Esports is a growing and it's growing incredibly fast! Whether it's Overwatch, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Fortnite or NBA 2K, the industry is filled with video games with massive followings and now professional gamers representing teams like Lakers Gaming.
Recently, ClutchPoints was fortunate enough to get a peek into the life of a professional gamer with Mitchell “Mootyy” Franklin sitting down with Nikki Goel and I to talk about his experience playing in the NBA 2K League during The Turn tournament in Las Vegas at the HyperX Esports Arena.
The Lakers Gaming star opened up about everything that goes into being a professional gamer from describing a day in the life of a gamer to being part of the Los Angeles Lakers organization and what he sees is in store for the immediate future of the team. Franklin and his squad of Christopher “KontruL” Cantrell, Christopher “Detoxys” Doyle, Shane “Safiya4ya” Farrar, Jordan “Vert” Gates, and Kevin “Kev” Alvarado look to put Lakers Gaming on the map as the NBA 2K League embarks on a new era of esports.
Ryan Ward: Lakers Gaming has been struggling a bit this season. What do you think the team needs to do to bounce back?
Mootyy: We just got to continue to grow chemistry and execute our gameplan better. It's coming down to little things and little adjustments and trusting each other. I think it'll all come together soon. It's unlucky that we're a new expansion team and everything has been a rocky road, but I think we've gone through the lowest of lows already as a team, which a lot of these teams haven't. They're just looking good on paper having easy schedules and stuff.
We've already been through it. We've had those talks. Battling through adversity and our record doesn't really show how good of a team we actually are. The Mavs just went out and beat the Knicks. We lost by three to them. Same with the Heat the same night and we were in control of the game for three whole quarters. It's just really about either we start out bad or end badly, so we need to just find that in between and be able to close out these games.
RW: Is that a feeling out process for the whole league since everything is kind of new, especially for you guys as an expansion team?
Mootyy: With this league, it's different than a lot of traditional sport or esport. Initially, you go in, and any team can beat any team. It's how 2k is. It's a game of momentum. It's a game of runs. Who is bringing the most energy, especially in these tournaments. It's about which team is the hottest. It can be the worst team in the league, and they go against the best-undefeated team, and they can come out and flood them. It's just how the game goes, so it's been a struggle, but we're definitely starting to put things into place as cliche as it sounds. I think we're going to string together a couple of wins and hopefully make some noise and get into the playoffs.
RW: What do you think this Lakers Gaming team is best at? What is your strong point?
Mootyy: Strong point? I would say energy at times, but that could also be our weak point. I would say the same with communication.
Our communication, we fail to execute and communicate as a full five when in-game, and that's part of our downfall in games, but can also be our best points. We get out early in a game by four or 10 points or so and boom we got energy in a timeout. Everybody is up and getting hyped. We're definitely one of the loudest, but it can also be our downfall because when things start not going our way, it really goes into a downward spiral.
My job, I really try always to keep the guys' heads up and really try to keep our energy and stay optimistic no matter what the score is.
Nikki Goel: Who's the team's leader and shot-caller? The voice that gets you guys together on the comms?
Mootyy: It's definitely myself. I pride myself in being the vocal leader. You'll see in games like yesterday; I don't know if you guys were here. We played probably the worst half in 2K that we probably have this entire year and unfortunately it had to be here, but throughout we were down 20 at one point. You'll see me in timeouts in between plays beating on the desk. I'm trying to get the guys to stay positive. Just chip away point by point. We made a little run. We cut it to 10. If we would've executed better offensively, we could've easily made a huge run and won that game. It was within our reach.
I really have prided myself and will continue to do so no matter how hard times get, but I always make myself that vocal leader and will take the blame, the majority of the blame if things aren't going our way if we lose.
RW: Can you describe an average day in the life of a professional gamer?
Mootyy: I kind of varies because we obviously aren't getting up and working a nine-to-five. Gamers are up late as hell. We can be up anywhere from, I know sometimes Vert and myself, for instance, we'll go in at noon, and we won't leave the Lakers facility until 3 or 4 am. It's just a matter of when.
Typical, wake up. Me, I always got to get my shower in. I don't eat breakfast. I'm not a breakfast guy. I grab a snack or something. We'll get to the facility between 11 am to 12 pm. Get our Eat Club from the Lakers.
RW: What's Eat Club?
Mootyy: They provide lunch on Monday and Wednesdays for us. It could be anything from Chipotle to random local delis. Go get that. Eat. Sit down. The team will talk. Matt [Makovec] will come in at the Lakers practice facility. The Lakers headquarters.
