On Wednesday, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (maker of the NBA 2K videogame series) announced plans to launch the NBA 2K eLeague, a new, professional competitive gaming league that will bring together the best NBA 2K video game players in the world. This marks the first official eSports league operated by a U.S. professional sports league.
— NBA (@NBA) February 9, 2017
— NBA 2K 2K17 (@NBA2K) February 9, 2017
Set to debut in 2018, the groundbreaking NBA 2K eLeague will consist of teams operated by actual NBA franchises. The founding teams, each composed of five professional eSports players, will be announced in the coming months. The NBA 2K eLeague will follow a professional sports league format: competing head-to-head throughout a regular season, participating in a bracketed playoff system, and concluding with a championship matchup.
“The popularity of NBA 2K with the young and growing eSports community provides a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the gaming community,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience.”
“We are proud to expand our highly successful relationship with the NBA and co-create the NBA 2K eLeague,” said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “The NBA 2K series is renowned throughout the world for capturing the authenticity of the NBA and the passion of its fans. eSports is a growing segment of our industry, and we will aim to take the thrill of competition to exciting new heights through our partnership with the NBA.”
The NBA and Take-Two have built a long-standing relationship dating back to 1999, having sold-in over 68 million units of the NBA 2K series worldwide. The most recent release, NBA 2K17, is the highest-rated annual sports game of the current console generation and the highest-rated title in the history of the NBA 2K series. To date, NBA 2K17 has sold-in nearly 7 million units, and is poised to become 2K’s highest-selling sports title ever.
In December, 2K launched its second official eSports competition, NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament, which offers teams the chance at a $250,000 grand prize and a trip to NBA All-Star 2017. The 5-on-5 tournament will culminate on Feb. 17 in New Orleans.
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