Sophomore Darius Bryant notched straight victories of 49-42, 67-61, and 48-36 to claim the title.
He was cheered on by his esports teammates and some student spectators, who watched the competition on the Neumann Twitch stream at the viewing party in the Mullen Student Multipurpose Hall.
Twenty-six NBA 2K23 players from 18 colleges across a wide swath of the country competed during the regular season (eight best-of-three matches) and playoffs in the quest for a championship. After a play-in match to break a tie, 16 teams made the playoff field.
Despite the “Eastern” designation in its name, the ECAC NBA 2k23 competition included colleges from the Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan) and the South (Tennessee and Virginia) in addition to schools from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
According to Lydia Fister, ECAC assistant commissioner and director of esports, “As esports is online, we wanted to expand our national footprint. Our goal is to provide the opportunity to compete no matter where a school is located or the size of their program.”
After finishing the regular season 6-2, in a four-way tie for second place in the conference, Bryant defeated players from Cumberland and Radford University in the opening round before besting top-seeded Albion College and Cumberland in the finals.
Neumann’s NBA 2K23 team won the title in its inaugural season, competing with Bryant and Zachary King, who graduated in May. King finished with a 5-3 record and bowed out in the quarterfinals.
“Darius had an outstanding performance and impressive victory in the ECAC 2k finals,” said Derek Bosworth, the esports head coach. “His dedication and skill earned him not only the first-place title but an undefeated playoff season. I look forward to seeing more amazing games from Darius next season.”
Esports NBA 2K23 is a basketball video game, based on the National Basketball Association (NBA). It is the 24th installment in the NBA 2K franchise. Play simulates a typical game of basketball, with the player controlling an entire team or an individual player, and the presentations resemble actual televised NBA games.
In its fifth year, ECAC esports has grown to 160 member schools and reaches from coast to coast. It fields 1,100 teams and crowns 26 esports champions across 13 games. Several games have multiple versions, including Super Smash Bros., VALORANT, Overwatch 2, Call of Duty, and League of Legends.
According to Dean Eric Wellington, Neumann University will launch a major in esports in the fall of 2024.