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NBA2K League & GenG

Facts & Thoughts On The NBA2K League / Gen G Partnership That Will Blow Your Mind

On September 26, the NBA2K League made history when they announced Gen G (Generation Gaming) as the league’s 23rd franchise. Gen G, which becomes the first team from outside the NBA and from outside of North America, will train at their Los Angeles Headquarters during the 2020 season. As part of this deal, Gen G and the NBA 2K League plan to grow the NBA2K League’s global player pool and fan base by collaborating on player development and talent identification in Asia, brand development in Asia, and worldwide esports and gaming programming.

Gen G’s list of accomplishments since they were founded in August 2017 is quite extensive, and includes a world championship-winning League of Legends team, three-time world championship-winning Heroes of the Storm team, championship-winning PUBG team, a Clash Royale team in Shanghai, the first all-female professional Fortnite team, a top-ranked Call of Duty team, and most recently an Apex Legends team. Gen G has quickly becomes one of the world's top 10 most valuable esports companies, according to Forbes.

The magnitude of this partnership cannot be overstated. This deal opens the door for the NBA2K League to the largest market on the planet, which makes the future of the NBA2K League very exciting. If you are not convinced, consider these facts:

- There are more than 46 million registered users of NBA2K in China.

- According to the NBA, an estimated 300 million people in China play basketball.

- Over 300 million people in China have access to NBA games, which are televised almost every day.

- The NBA is the most followed sports league on social media in China with more than 150 million followers.

- The NBA has grown to become China’s most popular sports league. It’s formed partnerships with some of the country’s biggest tech companies and opened NBA stores and new experience concept stores inside malls.

- Chinese legend Yao Ming was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 2002. More than 200 million people watched his first game, which took place against Shaquille O’Neal and the Lakers.

- In 2015, NBA and Tencent formed a reported $500 million deal which allows the WeChat parent to carry its games and highlights

- The NBA also has a deal with Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging platform with more than 400 million monthly active users, that allows the NBA to deliver game highlights, player interviews, photos, stats, and behind-the-scene events.

- On July 23, 2019, the NBA2K League announced Tencent as the league’s first distribution partner in China. Tencent delivers integrated internet solutions to over 1 billion netizens.

When you consider China is the world's largest e-sports markets, the popularity of NBA2K, the growing Chinese interest in traditional basketball, and the massive appetite for e-sports, this deal is expected result in substantial growth in viewership for the NBA2K League for years to come.

But as bright as things look, you have to wonder why Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles (Clippers), New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and San Antonio do not have teams in the NBA2K League yet. What makes it even more baffling is the fact that the LA Clippers alternate governor, Dennis Wong, believes enough in esports to have already invested in the Gen G organization.

It’s no secret that NBA2K League would have preferred to have all 30 NBA teams part of the league before awarding franchises to organizations outside of the league. But after starting with 17 teams in their first Season, then jumping up to 21 teams for Season 2, it wasn’t unreasonable to think that the growth would continue and all 30 teams would eventually be part of the League. However, with only the Charlotte Hornets joining the league for Season 3, it seems that the other 8 teams are still not convinced enough to jump into the NBA2K League.

From an outsider’s perspective, it appears that bringing Gen G into the League before other NBA teams was a clear signal to those teams that “the train is leaving the station”, with or without them. You also have to wonder how much the cost will increase to join the league with every passing season of growth. The decision to not join the League could be one that the remaining 8 teams may come to regret.

But whether you are directly involved in the NBA2K League or merely a fan, fasten your seatbelt, kick back and enjoy the incredible ride that lies ahead.