Take-Two Interactive and the National Basketball Association reveal a partnership to create an official eSports league, which will be known as NBA 2K eLeague.
As the world of eSports grows in popularity and status, the comparisons to tradition sports also get stronger and stronger. The success of Overwatch stands as a solid example of this in action, with Blizzard’s Overwatch League hoping to emulate the likes of the NFL and NBA. As it turns out, this eSports league will have direct comparisons to make, too, with the NBA now gearing up to go head-first into the world of eSports.
The NBA’s involvement in eSports will come in the form of a partnership with Take-Two Interactive. The basketball association and the publisher have officially announced a brand new eSports league, which is going to be dubbed the NBA 2K eLeague. Revealed by Take-Two, this new eSports venture is the “first official eSports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league,” and looks to even further tie together traditional sports with their eSports counterparts.
The NBA 2K eLeague is set to launch in 2018, and will contain teams that are run by the NBA franchises themselves. Apparently, teams will be composed of “five professional eSports players” who play as user-created avatars, and the founding teams will be announced in the next few months. The eLeague looks to emulate the general structure of a sports league, with a regular head-to-head season, a bracketed playoff system, and then a championship match.
“We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing eSports community,” stated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience.” Take-Two and the NBA have worked together successfully before, of course, with the huge success of the NBA 2K series of games topped off by the successful sales of NBA 2K17.
Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two, also spoke on the new eSports league. “With this new venture, Take-Two and the NBA aim to fuel the accelerating growth of eSports and take the thrill of competition to exciting new heights.” With Zelnick previously remaining coy about the company’s involvement in eSports, this certainly marks a change in attitude from earlier last year.
There has definitely been a groundswell of support for eSports from among the mainstream sports scene, as shown by Shaquille O’Neal’s League of Legends team sponsorship and comments made by Mark Cuban about eSports. With both the influence and the amount of money involved in eSports ever growing, it’s perhaps no surprise to see external parties getting involved, but it will hopefully lead to an even better experience – and scope – for those involved in the scene. Let’s just hope that the controversies of eSports do not reach new heights alongside the games themselves.
The NBA 2K eLeague is set to launch in 2018.