Last year, the NBA announced that 17 of its teams would participate in the inaugural NBA 2K League, to begin this year. It was an impressive buy-in for the largely unprecedented concept of a gaming league owned by a professional sports league.
But in case that participation wasn’t indication enough that the NBA is fully committed to making the 2K League work, Wednesday offered more evidence. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, NBA TV will broadcast the 2K Draft from Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver announcing the first gamer selected.
JUST IN: All six rounds of the NBA2K Draft today, which will see 17 NBA teams draft six gamers for their esports team rosters, will be broadcast on NBATV and on Twitch. Draft from Madison Square Garden begins at 1pm ET. Adam Silver will announce the first gamer picked.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 4, 2018
Here’s how this will work: The 17 teams in the 2K League, all affiliated with NBA franchises, will take turns selecting six gamers apiece (one for each position in a basketball lineup, plus a wild card) from a pool of 102 players. That group has been narrowed down from 72,000 through a qualifying round, a combine and one-on-one interviews.
Silver will announce the first pick, according to ESPN, with NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue announcing subsequent selections.
Depending on your exposure to esports, the idea of NBA TV airing the 2K League draft is either perfectly sensible or really, really confusing. But as jarring as a video-game draft may sound to old-school sports fans, it’s indicative of the modern world, in which League of Legends out-draws the NBA Finals.
Professional gaming has become a massive industry, and content-starved TV networks are anxious to capitalize on its growing popularity. That’s why ESPN, Turner Sports, NBCSN, NFL Network, Big Ten Network and more have all dabbled in esports over the past few years and why you can expect many other sports networks (and sports leagues) to follow.
The NBA 2K League draft begins at 1 p.m. ET., with Mavs Gaming holding the first pick. The league itself will run from May to August, according to its website.