For years, NBA teams provided their players’ likenesses to the virtual world so players could live out their basketball fantasies in the NBA2K series. Now, they’re investing in the product directly, with the Milwaukee Bucks set to join 16 other NBA teams in the league’s new 2K eSports league launching in 2018.
The league will function in the same way the NBA does, with a regular season, postseason and typical championship series. The teams involved will actually be the manager of five-man teams composed of competitive eSports players who control their own avatars in the game. I’ll be curious to see what the interest is when this launches next year, particularly given the rising prominence of eSports on mainstream networks like Turner and ESPN.
The NBA directly controlling the league seems like a shrewd business move at the moment. Some random thoughts I am looking forward to having answered in the months ahead:
- Will they mute the in-game commentary and then have new commentary laid over the actual matches by professional announcers? I’d love to see Kevin Harlan open each match by stepping into frame, muting his canned in-game recordings, and then continuing to provide live commentary on the match at hand.
- Will the players be scanning their own faces into the game? Or will they have free reign to model their players as they wish? The idea of having virtual teams where every player is modeled distinctly after their real life counterpart would probably make for an interesting proliferation of diminutive players in Isaiah Thomas’ mold.
- How will the broadcast rights work for this league, and will this have any relation to the league’s traditional revenue system? I’m guessing this wouldn’t happen because it will likely be its own entity, but if the league somehow decided that because teams were the partners in this financial venture then any revenues could somehow be shoveled back into the formula they use for BRI. Perhaps this virtual league could then have potential cap implications for the actual league. This is all pure speculation though.
- I’m looking forward to seeing if the Bucks team is just named the Milwaukee Bucks, or if they get something clever and imbued with referential video game humor. If that’s the case, I’ll be rooting for the Milwaukee Dew and Doritos.
- If John Hammond indeed steps down after this next season, will he move into a general manager role of Milwaukee’s eSports team? Who is scouting the next great 2K eSports player?