Tag Archive: Championship


Last night, on the eve of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, 2K Sports brought their own basketball finals to a close, naming the first Road to the Finals Champion in NBA 2K16.

Over the past two months, ranked matches in NBA 2K16’s Pro-Am mode saw over 2.3 million games played by over 100,000 different qualifying teams. Looking at the rankings, 2K took the top 16 of those teams and held a single-elimination tournament that culminated in last night’s festivities, which not only crowned a champion, but awarded the winners $250,000. The two teams competing in last night’s final were GFG, a crew of friends who had been playing NBA 2K together since NBA 2K11, and the Drewkerbockers HLZDB, a group that had been together since NBA 2K8, but who had only actually met each other in person for the first time just before the event.

On hand to witness 2K Sports’ first esports championship event in downtown Los Angeles were Lakers greats Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox, former NBA champion Scot Pollard, WWE Tag Team Champion Xavier Woods, and Indiana Pacers all-star and NBA 2K17 cover athlete Paul George.

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GFG came out fast, playing their game by showing power in the paint and slamming a couple of buckets down for a quick 4-2 lead. This would be their only lead of the night, however. Each team showed some jitters early, and it wouldn’t be until a late run in the first that put Drewkerbockers up 17-10 that the offense would really start to click. GFG would answer with a pair of threes, but a bucket at the buzzer gave Drewkerbockers a 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter, and momentum that they would ride the entire night.

The second quarter was when the themes of the night would really start to show. GFG got away from their gameplay and often tried to make one too many passes, which led to turnovers or ill-advised shots. Meanwhile, Drewkerbockers took advantage of almost every one of those turnovers by converting them into points. Part of this was because they dominated the offensive glass, which led to crucial second-chance points. In a shocking turn of events, GFG, who were favored by many experts, only scored six points in the entire second quarter. This was in large part because they were so badly out-rebounded, finding themselves down 39-23 at the half.

GFG would regroup in the second half, but the damage had been done. Each team scored 20 in the third, playing evenly and trading buckets back and forth, before both teams came out playing fast and loose in the fourth. With the game set at five-minute quarters, there simply wasn’t enough time for GFG to stage a rally. So, even when Drewkerbockers stopped trying to run up the score and tried instead to just kill the clock—leading to some sloppy turnovers on their end—they were already too far gone. If there were a mercy rule in basketball, it would’ve been used here, as the Drewkerbockers cruised in the fourth to a 73-62 win, becoming the first ever NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals Champions.

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If you remove that abysmal second quarter, this was actually an extremely competitive game for the most part. It’s also in that spirit of competition that I was alerted to what some would see as a small controversy. As soon as the clock had expired in the fourth, the clearly frustrated team members of GFG began complaining about the controllers used in the match. I approached them once the cameras had stopped rolling and found out that the game had been played on PS4, but that GFG were used to playing on Xbox One—the system they rode to the championship. One member in particular, his handle being “DRAKE GRIFFLN”, said that his team was “blindsided” by the system choice and that he and his team “…didn’t find out until we got here about the controllers.”

The controllers he spoke of are third-party HORI “Horipad FPS Plus” controllers (see below), given to GFG as alternates to Xbox One controllers. The Horipad provides a PS4 layout, except the joysticks are situated like an Xbox One controller. After handling the controllers myself, though, I can attest they feel nothing like an Xbox One controller—and if this was indeed a surprise to GFG, it could have factored into their defeat.

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When I asked tournament organizer 2K Sports for comment, Senior PR Manager Ryan Peters gave the following statement on the possibility of GFG not being properly informed about the controllers, or those controllers being of a lesser quality:

“A single platform had to be used in order to make the competition work,” says Peters. “We gave the contestants ample practice time and notice (a week) of what controllers and system would be used. I can also confirm the controllers were in no way sub-standard.”

So, maybe it was simply frustration from GFG over the fact that they were outperformed in a game many expected them to win, or maybe the information was lost in translation between the team and 2K. If it was a controller situation, it does seem odd that GFG’s collapse came in the second quarter and not the first, and that they then bounced back to actually outscore the Drewkerbockers in the second half. If 2K didn’t reach out about the controller/system info, GFG also could’ve reached out on their own to confirm the equipment that would be used in the championship game. At that point, though, it’s still odd GFG was given the Horipads instead of just regular PS4 controllers like Drewkerbockers to make the playing field—at least from a technical standpoint—as even as possible.

If 2K wants to remain in the esports space, maybe this could be a lesson to double-check ahead of time with teams that they know the parameters, and make sure the playing field is completely even from a tech point of view. Either way, congrats to the Drewkerbockers, and hopefully 2K will take what they learned from this experience and build up a bigger and better tournament for next year.

They were the odds-on favorites coming in, but after hitting a speed bump in the form of Envyus on Day 2, Fariko Impact’s hopes of a trifecta of 2013 Call of Duty championships were in jeopardy. But they would not be denied.

