It’s that time of year again.
As sure as spring leads into summer, Orlando Magic’s competitive esports team Magic Gaming is heading into its season saying all the right things.
But head coach Jonah Edwards doesn’t want to hear about how his squad remains one of just two of the league’s original 17 still on the lookout for its first playoff bid.
“It’s going to take a lot of mental toughness,” Edwards said. “We have to be mentally tough and be a team that is resilient and controls what we can control.”
The NBA 2K League will tip off its fourth season on May 19 with, you guessed it, The TIPOFF, a round robin-style tournament that includes all of the league’s 23 squads.
Magic Gaming starts its season as part of Group 4, with a matchup with the 76ers starting at 8 p.m.
That matchup will bring with it some drama, as it will be the first time the Magic take on former teammate Brandon “ToXsiK” Raudenbush, who was drafted 42nd overall by the 76ers in the spring.
It’s another year of calibration for Magic Gaming, as it will welcome 2021 draft picks Jackson “Potts” Potts and Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez to the squad along with Justin “Snubby” Stemerman, who was acquired from the Hornets this offseason.
They join Magic Gaming veterans Brendan “Reizey” Hill, Daniel “DT” Tlais and Robert “May” May.”
Edwards said the addition of “Snubby” could be a benefit because he’s already familiar with “Reizey.”
“We’re going to like each other more than other teams like each other,” he said. “If you can like each other enough and have that culture, we think we are going to be a successful team.”
As mentioned, Magic Gaming has yet to crack into the postseason.
After a strong push near the end of the 2019 season fell just short, the team fell back in the standings last year, hitting their stride late but again falling short following a late-season rally.
They ended up the season at 7-9.
“This is probably the most excited I’ve been for a season because I feel like I have so much to prove,” Reed said. “As a team, we feel we underperformed last season.”
Edwards said he’s excited to see how “Snubby” and “Reizey” work together.
Their chemistry could translate to the virtual court by freeing up “Reizey” a little bit more, he said.
“Ultimately, we have to worry about ourselves, play our game, play our roles and trust each other,” he said.
The league this year will play an unbalanced schedule using a new divisional system as a guide for matchups.
As in previous seasons, The TIPOFF tournament will open the action up, with a two-day match play session followed by a tournament for qualifying teams.
Whatever happens this season, Edwards said it’s nice to have a little bit of normalcy after a 2020 season rocked by coronavirus changes.
“We have obviously had a lot more time to prepare this year for everything,” he said. “Last year, we were about to fly to New York and then we were told we’d have to play our first games from our apartments. We’re much more prepared this year.”
Reed said the coronavirus pandemic adjustments in the NBA 2K League did affect his mental state last year.
This year, however, it’ll be nice to head into the season knowing what to expect.
“It definitely took a toll on my mindset,” he said. “I’m one of those players that loves travel and trash talking a little bit. This season, I’m trying to come in with a different mindset.”