After 45 years, an NBA championship is heading back to New York City. But it isn’t the Larry O’Brien trophy won by the NY Knicks. Instead, it was Knicks Gaming, who beat Heat Check Gaming to win the inaugural NBA 2K League Championship.
For most of the 2K League season, Knicks Gaming played like their affiliate NBA club—the team flirted with last place and players bickered with one another. But a dramatic midseason turnaround culminated in an unlikely playoff berth. And now, the team can’t feel any better as they won it all, taking home a $300,000 prize to boot.
Knicks Gaming had to overcome some great teams throughout the playoffs though to take the title. First, they had to beat undisputed top seed Blazer5 to survive the single-elimination first round. That game came down to the buzzer as Blazer5’s league MVP Dayne “One Wild Walnut” Downey missed a layup that could have clinched it.
Things didn’t get easier in the next round. Paired against Cavs Legion Gaming, Knicks Gaming dropped the first game before their best player, center Dayvon “Goofy757” Curry, got into the action and into the heads of the Cavs.
The comeback set up a final between Knicks Gaming and a Heat squad that had a star of their own: Connor “Dat Boy Shotz” Rodrigues. Heat Check relied on Shotz almost exclusively to run their offense. He dazzled the audience with an array of deep three pointers and crafty layups as he drove his team to the final.
But against the firepower of the Knicks, Shotz just wasn’t enough. Knicks Gaming took a big lead into the fourth quarter of game one before Shotz woke up, but even a late barrage of threes from the Heat star couldn’t save the team.
Heat Check came out hot in the second game and their lead ballooned into double digits. But Knicks Gaming came back behind Goofy and star point guard Adam “iamadamthe1st” Kudeimati. Then, a late three gave Knicks a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Sharpshooter Eric “YeyNotGaming” Ward came through as the unlikely hero to earn the win and sweep in the championship.
Saturday’s final was a huge victory for the city of New York, where the NBA 2K League studio is located. It’s also a huge victory for the nascent esports league—things should get even more exciting in season two.