We'll typically have scrimmages setup from like 12:30 to the 4:15 p.m. range against random teams. We'll be grinding throughout that entire time frame. Then 4:30 will go do a team workout at EXOS, which is no joke. It was squat day on Tuesday, and I'm still sore on Friday. No joke! It's intense. Only an hour long, but intense classes with experts. They do marine training and stuff.
We've run into Randy Gregory, the Dallas Cowboys defensive end. We've run into him the past month like almost every other day. He came to our facility and chilled so that just shows the type. People give stereotypes to gamers, and this just shows what kind of workouts we're doing in there which cool.
After that, we'll go grab a bite to eat from something healthy or Subway and bring it back to prepare for the next scrims, or we'll walk back to the hotel, and they have food at 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday as well. So we'll do that. Shower, eat and then walk back to the facility for scrims starting around 7 p.m. and end around, it's tough because the majority of teams are East Coast, so it's late as hell there, and for us it's early. So we'll try to play as late as teams would like us to or are available and then I tend to hang out and play some other games like FIFA or try to breakdown and watch film of other teams because being in the facility is kind of a comfort zone. It makes you feel good too even though you're in this little room. It makes you feel special like you're here for a reason walking into the Lakers headquarters.
RW: I saw they have those new video posters on the wall when you walk into the Lakers facility now with you guys from Lakers Gaming being part of the featured loop.
Mootyy: When I saw it, I literally stood there and watched it go through a few times, and I started taking pictures. I was standing in front for like 20 minutes thinking, ‘Damn, that's cool as hell!'
My picture will pop up one time, and Kobe Bryant will be right there. I shouldn't really be compared to these guys, but you know it's truly surreal. It makes you feel special being in that facility. It really is a huge respect sign from being a part of the Lakers and also just showing hard work pays off, and you're not just doing this for no reason.
RW: What has your experience been like working for the Lakers organization?
Mootty: It's honestly a complete 180 from last season. The organization is just incredible. They're very enthusiastic. They're very supportive of us. It's a good feeling despite our tough start, too. I think they can see the little things where we actually have a lot of talent and potential even if this year is kind of like a building year heading into next year because we are a new expansion team.
Things don't always go as planned, but you know, last season was tough, man. We were the only team in the league that had layover flights. Flights were grueling. Definitely had a lot of weight gain and was living unhealthy and I feel like I lost 12 years of my lifespan honestly from those flights alone. It's nice having direct flights now.
Just being in the L.A. weather. The L.A. vibe. I was in Cali last year in Sacramento, but Los Angeles is just a different vibe. The atmosphere. There's so much to do. I've been here like three months now, and I still haven't even done half the things I want to do like Santa Monica is beautiful. There are so many beaches around. It's not even summertime yet, and it's just really cool to be wearing and representing the Lakers brand because it is literally the most iconic in basketball. One of the most iconic period! It's a special privilege to be able to do that, and you feel that when you put it on compared to other gear and stuff.
RW: Who is the best gamer on the Lakers current roster?
Mootyy: We haven't really played many of them, but Josh Hart has a pretty big Twitch stream and is a big gamer. There are guys also like Joel Berry II [South Bay Lakers] that talks a big game and keeps saying he's going to come to the facility and thinks he can take us.
If I had a dollar for every person that said, ‘I can beat you in 2k' when they find out what you do. I'd literally be a millionaire.
RW: Do you believe that you are one of the best players in the NBA 2k League?
Mootyy: Definitely! I definitely believe I'm one of the best players in the league. Last season, I was the fourth overall pick, and it wasn't for not for a reason. I was just put in bad surroundings. I wasn't put to my best ability per se, and myself, I have a bad tendency of always putting people in front of myself, so last year I didn't even start out playing my dominant position. I really put myself in a corner on both sides of the ball and was a role player because I felt it was what was best for the team and what made people comfortable playing different positions.
This year, I'm back in my actual dominant position, and I go up against all of the best of the best centers who people consider the best players in the league…I bring more to the table than numbers. People want to look at numbers and wins and stuff. No one can match my vocal leadership or my passion and energy that I bring to a game along with my skill. So I feel that carries over a long way with also how I've just tried to keep myself in a professional spotlight and my marketability, so I feel like overall, not just including skill, I'm easily one of the best players in this league and will continue to be for years.
Follow Mootyy and Lakers Gaming on the following platforms:
Twitter: @Mootyy2k, @LakersGaming
Instagram: @BigShotMoot, @LakersGaming