The NBA 2K League brought back its flagship Twitch show, The Post Up, after a long hiatus, sparking it with a large cast and a shorter run time in the Draft Preview episode.
The last episode, set in London and starring Wizards District Gaming, proved to be a qualitative success and quantitative disappointed, and for the most part the Draft Show/Episode 7 followed that trend. Despite the NBA 2K League draft arriving in five days, the stream maxed out at just under 600 concurrent viewers and drew just 8 new followers on Twitch (per TwitchTracker). Expect those raw numbers to rise once the league resumes its multi-year deal with Twitch and if the show consequently gets a slot on the Twitch homepage during the season.
From the qualitative standpoint, however, I thought this show was successful. The league brought in Eboni K. Williams to host in place of Erin Ashley Simon and featured a variety of live and Skype-in guests. Once again set at the NBA 2K League Studio, in Long Island City, the team transition to a desk look rather than the couches which had been de rigueur for all previous episodes.
New Utah Jazz Gaming head coach Jelani “2kCompGames” Mitchell made an appearance, primarily a token “meet the coach” spot before the draft in an attempt to evoke Mitchell’s long-tenured role as part of the FirstShake duo alongside Frank. The debate segment involved takes from Frank (of course), Dirk the Caster (making his first appearance on the show), and NBA 2K League Insider Jeff Eisenband, who returned to the show after first appearing on the pilot episode.
Former first-overall pick Dimez skyped in, guaranteeing a playoff spot for the Mavs and humbly declaring himself the best player in the league without a doubt. The Mavs, who hold five picks in the entry draft and more coaches than players on their roster, have built their entire esports organization around those very beliefs. Play-by-play announcer Scott Cole took time out of his busy schedule to join the show over the air, expressing his excitement about returning to the casting desk alongside Dirk.
I liked that the league took the time to have Eboni elaborate on all the major news around the league right at the beginning. It’s a good way to start the show for both new and old viewers, and news is never bad content. The gaming may not be the long-term answer, especially if it dominates the entire broadcast, but there will no doubt be ways of making it work. Truly excellent was the decision to debut the SlayIsland road to the draft video, which earned rave reviews and is truly something to look forward to.
The debate segment was very solid. Enhanced by a strict timer deadline and a debate cast restricted to three people well-versed in the league, it remains—despite the loss of Comp—the show’s strongest attribute. Furthermore, the show, like the debate segment, didn’t drag on longer than necessary, and never tried to extend itself to anywhere near the allotted two hours. Right now, that’s a good thing.
Small issues are still there. The show inexplicably started five minutes late, with no warning, and without even the customary pre-show melodies to soothe an anxious audience. The sound was an issue throughout, with Dirk at one point being cut off and the volume fluctuating for parts of his focus dialogue. Dimez’s Skype-in was rather echo-filled. But some very good, organic small things were there to counter the negatives: the “one-minute” cheer during the debate segment, for example, was amusing and sincere.
It remains to be seen who the show’s long-term host will be. While Erin and now Eboni have done excellent jobs, I think a host who knows the league well is the longterm answer, hopefully alongside Erin or Eboni. Phil is well-liked, and should continue to be a part of the production, but during the regular season the analytical acumen of people like Dirk and the league-conversant hosting of Jeff will be even more prized.
The trajectory is rising. The viewership will get there. Now, the important issue is finding out what The Post Up will become during the season.