The NBA has expanded into Australia – virtually, anyway.
A historic esports partnership has been unveiled which will see an Aussie team, NBL Oz Gaming, join the NBA 2K League.
While Aussie teams and players have starred on the professional video game scene before, the NBL-affiliated side becomes the first permanent Australian pro team in a global esports league.
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However for the 2023 season the team will be based in the United States at a location to be announced, which makes sense given the difficulties in playing competitive online games across a large distance such as the Pacific Ocean.
The 2K League is the top-level of competitive NBA 2K series gaming, featuring the best players of the popular virtual basketball series. The league now features 25 teams – 22 of those partnered with NBA sides, such as last season’s champions Pistons GT (in 3v3) and Bucks Gaming (5 v 5).
The Australian team is the third international squad, following China’s Gen.G Tigers and Mexico’s DUX Infinitos.
“This is another historic day as we welcome Australia’s premier basketball league to the NBA2K League family,” said NBA 2K League President Brendan Donohue.
“The NBL has a demonstrated track record of not only transforming their league, but also growing a fanbase in new and creative ways.
“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.”
NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said the huge cross-over between basketball fans and gamers was a driver of their interest in esports.
Events will be livestreamed in Australia across Twitch and YouTube.
The NBL Oz Gaming side will take part in next month’s expansion draft to help fill out its roster ahead of the league getting underway