Armchair power forwards received some exciting news this week when the National Basketball Association announced a new professional eSports league for players of the popular video game series NBA 2K.
If all goes well, the NBA 2K eLeague will be the first organized video game league operated directly by a U.S. professional sports league.
For the uninitiated, the NBA 2K series is one of the most popular video game franchises in the history of the industry. In recent years, the graphics on these top-tier sports sims have developed to the point where you can mistake the game for an actual broadcast on first glance. Developed and published by video game powerhouse Take Two Interactive, the NBA 2K franchise has sold nearly 70 million games over the years.
The NBA 2K eLeague is slated to premiere in the 2018 season, with the virtual teams run by their actual real-world counterparts. The goal is to eventually have all 30 NBA teams putting digital players on the court. As such, individual NBA teams will be recruiting top-tier eSports video gamers to fill roster spots.
"We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing eSports community," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the official announcement.
The plan is to have the digital league mirror the actual league as much as possible. Each season will begin with a player combine, a draft, then an abbreviated schedule of regular-season games and playoffs. Each NBA team will field its own five-player virtual squad for the season. There's no word yet as to whether teams will be able to trade players, or maintain a virtual "bench" for additional and reserve players.