Denial Esports has affirmed its stated goal of jumping into the NBA 2K esports scene, as the esports organization will launch an NBA 2K Pro-Am team featuring some of the top undrafted players in the community.
Last month, the esports organization hired Justin Jacobson as its COO with an eye toward expansion into NBA 2K. At the time, Jacobson told DIMER that Denial was “looking to get involved in the competitive scene,” and now he and Denial have made good on their intention. Denial plans to initially enter a PS4 team into the amateur WR Pro-Am League tournaments and proceed from there, depending on the community landscape.
Denial announced last week that it had added Alex “ExposeHim” Whelan as one of its content creators. Whelan, one of the most respected players in the NBA 2K Pro-Am community, joined Denial after missing the NBA 2K League draft pool cutoff. After taking a break to reevaluate his 2K situation, Whelan jumped at the new opportunity to join Denial after Jacobson reached out to him, and the point guard will lead the PS4 squad throughout the competitive calendar.
“There’s never really been an esports org associated with 2K,” Whelan said. “It’s a really cool thing Denial is doing, and an awesome opportunity.”
“I’ve been following Alex since last season when he really started to set himself apart,” Jacobson told DIMER. “I felt that we could revitalize him and help polish off his start, being already one of the more popular players.”
But the team isn’t just for show. They want to win. Whelan is joined by two former teammates from the well known Pro-Am team Self Taught, whose center, PeteBeBallin, was selected fifth overall in the NBA 2K League draft. Twin brother Freddy “GetonMyLevel” Whelan and Giovanni “Trap” Elizondo both played on Self Taught and were considered among the NBA 2K League draft pool snubs. Brock “EhTruth” Nikolakakos and Luke “vRobar” Robar, two more well respected players from Witness The Grind, are also on the team, while DJ “DJBama” Burge rounds out the six-man roster.
“The roster’s full of people who should have made the league; Freddy and Gio were my guys with Self Taught forever,” Whelan said. “We’ve got big things to come.”
The players will produce content for Denial, primarily through streaming on Twitch. Whereas the NBA 2K Pro-Am community has produced several popular streamers from within its ranks, Denial has the bigger picture in mind. The NBA 2K League has demonstrated that it wants player who have not only the stick skills but the communication and marketing skills to succeed. Finding players who can do both is crucial, and exactly what Denial has in mind with its new team.
“I really think I connect with viewers,” Whelan said. “There are lots of opportunities with streaming and building a brand.”
With the support of larger esports organizations arriving, NBA 2K League hopefuls know that there’s more to preparing for the league than simply excelling on the sticks. Denial hopes to prepare their players for the league through competition and content preparation.
“I’m really excited to give these talented and dedicated kids guidance and a platform to do this for real,” said Jacobson.
The excitement from Whelan and Denial is mutual. As Jacobson put it: “It just seemed like it was meant to be.”
Full PS4 roster:
Alex “ExposeHim” Whelan (Twitter/Twitch)
Luke “vRobar” Robar (Twitter/Twitch)
DJ “DJBama” Burge (Twitter/Twitch)
Brock “EhTruth” Nikolakakos (Twitter)
Freddy “GetonMyLevel” Whelan (Twitter/Twitch)
Giovanni “Trap” Elizondo (Twitter)