Blazer5: Professional gamers take on teams in the NBA 2K league

The Blazer5 video game team hones their skills at their practice facility in the Pearl District. (Photo: Brian Warner/KATU Sports)

It looks like a business office, and it’s located in the Pearl District. However, upon closer review, you can see everyone there is playing video games, specifically, NBA 2K.

“It’s like living your dream when you were a kid,” says Blazer5 Gaming point guard Nidal Nasser, adding: “When you’re growing up, people said you couldn’t play video games. People said you couldn’t do this and that, so for this actually to come and become something is amazing.”

They are the Blazers5 video game team -- six players in all. Four from California and one each from New York and Puerto Rico. They are professional gamers in their rookie season of the NBA 2K league, but it’s taken years of practice.

Dayne Downey, 19, is the center and has been playing this game just about half of his life.

“2K, I’ve been playing since 10 years old. So, 8, 9 years,” says, Downey. “So, plenty of time.”

The NBA started with a pool of 72,000. It whittled it down to 102 and held a draft.

“You know, this is the first year anything like this is happening,” says Cameron McAlees, Blazer5 Gaming operations manager, adding: “So, it’s really exciting to kind of see this whole thing come to fruition. When I came on back in December, it was hard to envision all of this and seeing this six months down the road. Seeing the season start and all the players get here and how it’s all panned out, it’s just been phenomenal. It’s been exciting.”

Most players make $32,000 a year, plus bonuses for three tournaments. They play a dozen games in the regular season and then the playoffs. The Blazer5 Gaming team is 2-0 after beating the Knicks last weekend in New York.

They actually fly to New York every week to play each game, and they do scout the competition.

“Yeah, all the time,” says Nasser. “We watch previous games. Games they’ve played beforehand, just everything in general, like, we try to pick up tendencies. See how we can attack certain players, especially weaker players, they pick later on in the rounds. Stuff like that.”

“So, anyone can watch the games,” says McAlees. “You can watch them for free on Twitch. Also, if you go to Twitch.tv/nba2kleague, you’ll find all our matches, including past broadcasts.”

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