The NBA and Take-Two (Makers of NBA 2K) are teaming up to change esports in a major way starting in 2018. The NBA and Take-Two have partnered to create a professional, competitive NBA eLeague.
Traditional sports games have fallen behind in the world of esports. Games like League of Legends, Pokemon, Halo, Counter-Strike and Dota2 have had been dominating competitive gaming and are already paying gamers million of dollars.
The NBA is trying to take a piece of that pie. There is so much money to be made from gaming that traditional sports need to innovate before they get left behind.
The NBA and Take-Two are trying to set the trend for these traditional sports. This bold leap could change the gaming industry like never seen before.
So what exactly will this NBA eLeague be and how will it run?
How Will it work?
The eLeague, as Adam Silver has called it, will be a professional gaming league run by the NBA and its franchises. Each NBA team will be in control of their own 2K virtual basketball team.
For example, the Chicago Bulls will have the eBulls and the team will manage its roster just as they do for the on-court basketball team. There will be general managers and a salary cap.
All 30 NBA teams will be involved and this season will mirror the real season. Gamers will be paid a salary to practice, train and compete for their respective teams and the only difference is they will be training with a controller instead of their body.
These teams will be through a real draft, similar to the traditional NBA draft. Each team will have five professional gamers on its roster. They won’t be playing with LeBron James, Steph Curry or Kevin Durant but instead they will play with their custom created avatars that they work on to improve.
One area of concern most people come up with is how can they do this if everyone is going to just be a 99 overall player who can do everything? NBA2K has already fixed this issue in their latest version of the game.
archetypes and badges
NBA 2K17 really wanted to make sure that each player had their own specialty. In previous years a player could make a point guard who could be 6-foot-7 and earn all badges to become the most unstoppable player of all-time.
There are three solutions they came up with to halt this.
The first is with archetypes. For all examples in how this works, we will stick to looking at point guards.
When you create your player you can pick a position. Once you select the position you wish to play, you must pick an archetype. The archetypes for point guard are the following: playmaker, sharpshooter, lockdown defender, shot creator and slasher.
Depending on the type of point guard you decide to become, you will have only five badges you can upgrade. That is the second part of the solution: the number of badges one can upgrade. In NBA 2K there are dozens of badges a player can get that makes them better.
One of those badges is the pickpocket badge. To unlock the pickpocket badge, a player must get a certain amount of steals within a season. The pickpocket badge makes a player more effective at stealing the ball.
As you can see in the picture with the sharpshooter, pickpocket is not one of these upgradeable badges for that archetype. What that means is that the pickpocket badge must stay at the bronze level.
If the sharpshooter archetype gamer unlocked the limitless range badge then they could upgrade it from bronze to silver then to gold. Once a player has a gold badge they can upgrade it to the hall of fame level. Hall of fame badges allow a player to be great at that skill.
By allowing gamers to only have five upgradeable badges, they have stopped people from becoming players that are great at everything and 99 overall.
The third way NBA 2K17 has made it difficult to become 99 overall is by including park reputation.
Park reputation is a tier system in which can only be aquired by playing at MyPark. There are five levels to each tier. The tiers are as follows: rookie, pro, all-star, superstar and legend.
A player can only get to 95 overall before the game will not let them upgrade anymore. To earn more upgrades, one must reach levels one, three and five of the superstar tier at MyPark. The amount of games and time it takes to reach those tiers is extremely straining and does not come easily.
These three additions have really helped NBA 2K level the playing field and made a game that requires multiple different skill sets, rather than just a bunch of players who can do all. This is something NBA teams will have to look at when constructing teams for their NBA eLeague.
2K HAS ALREADY TESTED THIS
There is a mode in NBA 2K called Pro-Am that allows all these different gamers to take their custom players play in five on five games similar to an NBA contest. These teams become really competitive and are an example of how an NBA eLeague team would look. NBA 2K have already held two major tournaments over the past two years to test how this would work in a legitimate format.
The first one was called the Road to the Finals which took place in 2016. This year NBA 2K held the All Star Tournament which would gave 250 thousand dollars to the winning team Still Trill.
Over two million people streamed the final game, according to NBA 2K, proving that there is a market for competitive traditional sports games. The tournament showed is that these skilled players are capable of drawing a lot of viewers.
There are over 110,000 teams on Xbox alone in the Pro-Am game mode. The teams and players are already around waiting to be picked up by NBA franchises.
Why This Will Change eSports
The potential of this idea is unlimited. Currently, getting the NBA to be involved is monumental for the growth of NBA 2K as an esport. The NBA is the first professional league in the United States to create their own esports league.
The success with the two tournaments that NBA 2K have already run proves that there is huge interest in this game. Eventually the NBA eLeague could expand to more teams than just 30. There could be hundreds of teams in each region of the world. Eventually there could be regional championships that lead to a world championship.
An eLeague allows people who could never play in the NBA a chance to become NBA stars. This includes people who have disabilities and are unable physically play the sport. It doesn’t matter your size, weight, or gender, anybody who is good enough on the sticks can end up being drafted to an NBA eLeague team. That is something that no other professional sport can offer.
This is just the beginning for the NBA and Take-Two. Once the money begins to flow they will realize they need to expand the field. Before you know it there will be an NBA2K Hall of Fame and a list of new NBA eChampions.