nba-logoThe National Basketball Association and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. have announced that they will launch the NBA 2K eLeague, a professional competitive gaming league that will be the first e-sports league operated by a U.S.-based professional sports league.

The new league will debut in 2018 and consist of teams operated by NBA franchises. The founding teams will have five professional e-sports players who will play the game as user-created avatars. The league will follow a professional sports league format: players will compete head-to-head throughout a regular season, participate in a bracketed playoff system and the season will conclude with a championship matchup.

“We believe we have a unique opportunity to develop something truly special for our fans and the young and growing e-sports community,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We look forward to combining our best-in-class NBA sports team operators with Take-Two’s competitive gaming expertise to create a brand new league experience.”

“We are proud to expand our strong relationship with the NBA and co-create the NBA 2K eLeague,” said Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “Through the NBA 2K series, which is renowned throughout the world for capturing the authenticity of the NBA and the passion of its fans, we have a proven track record of highly successful collaboration. With this new venture, Take-Two and the NBA aim to fuel the accelerating growth of e-sports and take the thrill of competition to exciting new heights.”