Esports Needs More Events Like NBA 2K League Draft

I’ve often said that esports is an amazing space that’s missing one last critical element. Star Power. I know that sounds a bit strange when talking about video games but I think its critical to esports going to the next level. And while there are your Sonicfoxes, Fakers, and until recently Doublelifts, esports as a whole has a personality issue. With that said, there was an event over last weekend that gave me a bit of hope for the future. The NBA 2K League Draft. In a matter of a couple of hours, we saw more emotion in one stream than we see in an entire season of the LCS. And esports, as a whole, should take notice.

How Did This Work?

So much about the NBA 2k League borrows from its meat-sports predecessor. All the teams are subsidiaries of NBA teams outside of the Gen. G Tigers. Stats are measured with the same metrics, and players are measured essentially the same as their NBA counterparts. So going into the Draft, even with no knowledge of the 2k League, if you know basketball, you’ll feel right at home.

But the stream had all the hallmarks of draft night. There was rampant speculation and trades to move up on the board. The analysis were confounded by certain picks, and gushed over others. Some small technical issues aside, it was a top flight draft night.

Its All About The Origin Story

But it wasn’t the format that made the night, it was the people. Esports leagues have a tendency to make everything “just about the game” while esports Twitter is the exact opposite. But once the picks began the NBA 2K League showed EXACTLY why draft night is compelling. As they went through the picks there were shots of the draftees at home, sometimes with their families. It was a humanizing element that instantly made so many players more likeable. For example, Torin “iBallTay7o” Williams was drafted by Celtics Gaming and hopped up out of frame to share the news with his loved ones.

NBA2KLeague – 2021 NBA 2K League Draft

Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “2021 NBA 2K League Draft”

It was a refreshing moment for esports as we almost always see the finished product. Only recently has the casual fan been able to follow Academy or lower tier teams and track young players. With things like a Draft, fans can follow a player through the entirety of their careers in the NBA 2K League.

Emotion Without Toxicity

What’s great about traditional sports are its stories. Adversity, rivalry, and pride are all great motivators but sports also has other stories. Stories of resilience, family, and camaraderie that often get overlooked in esports. While we always seem to gravitate towards the popoffs and disrespect, but sometimes its nice to remind ourselves that some esports athletes are just folks looking to do better for their families. The NBA 2K League Draft did a great job at illustrating that its is about much more than the “game”, and always has been.

NBA2KLeague – Aww family

Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “Aww family”

NBA 2k League First Ten Draft Results

  2. Pacers Gaming – Enrique “630” Xavier Barraza
  3. Warriors Gaming Squad (From Gen. G) – Vernon “Hezi” Coates
  4. 76ers GC (From Pistons GT) – Andre “Dre” Marshall
  5. Celtics Crossover Gaming (From Cavs Legion) – Torin “iBall Tay70” Williams
  6. Celtics Crossover Gaming – Dorian “WalkingBucket” Earl Miller
  7. Lakers Gaming (From Heat Check Gaming) – Maurice “ReeseDaGod” Delaney
  8. Hornets Venom GT (From Mavs Gaming) – Craig “rigby” Burnett Jr.
  9. Knicks Gaming – Ludlow “Glowthereal” Samuels
  10. Knicks Gaming (From Grizz Gaming) – Zartese “NoLoveZar” Smith

For the entire draft result head over to


Watch NBA2KLeague’s clip titled “MILOOOO”

Featured Image: NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 04: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announces the #1 overall pick in the first during NBA 2K League Draft at Madison Square Garden on April 4, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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