By Sam Perley
A revamped Hornets Venom GT looking to bounce back from its only non-playoff campaign in franchise history tips off the 2023 NBA 2K League season tonight with group play in the Coinbase SLAM OPEN.
Now third-year center Kingsley “Crown” Braggs is the only returning player from last season’s squad, which finished 4-12 in 5v5 and 10-11 in 3v3 competitions to fall short of the playoffs in both fields. Guard Craig “rigby” Burnett Jr. – THE TURN MVP and an NBA 2K League All-Rookie honoree in 2021 – is also back following a one-year hiatus.
Newcomers to the team feature Xavier “Big Saint” St. John, a fourth-year lock who spent his first three seasons with T-Wolves Gaming (2020-21) and Raptors Uprising GC (2022) before he was traded to Cavs Legion GC, then Hornets Venom GT this past offseason. Guard Brandon “Bojui” Serrano and power forward Christian “Plu” Young are both rookies and were drafted with the 15th and 25th overall picks, respectively, in February’s NBA 2K League Draft.
— Hornets Venom GT (@HornetsVenomGT) March 8, 2023
The format for this NBA 2K League season will be a little different than it was last year, when 3v3 play was incorporated for the first time. Instead of alternating competitions like before, the first half of the schedule will be entirely 3v3 (SLAM OPEN, SWITH OPEN, STEAL OPEN and 3v3 Playoffs & Finals) and the second half will be 5v5 (THE TIPOFF, THE TURN, THE TICKET and 5v5 Playoffs & Finals).
Hornets Venom GT will begin play in the SLAM OPEN starting with a pair of best-of-five series against Grizz Gaming (6 PM ET) and Mavs Gaming (8:15 PM). Friday’s slate will feature matchups with 76ers GC (6:45 PM) and DUX Infinitos (9 PM) as part of this two-week, double-round-robin group play structure.
Start times for this week ⌚️
— Hornets Venom GT (@HornetsVenomGT) March 7, 2023
Once these eight series are done, all 25 NBA 2K League teams plus seven community squads will advance to a week of double-elimination remote bracket play, then the final 12 will convene in Washington, DC to square off on the stage. In total, $150,000 in prize money is on the line; $60,000 for first place, $30,000 for second, $15,000 for third and fourth and $7,500 for fifth through eighth. Wizards District Gaming is the reigning SLAM OPEN Champions, Pacers Gaming took last year’s SWITCH OPEN and Pistons GT was the overall 2022 NBA 2K League 3v3 Champions.
Hornets Venom GT swept its only series with Grizz Gaming during 3v3 seed week last year and upset 76ers GC, 3-2, in the SLAM OPEN Round of 16 before falling 1-4 in the Quarterfinals to Wizards District Gaming, marking its best finish a non-postseason tournament. This will be the first time that Hornets Venom GT has faced Mavs Gaming and 2022 SLAM OPEN runner-up DUX Infinitos in 3v3 play.