By Sam Perley
Following a slow start to its 2023 SLAM OPEN schedule, Hornets Venom GT picked up steam as the tournament progressed and fell just one individual game win shy of advancing to the stage competition in Washington, DC.
The 3v3 play started back on Wednesday, March 8, with a pair of best-of-five series against Grizz Gaming and Mavs Gaming. Charlotte ended up dropping both – 3-0, 3-1 – then two days later, watched 76ers GC rally from two games down to win, 3-2, before getting swept by DUX Infinitos to close out the tough week.
Despite holding leads against DUX Infinitos and 76ers GC on Tuesday, March 14, Hornets Venom GT couldn’t close out either series and moved its record to 0-6. The squad finally got on the board three nights later with a pair of thrilling five-game triumphs over Grizz Gaming and Mavs Gaming to close out SLAM OPEN Group play.
"That's the reach I like! I don't like the reach in lanes. I like that reach right there because it's a foul or a steal." 🗣️
Go behind the scenes with some of our in-game comms from the SLAM OPEN, as we get ready for more action this week ➡️
— Hornets Venom GT (@HornetsVenomGT) April 3, 2023
Coincidentally, Charlotte drew Grizz Gaming to start bracket play and was quickly swept for its first loss in the double-elimination portion of the competition. Hornets Venom GT stayed alive by rolling community team Ankle Breakers, 3-0, and then took care of the higher-seeded Raptors Uprising GC, 3-1. Needing one more series win to advance to the stage, Hornets Venom GT went back and forth with Wizards District Gaming before coming up short in Game 5.
— Hornets Venom GT (@HornetsVenomGT) March 25, 2023
In total, Charlotte went 4-8 in 12 SLAM OPEN series, which featured 49 individual games. Point guard Brandon “Bojui” Serrano averaged 9.4 points on 71.4% shooting in 43 appearances and set a 3v3 team record with 19 points on March 10 versus 76ers GC. Lock Xavier “Big Saint” St. John and power forward Christian “Plu” Young both played in all 49 contests and shot over 70.0% from the field, while averaging 4.0 points and 5.0 points, respectively.
Last season’s 3v3 Champions Pistons GT continued its dominant run, going a perfect 6-0 and dropping only three total games in the bracket to claim the SLAM OPEN crown. Detroit was seeded 16th out of 32 total teams after group play, then beat #17 Celtics Crossover Gaming (3-0), #1 Bucks Gaming (3-0), #8 Jazz Gaming (3-0), #13 Hawks Talon GC (3-1), #10 Nets GC (3-0) and #11 T-Wolves Gaming (3-0) in the Finals.
Coming up next for Hornets Venom GT will be the 3v3 SWITCH OPEN, where it’ll face 2022 NBA 2K League 5v5 Champions Bucks Gaming, Australian expansion team NBL OZ Gaming, the Gen.G Tigers of Shanghai and Warriors Gaming Squad in the double round-robin group play format. Bucks Gaming (#1), Warriors Gaming Squad (#4) and NBL OZ Gaming (#6) were all seeded high after SLAM OPEN group play, with the first two getting eliminated relatively quickly and the Aussies winning four series in the Lower Bracket before getting bounced by Hawks Talon GC.
Catch Hornets Venom GT’s SLAM OPEN opener against Bucks Gaming onThursday, April 6 beginning at 6:45 PM ET on the NBA 2K League’s Twitch channel.