NBA on TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal’s opinion on esports seems to have changed a bit in the past few years. Back in January 2016, when the Inside The NBA cast was at electronics trade show CES to promote the creation of Turner/IMG esports venture ELEAGUE, Shaq took some shots at esports and esports announcers. But since then, he’s invested in an esports team, gone inside ELEAGUE’s first featured game (Counterstrike: Global Offensive), and headlined an ELEAGUE celebrity Street Fighter V tournament for charity last summer, where he came up with a controversial win. And now, he’s back for more in the next edition of that tournament, which will air Friday on TBS.
Last year’s event ended with Shaq’s surprising victory over regular Street Fighter V player and former pro wrestler Natalie Eva Marie, thanks to coach (and regular ELEAGUE analyst) Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott taking over at an opportune time. This year’s charity tournament sees the two going head to head again, with Jimmy Rollins and Baron Davis also competing. Here’s more from Turner’s release:
Turner and IMG’s second annual ELEAGUE Street Fighter® V Invitational 2018 Celebrity Showdown will feature basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, World Series Champion Jimmy Rollins, 13-year NBA veteran Baron Davis and former professional wrestler Natalie Eva Marie in a Street Fighter® V: Arcade Edition charity tournament televised on TBS, tomorrow, Friday, June 29, at 11 p.m. ET/PT.
…The celebrities are competing to raise money for the charities of their choice with O’Neal supporting the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, Rollins playing for The Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation, Davis on behalf of The Drew League and Marie for A21.
…The single-elimination tournament consists of two first-round matches and a winner’s match (three matches total). The champion earns a majority of the prize money for their charity, with all other participants receiving a portion for their charities as well.
ELEAGUE Street Fighter® V Invitational analysts Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott, Zhi “Zhieeep” Liang Chew, Stephen “Sajam” Lyon and Reepal “Rip” Parbhoo serve as game coaches for the celebrities, with Josh Gray as the emcee.
Here’s video of Scott helping out Shaq in last year’s title match, bringing a whole new meaning to Shaq Fu:
And here’s a video preview of this year’s match, with Shaq and Marie exchanging a little trash talk:
No word on if there will be any coaching shenanigans this time around, but with Shaq, Marie, Rollins (a fellow investor with Shaq in that aforementioned esports team) and Davis, it might be an entertaining watch.