Tech enthusiasts have long understood that eSports will become a major player in the entertainment industry. Many dismissed the notion, but experts understood its appeal and accessibility. Even the most fervent optimists, however, have never seen it rival, let alone replace, the value and appeal of live sports. But is this always the case?
eSports has never been so popular. There are more leagues and tournaments than ever. Companies pay quite lucrative salaries to form teams or fund sponsorships with them. The best online sportsbooks in the world offer odds on all upcoming events. Player salaries have skyrocketed. The leagues organize drafts. They have jobs. Some events are attracting audiences through the streaming that major television networks currently dream of.
This meteoric rise over the past few years now lends itself to a question that no one, neither technicians nor players, and certainly not traditional sports fans, ever saw coming:
Will esports ever replace live sports as the go-to source for fans and the broader global sports economy? It turns out the NBA 2K League might hold the answer.
What is behind the rise of esports?
Some elements have always appealed. The accessibility we mentioned earlier really drives it.
Players don’t have to be abnormal athletes or have an abnormal physiological profile to excel. And while there’s a lot of equipment involved – much of it expensive when you get into gaming systems, computers, displays, headsets, etc. – you do not need access to a field, pitch, ice rink, gym, etc. You can train in the comfort of your own home, within the confines of a single solitary room.
The remote nature allows people not only to participate, but also to face the best. They don’t need to join a specific league that mandates cross-country or overseas travel. It always happens at the highest level, but the internet allows newcomers to hone their craft against tangible competition from all over the world.
In particular, this setup resonates with introverts, those who prefer not to socialize in large groups. And believe it or not, the coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated the rise of the category. While live sports leagues have been forced to shut down, eSports has been able to keep moving forward and hold larger-scale remote events. And because these leagues were among the only forms of live entertainment available, they reached a whole new audience.
Suddenly, casuals and non-gamers started diving into it. When you combine that with a generational interest in tech – think of the number of Gen Zers, in particular, who are glued to their phones and tablets – it’s resulted in a monstrous fan base that continues to grow at a rapid pace a few years down the road. later.
NBA 2K League can see written on the wall
You know eSports has really taken off when the billionaire live sports entities start paying attention. And although many professional leagues are now attached to sister leagues, the NBA was the first major to collapse.
The Association now sponsors a separate league devoted entirely to 2K. It’s not just that their name is there either. It’s that live sports team owners are among the driving forces behind this.
Take the Memphis Grizzlies, for example. They are one of the NBA franchises with a billion dollar valuation. You might think they would be reluctant to branch out from their primary source of income. They are not.
Instead, the Grizzlies have been among the most aggressive in supporting and using the 2K League. They have their own separate organization and have even commissioned an in-house media company, called Grind City Media, which has coverage of the 2K league among its main responsibilities.
Will eSports replace live sports?
The openly blunt answer here is no. Live sports aren’t going anywhere.
But could esports catch them in popularity? Or maybe match the popularity of live sports?
We cannot exclude it.
The NBA’s take on esports suggests that the professional leagues are beginning to understand this changing trend. We’ve since seen more football companies join the fold, along with other NFL esports-related content. Shoot, some teams even beat writers and bloggers, and vloggers covering their every move.
So, if you’re a live sports fan who hasn’t tried watching esports yet, you might want to give them a try now. It’s a trend that’s going nowhere.