Photo/Sporting News: 76ers GC won the inaugural TIPOFF tournament last year, setting them on the path to a successful season.
The NBA 2K League has decided on seven groups for the TIPOFF tournament, league sources tell DIMER.
Due to the addition of four expansion teams, raising the total number of teams to 21, the tournament format has changed. Now, there are seven three-team groups, with the winner of each, along with one wildcard, advancing to the Saturday playoff round.
Here are the groups:
Group 1: Raptors Uprising GC, Mavs Gaming, Cavs Legion GC
Group 2: Knicks Gaming, Nets GC, Magic Gaming
Group 3: Grizz Gaming, T-Wolves Gaming, Wizards District Gaming
Group 4: 76ers GC, Heat Check Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming
Group 5: Pacers Gaming, Warriors Gaming Squad, Hawks Talon GC
Group 6: Pistons GT, Celtics Crossover Gaming, Lakers Gaming
Group 7: Blazer5 Gaming, Jazz Gaming, Bucks Gaming
76ers GC won the inaugural TIPOFF tournament last season, defeating Blazer5 Gaming in the finals to spark a season-long rivarly; the league no doubt hopes to instill similar rivalries with their group compilation this season. Notable among the groups is the combination of season-one champions Knicks Gaming and crosstown expansion foes Nets GC, slated for the primetime slot on the first night of the season.
There are several particularly interesting matchups to watch. Group 4 features Heat Check Gaming and 76ers GC (Heat Check eliminated 76ers GC in the seminfinals last season). Group 7, Friday’s lone group, sees MVP OneWildWalnut and Blazer5 Gaming take on first overall pick Ria and Jazz Gaming. Nonetheless, no group looks particularly easy; each except Group 5 has at least one playoff team from last season, and even Group 5 has two teams deemed contenders by many.
With more pressure and more teams in the tournament, the stakes are greater. The prize pool for the TIPOFF will be $120,000, up $20,000 from last season, as part of the overall prize pool increase for season two. The winning team will also take home the first banner in the 2019 Tréfecta Banner Chain, which links the three in-season tournaments (TIPOFF, TURN, and TICKET). No team has won more than one banner.
The timing of the tournament benefits the new NBA 2K League schedule as well. Last year, the tournament started during the NBA conference semi-finals, meaning that viewers were forced to choose between opening night and the first game of the Cavaliers-Raptors series; this year, the tournament starts before the NBA playoffs. Furthermore, the TIPOFF, which runs Tuesday to Saturday, overlaps with the new Wednesday to Friday regular-season schedule, whereas last season, the first two nights of the TIPOFF never saw action the rest of the season.
The TIPOFF tournament will take place at the NBA 2K League Studios in Long Island City and broadcast live on Twitch from April 2 to April 6.