ORLANDO – Numerous chants of “Let’s Go Magic” and “Defense” at The Fortress, Full Sail University’s brand new esports arena, fueled Magic Gaming, who used that support from the hometown crowd to advance in THE TICKET, the third and final 2019 NBA 2K League in-season tournament.
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Brendan “Reizey” Hill continued his splendid play, posting 21 points and seven assists, while Cameron “KingCamRoyalty” Ford tallied 13 points and eight rebounds in Orlando’s 55-49 victory over Heat Check Gaming in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.
“It’s (the crowd support) definitely a huge factor for us,” said KingCamRoyalty, who currently has the league’s best field goal percentage. “I feel like with that it might even rattle the other team a little bit too hearing the home crowd getting on you while you are trying to call a play or something and communicate. It definitely helps and we feed off of it a lot.”
The Magic’s semifinal opponent will either be Warriors Gaming Squad or Raptors Uprising GC, two teams Orlando is familiar with having played both of them in the regular season.
Similar to what transpired a little over a week ago when these Sunshine State rivals met in the regular season, the Magic didn’t allow anyone other than Miami’s top scorer, Juan “Hotshot” Gonzalez, to get into a rhythm.
While Hotshot erupted for 35 points on 16-of-27 shooting, the rest of the Heat combined for just 14 points on 11 shot attempts.
“I think we played a great defensive game,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “We knew that if Hotshot wasn’t getting assists and getting his shooters involved that twos wouldn’t be enough because we were going to get threes and we showed that.”
Orlando built a 19-point lead in the third quarter, when it outscored Miami 24-11. Crucial buckets down the stretch from Emmanuel “UCMANNY” Cruz and Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush prevented the Heat, who outscored the Magic by 13 in the fourth, from pulling off the comeback.
Although beating the Heat in New York last week gave his team confidence heading into their quarterfinal matchup, it was the loss to Bucks Gaming the next night that, Edwards says, may have powered them even more.
“To be honest, I think the Bucks loss helped us more than the Heat win last week,” he said. “They ran that shot creating post scorer on us in that Bucks game and I think we learned a lot about it and we took all those things and adapted it to this game. It’s one of those rare cases where a loss can help you.”
For just the second time in NBA 2K League history, games are being played outside of the main league studio, which is based in Long Island City, New York. The Fortress, which opened last month, is the largest esports arena on a college campus in the U.S.
“It’s great, I wish we could be here every time,” KingCamRoyalty said. “I love it.”