ORLANDO — Magic Gaming closed out their inaugural NBA 2K League campaign with monumental momentum. Winless through its first five games, Orlando turned its season around and finished with the same record as four playoff qualifying teams.
Now as Magic Gaming heads into their second season, they’re looking to build upon their strong foundation and position themselves as a league powerhouse.
“We’re going to compete and we’re going to have a lot of fun doing it,” Director of Magic Gaming Ryan DeVos said. “We’re going to step out there and we’re going to win.”
The team took its first step in that direction this offseason when it declared Emmanuel “UCMANNY” Cruz and Cameron “KingCamRoyalty” Ford as its two protected players, securing their spot on the squad for this upcoming season.
UCMANNY finished among the league’s leaders in 3-pointers made and poured in 15.4 points per game, while KingCamRoyalty, the team’s sixth round draft pick, notched 13 points and 8.1 rebounds per contest. However, it was their versatility and impact on the franchise’s culture that made them nearly indispensable.
“We knew Manny and Cam were both great players, but even more so great people and we wanted guys who are low ego, who could do a number of different things extremely well, and who could slot in with anybody we were to draft,” DeVos explained. “They were team first and so that’s really what we needed and that’s exactly what we have in Manny and Cam.”
Next, Magic Gaming went out and found the new coaching face of their franchise. With former Magic Gaming head coach Devin Gossett deciding to enter the 2019 NBA 2K League player pool, the organization named Jonah Edwards as the second coach in the team’s history.
“He brings a level of experience and knowledge of the NBA 2K League to our team and we are excited to get started building on our success from last season,” DeVos said. “We know Jonah will be a great fit to help us continue towards our ultimate goal of winning a championship.”
Magic Gaming is sure to lean, in part, on the 2K community knowledge of Edwards as they prepare for the next phase of their offseason, the NBA 2K League Draft, which will be held on Tuesday, March 5 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Formerly the head coach of Mavs Gaming, Edwards admired Magic Gaming’s team chemistry and culture from afar and hopes to build on that base with the next pool of players.
“We’re really looking to pair together guys that get along well and mesh and obviously still aim for the best players possible,” Edwards said. “The best, but that are also great people too.”
The versatility of UCMANNY and KingCamRoyalty give Magic Gaming flexibility on draft night to select the best players available regardless of position.
“We’re blessed in the way that both of them are incredibly, incredibly versatile players,” Edwards explained. “So that enables us to go draft who we think is the best available every round and pick the four best players possible.”
While preparing to improve their team on the court, Magic Gaming has been simultaneously strengthening their off the court product as well. On Tuesday, the team announced Orlando Health as their official medical team and jersey sponsor.
“We are excited to partner with Orlando Health in their shared commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of our athletes,” said DeVos. “As we prepare to embark on our second season in the NBA 2K League, we look forward to growing this partnership with Orlando Health and making our players the best they can be.”
The announcement came during Magic Gaming’s Second Annual esports Summit, where esports and gaming industry leaders gathered to discuss the upcoming NBA 2K League season and the business of esports.
“Go back 18 months ago and this was like an idea, fast forward to now we have two million people following us on social, we just had a season where our viewership just grew literally week after week,” NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue explained. “And then in the Finals we had 650,000 unique people watching, which is amazing considering it was just an idea 18 months ago.”
The summit also highlighted some of the league’s changes coming this season, including the addition of four new teams – Hawks Talon GC, NetsGC, Lakers Gaming and T-Wolves Gaming – an expanded draft pool, and the ability for coaches to now communicate directly to players via headset throughout games.
“I think we have the best coach in the league hands down, and now that we’re able to fully integrate him into game play, I think that’s going to give us a massive leg up,” DeVos added. “So we’re extremely excited about that change alone.”
With all the momentum Magic Gaming is riding heading into their second season, there’s plenty to be excited about.