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Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

Monday Tip-Off: Thoughts on Skill-Based Matchmaking

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on skill-based matchmaking.

Did you know that the concept of skill-based matchmaking, commonly abbreviated to SBMM, is controversial? I’ll admit that I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; especially given my experiences playing NBA 2K online. As the name implies, skill-based matchmaking is a system for matching both teammates and opponents in online play according to their abilities. The criteria and algorithms for this vary from game to game, but are generally based on winning percentage, ranking or reputation systems, and other statistics relevant to the genre.

Sounds like a good idea, right; the kind of proper matchmaking that we’d expect to see in a basketball game like NBA 2K, with all of its connected experiences? Well, you would think so, but not everyone is a fan of skill-based matchmaking. This disdain stretches beyond NBA 2K and the basketball gaming community, but the basic reasoning behind gamers’ objections to the concept remains the same. Frankly, this is unfortunate. SBMM is indeed a good idea, and would undoubtedly clean up the online scene in NBA 2K by reducing the toxicity and sense of gatekeeping. I’d like to explore why it’s necessary, and also examine the controversy surrounding SBMM.

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Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

Monday Tip-Off: A Week Playing in The Rec

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with a recap of a week playing in The Rec in NBA 2K20.

Because I’ve been casually playing a bit of MyCAREER while waiting for the season to start and the rosters to be updated for a MyLEAGUE game, my player has levelled up enough to be viable to play with online. As such, I’ve gone to The Rec a couple of times to see what it’s like this year. Not much has changed in terms of the quality of play or stability of the servers, but it’s had its moments. To that end, I figured if I was able to keep my expectations low, it’d be fun to jump on every once in a while for a change of pace. It’s a way of earning extra VC for MyTEAM packs if nothing else.

That led me to wonder if there were better nights than others to jump into The Rec for a game or two. I recalled that when the NLSC squad was playing multiple sessions of 2K Pro-Am per week in NBA 2K17, some days yielded more enjoyable experiences with good competition, while other days brought frustrating times with opponents who exploited cheesy tactics. I decided that I’d play The Rec every night for a week in order to see which night – if any – was the best to jump on. I was also interested to see how quickly I’d get sick of it, and whether I’d end up too frustrated with the mode to play it any more. What follows is a recap of my week playing in The Rec!

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Monday Tip-Off: NBA 2K Online Is In Terrible Shape

NBA 2K Online

We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some thoughts on the quality of online play in NBA 2K; or, more accurately, the lack thereof.

Hey, remember when I wrote about the desire to balance positivity and negativity in my articles? I mentioned that I wanted to avoid writing an article about online play in NBA 2K that ended up being more of a rant than constructive criticism, cathartic as it may be. Well, I’m going to go ahead and vent a little. I was originally going to leave it at my Friday Five detailing my experiences with the Jordan Rec Center, but I need to expand upon that. As someone who was traditionally an offline gamer who has since been drawn into online in recent years, I’m now remembering why I avoided it.

When the NBA 2K League was announced, I noted the slight possibility that it would have some tangible benefit for the rest of us. Specifically, I suggested that in the best case scenario, it would encourage 2K to improve their servers and address some of the long-standing issues with online gameplay, in order to make the “home version” of the NBA 2K League more like the real thing. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. NBA 2K online has strayed further and further away from sim basketball, and the servers continue to be extremely unreliable. Combine this steady decline with a toxic part of the community, and honestly, I don’t see the situation getting any better.

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The Friday Five: 5 Things I’ve Learned Playing Jordan Rec Center

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five things that I’ve learned playing in the Jordan Rec Center in NBA 2K19.

Having wrapped up my second season in NBA 2K19’s MyCAREER, I haven’t felt the desire to play a third year. Since the Bulls went out and signed Ben Simmons, I have thought about playing a few games here and there while simulating the rest, but I’ve not done so as yet. I have been playing online however, just to see what the scene is like this late in the year. After several sessions in The Playground and Jordan Rec Center, I’d have to conclude that not much has changed since the game was launched. The gameplay, the user base, the overall vibe and atmosphere…it’s all the same.

The lack of change has come as a disappointment as far as the Jordan Rec Center is concerned. With team Pro-Am hamstrung by the enforcement of five users per side, the Jordan Rec Center became the online mode of choice for the NLSC squad. It soon became apparent that it wasn’t going to deliver the same fun experience that team Pro-Am did for us in NBA 2K16 and NBA 2K17, and to a far lesser extent, NBA 2K18. At this point, I’m the only member of the squad who’s jumping online on a regular basis, so I’ve been playing with randoms. Here’s my take on the Jordan Rec Center after playing it extensively this year, with friends and randoms alike.

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The Friday Five: 5 Ways to Improve Online Modes in NBA 2K20

The Friday Five

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! The Friday Five is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games, as well as the real NBA, and other areas of interest to our community. The feature is presented as either a list of five items, or in the form of a Top 5 countdown. This week’s Five is a list of five ways to improve online modes in NBA 2K20.

For many years, there wasn’t much that I could personally say about online play. I was mostly an offline basketball gamer, and while I was only too eager to pass along any feedback on behalf of online gamers, it wasn’t an experience that I took a whole lot of interest in. That changed in NBA 2K16, when Arcane and I were encouraged to join Kenny, The X, and Valor for some 2K Pro-Am games. I had enjoyed playing a few games of Online Team Play in NBA Live 08 as it was new and interesting, and Pro-Am proved to be an enjoyable spin on the concept.

As much as I value the single player experiences in modern basketball games, there’s no denying the importance of online modes. Visual Concepts clearly has a lot invested in the online experience, not only through providing a variety of ways to play online in NBA 2K, but also through their partnership with the NBA for the NBA 2K League. Despite that focus, and the general popularity of online play in NBA 2K, there are some major drawbacks and troubling legacy issues that need to be addressed in future games. I’m hoping that NBA 2K20 does see some key improvements in the game’s online modes, and this is how I believe that can be achieved.

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New Details on NBA 2K League; Qualifying Round in January

NBA 2K League Qualifying Info

The NBA 2K League, an eLeague based on 2K Pro-Am and officially partnered with the NBA, is set to tip off next year. As such, 2K Sports has put out advanced notice about the qualifying round, which will be taking place January 1st-31st. Brian Mazique has also posted some additional information about the League over on Forbes.com.

Participants must be eighteen years or older, and playing NBA 2K18 on either PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. The qualifying round is open to all skill levels, though you must win 50 games during January in order to be eligible for tryouts. The 50 wins may come as part of a 2K Pro-Am team, Walk-On games, or a combination of the two.

Should you make it through the qualifying rounds and be successful in a tryout, you’ll be drafted by one of the 17 NBA teams participating in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League. Housing and a “competitive, guaranteed salary” will be provided to League players, who will not play with their regular MyPLAYERs, but rather avatars with ratings close to 90 Overall. The NBA 2K League will also make use of a special build of NBA 2K18 in order to avoid instability.

It will be interesting to see how successful the NBA 2K League turns out to be. As it stands, I’m not sure how closely we’ll be covering the League here on the NLSC once it tips off, but it’s certainly a great opportunity for competitive online basketball gamers. Additional registration and application details are set to be announced at a later date, so if you’re interested, be sure to follow the official NBA 2K League Twitter account, and stay tuned for more information.

Got any thoughts on the forthcoming NBA 2K League? Have your say in the comments section below, and feel free to join in the discussion taking place here in our NBA 2K18 Forum.