Every weekend is filled with myriad esports events and competitions.
In League of Legends alone, there were multiple regions with regular-season play this weekend. The Call of Duty League's Atlanta FaZe hosted their first home tournament, DreamHack hosted several tournaments including a Fortnite event and the Anaheim leg of their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive circuit, and the Overwatch League put on its Washington homestand, too. The NBA 2K League also held its draft.
Here is a look back at the busy weekend and what stood out to our staff.
Winner: Brotherly love in the Call of Duty League
Prior to this year, Preston "Prestinni" Sanderson was seen a risky pick for a Call of Duty roster. In 2019, eUnited were initially criticized for keeping the SMG support player on the roster while replacing Jordan "JKap" Kaplan with Chris "Simp" Lehr. When Prestinni and his brother, Alec "Arcitys" Sanderson, won the 2019 Call of Duty World League Championship with eUnited, Prestinni had this to say regarding his own performance.
"Even for how well my teammates played, I played all right, I would say," Prestinni said. "It's always going to be overshadowed because I have three other teammates, four other teammates getting all the kills. I try to do what I can to win, and I've proven that at back-to-back events. We won. So it's proven that kills aren't everything and teammates are going to have good performances, bad performances.
"I'm just kind of that guy who sacrifices and does what needs to be done. I'm not a slayer. That's not my job to do. It feels good to prove everyone wrong, and I'm not as bad as they think I am."
Despite the proven results, though, the Call of Duty League offseason wasn't kind to Prestinni. His brother, Arcitys, joined a marquee roster in the Chicago Huntsmen, while the Florida Mutineers were one of the only teams that approached Prestinni.
Following the flurry of offseason announcements, Arcitys went on to shine as expected on the Huntsmen, but Prestinni has been playing amazingly during his short time on Florida, and this weekend, people finally started to notice.
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It takes a lot to win a weekend without taking home the trophy of an event, but that's exactly what happened when the Sanderson brothers faced off against each other for the first time ever in their Call of Duty careers. Their storyline and relationship became the highlight of the weekend. They had only split once before, during their time as amateur players. Their potential meeting in the CDL bracket came to fruition after Florida bested the London Royal Ravens and met Arcitys' Chicago Huntsmen in the semifinals.
The Huntsmen were heavy favorites due to their lineup and recent tournament win in London. But it was Prestinni and Florida who won. The once-overshadowed brother was the victor.
"Super proud of the kid," Arcitys said after the loss. "He's better than everyone thought. I knew he was good. He just needs to be around the right people, and I think he's kind of finding it. I'm super happy for him."
Arcitys said he knew that going to Chicago would mean he'd have to split with Prestinni, but living that moment and seeing his brother on the other side of the stage was "unreal."
"He got left with the underdogs, kinda," Arcitys said, "and I don't know, I don't think he deserves that, but everyone else did, so I'm super proud for him."
The Mutineers' win against Chicago might have some teams second-guessing their decisions to pass up Prestinni. Although his pool-play performances left something to be desired, Prestinni helped lead his team in its five-game series against London with a 1.1 KD, the third-highest in the lobby, according to stats provided by Atlanta FaZe analyst Austin O'Neil. Prestinni also came alive in the final map of the series against the Huntsmen with a game-high nine kills and a 1.5 KD on the decisive map.
"I had so much to prove," Prestinni said. "Not just by playing him but the entire weekend, whoever I played. Everyone has always looked at me as just the guy who sits there and collects a check, like I was irrelevant to the win in Black Ops 4 champs. So I felt like it was time for me to prove that I'm not just -- I don't need anyone to win. You give me superstars, you give me the team I have now, you give me amateurs, and I'm going to make it work."
-- Emily Rand
Runner-up: Raptors Uprising GC's draft brings together siblings
While in Call of Duty two brothers faced off, in the NBA 2K League, two reunited.
With the 10th pick in the third round of the NBA 2K League Draft on Saturday, Toronto Raptors affiliate Raptors Uprising GC drafted Jake "Legit 973" Knapp. In October, the Raptors protected Jerry "Sick x 973" Knapp from the 2K League expansion draft. The two brothers from New Jersey will now reunite in Toronto.
"I really don't have much words," Legit told NBA interviewer Autumn Johnson after he was drafted. "I'm just so blessed to be in this opportunity. I really don't know what to say. It's really such a dope opportunity. I'm so happy. I'm ready to get to work."
Sick is a veteran of the 2K League. He was the second pick in the second round of the inaugural 2K League season in 2018, where he was chosen by Cavs Legion GC. He would later be traded to the Raptors in 2019.
Legit, though, hasn't been eligible for the league. He was under the age requirement for the league until last June, when he turned 18 years old. The younger brother entered the 2020 NBA 2K League Combine last fall and became eligible on his first attempt.
"Crazy night," Sick said in a tweet after the Raptors drafted Legit. "So proud of [Jake.] I know mom was watching down tonight."
The tweet called back to a tough moment over the holiday season for both brothers. On Dec. 23, Sick and Legit's mother died unexpectedly. Sick's commitment to his family at that time and ability to help others press on resonated with Shane Talbot, the esports manager for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Raptors.
"He's got a very young daughter he's providing for, and in almost every conversation we've had, he's looking out for his brother Jake," Talbot said of Sick. "It was absolutely heartbreaking to receive word about their mom. I knew Jerry was mentally strong before that, but the way he remained composed for his family in those moments left an impression on me that I won't ever forget."
We've seen brothers compete together in esports before: Arcitys and Prestinni in Call of Duty; Christopher "Zuna" Buechter and Kenneth "Kenma" Buechter in Heroes of the Storm; and most famously, Tom "OGRE2" Ryan and Dan "OGRE1" Ryan, who won a World Cyber Games together in Halo in 2005.
Overall, the NBA 2K League Draft lacked player personality this year, but the story of Sick and Legit will be one to watch moving forward.
-- Jacob Wolf