Give Lakers Gaming Their Flowers

For the first time in Lakers History, Lakers Gaming brought a banner home—and they want to make sure everyone knows, it won’t be the last.  


“Shut up you haters, we’re on top right now. And we will be for a while.” – Lakers Gaming 


On March 16, 2024, Lakers Gaming defeated Magic Gaming to become Slam Open Champions in the first 3 vs. 3 tournament of their season. 

Now, more than a week later, amid week two of their second tournament, the Switch Open, they are still undefeated.   

Even with this success, the week of practice preceding the tournament was concerning. 

“It didn’t look, it didn’t sound good. It didn’t look good at all,” Shooting Guard, Dhwan White (ShiftyKaii) said. “But we kept working towards it, we fixed our communication, we fixed our gameplay. And then as we got closer and closer to the tournament, we realized we were getting better and better.” 

Each tournament is three weeks, and each week is considered a round. The first week is seeding games while the second and third weeks are double elimination brackets, and by the end of week three, a champion is crowned.  

In week one of the Slam Tournament, Lakers Gaming played the Warriors Gaming Squad, Blazers Gaming, Kings Guard Gaming, and Jazz Gaming. They went 4-0 and earned the top seed in the bracket for week two. They stayed undefeated through week two, beating Team Glitchy, a community (amateur) team.  


That Saturday of the following week they were in the Finals and set to play Magic Gaming. This was their first series against them, and the loser was set to move down to the loser’s bracket.  


Lakers Gaming Center Veron Coates (YooVc) said how their game plan “is to always make the other team uncomfortable.” The series went to Game 5, with Magic Gaming falling from the winner’s bracket. Magic Gaming then faced the top team in the lower bracket, beat them, and had the opportunity for redemption against Lakers Gaming.  


Give Lakers Gaming Their Flowers 

It was Lakers Gaming against Magic Gaming again in the winner’s bracket, with the Lakers up 1-0 in the double elimination round. They needed one more to take it all but lost 1-3. Now 1-1, they had to face Magic Gaming for a third time that Saturday. It was win or bust.  


Like the Lakers and ShiftyKaii, Magic Gaming’s strongest player is their guard. In an effort to disrupt everything Magic Gaming thought they knew about them, ShiftyKaii had be willing to share the ball, and his teammates YooVc and Arshia Karimi (Krazy) had to be willing and able to hit big shots. 


Wondering how that game plan panned out?  


“We swept them,” Krazy said.  


“3-0,” Guard Vincent Magnaldi added.  


“Yeaaaaah,” YooVo chimed in.  


Sweeps are rare in the 2KL because of the level of talent and the intricate details needed to secure a win: Best of 5 series. Games are to 21. Win by 2. But Lakers Gaming grabbed their first title in less than 20 minutes.  


“I knew if we were going to beat them,” ShiftyKaii explained, “We’d have to give them our all. And we did.” 


Winning this championship awarded the team $100,000 and qualified them for the Playoffs in May.  


Most of the guys were aligned on saving their portion of the money, investing it and letting it grow. But Rookie Dvnxsty has other plans, “I’m going shopping: new going out clothes, some jewelry, probably get a necklace or chain or something. 


That’s the difference between the vets and the Rookies,” he pointed out with a laugh.  


“Trell’s rookie year he bought shoes that glowed,” General Manager Matt Makovec pointed out and everyone broke out in laughter.  


“I made a lot of dumb purchases,” Trellyb said with a smirk.  


Make no mistake though, it’s not always laughing and joking in this league.  

Trash talk comes in different levels in the 2KL. Twitter trash talk is very prevalent. There’s trash talk in sub chats with no public access. Then there’s in-person game play where you’ll get a distinct advantage if you can break another player down.  

The team is used to going to Washington DC and playing in person and trash talking in person. There, things can get incredibly heated.  


“In person, it’s at its peak,” YooVc said. Charging the stage, swearing, threatening, etc. constitutes a fine. “If you say certain things, it will hit you over the head,” YooVc continued, explaining that one time in the Playoffs, 2KL officials worried he and an opponent were going to fight; he was hit with a $700 fine.  


“I like trash talking. …I like to hit them where it hurts, you know what I’m saying?” Trellyb added. 


One time Lakers Gaming was facing 76ers GC, and they knew their center was getting traded so during the game Trellyb was telling him, “You’re gone after this game. This is your last time wearing these colors.” The team explained how you get distinct advantages if you can break an opponent down and how primarily, trash talk is just in the moment. It’s to throw opponents off their game.  

 Give Lakers Gaming Their Flowers

But sometimes, as Krazy put it, “Sometimes I don’t like somebody.”  


The thing about trash talk is it only means something if you have the skills to back it up.  


Lakers Gaming is a team made up of highly intelligent players. They are dedicated to their craft; Krazy, YooVc, and ShiftyKaii play three scrims (scrimmages) together every day, solely focused on improving their shooting. Dvnxsty explained how there are ways to get better outside of merely playing. He prides himself on being a good shooter and he explained how there’s a point in the jump shot where when you release the shooting button, it’s a perfect release every time. It looks the same every time. However, the timing of the jump shot changes due to other factors including contesting, the preceding dribble move, etc. So, Dvnxsty takes a picture of the perfect jump shot to study and examines the form when it is a perfect release, giving him higher chances of replicating during game time. 


And every player on the team can identify what archetypes their opponents are. Archetypes depict the players’ play styles characterized by player behaviors. The team analyzes the statistics, patterns, and behaviors of their opponents in order to determine what each one is going to do, when, and how—and then they make high-IQ adjustments to stop them entirely.  


“The most rewarding part is waking up and getting paid to play the game every day.”   

“…it’s still hard work, I feel like people don’t think it’s hard work,” ShiftyKaii explained.  


The job takes discipline and a desire to get better. And getting better can be brutal sometimes explained Head Coach Brian “Nacho” Traynor.  The success of the team is rooted in player trust and open communication. Sometimes criticism and accountability can be ruthless, but it’s always for the betterment of the team.  


“There needs to be a tough skin. There needs to be a tough skin because there’s a common goal,” Coach Nacho said.  


This is a squad that understands that; they have that. They genuinely care about one another and put team success before individual accolades. As mentioned above, this is the point in their season where the tournaments are 3 vs. 3, 5 vs. 5 will start in May, which means two players are on the bench right now. Krazy, YooVvc, and ShiftyKaii have been in the starting lineup and the guys that played in the championship.  


But Trellyb and Dvnxsty were a part of the victory, a part of the win, their knowledge of the game, their encouragement, their energy. They all brought this ship home.   


“To me,” Dvnxsty said, “it doesn’t feel like I won because I didn’t play but everybody else won.”  


“Hey, we’re a team bro,” Trellyb declared.  


Everyone nodded.  


“Everyone’s always talking about changing the culture,” Trellyb continued, “We did that.” 


At the conclusion of the interview, the team rose from their seats and made their way to the door but paused for a moment and looked back before leaving. They had one more message to share: They’ll be back in here again, for another interview—because more content, more praise, more success is coming.  


“What we’re looking for is just to get respect as a franchise,” Makovec stated.