Washington Wizards Owner Says Esports Will ‘Dwarf the NFL’
Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards, has been a believer in the future of esports since 1987. He told attendees at the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Global Sumit that he believes esports will soon “dwarf the NFL” and the NBA to become the largest participatory sport in the world.
Leonsis first learned of the power of online gaming as vice chairman of Quantum Computer Service, the company that later became America Online. He told the audience how video games dominated internet traffic all the way back in the late ’80s.
Believing esports could eclipse the NBA he is invested in, Leonsis plans to strike first through the NBA’s partnership with Take-Two Interactive. He is all-in on NBA 2K League, which is set to launch in 2018. The Wizards are one of the 17 NBA teams that have signed up so far to participate in the league for the next three years.
The league schedule is set, including dates for the qualifiers, the draft in March, and the beginning of the season in May. However, there are still many pieces to connect. The league has yet to sign with a broadcast partner, select and establish a central competitive location, or decide which console will be used in tournament play.
Leonsis and other investors are confident those details will be settled in time. They are more focused on facilitating a quality league that will appeal to the nine million gamers who purchased NBA2K18 in the United States, along with the game’s 35 million registered players in China.