After being relegated to the Lower Bracket Championship against OpTic Gaming, Fariko knew that the road would be tougher, but not insurmountable. And so after getting a good night’s rest and making sure to come together as a team, they began working their way to $400,000, a big trophy, some sweet gold rings, and ultimately the 2013 Call of Duty World Championship.

Led by team captain, Parasite, Impact started off neck and neck with OpTic in Hardpoint. There were seven lead changes in their opening match before Impact locked down the final Hardpoint and won 250-190. And things would be just as hard in Search and Destroy. Going to the 11th round after Impact let OpTic back into the match, a trend we saw across the whole tournament, one man was left on each team. Parasite would again get the clutch kill that would seal the game for his team.

After letting CTF get away from them some, Impact kept their cool, knowing it’s not their best game mode, only winning 20% of their CTF matches in the tournament to that point. But Hardpoint is. And they showed why on their favorite map in “Hijack”. Dominating from the get go, Impact cruised 250-137, never letting the map get away from them, and crossing the finish line 3-1 in the Lower Bracket Championship, leaving OpTic with the $120,000 3rd place prize.

After a ridiculous two and a half hour “break” between matches, it was finally time for the World Championship where Envyus would look to repeat their performance from the previous evening. By the way, easily the worst thing about this weekend was the huge delay between the Lower Bracket Championship and World Championship. The CodCasters were wondering why the energy in the building had died down so much. It’s simple. The live crowd took a nap because there was no reason to take so long there. Not to mention all the cut-ins between the games of the actual World Championship match and I’d be surprised if most of the audience watching at home online didn’t turn it off and go watch Wrestlemania. It was as if we had a power outage every five minutes in the Super Bowl.

But I digress. Since Envyus and Impact met already in the tournament, instead of playing another best of five match, they played as if their series was now a best of 11, picking up where the match from yesterday left off. So right off the bat, Impact knew they had to win four and not three games since Envyus had a natural 3-2 advantage going into the championship. And the first game would be CTF, Envyus’s strongest game type and Impact’s weakest.

But against all odds, Impact forced Stopwatch, CTF’s version of overtime, and pulled off one of the most improbable victories of the entire tournament to tie the series at three. This then brought us into Hardpoint, where Impact again dominated 244-138.

The two teams then traded victories to bring the count up to 5-4, and Impact was going to be playing Hardpoint again. But much like they had shocked Envyus with a win in CTF, Envyus pulled the wool over Impact’s eyes much like they had in their Upper Bracket Championship match and stole a close 220-200 victory.

This set up another all-deciding Search and Destroy match. Envyus again started strong here, winning 3 of the first 5 to take an early advantage. But their nerves seemed to get the best of them because this is when Impact hunkered down and rolled over Envyus in 4 of the next 5 rounds to win Search and Destroy 6-4, and to win the Call of Duty 2013 World Championship six games to five.  The comeback was complete and Impact had finished their personal Call of Duty Triple Crown.

On the second day of the Call of Duty Championship, the final 16 teams were cut down to just three as double elimination bracket rules were put into effect. Meaning the fastest route to the top spot would be to keep winning, but should your team falter, you had a second chance to make it back to the finals should you rediscover your winning groove.

The matches for the second day were now set in a best of five format with Hardpoint, Search and Destroy, and Capture the Flag remaining the first three games. Should they be necessary, however, Hardpoint and Search and Destroy would return for games four and five, respectively, if needed. And once again, instead of giving you a perfect play-by-play, here are just the biggest things to take away from Day 2’s action.

Perfection Lost

As alluded to yesterday, I’ve watched enough sports over the years to know that everyone would be gunning for Fariko Impact. Not only had they won the previous two professional Call of Duty tournaments, as a team they were undefeated in the game. Not a single match had been dropped by this group of guys. Until now.

Although they faced stiff competition against Complexity, Epsilon, and OpTic Gaming in the winner’s bracket, Impact was able to sneak out some close, yet still impressive victories on the way to the Upper Bracket Championship Match. A victory there would ensure nothing worse than a second place finish. But fate would not be on their side as Envyus, who had not really impressed, but not yet faltered up to that point either, would follow their captain’s lead and constantly change strategies to keep Impact on their toes. And it worked.

The first Hardpoint match was the second closest of the event thus far, and both involved Envyus. Although Envyus beat Killerfish to win Group 4 on Day 1, they lost the Hardpoint game to Killerfish, 220-217. Utilizing a nearly identical strategy to what was used against them, Envyus pulled off a similar narrow victory with a 244-239 win that immediately got a buzz going around the Palladium Theater.

Impact would not have it, however, and would easily handle Envyus in the Search and Destroy match. Envyus would then earn another narrow victory in Capture the Flag to take a 2-1 lead. Impact would not make the same mistakes twice, though, and the second Hardpoint was close again, but this time favored Impact 229-192 and would tie the match at two games apiece.

And this is when things got really interesting. In this final Search and Destroy game, Envyus came out strong and jumped out to an early lead. Impact would catch up though and tie it at 4 rounds apiece. Both teams would trade rounds then to set up an epic tiebreaking round where Envyus’ genius would shine through.

