By A.R. Shaw
In 2018, the NBA teamed up with Take-Take Interactive Software Inc. to launch the NBA 2K League, an esports (or electronic sports) league where gamers battle on XboxOne. Each of the league’s 21 teams drafts six players to compete as unique characters in 5-on-5 play in regular-season games, in-season tournaments, and playoffs.
With the Hawks Talon Gaming Club, the Atlanta Hawks become the first Atlanta professional sports club to have its own esports team.
Rolling Out recently sat down with Wes Acuff, head coach of the Hawks Talon GC.
How did you get involved in this league?
I started out as a player, and I qualified as one of the top 200 players in the world. That’s where my journey started. There are 21 teams in this league. The goal is to have all 30 teams in the NBA with an esports league. We meet up in New York to play games and compete for a championship.
How do gamers get better?
There is no trick in getting better at NBA 2K. Like anything you want to get good at, you have to put the hours in. You have to work on moves that will make you better.
What are your tools to motivate the team?
Coaching a team is like coaching a regular sport. You deal with personality management and managing all of the players on the team. I draw up plays in different situations. We practice eight hours a day. It’s a career for these guys. I have to decide which players will be on the roster.
What can players earn each year by playing in this league?
Every tournament there is big prize money, so I constantly remind these players what they are playing for, which is $90,000 that six players get to split. There are three tournaments throughout the year where players compete for a large amount of money. They are playing for about $15,000 of bonus money apiece. I remind these guys that this is a dream job. Everyone can’t get up and play a video game for work every day. I focus on drafting winners. The highest salary is like $40,000 for six months, plus the bonus money. Last year, a player won two tournaments and nearly took home a six-figure salary. He made about $98,000 in six months.