This new Bucks team will com­pete vir­tu­ally.

THE NBA IS GET­TING SE­RI­OUS ABOUT ES­PORTS – this thing where peo­ple play video games com­pet­i­tively for prizes and glory – and the Bucks are join­ing right in. The team plans to field a six-per­son team for the league’s pro­team-only NBA 2K18 league, wherein 1

Milwaukee Magazine - - Content - - MATT HRODEY

ES­PORTS IS ON A ROLL.

The field of eS­ports is ex­pected to grow from about $700 mil­lion in world­wide rev­enue in 2017 to $1.5 bil­lion in 2020. Wes Edens, co-owner of the Bucks, chairs the NBA’s eS­ports com­mit­tee and pur­chased an elite League of Leg­ends team in late 2016.

THE BUCKS WILL MAKE MONEY BY SELL­ING AD­VER­TIS­ING IN­SIDE A VIDEO GAME. PROB­A­BLY.

The team isn’t 100 per­cent sure yet how it will make money from eS­ports. T-shirts and other mer­chan­dise are a given, and the NBA will prob­a­bly do some form of rev­enue shar­ing with the clubs. The rest will be left to the Bucks, who plan to sell sig­nage in their vir­tual arena to advertisers and the rights to il­lus­trate jer­sey patches worn by vir­tual play­ers.

SOME OF THE PLAY­ERS WILL HAVE STARTED OUT AS AM­A­TEURS.

Each NBA team will se­lect six play­ers in April af­ter a com­pli­cated qual­i­fy­ing process open to play­ers at home, and the e-teams (in­clud­ing Bucks Gam­ing) will com­pete over four months, trav­el­ing back and forth to a gam­ing/TV stu­dio that could seat some­thing like 1,000 spec­ta­tors. The NFL re­cently dipped its own toes in eS­ports with a pair of tour­na­ments at the 2018 Pro Bowl and Su­per Bowl LII in which 32 qual­i­fiers played Mad­den NFL.

BUCKS GAM­ING HOPES TO BUILD A MYS­TIQUE AROUND ITS PLAY­ERS.

They’ll be ex­pected to have a strong web pres­ence on Twitch and other video plat­forms. The team even plans to house the e-team in a large house within a short dis­tance of the new arena. Par­ties won’t be out­lawed, but the gamers will still have to ad­here to the NBA code of con­duct.

NOT BURN­ING OUT, MEN­TALLY OR PHYS­I­CALLY, WILL BE A REAL CHAL­LENGE FOR THE SQUAD.

In the nascent world of eS­ports, it’s be­com­ing clear that if you don’t look af­ter the over­all well-be­ing of your play­ers, they only stick with it for two to three years. There­fore, the Bucks are en­vi­sion­ing eight- to 10hour prac­tice days, in­clud­ing time for film anal­y­sis. Prac­tices will take place in a ded­i­cated space the team will build for the six gamers, and they’ll also have ac­cess to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s slew of health pro­fes­sion­als.

TEAM MAN­AGER AN­DREW BUCK IS PRETTY IN­TENSE.

Near the end of a Jan­uary in­ter­view in Bucks Pres­i­dent Peter Fei­gin’s of­fice, An­drew Buck (name co­in­ci­den­tal) paced back and forth near the door. De­spite his seem­ing ag­i­ta­tion, he oc­ca­sion­ally in­ter­jected an­swers in a calm voice. Buck has been run­ning his own com­pany, Vault eS­ports, since 2014 and un­til very re­cently was the han­dler for a bomb-sniff­ing dog at the Mall of Amer­ica near Min­neapo­lis.

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