A lot of people are getting interested in the new NBA 2K eLeague, due to start in 2018. Last week, Forbes contributor Brian Mazique had a chance to talk with Brendan Donohue, the Managing Director for the league.
“We’re gonna start the league in 2018,” Donohue confirmed to Mazique. “We got 17 teams and we’re ecstatic as we thought we’d start with 12.”
Donohue went on explaining also that the eLeague already has expansion plans. “We’re getting emails even as recently as yesterday,” the Managing Director continued, “with other teams who are interested in joining in future seasons. But we expect it to expand pretty quickly.” That is definitely good news for the future of the eSports. Moreover, Donohue also said that the logos “and those types of things” will be released very soon.
“There are several steps to do,” Donohue explained. “The tryouts will start in February of 2018, we’re then looking to have the draft in mid-March. We’re hoping to have players encamped in one of the seventeen markets in the second week of April, and the season itself would kick-off in May.”
Mazique asked how the teams were selected, if it was a bid or just a first-come, first-serve basis. “Several of our owners are already involved in other eSports leagues, so as we’re now investing in eSports, they saw the opportunity and it was logical for us to go on that way as we did with 17.”
Naturally, one of the most intriguing parts regards the player selection, and how the league will mimic the real-life NBA counterpart.
According to Donohue, players need to really work hard on their game. “Players should be going hard in My Career or My Player to upgrade their attributes and get them up to a certain level.” A good effort will be done to give players a level playing field. “There will be avatars that player will be controlling, as every player will bring their player, there won’t be stuff like LeBron vs Steph going on.”
Donohue also shared some information on the league’s structure. “We’ll have 17 teams [in the first season], and we’ll have 16 playoffs like in the real NBA. Some of the details are still a bit on TBD, as we’re still on discussion, but one thing I can tell you though is the season will start in May, and will run through August, roughly the third week of August. It will be a combination of regular season games and tournaments and certainly we’re going to have the playoffs the last two weeks [of the season].”
The league is certainly serious about the different aspects of being a 2K athlete, as described by Donohue while discussing the potential day of a player of the new 2K league. “Let’s say that you’re drafted by Sacramento or by New York you would spend the week practicing with your team, playing in your in your gaming house. Your practice house in Sacramento, and the great thing about that is that you’ll have access to King’s facilities, or maybe you can have access to NBA facilities that the real NBA players using. That’s one of the many things we’re bringing to the table. NBA teams have incredible facilities and support and so I would expect our athletes to be treated incredibly well.”
The league has serious plans for game nights as well. “On game nights, we’re actually going to fly the players into a central studio or two. Maybe we’ll have an East Coast studio and a West Coast studio, and maybe we’ll have one central studio where we’re gonna host all regular-season or tournament games.”
Another thing that people is really interested in is players’ salaries. “That’s a thing we haven’t finalized yet,” 2K League Managing Director Donohue admitted. “It’s gonna be a competitive salary we’re gonna offer access to housing provided by their team and certainly the players will potentially have access to things like their NBA team facilities.” Donohue also added that they are exploring the possibility to have endorsements and exclusive items to be used by their virtual counterpart during the game nights. Another thing that will be explored is the possibility to share league and team’s sponsors to improve the product’s revenue and, ultimately, the status and the salary of the players. Moreover, players should also be able to capitalize on their own as real-life athletes do. To keep the high standards, Donohue also said that the league will expect their players to hold themselves to a high standard and that there will be guidelines to follow as the players aren’t representing themselves only, but also the league’s, NBA’s and 2K’s brand.
Here you can follow the entire interview: