ORLANDO – How cool is it to have THE TICKET, the last of three NBA 2K League in-season tournaments, in Orlando and at Full Sail University’s brand new esports arena?
“It’s beyond cool,” NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue said. “This is our second year, and we’re in the tail end of our second year, and this is the most exciting day in the history of our league. This is an amazing (event). We’re going to have a full building here, (the) biggest crowd we’ve ever had for a 2K League game. The excitement of that, the players walking in, they can feel the excitement. It just feels grander and so that creates excitement for the players.”
Donohue had a good feeling about The Fortress when he first learned about Full Sail’s technologically advanced 11,200-square-foot esports venue, the largest of its kind on a college campus in the U.S.
Full Sail stood out among all the tournament site hopefuls during the bidding process, Donohue says, because of the university’s investment and commitment to esports, its partnership with Magic Gaming, and The Fortress’ innovative and dynamic features, which include live-stream equipment, a 360-video rig and a humongous, high-resolution screen.
“The facility is amazing,” he emphasized. “Overall, having another market exposed to our live games, it’s a game-changer when people can see it live.”
THE TICKET is the first major event to take place at The Fortress, which opened last month and is the home of Armada, the university’s esports team.
Central Florida’s esports scene is booming, largely because of Full Sail and Magic Gaming’s matching goals and collective spirit.
“Our message to anybody that’s in the esports space is, come play with us,” Full Sail’s Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships Josh Mora said. “Come play your games, come play and experiment what it means to be involved in esports, whether you’re a gaming company or an outside brand that’s trying to get into esports. And Magic Gaming is very much of that same spirit. We’re trying to create, we’re trying to be innovative, we’re trying to think of new ways to continue to grow the audiences and have fun with this new sports space.”
Full Sail’s pledge to esports started with the construction of the $6 million arena. There is a strong sense, especially with all the resources they can offer, that participation in the area is going to grow exponentially in the not-so-distant future.
As Full Sail has learned through its research, more and more kids are getting involved in gaming and are using it as a way to socialize with one another.
“We’re all in on esports,” Mora said. “We’ve made this investment already in The Fortress and that’s probably just the beginning in terms of what we want to do spiritually. We certainly understand audiences. We know this audience has come from the esports world and we only see it growing. We see more and more kids — high school, middle school, even elementary school (students) getting involved in gaming.”
This is just the second time that games have been played away from the NBA 2K League Studio Powered by Intel located in Long Island City, New York. THE TURN, the league’s second tournament, took place in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena.
All 21 teams are in Orlando for this single-elimination tournament, with the winner earning a spot in the playoffs.
Being able to sleep in their own beds has made having the tournament in Orlando even sweeter for Magic Gaming, which faced off against Grizz Gaming in first-round action on Thursday.
Brendan “Reziey” Hill, Magic Gaming’s point guard and 2019 first round draft pick, felt the enthusiasm as soon he walked into the studio.
“I was telling people earlier that I think that this is the best setup so far that we’ve played in all year, even better than Vegas as nice as that is,” he said. “The energy in the crowd has just been phenomenal, it’s been the best I’ve seen so far.”