The decision by the NBA and video game developer 2K to create the NBA 2K16: Road to the Finals eSports competition is another huge stride towards a video game utopia that only existed in dreams a mere few years ago.
What was your favourite video game?
Mine was always Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) on Sony’s PlayStation. PES was more realistic than FIFA, but the downside was a lack of license, meaning Ryan Gils was running down the wing and not Ryan Giggs.
What PES did to get around that loophole was revolutionary. They allowed PES players to create their kits, emblems, logo’s, team names and player names. It seems a bind. It wasn’t. It was one of the most fun aspects of the game.
One day, I decided to create a whole league based on my local Sunday league sides. I played for a team called The Cafe Royals at the time, and I spent hours creating the right kit color and names and imagery for all of our team.
I was so proud of my creation.
My mates thought I was nuts.
Little did I know that video game manufacturers would grab the baton and run with this in a big way.
The NBA is about to enter the eSports industry. They aren’t messing about. In connection with their video game partners 2K, they are set to launch was of the most exciting eSports competitions in the world.
NBA 2K16: Road to the Finals started on Feb 15, and it will run until May 8. During that time, basketball fans across the globe will be busy creating teams, emblems, kits, logos, arenas and trying to convince four of their best buddies to get together and compete for a top prize of $250,000, and tickets for the 2016 NBA Finals.
“The popularity of competitive gaming continues to grow around the world, and NBA 2K16’s Road to the Finals is a great way to bring passionate gamers together,” Matt Holt, the NBA’s vice president of licensing, told Fortune magazine.
Only the very best will get the opportunity to compete for that sumptuous first prize. Teams will compete in as many of the 16 qualifying events as they can fit in between homework and chores, and stats from their four best winning games will be rated against the best of the rest to determine which teams will go forward to the business end of the tournament. The winners will face off in a series of single-elimination matches at the NBA Finals in June.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban invested in the eSports gambling outfit Unikrn and has hinted that he may buy a League of Legends team. Former LA Lakers star Rick Fox went one further when he did buy a League of Legends team and renamed it, Team Echo Fox. Perhaps, it’s time for those with NBA links to start looking inward at the potential on their doorstep.
This format is exhilarating. There are no limits as to where this type of interactive gaming can go. Strategic partnerships between sporting teams and leagues and video games will grow from this. According to research firm Newzoo, the number of hours spent watching FIFA 16 games on Twitch increased more than 80% in January, and those that watched NBA 2K16 more than doubled.
What video game, new or old, would you like to be turned into an eSport?