2018 NBA 2K League: What You Need to Know
In a joint venture between the NBA and Take Two Interactive–creators of the acclaimed NBA 2K franchise–summer 2018 will see the inaugural season of the professional NBA 2K eSports league. If you’ve yet to hear much about this intriguing video game-based league, let us get you up to speed and answer some obvious questions.
Wait, NBA 2K Has a League?
This is 100% true! Take Two Interactive (in conjunction with the National Basketball Association) has created a professional NBA 2K eSports league, complete with professional teams representing actual NBA cities as well as pro players, salaries, tournaments, and televised games. For all intents and purposes, this is a professional sports league, despite many debates on whether video games can be considered “sports” or not.
How Can This Happen?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, along with the NBA 2K developers and many others, have seen the popularity of professional video games (especially when it comes to competitive games like League of Legends and DOTA) and have decided to capitalize on the success of the 2K series, creating a brand-new eSports league affiliated with the Association.
What are the NBA 2K Teams?
There are 17 teams, each associated with a current NBA city and franchise. The teams are as follows:
Celtics Crossover Gaming – Boston
Cavs Legion GC – Cleveland
Mavs Gaming – Dallas
Pistons GT – Detroit
Warriors Gaming – Golden State
Pacers Gaming – Indiana
Grizz Gaming – Memphis
Heat Check Gaming – Miami
Bucks Gaming – Milwaukee
Knicks Gaming – New York
Magic Gaming – Orlando
76ers Gaming – Philadelphia
Blazer5 Gaming – Portland
Kings Guard Gaming – Sacramento
Raptors Uprising GC – Toronto
Jazz Gaming – Utah
Wizards District Gaming – Washington
How is the Season Formatted?
There are regular season games starting in May, along with three in-season tournaments that offer a total sum of $1,000,000 in prize money. The specific schedule details will be provided at a later date – presumably soon considering the season kicks off in just a couple of weeks.
Each of the 17 players drafted in the first round receive a six-month salary of $35,000 plus housing and food expenses, relocation expenses, health benefits, and a retirement plan. Every player drafted after the first round receive the same except the six-month salary is $32,000.
How Were Players Determined?
Over 72,000 Pro-Am players participated in the inaugural NBA 2K Draft Combine. These 72,000 were whittled down to 102 players who, just this week, were drafted by the 17 professional eSports teams. You can check out our recap here.
When Does the Season Begin?
Regular season games begin in May (exact date TBD).
How Similar is the 2K League to the Actual NBA?
In certain ways, it’s very similar. Each team has six players – the games will be 5-on-5 – and each team has a substitute that can be, of course, utilized at any time. Players are able to secure endorsement deals, sponsorships, and can continue to stream on Twitch or make videos on YouTube (many players have lucrative followings on those platforms).
The main thing that will be different from the actual NBA is that there will, under no circumstance, be trades or free agent signings (unless, for some reason, there are unforeseen issues with a 2K player, we assume).
Diving further into the actual roster, each player will play as one position – choosing a specific style/archetype outlined in 2K – but all players have preset skills and attributes to ensure that there’s an equal playing field. Unlike the regular game, there will be no disparity in player rating or player skill (at least not from a virtual standpoint).
How Can We Watch the Games?
Each week, teams will fly to the NBA 2K League Studio to face off against each other. As of now, there’s no indication on whether spectators will be able to watch these games in person at the studio – or where the studio is, for that matter. However, rest assured that you’ll be able to stream these games online. Announcements are coming soon, but we assume that Twitch will be a huge platform, as well as YouTube, and possibly even NBA TV (the channel broadcasted the draft, after all).
Stay tuned in the next couple of weeks for more information on how to check out these games, but we assume there will be in-person opportunities to see your team play. That being said, keep your eye on TBA and the SeatGeek app for ticket opportunities.
(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)