Last year's finalists will meet in the North Island's Elite 8 when Lets Play Live's NBA 2K18 1on1 NZ Championship begins on Sunday.
Following a round of online qualifiers for each island, 16 players have emerged to fight for the right to call themselves the best NBA 2K18 player in New Zealand.
The competition will run across eight weeks with eight players from each island battling it out, with the champion of each respective island meeting in the Ultimate Grand Final on September 30.
Last year's champion Shakor Paki is the No 1 seed in the North Island and will face No 8 seed Sharaz "Tyceno" Aslam this weekend.
Paki, who plays under the screen name "Te_Shakor_Paki" was a surprise winner when he upset Aslam last year but said he was confident he could repeat the dose.
"It's definitely going to be a good match-up again," Paki said.
"He will want revenge on me and would have studied my technique pretty well. I'm excited I have him as my first match, it should be a good warm up for the rest of the tournament when I win."
Paki works as a crane operator in Wellington by day and said last year's win was the highlight of his gaming career.
"I never thought that I would have made it that far in the first place. Winning something like that gave me a little bit of a purpose to myself, knowing what I'm capable of doing and being able to show my skill on TV."
The 21-year-old has been gaming since he was 4 when he started with Pokemon on his Game Boy.
When he's not working on his NBA skills, he also plays Fallout, Smite and Call of Duty.
On the flip side, Aslam said he could defy his No 8 seeding and claim revenge on Paki.
"I'm fully confident in my ability this year and think I'll win against Shakor in the first round," he said.
"I'm excited to compete again this year and I'll be playing my heart out to try and advance my way through. I've got the hardest first round in the tournament but I think I'm ready."
Despite coming into last year's NBA 2K18 event as the favourite, Aslam said it ended up being a learning opportunity.
"I thought last year's competition was fun and a good learning experience for me in the competitive scene.
"I was disappointed but I was fine, I put in a lot of work on my YouTube content since then and I've been growing at an incredible pace. I was at about 18,000 subscribers during last year's tournament and I'm at about 160,000 now."
When Aslam isn't playing NBA 2K he is busy with popular survival title Fortnite.
"I love the game, the constant updates and the competition."
There's a $15,000 prize pool on offer for the NBA 2K18 tournament, including $5,000 for first place.
In this week's other North Island match up, No 4 seed Campbell "airbrn" Knowles will play No 5 seed Zane "stonecoldkilla" Scott.
The winners of Sunday's respective matches will face off in the next round in week five of the competition.
The South Island Elite 8 will get underway next weekend.
All eight weeks of the tournament will be broadcast live on Maori Television and online on Twitch. Sunday's broadcast will start at 2.30pm.
Shakor Paki - Te_Shakor_Pakii
Paul Cooper - Zirinic_
Jahkel Mita - Notoriious_God
Campbell Knowles - airbrn
Zane Scott - stonecoldkilla
Ifraaz Ali - MyKingTetsu
Shaakur Dryden-de Thierry - KingKur23
Sharaz Aslam - Tyceno
Riley Aitken - Rizz
Sahan Petta - GhettoClownFish
Jake Downes - JD
Robert Hutcheson - Im_Hutchh
Te Awanui Waaka - minnislug
Jordan Henderson - Hendo
Regan Small - TROPIC_Superstar
Shaun Stevenson - HennyKingSteve