Teaming up with video game publisher Take-Two Interactive, The National Basketball Association (NBA) has finally created an e-sport league in the United States.
Eventually, each one of the 30 NBA teams is expected to have an e-sports division, though initially only a few will be chosen, reports Sporting News.
Some Premier League clubs in England such as Manchester City and West Ham are among the teams have already signed up e-sport players.
Also known as the NBA 2K ELeague, the Basketball e-league is expected to start playing in 2018. Each team will comprise of 5 players and they are expected to play a five-month season that mirrors the real NBA season.
Those who will be chosen as team members will earn salaries and they will play the game as avatars that they create for themselves as opposed to representing actual players.
Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner said, “It is our belief that we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young together with the growing e-sports community.”
He also added that they look forward to combine their best –in- class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming specialists in order to create what he termed as a brand new league experience.
According to the Chairman of Take –Two, Strauss Zelnick, they now have a proven track record of highly successful collaboration through the NBA 2K series, which he said to be renowned worldwide for capturing the authenticity of the NBA and the passion of both of its fan and players.
“With new ventures, “added Zelnick, “The main aim of Take- Two and the NBA is to fuel up the accelerating e-sports growth and take the thrill of competitions to exciting new heights.”
The growing importance of e-sport is also recognized by the United Kingdom.
The first club in the UK to sign its player as a professional video game competitor was West Ham. This took place in May 2016 when the club signed Sean Allen to represent the club at Fifa video game tournaments.
A director at research firm Gartner, Brian Blau has some thoughts that in the next few years, e-sports could experience a rapid growth.
Brian said, “Some estimates suggest that in the next five years, e-sport could become bigger that real sport when it comes to money and fans generation.”
“It is another avenue of interaction for gamers, that is feeding off the interest in watching others play games,” added Brian.