To anyone who ever dreamed they could compete with the pros who make up the NBA 2K League, your chance is here.
Among the many innovations ahead of the league’s fifth year in 2022 is the creation of 3-on-3 tournaments (sponsored by cryptocurrency platform Coinbase). To earn a spot in the group stage, amateur teams can participate in qualifying events.
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“What we realized, in listening to the 2K player community, is there is a massive number of players playing 3v3 in the park that we weren’t really catering to,” 2K league president Brendan Donohue told USA TODAY Sports. “So I believe what’s going be great to watch is a completely new community that’s just starting to enter the league.
The 2K League will shift from a normal “regular season” and primarily focus on tournaments (and qualifying events for those tournaments), a differentiator esports at large has tried to capitalize on compared to traditional sports, which cannot afford to schedule high-stakes tournaments year round.
The 5-on-5 model for the league’s 24 teams will continue and will determine postseason qualification. The season will see three 3v3 tournaments, which take place from April through August. These games are available on YouTube and Twitch in America.
That means the best players are going to have to excel in both formats, Donohue said. They will need to show the average Joe that they are professionals by proving to them that they can handle any challenge.
“Now we can answer that question,” Donohue said. “We believe this will be very popular with the playerbase.”
The league’s total prize money was $1.5million last year, but it is the “by far” largest pot in league history, Donohue stated. However, the final financials have not yet been determined. There are separate prize pools for different tournament formats.
Donohue expects 2K teams attached to NBA franchises (Knicks Gaming, etc.) They will be more successful in their local markets. Engaging with the wider player base via innovations like the 3v3 tournaments are the first step to becoming more integrated into the “retail experience”, giving players the opportunity to unlock apparel (or any other product) within the game.
That shouldn’t be much of a problem. According to Donohue, the average fan of the 2K League plays 30 hours of video games per week. He said that It’s a very engaged audience.
Donohue hopes that 3-on-3 tournaments will further integrate the league and “influencer culture”, so that those who aren’t fully committed to 2K play can still compete in amateur tournaments.
The 2K League played the majority of last season online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but hosted playoffs and finals in-person in Dallas and first in-person All-Star Game in New York after the season.
That experience will influence how the league conducts the 2022 calendar.
” I think we’ll continue to carry the hybrid model but it’s going be more heavily in-person where it will be an excellent mix of both. But our greatest moments of the year in person will be in-person,” Donohue stated.
The league stated that last year’s Finals attracted more than 1.2million viewers on Twitch.
And with the new tournament-focused format, the league is hoping to attract even more attention in 2022.
“We wanted the same amount of games,” Donohue stated, “but make these games more important.” “
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.