17 NBA Teams to Take Part in Inaugural NBA 2K esports League in 2018
Last week, the NBA announced which NBA teams will be participating in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K esports league (official name TBD). Teams include:
- 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 NBA also named Brendan Donohue, who spent the last 8 years working in the Team Marketing and Business Operations at the NBA, as the Managing Director of the league.
Initial press releases estimated 8-12 teams would take part in the inaugural season so the fact the NBA was able to get 17 teams shows there is a true interest from a majority of the league in the burgeoning esports scene. The owners understand that while these 2K teams may not be the best short-term financial investments, they have a huge potential upside while giving their team a platform to engage younger demographics that are increasingly hard to reach through traditional distribution channels. While the NBA has been able to sustain their median viewer age at 37, the MLB and the NFL have seen their median ages rise to 53 and 47, an alarming statistic that threatens the long term viability of each sport.
Despite this information, many of the crucial aspects of the league are not yet known, leaving many professional 2K players in limbo. Remaining questions
- How much will players be paid?
- Will players travel from city to city like their NBA counterparts? Or will the league be based in one city?
- What sponsorship assets will the league retain and which will be left to players to negotiate? (think team jerseys vs. shoes)
- Will there be a preferred console? Is this something the league will sell?
Regardless, I believe this league has immense potential as the NBA has an infinite number of integration opportunities to introduce their traditional fans to the competitive gaming scene. The NBA team association will offer these esports teams a built-in regional audience that will also appeal to brands that are looking to geo-target campaigns.
Supercell Announces $1 Million USD Global Clash Royale Tournament
Last week, Supercell announced the launch of the Crown Championship, a massive esports competition for Clash Royale that will award $1 Million USD in prize money in its first year. The Crown Championship will begin with open tournaments in every region, narrow to regional bracket play, and ultimately culminate in a world championship. Open qualification begins on May 11.
This could be the first major step toward a truly successful mobile esport. According to Newzoo’s 2016 report, mobile gaming has already outstripped both PC and console gaming in terms of revenue generation. This gap is likely to only get larger. Mobile gaming is simply more accessible—while not everyone considers themselves a gamer, the reality is that smartphones are fundamentally changing the gaming landscape as everyone has the potential to play compelling games with a device they carry with them at all times.
While games such have Vainglory have shown the potential for mobile games to capitalize on this trend and become successful esports, they have yet to garner sufficient player bases or spectators to be a meaningful challenger for tier one PC or console titles. Clash Royale is poised to break through that glass ceiling. The game is unbelievably popular and backed by mobile publishing giant, Supercell. Early competitive Clash Royale events have exceeded 100,000 concurrent viewers and these events have been limited in terms of scope, production, and advertising. The Crown Championship marks a meaningful shift in the way Supercell has handled esports to date. For the first time, it appears they’re ready to invest in esports. The sky really is the limit here.
New Mid-Season Invitational Format May Contribute to Player Burnout
Team SoloMid LoL coach, Parth “Parth” Naidu, wants his team to have more time between the conclusion of the Mid-Season Invitational and the beginning of the Summer Split. During a press conference after their Spring Split championship victory, Parth was asked by Slingshot Esports’ Andrew Kim about the short break. MSI play-in stage begins one week after the conclusion of the NA LCS finals on April 28th and will conclude on May 20th, with the NA LCS Summer Split kicking off on June 3, meaning there are just 13 days between the finals and the beginning of seasonal play.
The Mid-Season Invitational was extended this year to include teams from additional countries. This year, 13 teams from different regions are competing compared to the 6 in previous years. Adding in all these teams in requires the event to run 10 days longer as well. CLG competed at MSI in the previous year and said they were severely disadvantaged going into the Summer Split because there was no time to rest.
The format is troubling because the winners of the Spring Split should not feel additional stress for having to attend MSI. The lack of time in between events creates a difficult decision for the attending teams to either rest and fall behind in practice, or to go into summer without a break.
Continuing to push players to compete more and more often also contributes heavily into player burnout. TSM member Doublelift had dropped out of professional play for Spring split for this reason. He claimed that on average the team would have one day off a month and that he didn’t know what it was like to have a normal life outside of the game. Other esports scenes such as CS:GO and Super Smash Bros. have felt that the tournament events have become oversaturated and gives players no time to rest. As esports continues to grow, it will be important for sponsors and event organizers to consider the health of the players if they want to maximize the length of their careers.