By Aaron Callaghan
February third saw the NBA 2K League Combine commence and it was certainly interesting. The League combine is the second step, after completing 50 Pro-Am wins in January, towards every players dream of being a professional video game player - an esports professional. Within reach is the fame and fortune – well, an honest salary at least – of the esports world. A chance to be drafted to an NBA team and compete under the same banner as the NBA stars for an esports championship. The chance to play video games for a living. The chance to build your personal brand and be on the ground floor of something special.
So why did it have to be like this?
I’m not writing this piece to bash the NBA 2K League combine, quite the opposite, I wanted to wrap up February’s first allotment of combine gameplay and convey the NBA 2K community’s thoughts and feelings toward the combine and document the stark realisation that the only way to basketball esports glory starts with teaming up with #combineoldheads and 13 year old’s who are ineligible to be drafted.
It all seemed so simple, get 50 wins, do well in the combine and you’re a shoe-in. Not so fast. The combine starts with each player selecting their preferred position, then archetype, then queing to wait for small forwards, power forwards and shooting guards, needless to say, 80% of the 72000 combine qualified players chose to either be the primary ball handler or clog the paint and grab rebounds, the waiting times are a pain point for the players, however accordning to some players reports the hell of queing is nothing to what waits in game. There have been countless horror stories of hell – games, where by top players in the scene, well known top players and their basketball knowledge are eschewed in favour for the playmaking of a more casual player with all the confidence and ego a hall-of-fame MyCareer can offer.
Isn’t that the point though? The combine serves a purpose. The NBA 2K League power brokers are set with the task of finding the best 102 players on the planet, no one ever said this would be easy. If ever there was a time to block out all the noise and focus on playing your game it is now! The popular opinion in the NBA 2K Twitter-sphere is that there’s no way the League will actually draft players from the combine, to quote top Team Throwdown’s guard Devgoss – “LMAO there is actually no way the 2kLeague is drafting based of this combine”. The harsh truth is that from everything we’ve heard, the combine is the only way to be drafted, be great on the courts, put up huge numbers, put up great advanced stats and maintain a great team mate grade all with no exploits. It’s a tall order especially without having the rhythm of your regular Pro-Am team but that’s why we are here to see who reacts and adjusts.
Perhaps the funniest moment to come from the weekends action was the Twitter reactions to combine play. King Dooms had this writer dying laughing.
Much praise must go to the Detroit Pistons Gaming Manager @adamrubinNBA who may have very well started the greatest NBA 2K Twitter thread and coined the hashtag - #combineoldheads. The thread is a place for comp level talent to vent their colourful combine experiences, exposing the worst the combine has to offer.
The NBA 2K League combine is certainly an interesting kaleidoscope of human interaction and behaviour, the combine doesn’t discriminate and takes all types, from the trolls to the comp level MPBA diehards. Very little is known about how the top players will rise to the top of the draft pool but what is known is the need to take advantage of this very limited opportunity, 12 combine blocks resulting in 102 selections. Be great or be stuck watching from the sidelines!