ORLANDO – Magic Gaming will take part in the newest wrinkle to the NBA 2K League this week when they tip off action in the SLAM Open, the first 3v3 tournament of the season.
The opening week of group play includes NBA 2K League teams, North American amateur teams that earned a spot through the tournaments’ qualifying events, and league-selected community teams consisting of top players from the 2K community and social media influencers.
The 32 teams – 24 NBA 2K League teams and eight amateur/community teams – are divided into two conferences, East and West. Each conference is then divided into four groups with four teams per group (three NBA 2K League teams and one amateur/community team). Over the next two weeks, each team will play six best-of-five series in group play, competing against each team in its group twice.
After those two weeks, the two teams in each group with the best series records will advance to the round of 16 in-person bracket play at the NBA 2K League Studio in Indianapolis.
Advancing to that stage will be no easy task for Magic Gaming, who drew one of the toughest groups in the league.
SLAM Open Group Opponents:
Handlez – Wednesday, April 27 at 8 p.m. ET: While some of the amateur and community teams will be comprised of players who’ve never participated in a tournament or taken the virtual hardcourt together, that’s not the case with Handlez. Xmiami2K, NOTELITESHOOTER, and KazeTheLock are regular players in 3v3 action and have taken home prize money in non-league tournaments.
“Handlez is probably the most competitive of the (SLAM Open) amateur teams,” said Magic General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards. “NOTELITESHOOTER is a pretty patient guard, so he’s pretty good. This is a team that obviously plays 3v3 a lot. They play it probably a lot more than our guys do, frankly, because we’re always so focused on 5v5. So, it’s going to be a challenge against them. They have a pretty good team, honestly.”
Grizz Gaming – Thursday, April 28 at 10 p.m. ET: The task at hand gets even tougher for Orlando on their second day of tournament action when they face Memphis, the team that eliminated Magic Gaming from qualifying for TIPOFF tournament bracket play just two weeks earlier. Grizz Gaming came in fourth on the NBA 2K League’s 3v3 power rankings primarily due to their point guard Michael “BP” Diaz-Cruz, who’s one of the association’s premier players in this format.
“BP has been known as one of the best 3v3 players in the world for the last several years,” Edwards explained. “So, we expect them to look pretty standard in 3v3 game play as far as having a guard that is dribbling, trying to create for himself, a lockdown, and a center on the court. We expect them to be a tough team in this as well led by BP.”
Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai – Friday, April 29 at 10 p.m. ET: While some squads this season may be more equipped for 3v3 play and others built for 5v5 action, Gen.G is expected to be a force in both styles of game play. If you take stock in those aforementioned NBA 2K League power rankings, you’ll find that Gen.G ranks second overall in the Eastern Conference in standard action and seventh in the league in 3v3 play.
“(Julio “HesCap” Roberts) is known as maybe the best 3v3 lockdown in the entire 2K League,” Edwards said. “His ability to create with steals and the way he plays aggressively on defense is going to be a huge part of their game, I would imagine. At that point, we would expect (Jaiden “OTTR” Frank), this year’s No. 1 overall pick, to be their guard and for them to play really, really aggressive and really, really fast to try and build early leads.”
QUOTES TO NOTE:
“We’re hoping that our defense in 3v3 is one that can get some stops for us and get us some free points going the other way. Hopefully, that can get us some early leads and make things easier on our scorers. We’re looking at our defense as a strength of ours, leaning into that and seeing how we can manipulate other teams with that and choke games out moving forward.” – Edwards
“This group is coming along slower than others, obviously, because we’re a newer group. But I think at the end of it – and I’ve been around this for a long time – at the end of the season, when you really need it, I think we’ll be where we want to be.” – Magic Gaming power forward and NBA 2K League veteran Matt “Matty” Grant
SLAM OPEN INFO:
The teams will compete for a total prize pool of $150,000. The prize pool will be awarded as follows: first place – $60,000, second place – $30,000, third and fourth place – $15,000 each, and fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth place – $7,500 each.
The groups for group play are as follows:
Group 1 (Eastern Conference): Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai, Magic Gaming, Grizz Gaming, Handlez
Group 2 (Eastern Conference): Raptors Uprising GC, 76ers GC, Knicks Gaming, Basketball Godz
Group 3 (Eastern Conference): Hawks Talon GC, Heat Check Gaming, Hornets Venom GT, Team Smoke
Group 4 (Eastern Conference): Wizards District Gaming, Celtics Crossover Gaming, NetsGC, Dot Squad
Group 5 (Western Conference): Warriors Gaming Squad, Pistons GT, Cavs Legion GC, Dreamshakers
Group 6 (Western Conference): Pacers Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming, Lakers Gaming, Glitchy
Group 7 (Western Conference): Mavs Gaming, T-Wolves Gaming, Bucks Gaming, Triple Threat
Group 8 (Western Conference): DUX Infinitos, Jazz Gaming, Blazer5 Gaming, Intimidators