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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports

George Miller

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How the NBA is Making Waves in eSports
NBA 2K Esports League players use HyperX headsets. Photo Source: unsplash.com
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The National Basketball Association has just turned 73 years old and is one of the four major leagues for professional level sports in North America. Thanks to this age and prominence, it is often considered the world’s leading basketball league, with good reason. Whilst comprising of teams only from the United States and Canada, the NBA attracts many international players who join from every continent. In addition, the average NBA team is worth $1.9 billion, considerably more than teams in other leagues.

Expanding the Empire

The NBA is currently enacting a strategy to leverage its brand around the world, developing audiences in regions outside of the United States including the UK, Africa and China. As part of this it recently announced the launch of a NBA YouTube channel to stream games to sub-Saharan audiences. Next to this the NBA 2K League and YouTube announced that YouTube will stream live broadcasts of NBA 2K League games and distribute highlights on the official NBA 2K League YouTube Channel throughout the second season of the 21-team league.

YouTube will livestream all NBA 2K League games this season, including more than 230 regular-season, tournament and NBA 2K League Playoff and Finals games combined. All regular-season games take place at the NBA 2K League Studio Powered by Intel in Long Island City, N.Y.

The eSports Expansion

In 2017, the NBA and games developer Take-Two Interactive announced that 17 of the 30 NBA teams would be taking part in the inaugural NBA 2K eSports League. This list included big names like the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. The first of these eSports games took place in 2018, using the NBA 2K video games. Like real life games, NBA 2K eSports League games are contested between two teams of 5 players, making use of the “Pro-Am” mode found in the consumer version of NBA 2K 2018.

Just like in real life basketball, the eSports teams are generally made up of the following types of player:

  • Point guard: generally taking the on court leadership role for the team, typically having the best ball handling and passing skills to assist in creating shots
  • Shooting guard: typically the best shooter on the team, tasked with exploiting these skills, particularly when shooting from behind the three-point line
  • Small forward: often considered the most versatile position of the five, the small forward often takes on the role of the shooting guard, but is more likely to score baskets from lay-ups or slam dunks in contrast to the shooting guard’s three-point shooting abilities
  • Power forward: a versatile role, similar to the centre, which requires shooting and defence skills against all types of players
  • Centre: typically the tallest players, defending against shots and collecting rebounds.

The “eSeason”

In the real world, the NBA Championship will be decided between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors in mid June. Currently, odds comparison site Oddschecker is ranking the Raptors as favourites to take the crown. However, the NBA 2K eSports season begins in spring and finishes in summer. This timing allows the NBA to have its brand utilised for a larger portion of the year, beyond the end of the traditional basketball season.

eSports has become a multi million dollar industry.  Photo by Anthony Brolin, License

 

First Mover Advantage

The NBA’s announcement in 2017 that it would be launching the NBA 2K eSports League meant that it was the first major sports brand in the United States to enter the world of eSports. In contrast, most other eSports leagues are organised by tech companies like Intel – or games companies like Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite. Therefore, if the NBA is successful it will have several years of development to build a loyal eSports fan base, before rivals such as the National Football League or Major League Baseball join the party.

Growing Already

After a successful first year, four additional real life NBA teams will be joining the NBA 2K eSports League lineup, bringing the total number to 21. These new teams are: the Atlanta Hawks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves.The growth provides mutual benefits, since the teams will bring with them their own existing supporters who are more likely to follow their team’s eSports team, than an unknown entrant. In addition, the fans of eSports are likely to also gain a stronger interest in the real life team, buying merchandise and visiting games.

Live Streaming

Just as traditional sports leagues like the NBA have sold rights to air games on TV, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a deal to have its games streamed live over the internet. The deal with streaming platform Twitch sees all games shown live, available to its audience of 15 million daily active users. The multi year streaming deal also includes commentary and analysis, just like you would expect from traditional TV coverage of any other sport.

The NBA 2K eSports deal is not Twitch’s first with the NBA. In December 2017, the two companies signed a deal that enabled Twitch to live stream games from the NBA G League, the official minor league, with up to 6 matches each week being distributed on the platform.

