NBA 2k League
NBA 2k League, announced on February 9th, 2017, is a new member of e-sports family. It’s a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., which will feature the best 102 NBA 2k players in the world.
On May 4th it was revealed that 17 out of 30 NBA teams will have their own NBA 2k League team during the inaugural season in 2018. Which means, this will be the first official esports league operated by a professional sports league in the USA.
The NBA 2k League has made a multiyear partnership with Twitch on August 18th. This streaming deal will include up to 199 regular season games, as well as three in-season tournaments and finals. Games streamed on Twitch will also provide a commentary on the action. With such a huge partnership it seems like NBA 2K has an exciting future ahead and you can be a part of it by watching all the games on official NBA 2K League Twitch profile.
The NBA 2K League started with its premiere on Twitch and NBA TV with League Draft, which took place on April 4th at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden, NY. It was a snake draft format with a special appearance of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who announced the 1st pick, whereas NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue announced the rest. Each of the 17 teams drafted 6 players out of the best 102 NBA 2K players, one for each position. In the sixth round, they were allowed to choose any remaining players. The league itself saw its start on May 1st, 2018, when the inaugural season started.
The inaugural season will last for 17 weeks (15 regular season weeks and 2 postseason weeks). It started with a tip-off tournament on May 1st. After the tournament, the first weekly matches started on May 11th. There will be 2 additional tournaments before the playoffs on August 17th and the Finals on August 25th. All the teams will play a minimum of 19 games (14 regular season games + tournament games). For the Playoffs, the seeding will be determined by regular season standings. Top 7 teams with the best record will make the postseason along with the winner of the 3rd tournament. If the winner of the 3rd tournament is one of the top 8 teams, then we will see top 8 teams making the playoffs. Playoffs quarterfinals will be single elimination, while the semi-finals and finals will be the best of 3.
Despite the strong connection to the NBA and a partnership with the Twitch, there are some doubts about this league lasting. There are many reasons that contribute to that. It may be a poor market research, or simply boring gameplay when compared to other esports. Another thing that does not help the cause is that the “pros” we watch playing the game are not playing the same game as an average player. The NBA 2K League uses a different game, especially made for them.
If we compare it to the most popular esports games such as Dota2, CS:GO and League of Legends, NBA 2K simply does not have what it takes to compete. The issue I see in the NBA 2k is that you can not know how good an individual player is, as there is no ranked mode to show that. This is a huge part of a competitive scene of an esport, which has some kind of skill-based matchmaking that allows an individual player to see how they compare to others. In addition, it is entertaining to watch “pro” players play your favourite game, but when it comes to NBA 2K, you can not call those players “pros”, because as said before we do not know how good they actually are. It’s hard to look up to someone who has not established himself as better than the average Joe.
With that in mind, I don’t see NBA 2K League lasting for long, simply due to lack of fan base. Even now, if we look at how many people watch NBA 2K games on Twitch, it’s an embarrassing number for a game which simply did not live up to the hype. They have the finances to succeed, but as said before, there are some issues to fix to make it more appealing for the crowd to watch and participate in its future. Nonetheless, we will be providing previews for the upcoming matches until the end of the season.