Wednesday in Los Angeles, 2K Sports brought their initial foray into the world of eSports to a close with an amazing event for their Road To The Finals competition. A warehouse full of media, fans, and NBA stars came out to watch two teams battle on the digital hardwood while crowning both a championship team and giving one NBA player his spotlight on the cover of the most successful video game basketball franchise of the decade.
The whispers of who the cover athlete would be were mixed with the anticipation that Kobe Bryant would also make an appearance at the venue to share in the festivities. Since he was already slated to appear on the Legend Edition, this was a lock and he didn’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to quickly say hi as he glided his way from the parking lot to the entrance giving his signature peace sign as he rolled through. We followed behind to see former NBA star Rick Fox talking to a few fans and press.
At that moment off in the distance, a bassy yelp from behind the bleachers of “PG!” rose up and a slender 6’9” frame walked into view. Paul George with his crew of folks sauntered in, and at that point we knew it had to be him. The All-Star swingman made for a perfect choice to be the frontman for NBA 2K17, and you could tell after the grand announcement that he was super excited to have been given the opportunity.
The Road to The Finals competition between Team Drewkerbockers & Team GFG was a pretty interesting one. Chris Manning and Steve O’Gallagher were doing play-by-play for the livestream. In-between quarters, Paul George would share some analysis of how the teams could play better. The ambiance and production couldn’t make up for a lack of ball control and missed opportunities during the game.
The Drewkerbockers seemed to have a cohesive gameplay together that incorporated lots of drive and kick and strong rebounding. GFG got down by a ton early and couldn’t ever really recover. With that said, the crowd was super excited and enthusiastic.
The feeling of watching this version of basketball in that atmosphere did really give credence to the idea that eSports in this particular context can and should be something viewed live. I do think that the foundation 2K has set here has legs. The buzz post-game from LD2K and other member of the 2K staff really did feel like this was just the tip of the iceberg, not only for this mode, but for NBA 2K17 as well.
During the event, we were also able to get an interview with professional wrestler and YouTuber Xavier Woods, where he discussed his love for eSports and his history with the WWE.
We also spoke with NBA 2K Community Manager Chris Manning, who you might know as LD2K, where he discussed Patch #6 which has become a point of contention in the NBA 2K16 community. He also talked about the future of NBA 2K eSports post-Road to the Finals, and what the excitement for NBA 2K17. You can watch that interview below.
Huge thanks to everyone at 2K for putting on an amazing event: Ryan, Chris Manning, Scott O’Gallagher, Mike Wang, Rob Jones. Milton Benn for being my roadie and massive thanks to Curtis for sending me down on SGO’s behalf.
What did you think of the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals? Let us know on social media or in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to SGO for more NBA 2K news.