Sponsorship

Just like traditional sports leagues, the NBA 2K eSports League has signed a number of major sponsorship deals with large companies. Games are played on computers provided by gaming PC brand Alienware, using powerful processing chipsets supplied by Intel. Players use HyperX sponsored headsets and Scuf Gaming branded controllers. Teams also have their own sponsors, with their logos displayed on the teams’ in-game uniforms, just like in real life.

Conclusion

The growth in eSports has been massive, with large sums of money now being invested in creating leagues with all of the hallmarks of a traditional sport. In its quest to become a global sports brand, the NBA has been able to leverage its existing assets to create a large following in eSports, almost overnight. By launching the league in 2018 with 17 existing NBA teams, the NBA 2K eSports League already had loyal fans of 17 established sports clubs who would want to support them. Thus, it has a pre-made fanbase, huge financial assets and an established brand to leverage sponsorship deals and to use in negotiations when selling streaming rights.

In addition, the NBA’s venture into eSports is a significant opportunity to expand the reach of its brand into new geographic regions, as well as to new demographics that had not previously been interested in basketball. Even if a player does not become an avid watcher of NBA games, sales of the NBA 2K video game titles are also likely to benefit from the exposure of the NBA 2K eSports League.

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eSports

Martin ‘Deficio’ Lynge is joining the Misfits Gaming Europe team as a director

George Miller

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Martin ‘Deficio’ Lynge is joining the Misfits Gaming Europe team as a director
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Misfits Gaming Europe, the European division of Misfits Gaming, has been in the need for some reorganization for quite some time. It’s no secret that the team has been looking for a new director lately and it seems that they’ve identified the right person for that position. His name is Martin ‘Deficio’ Lynge. He has been a part of the industry for quite some time and is considered one of the biggest experts of the European esports industry.

Lynge’s previous experience

Lynge, indeed, is no stranger to the esports world: he was general manager at Origen as well as a European League of Legends Championship series commentator. Basically, he has been a part of the industry for quite some time, and his knowledge can help the team grow even better than ever before.

Ben Spoont, Misfits Gaming Group Co-Founder and CEO, publicly stated his excitement for having Lynge on their team. Not only he has great management skills, which he already showcased in his previous experiences, Lynge will also bring his vision for the future of esports and a strategy to make it happen, something all esports experts and fans should watch closely. Misfits Gaming already did great hires in the US, so we expect lots of great results here too!

What will he do for Misfits Gaming Europe?

Lynge was hired as the director because he is considered the right talent to develop a solid infrastructure and because of his ability to focus on strategic growth. The company has been looking for new ways to expand in the last few years, and Lynge might be the key for that to happen. As such, he will be based in Berlin, where he can be closely in touch with the European team.

Creating the right infrastructure in Europe is something that the team have been aiming to do for quite some time and is considered critical for the growth of the entire Misfits Gaming team, not just in Europe. Based on the new director’s comments, there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. They have nothing to announce as of now, but, according to the rumors, Lynge already started working to deliver the best experiences for all users. Having someone as experienced as him is very important and he definitely has the potential to help the team quite a bit.

Conclusion

Lynge coming to Misfits Gaming Europe is a huge, amazing deal, and a great win for the company, especially at a time when the esports industry seems ready to explode, as shown by the constantly increasing number of bookmakers offering odds on esports tournaments. We expect the Misfits Gaming team to benefit quite a bit from this decision, and we are sure that we will soon start to see more and more companies trying to improve their European infrastructure. As the European esports scene is growing, many US-only teams are eyeing European talent and we are seeing them expand. This is great for the industry, and it does show that talent is indeed everywhere and there’s always the potential for a lot of benefits. We have to see how things will expand and evolve, but Misfits Gaming Europe does seem to have a very bright future with Lynge at its helm!

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eSports

Guild Esports Signs Sponsorship Deal with European Tech Firm

Niji Narayan

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Guild Esports Signs Sponsorship Deal with European Tech Firm
Reading Time: < 1 minute

 

Guild Esports, a U.K-based esports organisation co-owned by David Beckham, has signed a three-year, £3.6m sponsorship deal with a financial-technology company based in Europe. The name of the sponsor is not revealed yet.

