Written By: Matthew Rondina
WGN was able to catch up with NBA 2K esports athlete Yusuf Abdulla at the Bell Fibe House in Toronto. Abdulla shared his thoughts on the Raptors Uprising’s inaugural season in the 2K league and what’s to come next season with NBA 2K19.
What are your thoughts on the Raptors Uprising’s season?
Abdulla: “We had a lot of ups and downs, we started 1-5 with three overtime loses, but I wasn’t phased by it. We won seven out of eight later in the season, so it shows that we pulled through the adversity.
We won seven out of eight knowing that if we lose one more game we’re eliminated from the playoffs, so when it came down to it we performed and we made the playoffs. We got the fourth seed and that’s a great accomplishment for the first season.
The goal is to win a championship and that’s the downside to our story. I wish we’d won the championship, that’s the main goal for me and we failed at it, but next year that’s my goal. To win the championship.”
Being a hometown Toronto guy, did you find that you were showing the team around a lot more? How did it feel to rep Toronto and ultimately Canada?
Abdulla: “Off the court I was more the tour guide type of guy. I showed them around, they went to my barber shop. I showed them a couple things about Canada. What Canadians do, like eating maple syrup, and it’s little things like that and we went to Wonderland and I showed them a couple more spots. Nice spots to eat downtown.
On the court definitely, you’re playing with a chip on your shoulder because you’re representing not only Toronto, but the whole nation. I had guys from Calgary messaging me on Instagram saying, ‘hey man, go out there, represent Canada for us.’ That’s motivational, so definitely. It’s a great, it’s a great feeling. Trust me.”
What are some of your goals for next season? It’s a little bit uncertain right now with the looming expansion draft but what will you be focusing on?
Abdulla: “It’s uncertain about the details going on during the off-season but definitely the goal is to come back. If that’s not possible, then a team that really believes in my skill set. Getting picked by an organization means a lot because not only that they believe in you but they will allow you to represent the organization which means a lot.
Not a lot of NBA teams are willing to let people represent their organization, so I’d be humbled by any team that picked me up.”
What are your plans for the off-season in terms of training regimen? What will you start working on in NBA 2K19 to be ready for next season?
Abdulla: “In 2K19 I’m definitely going to work on passing. I felt like passing was my weakness this year. I’m going to work on that in 2K19, I feel like I’ll put in 2-3 hours more than usual. I’ll be going back to school also, doing Criminology so I’m gonna have to mix those two up. It’s my last year so I’m gonna have to focus on getting good grades.
And I still gotta perform on the court definitely, so I know how it is to be an athlete and being in school and stuff, so its tough. Balancing it for sure, those are my main goals right now.”
In terms of NBA 2K19 mechanics, they’ve re-worked the shooting, and layups. What are some of the newer features that you think will impact the pro scene?
Abdulla: “I’ve been definitely following what Mike Wang was saying. He’s a game developer for 2K. He’s in charge of the gameplay. He said the rebounding would be very, very important next year. The defence has been re-worked. The games are going to be a lot more low scoring now.
They have meters for layups and post hooks, a lot of people are going to be shooting from the posts and doing slashing to the layups and trying to get greens on the layup. Lock downs could be able to shoot next year. So that’s gonna be a big factor. Rebounding got re-worked so I think that’s a big plus for the league next year.
Also, there’s 10 more post scoring moves they added. 10, and that’s a lot. The first month everyone tries trial and error. Everyone does the trial and error stuff until someone finds the right build. Then they start playing pro-am competitively and go at each other and see who’s the best.”
It sounds like, year to year it’s one of those things where the developers changing something within the game, totally changes your approach to it. How do you adjust?
Definitely, yeah. I feel like whoever adjusts to the game earliest will become the best because you gotta find the right meta. Every year is different. In 2K17 glass cleaners were the center build, this year it was all stretches, next year who knows what it’s gonna be.
It’s all about knowing what’s best for the team, and what’s best for the meta that’s going to be used in the pro-am.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, any shout outs you want to give as you sign off for the season?
Abdulla: “Shout out to World Gaming, MLSE, and the guys working behind the scenes at MLSE for sure. Shout out to the team Uprising, Coach Ogi, to Shane, and the road trip guys.
A special thanks to Yusuf, and the Raptors Uprising for taking the time to chat and open up their training grounds at the Bell Fibe House. Be sure to follow the Raptors Uprising on twitter, instagram and twitch for the latest.
About the Author: Matthew Rondina
Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. Follow Matthew’s gaming adventures on twitter and join in on the fun!