Team Claims Back-to-Back Titles and Becomes the First Ever Franchise in League History to Win Multiple Championships
Wizards District Gaming won the 2021 NBA 2K League Championship after defeating Jazz Gaming 3-0 in a best-of-five game series by a score of 74-53 in the final game. The back-to-back Finals wins makes Wizards District Gaming (WDG) the first ever franchise to win multiple championships in the league, which just completed its fourth season. WDG is the NBA 2K League affiliate of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, both owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and was one of the seventeen inaugural teams in the league when it was launched in 2018.
“To say that we are proud of our back-to-back NBA 2K League Champions would be an understatement. I’d like to thank our six players for the incredible dedication, skill, and focus that they displayed, as well as to our coach and front office staff for always providing our team with the tools needed to succeed in this league,” said Zach Leonsis, SVP Strategic Partnerships and General Manager, Monumental Sports Network. “We are so grateful to the highly engaged NBA 2K League community of fans who have cheered on our team and to the League which continues to grow this esport to new heights. Thank you also to all of our fantastic corporate partners who recognize the hard work that this team puts in everyday and are as committed to esports as Monumental Sports & Entertainment has been.”
This season’s roster featured five players from last year’s championship team, including Ryan “Dayfri” Conger, who was the NBA 2K League Finals MVP in 2020, and teammate Jack “JBM” Mascone, who was named a finalist for the NBA 2K League’s Rookie of the Year last season and MVP of the FIBA Esports Open North and Central America Conference for Team USA in 2020. The team drafted Alex “xoLebron” Lebron who served as sixth man this season and elevated former sixth man, Brandon “BRich” Richardson, who played alongside other returning players including Antonio “Newdini” Newman and Justin “JustAwkward” Howell to round out the starters. The team was coached by Pat Crossan, who has been with the franchise since its start.
The best of five game series, which tipped off at 5:00pm ET on Saturday, September 4, 2021, ran just over three hours and was packed with high-level emotion, dramatic matchups and relentless focus from the entire team. In Game 1, Wizards District Gaming showed aggressive play and won 69-62. In Game 2, Wizards District Gaming maintained their lead throughout the game, ultimately securing another win by a score of 60-54. In the third game, Wizards District Gaming trailed after the first quarter, before climbing back to reclaim their lead at the half. After a hard-fought game, Wizards District Gaming swept Jazz Gaming in Game 3 with a final score of 74-53 to win the championship and defend their title.
“We were so proud of last year’s team for how they dealt with the pandemic’s impact on their season and bringing home the organization’s first NBA 2K League title,” said Andrew McNeill, Director of Esports at Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “For the players to come back even stronger this season and raise their games in their first collective experience with in-person competition has just blown us away. This is unequivocally the best team in the NBA 2K League’s young history, and we couldn’t be more appreciative to have them representing Monumental Sports & Entertainment.”
Wizards District Gaming is the only team to make multiple NBA 2K League Finals appearances, and the first team to qualify for the playoffs the season after winning the NBA 2K League championship. The team had a franchise best 36-11 record in Season 4 (which includes all games played during the regular season, in-season tournaments, and playoff games in Season 4). And the team’s 50 regular season wins through four seasons in the NBA 2K League is the most of any team in the NBA 2K League. Three Wizards District Gaming players, Jack “JBM” Mascone, Ryan “Dayfri” Conger and Justin “Just Awkward” Howell, were named to the 2021 NBA 2K League All-Star Team. Wizards District Gaming head coach Patrick Crossan was selected as the head coach for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. Jack “JBM” Mascone was named the 2021 NBA 2K Finals Game MVP.
“To come back after a championship season and do it again is incredible,” said Patrick Crossan, Team Manager, Wizards District Gaming. “They had one mission in mind when they arrived at the start of the season and that was to repeat. I’m so proud of the focus and determination that they showed in achieving this feat. They represented their families, this organization and themselves with such class and integrity all season.”
Wizards District Gaming has consistently shown an upward trajectory in revenue growth, with a 43% increase between FY19 and FY20 and 25%+ compound annual growth on revenue between FY19 and FY21. The franchise has already achieved breakeven status and moved into a profitable position in FY21, years ahead of initial projections. Wizards District Gaming grew both its partnership revenue and its number of unique partners by 67% YoY. Coming into the 2021 season, it built 22 unique corporate partnerships and 37 total partners (i.e., shared with fellow sports teams under the Monumental Sports & Entertainment umbrella) – among the highest number of net partners in the league as well as net revenue generated.
The team won more than $492,000 in prize money during the 2021 season from League-sponsored events and in winning the NBA 2K League Finals.
Every Wizards District Gaming game (all in-season tournaments, regular season games and the NBA 2K League Playoffs) was live on the Monumental Sports Network, an OTT streaming service, in Season 4. Wizards District Gaming is the only team across the other 22 teams in the league to show all its games locally – a growth from just six games locally broadcast in 2020. Eleven (out of a possible 14) regular season game broadcasts were live on NBC Sports Washington in Season 4 – up from five broadcasts in Season 3 (which were also on tape delay). Wizards District Gaming also added pre- and post-game show sponsors in Season 4, a first for the franchise. The postgame show was simulcast live on Wizards District Gaming’s Twitch channel in addition to Monumental Sports Network and NBC Sports Washington.
Social impressions on Wizards District Gaming’s Twitter account grew over 51% from 2020 to 2021 during each season’s respective playoff run. Wizards District Gaming’s YouTube performance also saw double-digit growth and triple-digit reach: 13% growth in video views, 14% growth in overall hours watched, and 107% increase in total impressions on YouTube. The team’s Instagram feed gained tens of thousands of new followers this year – increasing traffic by nearly 50%.