For many of the Search and Destroy rounds Envyus had played the games tentatively, often splitting up to move through multiple map corridors. But in the final round, Envyus bum rushed Impact as a single cohesive unit. I’m not sure if it was planned or came to Rambo, the captain for Envyus, late in the match, but Impact, who had stuck with their tried and true method used in previous rounds, were scattered, trying to rely on their own individual skills whereas Envyus had become something greater than the sum of their parts and polished off Impact in near-record time in that final round.

The crowd then erupted for the mighty Impact had fallen. At least to the Lower Bracket anyway, due to the double elimination rules. But no longer was Impact invincible after we witnessed a match that may be one of the greatest in competitive Call of Duty history.

Stiff Competition

Whereas you could not escape the clean sweep on Day 1, Day 2 mostly had anything but. Aside for a few early sweeps against lesser teams like Pain Gaming, nearly every match went back and forth and we had several instances where, much like the Envyus vs Impact match, we saw a 2-2 game, 5-5 round tie. Everyone in attendance was on edge as we saw it happen time and again, including between Complexity and OpTic to decide who would finish in fourth place, and who would move onto the Lower Bracket Championship Match against Impact and have an outside chance still at the overall title.

We also saw a couple teams flirt with those matches once too often as Killerfish would advance in the Lower Bracket Championship and bring Quantic back down to Earth with a 6-5, 5th game win, but then see the clock strike midnight as they would then fall the very same way in their next match against vVv, missing the money matches by literally a single round of Search and Destroy.

Europe Represents

Speaking of Killerfish, they were just one of the European teams to show up and provide a very good show, and give the typically more dominant American teams a run for their money. Inferno (Italy) and Epsilon (Ireland) would both wow me, and garner quite an underdog following, as they made runs into the money matches and put up strong fights against some of the more elite competition like OpTic. All of the European teams would eventually fall, but they were often in the most exciting matches and surely made their home countries proud. And for Inferno and Epsilon, well, I’m sure we’ll figure out the conversion rate for their winnings before sending them back across the pond.

Money Talks

With so many teams having fallen today, a lot of the money winners were decided before we even get to the major championships. Below is an official breakdown of the million dollars up for grabs and who has won what so far:

  • 8th place: $25,000 – Inferno eSports
  • 7th place: $35,000 – vVv Gaming
  • 6th place: $50,000 – Epsilon
  • 5th place: $70,000 – FEAR
  • 4th place: $100,000 – Complexity
  • 3rd place: $120,000 – ???
  • 2nd place: $200,000 – ???
  • 1st place: $400,000 – ???

Predictions

So yesterday I made some prediction about the first eight matches we would see and went 6-2, including 1-1 in my upset picks. Not bad. Here’s a better breakdown of where I went right and where I went wrong:

  • Complexitiy vs Killerfish – I saw the problems Killerfish gave Envyus on Day 1 and thought they could’ve done the same to Complexity. They did, but just like their match with Envyus, it was close but ended with a losing result. RESULT: WRONG 
  • Soar vs Quantic – Everyone saw that Quantic had taken advantage of a weakened Unite team to claim their group and Soar put them back in their place, with help from Killerfish who then knocked them out of the Lower Bracket. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Fariko Impact vs Epsilon – Epsilon made a nice run in the Lower Bracket to get some cash, but they were never on Impact’s level. RESULT: RIGHT
  • OpTic Gaming vs Pain Gaming – Another clear mismatch as OpTic crushed Pain before they were, unsurprisingly, expelled from the tournament altogether as the first team eliminated from the Lower Bracket. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Donut Shop vs Enigma – Donut Shop came out on fire and crushed Enigma, but I think a lot of folks were secretly hoping both teams would’ve gone farther than they did, each coming up one round shy of the money matches. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Envyus vs The Stand – I had no idea Envyus was as strong as they ended up being, but I knew enough to trust them against The Stand who barely even showed up on Day 2. RESULT: RIGHT
  • Fariko All-Stars vs FEAR – I fell in love with the All-Stars after the fit they gave OpTic on Day 1 in a losing effort. I thought they’d be able to handle FEAR, but they succumbed as the first of FEAR’s victims, as FEAR was well on its way to a 5th place finish. RESULT: WRONG 
  • vVv Gaming vs Inferno eSports – A sign of things to come as both these teams would face off again to determine 7th/8th place with vVv winning both times, but I think many would agree vVv underperformed, while Inferno might’ve over performed, in this particular tournament overall. RESULT: RIGHT

So the stage is set for the final day. OpTic Gaming gets a rematch against Impact after Impact sent them down to the Lower Bracket to begin with, and the winner will take on Envyus for all the marbles. I still have a good feeling about the OpTic guys, even if they hit a rough patch yesterday against Impact, because after that loss they played ticked off and crushed everyone in their way. If they come with that fire from the get go, Impact ,and then Envyus, will have their hands full.

If you want to watch the results of these ensuing, epic battles, then watch the action live by heading over to http://www.twitch.tv/ or http://elite.callofduty.com/esports starting at 12 PM PT (3 PM ET).