On Saturday, April 11, the NBA 2K Players Tournament concluded after the two week long duration of the event. Broadcasted primarily through ESPN’s networks, a total of 16 players from multiple NBA teams went head to head through NBA 2K20’s online platforms. Amongst the participants were Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kevin Durant, Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.
The event was created in response to the NBA season’s postponement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the event wasn’t an in-person professional basketball game, fans were in for a treat in an alternative form of entertainment. Along with bragging rights, the winner of the tournament would also be responsible for deciding which charity origination would be receiving a $100,000 donation in an effort to aid coronavirus relief.
The tournament adopted a win-or-go-home ruleset where the victor would advance. While the first two rounds featured a single match elimination, the semifinals and finals changed to a best of three ruleset.
The player’s seeding was based on their NBA 2K rating, second by tenure if needed. At the number 1 seed was Kevin Durant with a 96 rating, where Derrick Jones Jr. placed as the 16th seed with an overall 78 rating. Prior to the start of the event, each player chose eight of today’s NBA teams and were only able to use each team once throughout the tournament.
A special pair of heated matches took place between Phoenix Suns teammates Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton as they battled for the championship. Booker defeated Ayton in the first match playing as the Houston Rockets against Ayton’s Los Angeles Lakers, 72-62. Booker maintained the momentum to win the tournament in the second match as he defeated Ayton’s Milwaukee Bucks with the Denver Nuggets, 74-62.
Booker’s run at the championship was nothing short of impressive. Going undefeated over the entirety of the two weeks before meeting his teammate in the final, Booker eliminated Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura and LA Clippers center Montrezl Harrell. Booker performed exceedingly well, earning five double-digit victories, two coming against Ayton in the final phase of the tournament.
The spectacle of gaming is nothing new to Booker. Apart from being a key player on his team, he is also a member of the esports team, 100 Thieves, streaming frequently off the court. Booker has competed in online tournaments, including the various Call of Duty entries.
After taking home the glory, Booker announced that he would be splitting the proceeds between the #FirstResponderFirst and the Arizona Food Bank Network. The former is a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding front-line medical workers.