NBA 2K League Expands Internationally, Adding a Team in Shanghai

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E-sports counterpart to professional basketball, the NBA 2K League, is adding its first international team, taking the competition across overseas as it expands to Shanghai. The NBA 2K League is partnering with global e-sports organization Gen.G to launch the new team, which joins the league for the 2020 season.

The addition of a Shanghai franchise is unlike any other expansion in the league’s history. Typically teams in the e-sports league have an NBA counterpart, and all of the squads, until now, have been U.S.-based. It’s also an example that e-sports are increasingly being regarded as a global market.

“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,” NBA 2K League managing director Brendan Donohue said in a statement.

The alliance between Gen.G and the NBA 2K League runs deeper than just a new team. Gen.G. will serve as an Asia-based hub for the league, not only finding and cultivating talent, but also expanding the brand to the Asian audience through programming and branding efforts. The NBA 2K League has already partnered with Tencent to broadcast games in China.

The Shanghai team is a logical move, considering the popularity of e-sports overseas. Asian countries—like China and South Korea—have seen massive growth in the industry, and other U.S. e-sports leagues have been adding teams in Asian markets. The Overwatch League already has teams in Asia (one of which is also partnered with Gen.G) and Europe as does League of Legends, which has multiple e-sports leagues and tournaments, some of which operate in Asia.

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