The NBA 2K League officially begins its third postseason Thursday. Here's how to watch and everything you need to know as the Raptors try to cap off an undefeated season.
What's the playoff schedule?
It begins August 20 with two round one matchups -- NetsGC vs. Hornets Venom GT and Blazer5 Gaming vs. Mavs Gaming.
The winners move on to the quarterfinal round on August 21. Semis are on August 22.
Finals will take place Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. ET
The full schedule with teams is right here.
Where can I watch?
All games will be broadcast on the NBA 2K League Twitch and YouTube channel, as well as the ESPN App.
Games start at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug 21, 5 p.m. ET Friday, Aug 22, and 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug 23.
ESPN2 will air the quarterfinals (Aug 21, 6-11 p.m. ET) and semifinals (Aug 22, 3-5 p.m. ET).
The finals on August 28 will be on ESPN2, ESPN App, and both the NBA 2K League YouTube/Twitch channel.
Will the games be played online?
As they say, "The best laid plans..." Such was the case for NBA 2K League, who followed suit with other esports leagues and competitions in moving to an entirely online format. The league reassessed at a couple points throughout the season, but the decision was made to stay remote for the health and safety of those involved due to COVID-19. The postseason will be the same.
Give me four things I need to know about the NBA 2K League playoffs this year
1. Raptors Uprising GC are on the doorstep of a perfect, 16-0 undefeated season
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Raptors fans, rejoice: the esports arm of the reigning NBA champions also have a strong opportunity to bring it home for the 6ix in the NBA 2K League. Everything the team touched this season turned to poutine (that's Canadian Gold for the uninitiated). A 16-0 regular season record, on top of becoming the first team to capture two tournaments in the same season (THE TIPOFF and THE TURN), left Raptors Uprising with a 50-6 record in 56 total games played, leaving absolutely no doubt that this Toronto team is the best regular season team in NBA 2K League history and joining the rarified air of teams across esports that have pulled off a perfect regular season.
A team by team breakdown of the postseason is available here.
2. There's more money up for grabs and more teams competing than ever before
An overall prize total of $1.4 million for season three sees $920,000 of that up for grabs in the postseason. The champions will divvy up $420,000 amongst themselves, while the remaining $500,000 will be dished out to the teams that place 2-10. Last year, the champions received $360,000 from a $720,000 playoff prize pool and a $1.2 million pot overall. More information including player salaries and additional arrangements like housing can be found here.
3. There's a youth movement on the sticks
As impressive as the Raptors have been, this is a team that has been together for at least a season, and Kenneth "Kenny Got Work" Hailey was Raps GC's first round pick in 2018. This year we saw some flashy young players take over games, like Reginald "Regg" Nash, the Bucks 12th overall pick in 2020, is 5th in the league in scoring with 32.7 points per game and second in the league in assists with 9.1, making him a strong candidate for both Rookie of the Year and League MVP. Bucks Gaming also set the single gaming scoring record this season with a 133-83 demolition of Lakers Gaming earlier this month.
Other notable fresh faces include Kimani "Splashy" Ingram, the 10th overall pick by Jazz Gaming, who averaged 27.2 points this season, good for 12th in the league, and John "JBM" Mascone, the first overall pick in this year's draft by Wizards District Gaming, who laned in the top 15 in points (13th at 26.4 per game) and assists (14th at 6.9 per game).
(Side note and fun fact: in a rookie survey given to league newcomers in March, a high percentage of players said the first year they played 2K was 2K10 or older, but two rookies said 2K18... they started playing two years ago and became 2K League professionals. That's pretty impressive.)
4. Can Blazer5 Gaming go on a Cinderella run?
As the winner of THE TICKET, the last tournament of the NBA 2K League season, Portland's NBA 2K League team outlasted every other team fighting for that final playoff position to earn their passage. Blazer5 Gaming defeated T-Wolves Gaming, the NBA 2K League Season 2 champions, in the final of that tournament. Nidal "Mama Im That Man" Nasser led the way with 107 points across the three game series (if that name is familiar, it's because he came extremely close to breaking the single game record for most points in a game earlier this year but it ended in controversial fashion). One thing that's on the team's side is history: In 2018, Knicks Gaming won THE TICKET and ended up winning the chip.