The NBA 2K eLeague is taking steps toward a robust first campaign in 2018.
While NBA 2K fans and players enjoy the recently-launched release of NBA 2K18 and its All-Time rosters for all 30 NBA franchises, the groundwork for the much-anticipated NBA 2K eLeague is being laid. While many details are yet to be released, the league’s managing director Brendan Donohue is excited about the progress the league is making.
“I wouldn’t say that we have had any significant challenges,” Donohue said. “What I would say is that the NBA, having operated a successful league for 70 plus years, we are well aware of just those details that go into running a successful league and building on that model and building it up the right way for the league to be successful.”
The first step in getting a clear picture in what this league will look like is breaking down what has been revealed. The league’s first draft of the best NBA 2K players from around the world will take place in March. 85 players selected by the initial 17 franchises (five on each team) will reside in their local markets. Those franchises are:
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Dallas Mavericks
- Detroit Pistons
- Golden State Warriors
- Indiana Pacers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Miami Heat
- Milwaukee Bucks
- New York Knicks
- Orlando Magic
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Sacramento Kings
- Toronto Raptors
- Utah Jazz
- Washington Wizards
The players will live and train in their respective cities, but travel to one or two venues for their five-on-five competitions. The game they play will not be the same as the retail version of NBA 2K 18, nor will the players control the game’s version of real NBA players. Instead, the players will control custom-generated avatars. There will be no artificial intelligence in the version of the game that the league’s players will compete in. It’s also been announced that there will be tryouts for spots in the draft.
Everything else about the league, including how to enter that audition structure, has yet to be announced because people like Donohue are working to finalize the contracts with partners and sponsors not just in Canada and the United States, but around the world.
“This league is going to be a global entity,” Donohue explained. “We are going to get the best 85 players on the planet. There is an appetite for it all over the world. Basketball is a globally-recognized game. To put it in perspective, our team’s social media channels, 2/3 of fans are outside of the United States.”
What Donohue was able to share was how impressed he was with the reach of NBA 2K, and how the NBA is hoping to capitalize on the franchise’s popularity.
“I would say that what surprises people that I talk to is just the success of the game and how big it has gotten,” Donohue commented. “Whether it’s the nine million copies sold of the game or the free online version in China that has 35 million plus registered users that was updated recently. The sheer appetite for the game I think when we talk to partners or anyone is surprising people.”
As more details about the league’s sponsorships, media partnerships and competition venues are released in the coming months, they are sure to show off the wide scope that the NBA 2K eLeague will have even in its first season. From there, it’s likely to explode just as much as the retail version of the video game has.