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NBA 2K eLeague Will See NBA Teams Participating Directly In e-Sports

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The NBA in general has lately been eyeing on the gamer demographic with various teams, investors and former players investing in e-sports. But this takes another huge step towards unifying traditional sports and e-sports.

Take Two, the parent company of 2K Games, publisher of the successful NBA 2K series, will launch a new e-sports league with direct involvement from the pro basketball association. The NBA 2K eLeague will see 8-12 participating teams all owned by current NBA franchises. Each team will be fielding five players with their own in-game avatar, rather than using the team’s virtual roster. The season will start in 2018, with the hopes of it expanding over the years to include all the current 30 franchises having their e-sport roster counterparts.

In an interview with the Associated Press, NBA commisioner Adam Silver is pretty open to trying out e-sports: “There’s going to be an opportunity for this first of a kind league to attract a group of gamers who might be playing some other game. Now, they can say `Maybe I couldn’t play for the Knicks, because I didn’t have the physical prowess to compete at that level. But I do have the mental and physical prowess to compete as an egamer for the eKnicks.”

Once launched, the 2K eLeague will be one of the few proper e-sports leagues out there, alongside Riot’s LCS and its continental counterparts as well as Blizzard’s Overwatch League, which is set to start late this year. This will be the first e-sports league to have a direct involvement with a professional sports league.

More sports organisers are taking e-sports as the next big thing. Motorsports have seen some interest recently with the Vegas eRace (though the results show that there is more work to do to make sim racing interesting to spectate to) and various football clubs buying FIFA gamers (and for some clubs, buying other squads for different games). We will see how regular sports goers, and e-sports goers, feel as the lines between the two gets blurrier by the day.