Sacramento Kings make NBA history, host esports at halftime

The Sacramento Kings home court turned into a digital battleground Wednesday as Nairo, top professional NRG ESports Super Smash Bros. player, went head-to-head with a local tournament competitor. (Video and editing by Jessica Hice.)
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The Sacramento Kings home court turned into a digital battleground Wednesday as Nairo, top professional NRG ESports Super Smash Bros. player, went head-to-head with a local tournament competitor. (Video and editing by Jessica Hice.)
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An oxygen bar and kombucha? Kings say amenities will lead to a title in this event

By Ellen Garrison

egarrison@sacbee.com

December 07, 2017 12:00 PM

The Sacramento Kings say they’re compiling all of the pieces necessary to build a championship team at Golden 1 Center.

On-demand oxygen bar? Check. Fresh kombucha? Check. Green screen room? Done.

The team announced Thursday that it is building an advanced training facility, broadcast center and gamer lounge inside the arena for professional video game players on the Kings’ NBA 2K League team, as well as other future Sacramento gaming squads. The facility will be a hallway removed from the Sacramento Kings’ basketball practice facility on the same level as the court.

Similar to how the team has courts to practice on, the facility will provide gaming stations, screens, cameras and the broadcast capability to produce live streams and host tournaments. The players will also have access to the Kings’ weight room, culinary program and team doctors.

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“Golden 1 Center is the most advanced arena for basketball, entertainment and eSports,” Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadive said in a statement. “This state-of-the-art facility will set a new standard and provide the best-in-class tools that the next generation of superstar gamers need to train, compete and win.”

Each of 17 participating NBA teams will draft five NBA 2K18 players to join their official squads. NBA 2K18 allows gamers to play basketball with real-life or customized players and teams.

The NBA is the first professional sports league to dive into the eSports field. The number of eSports enthusiasts across the world is projected to reach 286 million by 2020, according to research firm Newzoo.

Brendan Donohue, managing director of the NBA 2K League, announced the league qualifier earlier this week in a Reddit Ask Me Anything discussion. Players can qualify for the league between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31 by winning 50 games in NBA 2K18’s Pro-Am mode and submitting an online application. Anyone can apply who is over 18 and can play NBA 2K18 on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

Donohue said February will involve more intense competition and teams will draft their players in March. Gamers selected for the NBA teams will be provided housing, a salary and benefits.

Eventually, the Kings may host tournaments in the arena itself.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison