NBA 2K League Welcomes Gen.G Esports as First Non-American Franchise
Today in “things I learned,” I found that the NBA has 500 million fans in China. I’m not surprised. I personally don’t keep up with the NBA. With that kind of fanbase, the crossover potential is seriously strong. Knowing what I know now, it’s a shock that the international move took this long. NBA 2K now has a global force straight from Shanghai: Gen.G Esports!
This isn’t the first time Gen.G has worked with NBA 2K. But, it is the first time an official international team has come to the NBA 2K League. This is truly exciting, as I’m a pretty big fan of Gen.G. This was revealed on the Chinese social network Weibo, but now we know about it!
NBA 2K League Finally Goes International
Gen.G and NBA 2K League are working together as a part of a “long-term strategic relationship” to expand the global footprint of the competition. As another point of fact, the Gen.G team will be practicing at the Los Angeles headquarters of Gen.G Esports.
We heard that the NBA 2K League would be breaking some new ground in September 2019, but it begins in the 2020 Season. It’s a historic move for the basketball esport, as it’s the first international team to join the tournament series.
Previously, Gen.G hosted the Shanghai Invitational. This was a Pro-Am tournament with 20 Chinese NBA 2K players. Seven got invited to the APAC Invitational, where league personnel will be present to identify players for the upcoming draft.
Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G Esports, also spoke on the venture in September:
“We are honored to help lead the NBA 2K League’s expansion into Asia and proud to represent Shanghai on behalf of the hundreds of millions of Chinese fans who love basketball and video games. Gen.G’s unique core mission — to connect esports fans and athletes across the U.S. and Asia — is meant for ambitious ventures like this. We have big plans to help grow the NBA 2K League in communities around the world that are passionate about basketball and video games.”
Gen.G already owns Seoul Dynasty in the Overwatch League, so they’re familiar with international esports already. That’s not all, either! Dennis Wong, alternate governor of the LA Clippers, contributed towards the $46 million investment round for Gen.G Esports in April. That’s a pretty serious pedigree if you ask us.
The Tigers of Shanghai
More information on the Shanghai franchise will be announced later, but Gen.G has some serious buzz around them.
NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue also commented on this expansion in September:
“This is a historic moment in the NBA 2K League’s journey to becoming a truly global league with fans, franchises and players from all over the world. Gen.G is the ideal organization to launch our first team from outside of North America, and we look forward to working with Gen.G to reach new fans in Shanghai and identify elite talent across Asia.”
Basketball is a global phenomenon, so how it took so long for international presences to be known in the League. The name of the new team is the Tigers of Shanghai, and it’s the first of a hopefully growing trend.
We also learned a Global Invitation Match takes place later this year, pitting APAC players and 2019 league MVP Michael “BearDaBeast” Key against players of NBA2K Online 2—a free-to-play online game in the series available exclusively in China.
The APAC Invitational was used to identify NBA 2K talent across China, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Korea for this upcoming 2020 draft. Will we see teams pop up from any of these countries as well? My money is on South Korea and the Philippines, personally. The Philippines have shown some strong showing in esports over the last few months. This could be a real serious move for them.