With a week until the NBA’s official NBA2K esports league debuts, Indiana Pacers Gaming players are honing their skills and strategies. Pacers Gaming Director of Esports and Head Coach Cody Parrent, an Evansville native who has experience coaching basketball and soccer, says the training and teamwork involved in the digital world are the same. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Parrent says his scouting process began six months ago and involved interviewing all 102 players eligible to be drafted by one of the 17 NBA-sponsored teams.
He explained the desired skills he was looking for that went into his six selections. "The top guys had teamwork, they had the skill at the game — you have to be really good at the game to even be in the pool at that point, 72,000 (original players narrowed down) to 102 — but, you know, as much of skill inside the game, their personality outside the game was huge for me," Parrent said. A typical day for Pacers Gaming players, who live during the season in downtown apartments supplied by the organization, begins in the gym at 10:30 and continues through the length of a typical work day with practice and strategy sessions.
The season begins May 1 and the current pre-season regimen involves scrimmages against the other 16 teams in the league. Bryant "WoLF 74" Colon was the first pick for Pacers Gaming. The New York native says, like the real-life game, each player is in charge of their own position within the context of a five-position virtual team. He says the team is exceeding expectations in scrimmaging and "when our point guard Gooner gets here, we’ll only do better." James "vGooner" Bull lives in the United Kingdom and is currently being held up from his Indianapolis arrival with travel issues. Colon, drafted as a small forward, is filling the role of point guard until Bull joins the team at the Pacers Gaming headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.
All games are played at a space in New York City in a tournament-style format. "As a team," Colon says, "we want to win it. I mean, it comes down to winning a championship. There’s multiple tournaments as a season, and we want to come out as the number one team."
Parrent says team play has been impressive and "we’re looking confident" in preparation for the regular season. The league, he says, offers a way to reach a younger, global audience that may not be aware of the game of basketball, the NBA and the NBA2K game, itself. "To help our guys become celebrities in their own right in the online world is a big goal of mine, too," Parrent told Inside INdiana Business. "Ultimately, our goal is to win a championship."
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Watch us make our first pick in franchise history! ????
Welcome to the squad WoLF! pic.twitter.com/Zd1nUKKArp
— Pacers Gaming (@Pacers_Gaming) April 4, 2018