Charlotte Hornets come to the NBA2K League, season 2020

The 2020 season of the NBA2K League can look forward to welcoming its 22nd team when Charlotte Hornets join the fray. The announcement was made earlier this week and it will see the Hornets joining the league that has become one of the most successful sports simulation esports tournaments.

The North Carolina basketball team will be entering the competitive gaming league in a bid to extend the Hornets Sports and Entertainment brand, and also broaden their market to include the notoriously difficult to reach younger demographic. Whilst the traditional basketball team could only reach a mediocre mid-table position in the NBA in 2018-19, it’s hoped that their esport side could find greater success in the NBA2K tournament.

The Hornets affiliate team is the latest venture from an NBA team to join this hugely popular esports tournament. In just the past year, we have already seen the likes of Brooklyn Nets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers join the action. Whilst Charlotte Hornets will have plenty of work to do to catch up with the reigning champions, Knicks Gaming, it’s still a bold move from this fledgling esports organisation.

The NBA2K league has been in operation since 2017, and it marks one of the more successful projects that have aimed to merge esports with traditional sports. Thanks to a healthy relationship between the NBA and the gaming company Take Two Interactive, the NBA2K hasn’t been blighted by many of the issues that have hampered other sports gaming initiatives.

Such is the success of the NBA2K that it has already attracted a broad range of big money sponsors. These have included the likes of tech giants such as Intel, as well and telecommunications brands like AT&T. Intel have even gone one step further to name the main tournament venue NBA 2K League Studio Powered by Intel which hosts all of the gaming contests in Long Island City, New York.


© NBA 2K League

The average viewership of the NBA2K grew dramatically over the course of last year. This saw figures rising from 137,168 to 284,250 fans, and whilst it will have some way to go before it catches up with the likes of League of Legends, it’s still an impressive start for a relatively new venture.

The prize winnings of the NBA2K have also risen in correspondence to its popularity. The current season of the NBA2K will feature a prize pool of $1.2 million, and it’s going to be fascinating to see who will come out on top of the 2019 NBA 2K League Finals on 3 August 2019.

The NBA2K is the latest successful incursion of sporting simulators into the esports realm. Recently we have also seen the likes of the Formula One esports tournament picking up plenty of fans, whilst the FIFA eWorld Cup has also helped bring the world of football to competitive gaming. And with growing calls to make esports an Olympic sport, it seems as though competitive gaming and traditional sports are getting much closer.