As per the deal, the sponsor will pay a guaranteed annual fee of £1.1m in the first year, £1.2m in the second year and £1.3m in the third year, equalling a total of £3.6m guaranteed over the three-year term.

The name of Guild’s new sponsor will be unveiled at a “global event” on November 22.

“We are delighted to announce our first major sponsorship deal which will generate significant revenues for the Company. The rapidly growing mass popularity of esports is attracting considerable interest from advertisers and consumer brands, which has generated a strong pipeline of potential business for Guild,” Carleton Curtis, Executive Chairman of Guild Esports, said.

The deal will enable the sponsor to promote its brand and logo through placement on team jerseys, digital overlays on the live-streams of Guild players, as well as other marketing initiatives.

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eSports

Guild Esports Plc Enters VALORANT and Announces Full Team Line-Up

George Miller

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Guild Esports Plc Enters VALORANT and Announces Full Team Line-Up
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

Guild Esports Plc (Guild), the global esports team organisation headquartered in London, today announces its entry into Valorant, a competitive 5v5 multiplayer tactical first-person shooter, with the signing of a top-flight roster of professional players who will compete in the upcoming First Strike tournament, Riot Games’ debut esports tournament for Valorant.

Guild’s Valorant team has been acquired from the top-ranked Swedish team Bonk, one of Europe’s most successful Valorant teams. The team was carefully chosen following a rigorous selection process and is comprised of five sought-after players: Yacine Laghmari ‘Yacine’, Malkolm Rench ‘bonkar’, Leo Janneson Leo’, William Sundin ‘draken’, and Filip Gauffin ‘Goffe’. The team’s inaugural competition under the Guild banner will take place at the start of First Strike in early November.

The team has already achieved success, finishing in the top two in the recent Ignition Series and Mandatory.gg Cup tournaments and the players are excited to take the next step and emerge as champions under Guild.

Yacine is a top-tier former CS:GO player who has made waves early on in his Valorant career.

bonkar was Sweden’s first professional Valorant player. He is a former Paladins professional player and has won two Paladins World Championships. He is regarded as one of the best players in the game and is known for producing impressive results.

Leo, aged 16 is a talented emerging player known as “The Young Gun”. He has achieved professional success at a young age.

draken is a tier-one former CS:GO professional player and well known star player with a significant following.

Goffe is a former top CS:GO professional player and Valorant amateur who is widely regarded as an industry “one-to-watch” and is now ready to compete at a professional level.

The finalised Valorant roster marks Guild’s first step into hardcore PC-based esports, following its launch into the cross-platform Rocket League and EA Sports FIFA titles earlier this year.

Guild is developing a talent pipeline in the UK based on the traditional academy model which will see the most able players such as Valorant amateurs scouted by Guild’s talent scout network and coached by industry leaders in order to attain the skillset required to win and take their careers to the next level.

Valorant is a fast-growing esports title published by Riot Games, the renowned developer behind League of Legends. Valorant is followed by a large audience with recent tournaments reported to have recorded over one million viewers.

Carleton Curtis, Executive Chairman at Guild, commented: “Joining the Valorant community is a perfect step for Guild and we are delighted to expand into the new exciting and emerging esports space. Valorant is destined to become a major esport with global reach and deep fan bases and it benefits from the prestige of being developed by best-in-class publisher Riot Games. With these signings, Guild has established itself as a multi-disciplinary esports business and we are looking forward to fielding rosters in new games as we continue to scale and invest in our business utilising the war chest we raised in our IPO.

Valorant is an exciting esport and since its launch this year has already made a big impact on the competitive gaming ecosystem, winning over top pros from established games like Overwatch. We have high ambitions for our top-calibre team in the upcoming First Strike tournament. We are proud to welcome the players to our Guild family where we will coach and support them to become world champions.”

Yacine Laghmari ‘Yacine’, Professional Valorant Player at Guild, commented: “Valorant is one of the most dynamic esports out there and being in Guild’s first Valorant roster is an exciting opportunity. I’m looking forward to playing my part in the future of Guild and the team.

Guild is an organisation with big ambition that is on a path to achieve great things and I’m proud to be a part of that. I’ve always been an ambitious player and want to create a legacy that will last.

Our team has already proved itself at a top level and now the goal is to become world champions.”

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