The Week Ahead: Magic Gaming Gears Up For THE TURN

ORLANDO – Magic Gaming enters THE TURN, the second of three NBA 2K League in-season tournaments, as the No. 17 seed following its series sweep over their rivals from the south, Heat Check Gaming, last week.

Their first round opponent in this single series elimination tournament will be the 16th seeded Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai, the first ever 2K League team that isn’t affiliated with an NBA franchise. All of the teams will be competing for a portion of the $260,000 prize pool. The tournament champion will receive $117,000, the runner-up will get $52,000, the third and fourth place finishers will each be given $22,100 and the remainder of the teams rounding out the top eight will receive $11,700 each.

The winner of the best-of-three series between the Magic and Gen.G, which is scheduled for Wednesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. ET, will advance to play 13-0 Raptors Uprising GC in the second round of the tournament on Thursday. Toronto won THE TIPOFF title as well.

Beating the Heat was a major confidence boost for the Magic, who improved to 5-9 with that victory. Brendan “Reizey” Hill played two of the best games of his career in that series, scoring 43 points in Game 1 and 53 in Game 2. Fellow second-year 2K pro Daniel “DT” Tlais also had an excellent series. Back at center for the first time since the early stages of the season, the Ontario, Canada native recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds in the first game and 14 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and five steals in the second contest.

Orlando also got much-needed production from the rest of its cast, as Robert “May” May, Daniel “djbama” Burge and Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush each made clutch plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch of the opener.

“We’re obviously the Orlando Magic (so) any time you could beat the Miami Heat I think it’s a good night, so obviously that was awesome,” Magic Gaming Head Coach Jonah Edwards said. “I thought we played great. I think we finally saw a little bit of the Reid we see in scrimmages every day. And then you see when we’re bought in to a lot of what we (do) and have our heads in it, we’re one of the best teams in the league.”

A matchup with Gen.G means a must-watch showdown between last year’s Rookie of the Year, Reizey, and the potential favorite to win that award this season, Dhwan “Shiftykaii” White, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA 2K League Draft.

On a Magic Gaming podcast last month, Reizey raved about Shiftykaii while Gen.G was in the middle of their run to the semifinals in the TIPOFF. In one of their pool play games against Lakers Gaming during that tournament, the New York native exploded for 76 points, making 30 of his 47 shot attempts.

“I just think what he does with players around him is really special and I think he’s the best player in the league, if I’m being 100 percent honest,” Reizey said on that podcast, which aired on June 19. “That’s my opinion on ‘Kaii. I think he does things on both ends of the floor that go unnoticed, especially on the defensive end. As a point guard, it’s really hard to defend the wing sometimes and he is an elite wing defender and he’s a nightmare to go up against.”

For the second straight year, the NBA 2K League will implement an “Archetype Ban” in THE TURN. Each team will deactivate two archetypes in the first game of each series. In Game 2, an additional archetype will be disabled by each team. No additional archetype bans will be part of Game 3 if a series extends that far.

Making a good run in THE TURN would be a big lift for the Magic, who hope to be playing their best virtual basketball by the time we get to THE TICKET. The 14 teams that do not qualify for the playoffs based on the regular season standings will take part in that competition with the winner earning a spot in the postseason.

MATCHUP TO WATCH VS. GEN.G: The battle at the power forward spot will be key in this series, with May likely to be in that role for the Magic and either Brian “Killeyy” Diaz or Christopher “TURNUPDEFENSE” Anderson expected to play that position for Gen.G.

May is back to playing the four after several weeks of starting at center, his more natural position.

“This time around it’s a little different because before I was just typically guarding the corner like the majority of power forwards in the league, whereas this time I’ve been guarding the center 24/7,” he said. “I actually really enjoy it because it makes my role very clear. I try my best to play the best defense I can. And then on offense, my job is just to knock down my shots or if something is there, take it to the post. It suits all of our strengths.”

May, acquired by the Magic in the offseason from Pistons GT, had one of the biggest plays of the night in the series against Heat Check Gaming when he intercepted a pass and then accelerated down the floor and scored a layup to push Orlando’s lead to six with just under three minutes left in Game 1.

Killeyy has been Gen.G’s power forward most of the season, but in their last series against Mavs Gaming he slid over to the small forward spot, while TURNUPDEFENSE played the four. Gen.G. selected Killeyy in the second round of the 2020 draft.

TURNUPDEFENSE, now in his third year in the league, was Gen.G’s first pick (second overall) in the NBA 2K League expansion draft. Playing in his hometown of Los Angeles, where Gen.G is operating out of, TURNUPDEFENSE won a championship last year while a member of T-Wolves Gaming.

HOW TO WATCH: All matches will air live on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch channel, in addition to select matches airing live on ESPN’s digital platforms and the NBA 2K League’s YouTube channel and on delay on eGG Network in Southeast Asia. ESPN2 will air matches live on Wednesday, July 22 at 8 p.m. ET and Saturday, July 25 at 3 p.m. ET.