Blazer5 Gaming started Pool Play in Group C of the NBA 2K League Tipoff Tournament with a bang Thursday, going 3-0. The squad notched double-digit wins over 76ers GC and Magic Gaming before a nail-biter against Raptors Uprising GC. With these wins Blazer5 has clinched the top seed from Group C heading into Saturday’s eight-team playoff with $100,000 in prize money on the line.
The team received an A+ draft grade from Forbes and the reason why was apparent early. The front court of OneWildWalnut and Dat Boy Shotz dominated, scoring 129 of the team’s 215 points over three games. A ton of those looks came on entry passes from PG Mama Im Dat Man, who now leads the NBA 2K League in assists after dishing out 42 on the day.
Let’s break it down game-by-game:
Game Three: Blazer5 Gaming 63, Raptors Uprising GC 59
We start with the last game of the day because it was the most exciting. The teams traded baskets throughout the contest, with no one building a substantial lead. It culminated in a crazy final three minutes that highlighted the edge-of-your-seat moments that NBA2K can create — but also a bug that needs addressing.
First the highlight. With 40 seconds left in the game and Blazer5 trailing by one, Dat Man drove the lane and dished to Walnut on the baseline. After a quick close out, Walnut found himself surrounded in the paint. With the shot clock under five seconds, he pump-faked to free up space for a quick dish to Shotz on the other side of the basket. Shotz jammed it home and Blazer5 took a 60-59 lead that they never gave back.
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Now for the bug. Any esport will have issues with unintended errors in code. But with the comparison to physical basketball, they are amplified in the NBA 2K League. After the Shotz dunk, Raptors Uprising GC had the ball looking to take the lead back. With time ticking down, they attempted a pass into the lane which was knocked away by Walnut. The ball was clearly going out of bounds, and neither team had possession, but the Raptors were able to call a timeout before the ball went out of play.
It’s a small thing but could have had big consequences in a close game. Fortunately, in this case, it didn’t matter. Raptors Uprising GC were called for an illegal screen coming out of the time out; and Blazer5 secured the win.
Game Three was all Shotz all the time. He started hot; hit the game-clinching bucket; and finished with game highs in points (26) and rebounds (9). Dat Man secured his third double-double of the night with a stellar 15 points and 12 assists while adding four steals. As a pass-first NBA 2K PG, turnovers are going to happen, and Dat Man did a great job to only give up three in the game.
Game One: Blazer5 Gaming 81, 76ers GC 68
Blazer5 Gaming played in its home colors and on its digital home court; and the debut was a success with a wire-to-wire victory. 76ers GC are a strong team; they went 2-1 on the day to secure the second seed from Group C for Saturday’s playoff.
But they didn’t have an answer for Mama Im Dat Man, who was passing like playoff Rondo and broke the single-game league high for assists with 17.
The first score of the game showed exactly what Blazer5 Gaming management had in mind on draft day. Walnut got a big block and the outlet pass went to Dat Man who hit Shotz for a fast break dunk.
Shotz set the tone early with eight of the team’s first 10 points. After jumping out to an early 10-point lead, 76ers GC came fighting back, keeping the game close but never taking the lead. At halftime the score was 36-33.
The third quarter started with the teams trading buckets before pure shooter GRANT MONSTER took his first shot of the game. He nailed that first three-pointer, and his next two to spark a 9-0 Blazer5 Gaming run to close the quarter.
Walnut and Shotz combined for 46 points and 19 rebounds and proved too much for 76ers GC to handle.
Game Two: Blazer5 Gaming 73, Magic Gaming 59
The second game played out a lot like the first. It was close at halftime, but a dominant third quarter allowed Blazer5 to cruise to another big victory.
Shotz, Walnut and Dat Man each scored 22 points to put this one in cruise control. Walnut – who also celebrated his 19th birthday Thursday – added 18 rebounds for his second double-double of the night, and Dat Man dished out 13 assists to give him 30 over his first two games.
With passing comes assists, but also turnovers. Dat Man had eight in the game, but it hardly detracted from another stellar performance for the second-round pick from San Bruno, California. SF Lavish_Phenom contributed seven points of his own to get in on the action, but Magic Gaming never found an answer for the Blazer5 big men.