SAN ANTONIO — The NBA 2K League is getting bigger and is reaching new global heights.
The NBA 2K League and Australia’s National Basketball League have announced a landmark agreement that will see the NBL launch an NBA 2K League expansion team, NBL OZ Gaming, representing Australia.
This marks the first time an Australian professional team has joined a global esports league on a permanent basis.
"This is another historic day as we welcome Australia’s premier basketball league to the NBA 2K League family," said NBA 2K League President Brendan Donohue in a press release. "The NBL has a demonstrated track record of not only transforming their league but also growing a fanbase in new and creative ways."
Adding NBL OZ Gaming only adds to the worldwide growth the league is experiencing.
The league has partnered with Mexico City's DUX Infinitos and the Gen.G Tigers representing Shanghai.
In addition, the 2023 NBA 2K League season will live stream in Australia on Twitch and YouTube.
Over the NBA 2K League’s first five seasons, the league has conducted international qualifying events in Hong Kong, Seoul, and remotely for top players from the Asia-Pacific region. Jack “Jaacko” Stevenson (New Zealand) was selected 50th overall in the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft and Meason “xMiLo---” Camille (Australia) was selected 62nd overall in the 2021 NBA 2K League Draft.
This just further cements how much the NBA 2K League is growing and the reach esports has.
"The NBL is the ideal partner to help the NBA 2K League do the same in Australia, where basketball and 2K are incredibly popular and we’re thrilled that NBL Oz Gaming will represent Australia in the NBA 2K League for years to come," Donohue said.
As stated, there's been an influx of international teams joining the league. However, this does not mean the remaining NBA teams (Suns, Spurs, Pelicans, Rockets, Bulls, Thunder, Nuggets, and Clippers) that are not involved in the league are not being targeted.
The pandemic paused NBA teams from exploring the opportunity to own a franchise but Donohue expects interest to resume.
That is not to say that there isn't a lack of interest from San Antonio despite the lack of an NBA 2K League team.
San Antonio's Donovan "SELDUM" Mass, who also serves as an Airman at JBSA Lackland, temporarily played for a pair of league teams (Cavs Legion and Blazer 5) before leading amateur team Rim Runners to an incredible playoff run before losing to the eventual 2022 champions, Bucks Gaming.
For the league, this partnership it is simply an avenue to broaden the market in new ways coupled with outside franchises eager to partner with the NBA 2K League such as NBL OZ Gaming.
"I think how we're thinking about it is we're now going into different markets internationally, frankly with great partners," Donohue said. "Our new franchises are coming on board because, one, they want to be a part of the NBA 2K League, but number two, there's this symbiotic nature that exists. And this is a perfect example of that. We knew we needed to be in Australia. And frankly, we're so much better off doing it with the NBL."
For NBL OZ Gaming, joining the league is exciting and a chance to prove that Australian esports can thrive in the highest level of competition even if esports remains behind other pro-sports such as rugby.
"So around esports, everyone knows that it's a massive growth industry here and is looking for ways in which to get more involved. And that goes from consumers and players, viewers, and broadcasters, all the way up to the top tier of government," said NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger. "Every state government here, for example, has an esports strategy, or they call it their screen strategy around both gaming and esports. Everyone knows that it's going to be the next big thing here in Australia."
Loeliger sees the opportunity to join the NBA 2K League as a chance for Australians to gain more interest in esports and beyond.
"We know that if Australian fans are going to take it seriously, then they need to see that we're competing with and against the very best in the world. So the whole idea here is an Australian team in a global esports league," he said. "That's what hasn't been done before, and that's what we think will represent the tipping point."
NBA 2K22 was among the top-3 best-selling console games in Australia (#3) and New Zealand (#2) in 2021. The game also remains popular in the United States.
As for integration into the league, NBL Oz Gaming will participate in the NBA 2K League Expansion Draft next month in November and the team will likely be based in the U.S.A.
Both Donohue and Loeliger are thrilled with the new partnership with all gaining in every aspect.
"It is such a win-win partnership for us in terms of the NBL OZ Gaming helping us bring the 2K League really in a deeper way to Australia," Donohue said. "And frankly, as Jeremy pointed out, I think there are tons of opportunities for us to bring the NBL brand in front of 2K League fans, in front of 2K fans, in front of NBA fans in a deeper way. And so I just really think this one is uniquely symbiotic."
Said Loeliger: "I think what you're going to see is the NBL OZ Gaming fans are going to love the idea of taking on Wizards District Gaming, taking on Lakers Gaming, taking on Knicks Gaming. It was good timing."
For more information, San Antonio Spurs fans and everyone can follow the NBA 2K League on Facebook (NBA 2K League), Instagram (nba2kleague), TikTok (nba2kleague), Twitch (NBA2KLeague) and Twitter (NBA2KLeague) and visit NBA2KLeague.com.
About the NBA 2K League
The NBA 2K League, a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO), launched in 2018 and features 25 teams and the best NBA 2K players in the world. NBA 2K League partners include Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Champion Athleticwear, Coinbase, Dash Radio, Google, Loco, Mondelēz International, SAP, The NBA 2K League, a professional esports league co-founded by the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO), launched in 2018 and features 25 teams and the best NBA 2K players in the world. NBA 2K League partners include Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Champion Athleticwear, Coinbase, Dash Radio, Google, Loco, Mondelēz International, SAP, Snickers, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sport1, SPS, Wilson and YouTube. For more information, visit NBA2KLeague.com.
About the NBL
The NBL was founded in 1979 and is the world’s best basketball league outside of the NBA. Currently composed of 10 teams (9 in Australia and 1 in New Zealand), game attendances, TV viewership, digital traffic and fan engagement have skyrocketed following new ownership in 2015. NBL teams are located in Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Cairns, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong.