Splash zigs when everyone else zags.
Splash — or “Splashy Edition” or “Splash Gaming,” whatever you want to call him — doesn’t spend time preaching humility. He doesn’t act modest or shy about his success. Rather, he has taken all of his success and embraces it full on.
You could call Splash a professional athlete. He plays on the Utah Jazz Gaming team for the NBA 2K League — a professional esports league where gamers compete in NBA 2K. He was a highly-touted rookie who was selected first for the NBA 2K draft.
But more than that, Splash is one of the most popular gamers in the NBA 2K community. He plays the MyTeam mode — a fantasy mode where gamers can play against each other using real-life players found on virtual cards within the game — at the highest level.
And it’s paid off. On March 6, Splash will have a chance to win $250,000 in the finals of the NBA 2K21 MyTeam Unlimited Tournament. It’s a life-changing amount of money.
But for Splash, it’s more than just cash. It’s the culmination of a journey that began with a simple idea — make the NBA 2K league, win the MyTeam tournament and have one of the best years in NBA 2K history.
Splash has been in search of the perfect year. And on March 6, he has a chance to get it.
Looking to become pro
It was 2011 when Splash realized he wouldn’t make it in the NBA. He didn’t have the right growth spurt. He wasn’t as good at playing basketball as he wanted to be. But he had that dream of competing in the NBA like so many others around the world do.
When so many would give up on the dream, Splash zagged. He decided to still pursue the dream but from another avenue. Instead of becoming an NBA star, he turned his attention to NBA 2K — the video game that allows you to play with NBA stars. He played in different modes for a bit until settling on the MyPlayer mode, where you can create your own player to compete against others around the world.
He set his sights on making the NBA 2K League. He knew it would make him one of the best in the world at the game.
While competing on MyPlayer, Splash learned of another mode — MyTeam. He thought it was silly at first — using cards of real NBA players with juiced stats just seemed too easy. But he tried it out. And, he said, it was pretty easy. He unlocked something within himself.
And soon he learned he wasn’t just good at the mode. He was great.
Great enough to be one of the best in the business.
Struggles of a star
Splash made the leap into the MyTeam tournament in 2K19. After winning qualifiers, he entered the 2K19 tournament as the first seed. He lost in the first round, saying he got a delay in internet connection that led to the loss. So he joined again for NBA 2K20, and the same thing happened. He lost to gamer Jomar, who ended up winning the entire tournament.
All the while, Splash has competed for the Utah Jazz gaming squad. And he saw some personal success in that arena by becoming the player of the week in June 2020. “Splashy” became the first player in Jazz Gaming to earn the honor. During that week, he averaged 33.3 points on 56.3% shooting in the three-game series with the Warriors Gaming Squad, which was undefeated at the time. “Splashy” scored 44 points in Game 1 of that series alone.
“‘Splashy’ has been an incredible addition to our team, both on and off the court. His high level of basketball IQ as our floor general has contributed to our fast start,” Jazz Gaming head coach Jelani “Comp” Mitchell said in a statement at the time.
As the NBA 2K League season ended — the Jazz went 14-2 last season and lost in the playoff semifinals — Splash turned his attention to MyTeam again. This time, it was about trying to make the NBA 2K21 MyTeam tournament, where he could win $250,000. So he turned on his camera, streamed his preparation on Twitch and practiced for the tournament.
“I just been working on grinding,” he told the Deseret News. “I’m still trying to make the perfect story. So I came back this year with more of a chip on my shoulder with more knowledge as well.”
Part of that practice included one of his toughest struggles to date. NBA MyTeam added a new player to the game named Terry Dischinger, a legendary basketball star who could only be accessed through an offline mode where you have to win a game, open a vault and hope you win Dischinger’s card in order to play with him. The card is given out at random through a random generator system. It takes 10 games for some players, 150 games others. Some need one game. (I personally won the player in 37 games).
Splash needed 2,350 games. “I’ll never, ever, ever forget that number.”
Splash said he put off sleep to get Terry. He’d wake up, turn on Twitch and grind for Terry — nicknamed “The Dentist” by the NBA 2K community because Dischinger was a dentist in real life in addition to being an NBA 2K player.
But the moment spoke to Splash’s mentality — keep going, pushing and grinding for success. Practice for success. Become the best.
“I believe anybody can do what they put their mind to. It’s just, do you want to put your mind to it?” he said.
And it was Dischinger who helped Splash win the PlayStation 4 side of the MyTeam tournament at the end of February.
Splash entered the PlayStation portion of the NBA MyTeam tournament — which was filled with Xbox players on one side and PlayStation players on the other — ready to compete. He knew he’d have a tough go at it since other players on the PS4 side were also streamers and big names in the community.
He entered with extra knowledge. He chose not to try to get the first seed so he wouldn’t have the first game of the day. He wanted a later game to avoid any delay or internet connectivity issues.
But he pushed for it. He pushed hard. He got his way to the final, winning $50,000. And he set himself up for a final matchup against TyDeBo, one of the biggest NBA 2K streamers and former global champion.
The two will compete in the final on March 6. The winner gets $250,000.
“Hopefully I can capitalize, win this tournament, and then go into league and make a splash there and that’s the best year you can have,” he said.
His tweets are full of self-confidence. He’ll reply to tweets with questions about humility. He’ll tweet GIFs of the Green Power Ranger, who was known for his superior strength in skill. He’ll preach about his game and his skills.
“I carry myself a lot different than most people,” he said. “Most people are very humble. I’m more of like — let it all hang out there.”
Splash has once again zigged where everyone else zags. He’s not the typical athlete who preaches humility. He does the opposite. He promotes self-confidence and believing in yourself. He told the Deseret News he thinks people should promote their skill and success because that’s the only way people will notice you — especially when you’re first starting out.
“I just believe that gets you to just a better stance than most people,” he said.
Splash said people paid attention to him because he was telling everyone he was one of the best players of NBA 2K. He didn’t say he felt like he was one of the best. He said he WAS one of the best.
“I put a spotlight on myself more where people want to watch me play because I’m on your feed just making myself seem like I’m just the best out there,” he said. “I feel I am the best in almost every game mode.”
He said it stems from his success. He knows he’s in the top 1% of players in the world. And he embraces it and spreads the message.
Self-confidence, he said, is the key to success, too. He said it can have a tremendous impact on your mental health. Being confident in yourself makes you feel happier because you believe in what you do, he said.
“A lot of people might go through depression. A lot of things might happen in life where you’re just down for a while,” he said. “But if you have enough self-confidence to where you just feel like you are it, you’ll be fine. You won’t really be depressed. You won’t really be down unless some hard-hitting stuff happens to you. It’s just, I believe it’s better for you in every aspect.”
Correction: This article previously said the Utah Jazz went 8-8. The team went 14-2 last season and lost in the playoff semifinals.