According to NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue, many established esports organisations have shown interest in the National Basketball Association's esports property, suggesting the basketball esports scene might see exponential growth in the upcoming years.
Gen.G, a Shanghai-based esports organisation, which has gained renown for its CS:GO, Overwatch, Fortnite and League of Legends teams, has acquired an expansion team for this year's NBA 2K League competition, making them the first non-NBA team-affiliated franchise in the league, while their team Gen.G Tigers became the first competitors based outside of North America.
Since Gen.G joined the NBA 2K League, there has been a significant increase in interest from other similar esports organisations to join the league, as reported by Mr Donohue, which he believes will help expand NBA 2K League global presence in the upcoming years.
"In terms of the interest we’ve had in terms of people wanting franchises, I can tell you we’ve had tons of it," said Donohue.
"We’re not just seeking a cheque here, we’re seeking partners who can help us scale this league. You’re going to see us continue to create great franchise partnerships from all over the world, who will help us scale this league. We’re adding teams every single year, I don’t see that stopping any time soon."
Donohue expressed his excitement about the increased interest in the NBA 2K League and talked about how he believes that the arrival of Gen.G has opened doors throughout the esports community for the league.
"Gen.G is the first step of several, whether it’s building out our Asia-Pacific division…we fully expect in the near future to build out a European division. What Gen.G helped us do was awake the esports community. The level of respect they have in the esports community is real and it’s deserved,” added Donohue.
"They are also going to help us find players in the Asia-Pacific region specifically, they have already begun hosting tournaments. They are an amazing addition for us."
2019 was a monumental year for NBA 2K League, as it was the first time the league took their events outside of New York, a trend that is said to continue into 2020 and beyond, meaning we will be seeing NBA 2K League events both in the United States and internationally. So far, the league already had two qualifying events in both Seoul and London.
Donohue confirmed 2K is determined to take its competition into other countries, claiming they will take at least one event on the road in 2020. He also unveiled 2K League is looking for alternative venues for the finals in the future. Although he did not specify which region NBA 2K League will target, Donohue went on record to say they're thinking of expanding into Europe, given that there are a number of teams from the European division.
“Some of it will be dictated by the expansion growth. If all of a sudden we have a number of teams in a European division, it’s going to make sense to bring some events there."
"We also need to let our teams and their fans in their market feel this product. Teams will start to host games on a select basis this season.”
While addressing the league's plans for the future, Donohue added:
"I think we are going to be a true global entity, at least across Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America. I’m excited to see a day where a London team and a Shanghai team play Knicks Gaming and having Knicks Gaming go to London and play a team over there. It’s not going to be a European division playing each other, it's going to be one big league."