Just like professional sports leagues all over the world, the NBA 2K League is eager to get back into action.
A month ago I went to Utah Jazz Gaming media day and talked with the team before the world shut down with the spread of COVID-19 and the season was put on hold. Now, with a month or so of social distancing and quarantine, Jazz Gaming is looking to come back and chase that playoff birth they’re hoping for.
Jazz gaming has been following protocols like social distancing and quarantine, but that hasn’t kept them from training for the season. It’s been an especially busy time for Jazz Gaming Coach Jelani Mitchell.
Recently, before Donovan Mitchell played his 2K matchup with Rui Hachimura, Coach Mitchell was able to give him some 2K advice.
During 2K matches, Coaches are able to call timeouts to help the team adjust. I asked Coach Mitchell that if he was room with Donovan Mitchell during his game maybe he could he helped him get in the tournament. Coach Mitchell laughed at my suggestion but said that he felt Donovan Mitchell did a good job.
We then talked about what the Jazz Gaming team is doing to prep for the season. The team is doing everything it can to follow protocols with coronavirus to stay healthy. Luckily, they’re able to practice together at the Jazz Gaming training facility at Vivint Smart Home Arena still. Coach Mitchell isn’t allowed to be there so he watches over the team through video chat to work with the team. During the day the team has a Macbook set up on the table next to where they play with Mitchell watching and guiding the team as they practice.
It’s a unique situation but they’re making it work.
Coach Mitchell talked about how impressed he is with the team and their desire to get better. Typically their practice schedule is from 12:00 to 5:00 but he’s seeing them put in hours more like 11:00 to 7:00. Some of that comes from simply not being able to go out but it also shows the team’s desire to get better.
Perhaps the teams that take advantage of this extended training camp-like situation will be the best teams this year. If that’s the case then Jazz Gaming is ready to take things to another level. With a talented roster and an MVP caliber player in RIA, there’s no reason why Jazz Gaming can’t make some noise. If only they could play.
I asked Coach Mitchell what if any frustrations have come from this and he told me that “Those with high drive and optimism find a way to overcome obstacles.” It’s very clear that, behind Coach Mitchell, Jazz Gaming is overcoming the obstacles that have been put in front of them.
The 2K league, because it’s an e-sport, has some advantages that the NBA doesn’t. For one, everything can be live-streamed. People may think that it’s just as simple as having players play through a live stream and it’s the same as it normally would be. This is true to some extent but when you watch the 2K league, so much is based on the pressure of being there in person. Players communicate with each other during the game. Shaka Browne (Yeah I Compete) recently moved to lock position to call out plays, for example. You also have environmental elements like the trash talk and the crowd that ramp up the intensity.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 2K league brings everything back. Will it be live-streamed? Will they have matches in person? We’ll find out soon. According to Coach Mitchell we should see the 2K league come back as soon as late April or early May. The 2K league is working as hard as it can to figure out how to get their games going while keeping teams safe.
It’ll be a welcome sight to have a professional sport back. In a way it gives the 2K League a chance to draw fans it might never have gotten before. This Jazz Gaming team has a chance to be very good this year and maybe they can bring the title to Utah we’ve all been hoping for.