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Esports x LBA

The bigger plan and where it all came from.
When our LBA representatives attended the Sports Tech Conference in Canary Wharf two years ago, they could not have anticipated what a ‘game’ changing event it was to develop into!
Whilst we enjoyed the perks of a free invite, delectable lunch and the opportunity to converse and network with several sports giants including NBA, London Sports, Sports Tech Hub to name a few, there were two major upshots of the day.
The first was meeting with Adam Whyte who runs his own esports academy, out of London, and the second is their affirmation that the department of esports deserves recognition. This encouraging news goes hand in hand with the statistics that back up this notion: FIFA World Cup gets 25 million viewers where the FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 got over 47 million. There is overwhelming potential to grow exponentially and solid ground for investment in this field.
FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 Grand Final © Getty Images
FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 Grand Final © Getty Images
Two years and several attempts later, we found ourselves in a bit of a disheartening situation whereby it was near to impossible to secure the funding required to launch our esports endeavour, largely due to the fact that funders find it hard to grasp the notion of a platform where sports take place online. However, timing was on our side when the COVID-19 situation brought up a silver lining in that we were able to execute a pilot esports tournament which will be our second with a highly anticipated waiting list!
The players participating for the first LBA NBA 2K (PS4) Tournament. © LBA
The players participating for the first LBA NBA 2K (PS4) Tournament. © LBA
But with this new opportunity also comes a new challenge; to convince the public of the benefits of having an esports platform. We appreciate that many people will find the idea unconventional at first, but it is our mission to win over the public opinion, which we will be doing by covering 3 credible points:
  1. 99% of young people play games.*
  2. 88% of young people that play video games on the sports genre, have a desire to play the physical sport.
  3. There is a huge social networking platform which accompanies this industry.
*Digital Schoolhouse, 2018. Esports: Engaging Education. Download.
Whilst on the subject of Digital Schoolhouse who operate in this field, they have a concrete strategy and model for collaborating with schools to organise the esports program. This has many positive benefits, such as it allows students to gain certifications upon embarking on their program.
NBA players Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton playing for the NBA 2K Tournament Finals. © NBA
NBA players Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton playing for the NBA 2K Tournament Finals. © NBA
We found this rallying news to be inspiring as we currently run secondary school basketball leagues within boroughs and we have the chance to emulate their template and implement it to run a sports league parallel to the regular leagues we currently run.
As a result, we can engage with a different target group that we would not have had the opportunity to connect with beforehand and we can engage in different ways and have them be a part of the development of the program as well as present them with possibilities which will benefit them in the future.
One such example is that the esports industry will provide a lot of careers and new jobs; it is our objective to invite guest speakers to detail what these prospects include and how to participate and become involved, in ways such as exposure to qualification courses and internships opportunities.
Drawing to the end of this article, here are some of our larger endeavours that we hope to accomplish:
  1. To have a 2K team and identify professional players to enter international tournaments.
  2. To have the first London NBA 2K team in the NBA 2K League by NBA.
The NBA 2K League New York studio, also showing the teams participating for season 2. © Sports Video Group
The NBA 2K League New York studio, also showing the teams participating for season 2. © Sports Video Group
Here is a profound quote from LBA CEO Tony Lazare: “We believe esports is something we must do. In fact, we see it has our duty to help bring out the beneficial ramifications from this space. We will be collaborating with new organisations to make this viable, we already have a great plan which you want to implement and execute. Saying that I’m pretty sure we will open up many new pathways on this journey”.
We anticipate that this summer will create some outstanding conditions in which to host a number of important tournaments with the aim of introducing our members to some very substantial opportunities.
We have taken into account that this project is based on earning, evidence collecting and sharing, so if anyone is keen to get involved with the planning or donate they should certainly get in contact with us. LBA has a team of people working on this currently and they are committed to the objectives.
Fatima Z Freifer
Freelance Content Writer