In a surprise move, the National Basketball Association and 2K Sports have teamed up for an official eSports league.
The NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software announced their plans to launch the NBA 2K eLeague, A professional gaming league fully backed by the NBA. The league will be the first of its kind in the United States.
Scheduled to start in 2018, the tournament will be run by 8-12 real NBA franchises. Those teams are expected to be announced in the next few months. Each team will have five professional eSports players.
The NBA has plans for all 30 franchises to eventually have their own league.
Gamers will be chosen through a recruiting process by NBA teams and Take-Two. They’ll go through a virtual version of a combine and be selected in a draft, which NBA commissioner Adam Silver says will either be televised or streamed online.
The competition will run in a similar fashion to American sports leagues. There will be head-to-head competition with a regular season, playoffs and a championship match-up. The league will most likely will take place at an NBA arena, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
The idea to create the video game league has come off the success of the ‘NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals’ video game, released before the NBA championship last year. This was a competition that gave the winners over $250,000
EA Sports’ Madden, FIFA, NHL and UFC games have tried to get into the eSports competitions with varying degrees, but the EA has never been able to make a move of this magnitude. Having the NBA teams run the eSports teams gives the league a vested interest in the success of this competition.
This will likely lead to an exposure of NBA 2K’s eSports presence that would have been difficult to attain for the publisher on its own. If this proves to be successful then it may see NBA 2K in a position to rival iconic eSports titles such as Starcraft, Call of Duty, Counter Strike and Defence of the Ancients in popularity.
Now let’s hope the NBN can get to a point in the next 12 months where we may see a few Australian players named in the competition.