Take-Two and the National Basketball Association announced today the formation of the NBA 2K eLeague, a new competitive gaming league focused on the NBA 2K franchise. The trick here is the NBA 2K eLeague will be owned and operated by the NBA itself, making this the first eSports competitive scene of its type. If you're a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, you can expect to have to differentiate between LeBron's team and the eSports team of the same name.
The NBA 2K eLeague will kick off in 2018, with teams of five players each operated by the NBA franchises. These teams will play in a regular season, bracketed playoff, and championship match, using their own avatars instead of player likenesses.
"We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing eSports community," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two's competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience."
"We are proud to expand our strong relationship with the NBA and co-create the NBA 2K eLeague," said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick. "Through the NBA 2K series, which is renowned throughout the world for capturing the authenticity of the NBA and the passion of its fans, we have a proven track record of highly successful collaboration. With this new venture, Take-Two and the NBA aim to fuel the accelerating growth of eSports and take the thrill of competition to exciting new heights."
It will be interesting to see what kind of visibility this has given the full backing of the NBA. This is frankly uncharted territory. That said, I'd expect Electronic Arts to mirror this move with future announcements of NFL and NHL-baked eSports leagues. It honestly makes too much sense not to copy.