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#NBA launches own #Esports league as competitive gaming explodes $GMBL

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 1:18 PM on Thursday, October 26th, 2017


  • Gamers are practising for hours on end with hopes of being drafted into the NBA 2K League, which could catapult players into a lucrative career that comes with some of the same perks enjoyed by real-life basketball stars
16 minutes ago October 25, 2017

At home, in the basketball hotbed of Cleveland, Artreyo Boyd is grinding every day.

His focus is sharp. The game is all that matters. Each day, from morning through late night, he fine tunes his play making, boosts his reputation and dominates the competition, eagerly awaiting the draft in 2018.

He has lived modestly in his 23 years and said the game kept him off the streets. He’s a die-hard Cavaliers fan, but he’d love to live in any NBA city, walk the halls of its team’s facilities and sign autographs for fans. The wait is excruciating.

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As the NBA season gets under way, another group of players prepares for a different opportunity with the league. They hope to be among 85 “athletes” drafted into the new NBA 2K league to play a basketball video game professionally, paid by actual NBA teams and awarded some of the same perks enjoyed by stars such as LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan.

“I imagine we will have something like a professional athlete’s life – meeting fans, playing in front of crowds, working hard all day on our games, getting endorsement opportunities,” said Boyd, better known by his player name, “Dimez,” in NBA 2K and widely considered one of the world’s best. “I hear the NBA’s goal is to turn us into famous people. We have to be marketable and professional.”

Video games have been popular for decades, but competitive gaming is now a burgeoning spectator sport. The NBA will be the first North American professional sports league to operate its own eSports league, eager to stake out territory in this exploding industry.

The breakdown

Each franchise will draft five of the world’s best 2K gamers, move them to its city and house them. While the NBA says the salaries have yet to be finalized, MLSE projected the gamers would be paid between $50,000 and $70,000 (U.S.), plus benefits. The players will also have access to their NBA team’s facilities, all the muscle of its marketing department, and opportunities to make additional earnings through sponsorship or endorsements.

The season will run from May to August. NBA players’ likenesses won’t be used in the 2K League. Instead, the five gamers on each NBA 2K team will each create unique avatars in the remarkably life-like game, and play in pro-am mode against other clubs’ fivesomes. The 2K league will have one or two central locations – production studios – to which all teams will be flown to play the games.

There will be a regular-season schedule, followed by playoffs, culminating in a championship. Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, even joked that it would be cool to see his avatar award the trophy (the NBA says that may not be exactly how it happens though. So fans will have to wait and see.)

Signalling their long-term interest in eSports ventures, many of the 17 NBA teams that will have eLeague squads in the inaugural 2K season have recently hired experts from the gaming community as directors of eSports business.

“This is going to be another way to engage with our fans,” said Brendan Donohue, the NBA’s manager of the 2K league. “Two-thirds of our fans on social media are outside North America, and one-quarter of 2K games are sold outside the continent. We have an online version of the game being played on Tencent in China that has 34 million registered users. It’s difficult for those fans to attend an NBA game, so this is another way to reach them. It definitely has a global appetite.”


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