leaps on esports bandwagon with new league
Send a link to a friend
[March 23, 2018]
By Solomon Wariso
LONDON (Reuters) - The inexorable
advance of esports will break new ground next month when the NBA
becomes the first American professional sports organization to
operate an esports league.
Seventeen of the 30 NBA franchises have confirmed they will own NBA
2K League teams and the Draft Pick takes place in New York on April
To be eligible for consideration for the new league, which will
provide $1 million in prize money, players must be over 18 and have
purchased a copy of the game for their Xbox or Playstation.
They also need to have graduated from high school and have won 50
games in the Pro-Am mode before January this year. Of the tens of
thousands who participated, the top 102 ranked players will take
part to the opening round of games in May.
The financial package of the NBA 2K League indicates how seriously
it is being taken - first-round picks will pocket $35,000 for a
six-month contract while other players will be paid $32,000 basic.
Like their real-world counterparts, the players will be allowed to
sign endorsement deals and will receive paid housing and relocation
expenses. Every gamer will also get medical insurance and a
retirement plan along with travel and food costs.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has kept one eye on online gaming with
good reason - there are an estimated 130 million competitive gamers
who also watch gaming online, and esports is a huge growth market
currently worth one billion dollars a year globally.
Lucrative tournaments are springing up across the world and
professional teams compete for huge prize money in front of millions
of mainly young viewers online.
“We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly
special for our fans and the young and growing esports community,”
Nicola Piggott, co-founder of esports communications consultancy The
Story Mob, told Reuters the NBA/NBA 2K partnership is a logical step
for sports teams.
“Esports has so much to offer regular sport, with its intense
tribalism, hyper-connected fanbase and the overlap between the two,
so this makes a lot of sense," she said.
"It also gives the NBA the potential to extend their brand to a
completely new global audience. It really is a win-win for all
[to top of second column]
LOC (L) plays during the Tekken 7 top 8 pool play at Esports Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
The NBA initiative has been the catalyst for other sports to join
the esports bandwagon.
World soccer's governing body FIFA has linked up with long-time
licensing partner EA Sports to launch FIFA Ultimate Team, which
morphed into the FIFA 18 Global Series and will culminate with the
FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 Grand Final in August.
Other American sporting organizations have since announced the
formation of online tournaments they are not only endorsing but are
working on with software companies.
Major League Soccer (MLS) launched the eMLS Cup in January and the
National Hockey League has revealed plans for its NHL Gaming World
Championship, a global ice hockey competition that will stage
matches in the U.S., Canada and Europe before the final on June 19
in Las Vegas.
Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), the internet and
interactive division of baseball, has been described by Forbes
Magazine as "the biggest media company you’ve never heard of",
generating over $1 billion revenue in 2017.
It is developing its own videogame series, R.B.I 18, and is deciding
when to make its move, hoping to cash in as fans flock in thousands
to watch the first generation of eSportsstars battle it out on huge
The world’s first purpose-built esports stadium has opened in
southwestern China and others are planned for the U.S. this year.
The most watched esports event last year drew in 80 million unique
viewers and records are set to be smashed in 2018 with NBC Sports,
ESPN, Viasat, Sportnet, Facebook, Twitch and YouTube all set to
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
[© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2018 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.