The NBA 2K League made a big splash on February 9. Like, over a million dollars kind of splash. The league announced some more details about the financial side of things Friday:
- $1 million in Prize Money spread out over three tournaments and the league championship.
- Base salary of $35,000 for First Round Picks, $32,000 for all others.
- Endorsement deals are allowed.
- You’ll get paid housing.
- Medical insurance/retirement plan.
- All travel costs paid.
If combine competition wasn’t fierce already, this news should fan the flames even more. “One million in prize money” flows quite nicely off the tongue.
The base salaries are very respectable, too: $35,000 for six months is a very fair salary, especially since housing, travel, and medical insurance are all paid for, as well as whatever amenities and facilities each organization provide its players.
Six-month contracts will enable teams to re-evaluate their options after the whirlwind inaugural season. It will be fascinating, especially in the wake of the Cavaliers’ roster upheaval, to see what sort of reshuffling and new blood the league will have. Players are, of course, very much encouraged to sign endorsement deals of their own, and the teams themselves are working to open up those opportunities.
For a salary comparison, consider League of Legends and the League Championship Series, which I’ve mentioned before. Base salaries there are reportedly $75,000 (for the year — the NBA 2K League contracts scaled to a yearly rate are between $64,000–$70,000). Remember, though that League of Legends is essentially the gold standard for esports and possibly for gaming worldwide when it comes to extended seasons rather than just one mega event like The International (Dota 2).
According to Justin M. Jacobson, an attorney with a special focus on entertainment, sports and esports marketing, “This is actually great compensation and is in line with what many esports organizations pay its gamers for tier 2 and tier 3 games. Once you factor in the housing, health benefits and relocation costs, it becomes even more attractive.”
In-Season Tournaments Could Be Interesting
The most interesting thing for me is that there will be in-season tournaments separate from the league season. To have three tournaments between March and August, not including playoffs, is ambitious.
I’d project one tournament to be before the season begins in May, for a number of reasons.
Such a preseason tournament would build interest among people not already in the know about the league. It will allow teams to get a feel for the competition and for their own standing. The league, according to several team managers, wants to foster some internal competition (an ulterior motive for having six roster spots); a preseason tournament will encourage that.
A preseason tournament would also create storylines, underdogs and fan favorites. A second tournament might be an all-star style competition more in the manner of the NHL all-star tournament (enabling more participation).
Narrowing It All Down
Having this information won’t necessarily make the league’s job of narrowing down 72,000 players to 102 easy. But there’s now another goal to work for, and this information may make the league more possible for some.
This is incredibly positive news from the NBA 2K League, further cementing its place as a serious, respectable esports organization. One million dollars is a lot to think about during the remaining combine windows.