “Now, you have companies like the NBA and Take Two partnering together on a joint venture to launch an official esports league.”
The season will culminate in August with championship games held at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indy.