Most of us have dreamed of playing in the NBA; we just don’t have the talent to do so. But if you’re a skilled enough gamer, you could represent your favorite NBA team in a new eSports league being launched by the NBA itself.
The NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software — the company behind the “2K” games — announced Thursday that they’re forming a new “NBA 2K” eLeague that will give gamers the chance to represent real NBA teams, The Associated Press reports. It will be the first eLeague operated by one of the U.S.’s four major pro sports leagues. And as great as the news is for gamers, it also could be a great thing for the NBA.
“The large part of my mission is to grow the game of basketball,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press. “There’s going to be an opportunity for this first of a kind league to attract a group of gamers who might be playing some other game. Now, they can say ‘Maybe I couldn’t play for the Knicks, because I didn’t have the physical prowess to compete at that level. But I do have the mental and physical prowess to compete as an egamer for the eKnicks.'”
The new eLeague will debut in 2018, and will feature roughly half of the NBA’s franchises at first, with all 30 teams eventually being represented. But if you want to win a championship for the eCeltics, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Gamers must endure a recruiting process conducted by NBA teams and Take-Two that includes a virtual combine and eventually a draft, which Silver says will be either streamed online or televised. As is the case in real life, the recruitment is entirely subjective, as NBA teams will select five gamers to represent them.
Once selected, the teams will play in a regular season that culminates in a a playoff. The final teams will compete for a championship that Silver indicates could take place at an actual NBA arena.
The commitment to having the eLeague so closely mirror the process of the NBA should go a long way toward eliminating the inherent feeling of fantasy.
“We want to make this as real as possible,” Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, said via The Associated Press.
Zelnick also said that a cash prize will be awarded to the winner, and that it will be similar to the $250,000 grand prizes awarded in past NBA 2K tournaments.
Thumbnail photo via Take-Two Interactive