We all know just how big eSports is becoming. Major tournaments take place in huge arenas across the world every year, and if the prize pools and fan size are anything to go by, then things show absolutely no sign of slowing down. When it was announced that the NBA was partnering with Take-Two Interactive Software to deliver an eSports league based on the hugely popular game NBA 2K18, interest was certainly at an all-time high for what exactly we’d be getting. However, we’re much more in the know now as for what this eSports league is all about.
The league will work in a fairly similar way to how the actual NBA functions: teams will draft talented players (aged 18 or older), you’ll move to where that team is based, and then take part in both home and away games. Each team will consist of five players who’ll compete in a regular season, playoffs, and also a championship match. Of course, you’ll likely earn a pretty penny for being drafted by a team.
The league is expected to begin in May 2018, with try-outs starting as early as January. If you think you’re pretty good at NBA 2K18, you better check yourself. You’ll have to be incredibly good. Only the ones who play non-stop are likely to be drafted, which will be in March. Only 17 official NBA teams actually signed up for the league (from a total of 30), including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks. Oh, and you won’t be controlling the league’s best players in virtual form, as every gamer will have their own profile and essentially play as themselves.
While the NBA league feels somewhat different to the ‘clan’ mentality of other popular eSports games like CS:GO and League of Legends – whereby players essentially create their own teams (a.k.a. clans) from scratch, compete in tournaments when they can, and attempt to build and retain a following via a website – it looks to be as popular and profitable as its counterparts. Games will likely be streamed both online and on TV, and the championship match could well take part in an actual NBA arena.
Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Monumental Sports & Entertainment, said that the league will provide state-of-the-art provisions to the gamers. “We’re going to treat these players just like we would any of our other players,” he said. “We’ll treat them as athletes. We’ll treat them with the respect that they deserve. We’ll give them access to our facilities and trainers. We want them to be comfortable, we want them to be healthy, we want them to be professionals so that they can play at the very top skill level.”
This isn’t actually the first time that the NBA has dabbled with new forms of trending tech, as it also broadcasts games in virtual reality. Where the upcoming eSports league can go in May remains to be seen, but it’s definitely going to be a very publicized time for the chosen gamers.