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These gamers are in a tournament for $250,000 this weekend. Here’s why they’re upset about it

NBA 2K is planning to host a tournament this week. But contestants are still unsure what’s happening.

Zion Williamson appears in NBA 2K.
NBA 2K is planning to host a tournament this week. But contestants are still unsure what’s happening.
NBA 2K

The NBA 2K video game franchise has a mode called MyTeam, where gamers can build fantasy rosters of both past and present NBA players. You build up your squad, collect virtual player cards and compete offline and online.

For the most part, the mode is for fun. You can buy virtual packs — using real money or, sometimes, fake currency called MyTeam coins — to build out your roster. You can work an auction house to pick up your favorite stars. It’s a fun mode.

But there’s a competitive side, too. Gamers and YouTubers compete and stream their battles on Twitch. And, in recent years, the NBA 2K franchise itself has hosted a tournament between competitive MyTeam players called the NBA 2K21 MyTeam Unlimited tournament. The best in the world qualify throughout the year and then face off in a tournament for a grand prize of $250,000.

The 2021 version of the tournament is scheduled for this weekend. But gamers involved in the tournament and the NBA 2K community say they haven’t heard anything about what’s coming. They don’t know who has qualified, what the bracket looks like or what time it starts. Those in the community say that no one knows who they’re playing, any of the rules or regulations.

Gamers remain in limbo — waiting for the tournament but without answers. And the tournament begins in about 72 hours.

Why the 2K MyTeam community is upset.

TyDeBo — a competitive MyTeam player who won the NBA 2K Global Championship in 2020 — recently spilled all the tea in one of his recent YouTube videos, slamming NBA 2K for its approach to the tournament. TyDeBo said he most likely qualified for the tournament based on his performance in pre-qualifiers — the game hosted a number of qualification rounds where gamers earned points for wins.

And TyDeBo said in his new YouTube video — titled “I’m fed up with 2k! the $250K tournament is an unorganized disaster!” — that he doesn’t know who he will be playing in this year’s tournament. He doesn’t know what the difficulty setting will be, either (in NBA 2K, the difficulty setting can drastically shift gameplay, like how often shots go in, how easy it is to steal the ball and more). He’s also unsure if he’ll be playing someone from the United Kingdom or Europe, which could impact his timing on shots or what time he needs to be prepared.

Like any competition, competitors want to know who they’re playing, where they’ll have their matches and what time to be ready. But TyDeBo said he knows nothing about that for this year’s tournament.

Similarly, DBG — a MyTeam historian who has a massive YouTube following as he offers tips, tricks and market advice (yes, really) about the game mode — reacted to TyDeBo’s video, criticizing NBA 2K for the tournament as well. He similarly said the difficulty setting is a huge issue that can impact the games. He also called on NBA 2K to pay more attention to the tournament because the $250,000 is a life-changing amount of money for anyone.

At the time of those videos, 2K hadn’t sent out emails to contestants who might have qualified. But SplashEdition — an NBA 2K League player who has played for the Utah Jazz Gaming squad — revealed Tuesday night that emails to qualified contestants were being sent out to competitive players.

2K has promised details are on the way

I reached out to NBA 2K about the tournament to see if any rules were coming or if they had any response to the situation.

One NBA 2K spokesperson told me: “We are planning on releasing additional details before the tournament begins. Stay tuned!”

So it appears 2K plans to release new details. The tournament is scheduled to begin Feb. 20. We’ll see if these gamers get the answers they want. Both TyDeBo and DBG suggested that 2K might delay the tournament for another week or two — and it might make sense given the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, power outages and more that are plaguing the United States and the world.

But for now, the drama continues to work its way through the 2K gaming community.

If the tournament goes through, DBG said he plans to host a watch party for the tournament so the gamers will have something to look forward to.