NBA and Take-Two begin esports competition around NBA 2K basketball games

The American basketball organization NBA is working with publisher Take-Two Interactive to set up an e-sports competition around the NBA 2K basketball games. The so-called NBA 2K eLeague will start in 2018, with all thirty NBA teams eventually managing their own e-sports team.

The NBA 2K eLeague is according to the NBA the first of the four major American professional sports organizations that are starting their own e-sports league. The league, which starts in 2018 and lasts about five months like the NBA, will initially have between eight and 12 teams, but eventually all 30 NBA teams will set up their own esports team. Each existing NBA team selects five gamers to represent the team. It is still unknown which NBA teams will participate right from the start of the competition.

The teams will play a total of 82 games during the regular season, followed by playoffs and a championship battle. The winner will receive $250,000 in prize money, according to NBA boss Adam Silver. Silver says he wants to continue to grow basketball and the NBA with this new e-sports competition.

The game that the NBA 2K eLeague will revolve around is likely to be NBA 2K17, a game that has sold nearly seven million copies, according to Take-Two president Strauss Zelnick. The virtual matches will be played on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. According to ESPN, the real basketball players of the NBA teams will not appear as avatars in the game; the e-athletes create their own avatars based on their own preferences.

The partnership between Take-Two and the NBA is not new. NBA 2K represents a whole series of basketball games. Since the first basketball game in 1999, a new edition has been released almost every year. The NBA and Take-Two have also previously collaborated on esports. In 2016 the NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals tournament took place, which ended in June in a championship in which people competed for 234,000 euros in prize money. The NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament was announced late last year. This e-sports tournament ends this month, with the winners taking home another 234,000 euros.