The National Basketball Association has announced the participants and format of its new players-only esports tournament it is holding to help fill the void amid the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The NBA 2K Players Tournament is a collaboration between the NBA, NBA Players Association and 2K publisher Take-Two Interactive Software.
Sixteen current NBA players will compete in a head-to-head tournament in the NBA 2K20 game, competing on Xbox One consoles. The participants are: Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Hassan Whiteside, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Andre Drummond, Zach LaVine, Montrezl Harrell, Domantas Sabonis, Deandre Ayton, DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr., Rui Hachimura, Patrick Beverley, Harrison Barnes, and Derrick Jones Jr.
Prior to the tournament, every player will choose eight NBA teams to play in, each of which can only be used once. Rounds one and two will be single elimination, with the semifinals and finals running best of three.
The competition, which will run from April 3-11, will be televised by ESPN and ESPN2, with streaming on the ESPN App, NBA.com, the NBA App, and 2K and NBA social channels including Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
The winner will receive $100,000 to donate to a charity supporting ongoing coronavirus-relief efforts.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times,” said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice president of sports strategy and licensing. “Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament.”
The NBA separately has its own esports competition, the NBA 2K League.
The NBA is currently on an indefinite suspension due to the ongoing health crisis. It is unclear when the NBA will resume action but commissioner Adam Silver recently said he was “optimistic” that the 2019-20 season could be salvaged, though it is unclear in what format.
The NBA is, to an extent, following in the footsteps of US stock car racing series Nascar, whose drivers are competing in the extremely popular eNascar iRacing Pro Invitational Series, which is being broadcast by Fox Sports.