The NBA announced a new partnership with Take Two Interactive (2KSports.com) to create the NBA 2K eLeague, an NBA eSports league where the teams are owned and managed by actual NBA franchises. The world of eSports has been expanding rapidly but this is the first time a US professional sports league has entered the frey.
The NBA 2K eLeague will consist of 8-12 teams of 5 players who compete in the regular season, playoffs, and the NBA 2K eLeague Championship. Here is an excerpt from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s interview with USA Today:
“These are a completely different set of professional athletes,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told USA TODAY Sports. “There’s a global pool of gamers. They come in all ages, and sizes and ethnicities and sexes, and then we will at some point have a draft that will look somewhat similar to an NBA draft, in which the teams will select their players, and presumably on top of that they’ll have the ability to spot some great talent on their own, players who aren’t identified through sort of a league system. And that’s how we’ll form our teams.”
Longtime Take Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnik has found a huge new market for the NBA 2K franchise:
“I think it was sort of a great-minds-think-alike moment,” says Zelnik. “Our colleagues on both sides of the table said, ‘Well wouldn’t it be interesting to formalize this, and wouldn’t it be interesting to launch the first true competitive gaming league, and wouldn’t it be interesting if we co-owned that, threw our fortunes together, and made this an incredibly high priority for both of our organizations.’ And that’s where we find ourselves today.”
Several teams have expressed interest in the NBA 2K eLeague with the Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck has gone as far as saying,
“There will be an eCeltics.”
Youtube kids are making videos, there’s some talk in the gaming community, there are a few articles, but by and large it kind of looks like people aren’t quite understanding what a big deal the NBA 2K eLeague actually is…. or maybe even what it is at all.
Last night before the Game 3 of the Thunder/Rockets series I caught a segment ESPN ran on the formation of the NBA 2K eLeague and it appears they have some idea of how big this is going to be. Expect prime time promotion around NBA events and games.