THE TURN Tournament Preview: No Easy Repeat

THE TURN Tournament is upon us and the 2019 THE TURN champion Warriors Gaming Squad is hoping that little more than the prize pool has turned, or changed, from last season.

This year’s edition of the midseason tournament brings with it the promise of the largest prize pool—$260,000—in league tournament history as well as a revamped “archetype ban” system. Last year’s tournament featured the debut of the archetype bans format, wherein teams were allowed to ban the use of one archetype in each game. This year, the strategic element has been ratcheted up a notch, with up to six bans affecting games in the best-of-three series:

  • In the first game of each matchup, each team determines two archetypes that cannot be used in the series by either team.
  • In the second game, each team will select an additional archetype that cannot be used.
  • In the third game (if necessary), there will be no additional archetype bans.
  • The designated away team will make its selections followed by the designated home team.

Such a format served versatile teams well last year, and Warriors Gaming Squad remains a versatile team in 2020. The path to the banner, however, hasn’t gotten any easier this year. WGS enters the main bracket seeded No. 4, based on regular season results, but the high seed is no guarantee of anything.

The first challenge is a huge series against Blazer5 Gaming, the No. 13 seed, whom WGS defeated 2-1 in week five. There’s no shortage of storylines with Blazer5, who swept Pacers Gaming (the No. 20 seed) during yesterday’s play-in round in two overtime games. The win marked Blazer5’s first time making it out of the first round of a tournament or playoffs since THE TURN Tournament in 2018… which Blazer5 won, with superstar point guard MamaImDatMan being named tournament MVP. That streak, of course, was extended when eighth-seeded WGS swept top-seeded B5 in the first round of the 2019 NBA 2K League Playoffs.

The core of Blazer5 Gaming is the same as it was in 2018 and 2019. Center OneWildWalnut won MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, point guard MamaImDatMan won MVP in 2019, and both have looked exceptional once again this season even as the team’s record hasn’t matched their personal success. Pacers Gaming looked to limit both by banning two main point guard archetypes and the main center archetype, but Mama averaged 36 points and 9 assists per game and Walnut added 14 points and 17.5 rebounds per game of his own. WGS will have its hands full no matter which archetypes it bans, but as the team has shown in the past, it’s up to the task.

If a first-round matchup between the two winners of THE TURN wasn’t enough, WGS will have a gauntlet to run through should they advance. The highest remaining seed in WGS’ region of the bracket is fifth-seeded Kings Guard Gaming (9-4), who face No. 12 seed Knicks Gaming on Thursday. The final four matchup figures to feature none other than undefeated Raptors Uprising GC, whom WGS has not yet played but who sit 13-0 in the regular season and won THE TIPOFF Tournament in June. Second-seeded Jazz Gaming and third-seeded Wizards District Gaming are the favorites to make the tournament finals from the other side of the bracket.

There may be no easy path to a repeat, but the path to the first THE TURN banner wasn’t easy, either. Warriors Gaming Squad has the tournament formula, and more importantly, the team formula to become the first back-to-back champions in THE TURN—and they’ve shown that it takes more than archetype bans to stop them.