NBA 2K League Plans to Launch Chinese Team

Partnering with Gen.G, the league will welcome a team representing Shanghai to its, now, 23 team roster

As it promised since its inception in 2017, the NBA 2K League is going global. The esports league announced Thursday evening that it’s partnering with the global esports organization Gen.G to launch an NBA 2K League team in Shanghai, China, that will join the league in time for the start of the 2020 season.

Gen.G’s team will be the first NBA 2K League from outside of North America and will initially train at Gen.G’s Los Angeles headquarters during its first season.

“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,” NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue said in an official release. “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.”

This also marks the first NBA 2K League team to participate in the league that is not directly affiliated with an NBA franchise — though Gen.G’s investors include Los Angeles Clippers alternate governor Dennis Wong. It joins Hornets Venom GT (an affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets) as new entrants into the competition for 2020. The team teams will participate in an Expansion Draft Lottery on Friday, Oct. 4.

China is an obvious target for the NBA 2K League where, according to league data, the Online Franchise is the top PC sports online game in the nation with a registered userbase of more than 40 million players. This is also far from the first time that the NBA 2K League has made inroads in the Chinese market. In February of this year, the league held its first international qualifying event in Hong Kong. The NBA 2K League APAC Invitational featured 20 players China, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Also, in July, the league struck a partnership with the Chinese Internet giant Tencent that offered live streaming coverage of the NBA 2K League’s 2019 Playoffs and Finals to Tencent users.

According to the NBA 2K League, this Shanghai team is just the first in a long-term strategy with Gen.G to grow the global brand and continue global expansion of the league. In addition to the new team, the NBA 2K League will work with Gen.G in a long-term relationship that promises “to grow the NBA 2K League’s global player pool and fanbase.” In the deal, the two sides will collaborate on player development in Asia in hopes of growing the league’s global diversity in its playing talent.  As part of the terms, Gen.G will collaborate with the NBA 2K League on player development and talent identification in Asia, brand development in Asia, and worldwide esports and gaming programming.

“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,” Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G said . “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.”

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