New to Warriors Gaming Squad and the NBA 2K League? Read on to learn about the team, the league, and how it all works!
Here are 12 common questions and answers that people new to the 2K League might have. If you’re an NBA 2K or esports veteran, feel free to scroll down to some of the more in-depth questions and answers further down the page. If you’re newly installing NBA 2K, unsure about esports, or just heard about Warriors Gaming Squad for the first time, start at the top with…
1. Esports? eSports? E-Sports?
When used in a sentence, esports works just like any other word, but it’s really a capital idea. Esports, simply put, means video game competitions. Play a lot of Pac-Man at the arcade or some Mario Kart on your friend’s TV? Somewhere out there, it’s likely that the best players in the world at Pac-Man or Mario Kart—or whatever your favorite game is—are playing against each other… often for a lot of money. Sometimes it’s pretty structured, like the wide-ranging League of Legends esports competitions, and sometimes it’s for a lot of money, like the DOTA 2 world championships that feature six- or seven-figure prize pools.
2. Ok, that makes sense. But what does that have to do with the NBA?
A lot, actually! Whereas games like Mario Kart or League of Legends might have fictional characters, the NBA is at the heart of a popular video game produced by 2K. The NBA 2K video game series is really popular in North America and across the world, with over 110 million units sold worldwide. You can play by yourself against the computer, or compete individually against anyone in the world. You can even team up with your friends to mimic the 5-on-5 nature of the basketball you can find at any court.
3. Yeah, I beat my friend on 2K all the time. But what’s this league thing?
You and me both! But while we’re pretty good, the NBA 2K League is a compilation of the very best NBA 2K players in the entire world. These people aren’t just good from their couch—they’ve been playing 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 in competitive amateur leagues for years. They know all the game’s tricks, they never miss open shots, and they have the personality to do it in front of thousands of fans. They’re so good, in fact, that NBA teams want these players competing for them on their own esports teams, because there’s a lot of money on the line!
4. So what’s Warriors Gaming Squad? One of those league teams?
Exactly. Warriors Gaming Squad—WGS—is one of 24 teams in the NBA 2K League, and one of 22 teams owned by NBA franchises. WGS was one of the first 17 teams in the league when it started play in 2017. The team has five players who represent their team and play 2K against other teams. Main rivals include Portland’s Blazer5 Gaming, Minnesota’s T-Wolves Gaming, and Utah’s Jazz Gaming, against whom the team has played two consecutive conference finals.
5. The gamers can pick who they want to play as?
They can, but it might not be what you think. Each person controls one player—how they play, how they look, how they celebrate—throughout the course of a game (no subs!). For example, Charlie “CB13” Bostwick, who attends Fordham University in the offseason, competes for Warriors Gaming Squad for six months out of the year. CB13 isn’t choosing between current Golden State Warriors players: he’s playing as CB13. He plays point guard, but he could play center if he wants, because it’s a video game, and you can grow a foot and 100 pounds with the press of a button.
6. People only control one player? How does that work?
Because it’s a video game, CB13 changes the player he controls based on whatever position he wants to play that game. If the team has him play shooting guard, he chooses from one of five preset builds which determine his height, weight, and ability. In the game available to everyone, players can upgrade to the maximum 99 overall. In the special league version of the game, however, all players are 95 overall, and there’s some give-and-take depending on the build (“archetype”) he chooses. He might pick an archetype that’s really good at shooting threes, which is great, but also means his defensive abilities will be limited. If he wants to be a great defender, chances are he won’t be able to shoot as well (for example).
Teams have to think about all the pros and cons when putting together their lineups, and those can change every game. That’s part of what makes every game a bit of a chess match—teams have to find the right combination of both people and in-game players to be successful.
7. How are teams formed?
It’s actually pretty cool. The league holds a draft before each season when teams select players to fill out the five-person roster. Like the NBA draft, there’s a draft lottery, draft-day trades, and draft day is always full of excitement. After each season, teams have the option to protect (before the expansion draft) or retain (after the expansion draft) a few players from the previous year’s roster. Most years, there’s an expansion draft, where new teams select from the pool of unprotected players. Players who go unretained—not brought back by their teams—are put back into the regular draft pool.
The regular draft pool also features the class of new prospects (18+). Players qualify for the draft pool by winning an offseason tournament held by a team or by the NBA 2K League, or earning a spot from their play throughout the “pre-draft” process.
8. How does the season work?
New in 2022, the league has two different modes of competition. There’s the standard 5-on-5 mode, which resembles traditional basketball, and the 3-on-3 mode, which looks a little more like playing in the park. Both modes have two tournaments made up of round robin and bracket play. Teams compete in tournaments for prize money and earn standings points to qualify for the playoffs. There are separate playoffs and champions for 5-on-5 and 3-on-3. All of this is watchable online, either on the league’s Twitch or YouTube channels. Games happen from Tuesday to Saturday, depending on the time in the season—here’s the schedule for the first tournament of 2022, which starts on April 5.
Oh, and one other thing. Amateur players—you, your friends, probably not me—can make it into those 3-on-3 tournaments and try to take down the pros for a part of the $2.5 million prize pool.
9. I think I’m getting it. Why should I cheer for WGS?
Great question. WGS is one of the original 17 teams that started in 2018, and the team has made the playoffs every year since 2019. Only one team has made three consecutive final fours, and that’s WGS. Charlie “CB13” Bostwick and Sam “Gradient” Salyers are the longest-tenured duo in the league, having been drafted by the team 10th and 2nd overall, respectively, in 2019. It’s pretty rare for players to stay on one team for a long time. WGS is the first team to bring back the same starting lineup two seasons in a row (2021 and 2022). The team has upset two No. 1 seeds in playoff quarterfinals and is led by former NBA G League assistant coach Mike Newton. You can see the team’s all-time stats and records here. The team has had some notable players on previous rosters, too. In 2019, WGS drafted Chiquita “Quita” Evans, the first woman to compete in the NBA 2K League. During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the team had Matthew “Matty” Grant, a former Division I point guard known for his skill at any position in 2K.
10. There’s no way these players are actually better than me, though, right?
Well, you may be the exception … but it’s pretty likely. Most players qualify for the league by winning amateur 5-on-5 tournaments and going through a rigorous interview and 2K League Combine process. There’s a lot of familiarity among the top players from time spent playing together and against one another. A lot of games might look like they have less movement than NBA games, but there are a lot of mind games at work, and no shortage of flashy dunks either. Most teams run what looks like a lot of pick-and-roll offense, but watch carefully—some teams throw in a wrinkle and movement on almost every play. Beyond that, these players have great instincts on when to reach for a steal, impeccable timing on tricky fadeaway jump shots, and uncanny passing vision.
11. How’s the team looking this year?
Not too shabby! Last year, WGS upset top-seed T-Wolves Gaming in the Western Conference Semifinals before losing an incredibly close series to Jazz Gaming in the conference finals. The team kept CB13 and Gradient after the season, along with All-2K League rookie sensation Veron “Hezi” Coates and fellow first-round phenom Antoine “ANTOINE” Featherstone. Needing to fill out their roster in the 2022 draft, WGS surprisingly managed to snag friendly face Austin “KayAus” Caterino with the 20th pick, returning the same starting lineup as the strong 2021 team. The team is one of 10 franchises living and playing in Indianapolis, the league’s hub city for the 2022 season.
12. I’m in. How can I follow along?
The league’s Twitch or YouTube channels are the places to go and watch. It’s also good to follow Warriors Gaming Squad on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. Twitter’s where a lot of league discussion happens, from player trash talk to team content to look-ins at teams in Indianapolis and across the country.