Raptors Uprising GC dispatched T-Wolves Gaming, the reigning NBA 2K League champion, on Friday to advance to the semifinals of The Turn, a US$260,000 esports tournament.
Toronto won Game 1 with ease, 77-50, but Minnesota proved to be a hard out in Game 2 with the Raptors, whose average margin of victory in league play is 19.7 points, eventually prevailing 62-58 to sweep the best-of-three series.
The T-Wolves cut the lead to 59-56 in the final minute and were headed towards the Toronto basket, only to be denied by a timely block.
In a sign of the times, the advertising hoardings in Toronto's virtual arena flashed "Black Lives Matter" in additions to the likes of Champion, Tissot and other sponsors.
Toronto star point guard Kenneth (Kenny Got Work) Hailey totalled 63 points in the two games — 31 in Game 1 and 32 in Game 2.
The Raptors will face either Warriors Gaming or Kings Guard Gaming in Saturday's seminal.
First place at The Turn is worth $117,000 with $52,000 for the runner-up and $22,100 each for the third-and fourth-place finishers. The fifth through eighth teams earn $11,700 apiece.
The league-leading Raptors came into the tournament riding a 13-game win streak. Last month they swept Kings Guard Gaming to win the $160,000 Tipoff tournament, claiming the $70,000 first prize.
No team has ever won the first two tournaments in a season.
Toronto, which has already erased the league record for consecutive wins to start a season (10 by Mavs Gaming last year), is one victory from tying Blazer5 Gaming's record for the league's longest regular-season win streak of 14, set during the 2019 season.
Regular-season games were one-off contests in the league's first two seasons before switching to best of-three series in remote play this year.
Toronto's record in games this season is 38-5 with 13 series wins in league play and six in tournament play. Only five teams have pushed them to a rubber match in the best-of-three series.
The Raptors, who have already clinched a playoff spot, have three more regular-season outings remaining — July 29 against Kings Guard Gaming, July 30 against Lakers Gaming and Aug. 7 against Cavs Legion GC.
Toronto has broken the league single-game scoring record twice this season — beating Celtics Crossover Gaming 109-51 on June 12 and Pacers Gaming 112-62 on July 16
Bucks Gaming held the record briefly after its 110-55 rout of the Celtics on June 30.
Pistons GT set the previous record in a 108-69 win over Heat Check Gaming in July 2018.
Three-point shooting was the difference in Game 1 Friday with Toronto's Maurice (ReeceMode) Flowers hitting all six attempts from distance in his 22-point total while Trent (Timelycook) Donald connected on four of six attempts for his 12 points.
Toronto made 13-of-21 three-point attempts compared to 4-of-9 for Minnesota.
Point guard Michael (BearDaBeast) Key, named last season's NBA 2K League Finals MVP. led the T-Wolves with 17 points and 10 assists while centre Mihad (Feast) Feratovic had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Toronto brothers Jerry (Sick One) Knapp and Jake (Legit 973) Knapp combined for 21 rebounds, four more than the entire T-Wolves team.
Toronto built an early 16-3 lead in Game 2 but the T-Wolves rallied to cut the lead to 22-13 at the end of the first quarter. The lead was up to 14 at 39-25 at the half with Hailey accounting for 20 of Toronto's points. The Raptors led 49-37 going into the final quarter.
Toronto, seeded first in the single-knockout event, swept No. 16 Gen.G Tigers on Thursday, winning 91-69 and 81-52. T-Wolves Gaming, seeded eighth, defeated No. 9 Nets GC to reach the quarterfnals.
Teams seeded 10-23 started play Wednesday with Gen.G beating Magic Gaming to advance into the 16-team bracket that began play Thursday. The concludes Saturday.
The Turn tournament has an added wrinkle in that via an "Archetype Ban," with specific player archetypes banned in each three-game series.
Minnesota started the regular season at 5-1 but has struggled of late, currently standing eighth at 6-5. Friday marked just the second career meeting between the Raptors and T-Wolves. Toronto won when they met in Week 3 last season.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter