The esports world is a big place. Any given weekend, there can be more than a dozen competitions taking place worldwide, from massive events such as Dota 2's The International to League of Legends domestic play and regionals in Smash. Each week, we're going to take a look at the big picture and decide who had the biggest weekend, be it in impact on the esports scene, dominance of their game or making the most of a moment.
Here are our picks for the standouts of this weekend.
Winner: Patrick Beverly
This weekend marked the beginning of the NBA 2K Players Tournament, involving 16 players playing NBA 2K in a tournament bracket format to declare a winner, airing on ESPN and ESPN 2.
"This will be great trash talk," I assumed, looking at the players involved.
Night 1 started off pretty mild, with Derrick Jones Jr. pulling off the 16-1 seeding upset of Kevin Durant and the banter staying mostly respectful. The matchup between DeAndre Ayton and Zach LaVine was a little more insightful, with both players talking about a moment in their last real game against each other in the NBA.
Ayton: "You caught me last game, bro. They called timeout. After that, I was like, yo, I think Zach just dunked on me."
LaVine: "Aye man, you a big dude. You're supposed to get dunked on every once in a while."
Ayton: "It was quick ... and you jumped off the wrong leg, so I'm waiting for you to take another step ... yeah ... that was kinda crazy."
Harrison Barnes and Trae Young felt more like a convo between a seasoned pro and a young upstart, with Young asking Barnes about what players like Dirk Nowitzki were like: "He was the best, man. He was hilarious. By far the funniest teammate. He worked super hard, and he's a killer on the floor, but he always made sure that he has fun and that everyone around him has fun."
Then came Patrick Beverley.
Facing Hassan Whiteside, the most interesting part of the game was less Pat Bev leading the Milwaukee Bucks to an 84-54 win over Whiteside's Lakers and more the one-liners Beverley was dishing out, especially in the second half.
Like a savior of sizzle, a messiah of mouthing off, the chirp champion made his mark on the tournament with memorable quotes, and no player was safe.
Whiteside claiming Giannis is a "cheat code" in the game? Not according to Bev: "It ain't Giannis that's playing; I'm controlling him. So I'm just a cheat code. You can just call me The Cheat Code, I'll take that."
Bev makes a bucket? Time to sing a song. LeBron James misses a layup? No target is safe: "Uh uh. This ain't video game James, he got some years on him now, he can't just be jumpin' all over the rim now!"
Definitely the most entertaining player in the tournament thus far, Patrick Beverley encompasses everything we love about video games and competition: fun trash talk and pure entertainment. Gamers everywhere can relate to his genuine reactions while playing the game. Beverley made it as much of a spectacle as he could from home, and made you want to see him make it all the way to the finals just to discover what he's got cookin' for the rest of his opponents.
-- Arda Ocal
Honorable mention: MAD Lions
During the League of Legends offseason, Misfits bore the brunt of the "budget team" label, but MAD Lions weren't far behind. MAD Lions looked like a team in limbo: On paper, they weren't good enough to be considered a playoff contender, but they weren't bad enough to make waves as a lineup when previewing the season, either. Zhiqiang "Shad0w" Zhao was a rookie jungler to watch, and Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság was known from his strong EU Masters' performances on BIG. Other than that, people didn't really seem to know what to make of MAD outside of wondering whether Marek "Humanoid" Brázda could carry the momentum from his rookie season and take this team close to playoff contention.
MAD Lions defied these mediocre-to-low community expectations in their opening match this split: the first match of the 2020 LEC season against G2 Esports. Shad0w & Co. came out with a strong early game that stifled G2 for the first third of the game. While MAD did not have a cohesive mid game and G2 predictably came roaring back, it was a shot across the bow that told audiences they should be paying attention to MAD Lions. Over the course of the spring split, MAD Lions had flashes of brilliance but were plagued by inconsistency (and some questionable drafting mid-split). Few picked them over G2 in the first round of the LEC playoffs, especially given G2's pedigree.
But this weekend, the underdogs shocked the League of Legends world by beating G2 3-2 in their playoff opener. While no one will point to these games as peak League of Legends, MAD Lions came in with no expectations, all the pressure on their opponents, and fully took advantage of the situation with phenomenal individual performances from Shad0w and Carzzy in particular. It was both impressive and fun to watch, and even MAD Lions' staunchest defenders likely didn't expect this outcome.
-- Emily Rand