Phoenix Suns’ superstar guard Devin Booker defeated his teammate, Suns’ center DAandre Ayton in the final round to win the NBA 2K Players Tournament, which was played on the Xbox One console and gave the winner, Booker, $100,000 to donate to charity to support coronavirus relief efforts, according to CBS Sports.
While the tournament provided some content for basketball fans who are awaiting to see if the NBA season can be salvaged amid the pandemic, it showcased the gaming abilities of the Suns, and how the team is at the forefront of online gaming for the NBA.
According to ESPN’s Arda Ocal, the Suns have been presenting simulated regular-season games through NBA 2K contests involving various athletes and luminaries controlling the teams since mid-March, and have been at the forefront of the NBA for content creation.
“It’s been probably one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of this strange period that we’re in,” Dean Stoyer, the Suns’ chief marketing and communications officer said. “Every week, we had responses from other teams and leagues asking us how we’ve been so successful.”
“It was about 12 hours after the [NBA] announced the hiatus that the idea came to me from [senior manager for social media strategy] Allison [Harissis] and the social team. If I didn’t have the trust in them and if I didn’t know that they are hands down the best in the league, we wouldn’t have moved as quickly as we did. Their instincts were right. We had to figure out a lot quickly. If we hesitated, if we waited, we wouldn’t have been as successful.”
The tournament also brought more of a mainstream spotlight to the world of esports and online streaming.
Streaming, in particular, has been on the rise in terms of content creation, as some of the industry’s top Twitch streamers have been working double time in producing content during the quarantine via their twitch channels.
Likewise, with the tournament being played exclusively on the Xbox One, it would be fair to assume that it created a spotlight for Microsoft’s Mixer platform, the competitor for Twitch, which features popular Mixer streamers, such as Ninja, and gaming-content rich Mixer channels as well.
“I said in the beginning that it was going to be Deandre and I in the championship — and that’s the way it ended up,’ Booker said, who split his charity winnings between Direct Relief and the Arizona Food Bank Network, according to ESPN’s Jacob Wolf.
“I played a lot growing up,” Booker said. “It’s all about timing and eye coordination.”