Basketball has joined the likes of football and racing as sports that have pivoted to their online equivalents, with FIBA announcing their inaugural Esports Open to be held later this week featuring seventeen teams from around the world.
The team announced by Basketball Australia and ESL today comprises six of the best NBA 2K20 players the country has to offer, with selections for the team based on performances in the NBA2K20 Global Championships as well their showings in online regional competitions.
That squad is made up of small forward Jonte “AnkleTV” Burns and shooting guard Cooper “CQOPR” Cameron — both two time ANZ Champions — as well as streamer and power forward Cameron “DunkGod” Sloper.
There are also two point guards in the team: Recent two-time tournament winner Benjamin “Waurk” Klobas and 2K veteran Eric “Range” Li, the latter having played competitively with the final member of the squad, centre Max “Squoogs” Ellwood.
Over June 19-21, the Australian representatives will play five exhibition games against the New Zealand squad in the two-team Oceania Conference, with the victors advancing to play against the winners of the other four conferences.
“Basketball Australia is excited to participate in its first esports event in partnership with FIBA and gaming industry leaders like ESL and NBA 2K and we look forward to seeing the team take to the virtual court at the FIBA Esports Open 2020,” said Jerril Richter, CEO of Basketball Australia.
“The FIBA Esports Open gives Basketball Australia a new avenue for engaging the Australian basketball and gaming communities and an opportunity to further grow the profile of the game in this country.”
All games will be livestreamed on Facebook, Twitch and YouTube, exposing Oceania’s best to a global audience. Coupled with the partnership between Basketball Australia and ESL, this can only bode well for esports’ gradual entry into mainstream Australian media.
For the numerous basketball fans starved of seeing their favourite players take to the court in person, watching a Twitch stream and seeing them hit a three while being controlled by the best 2K20 players in the country just might be the next best thing.
Australia will take on New Zealand in the first match of the tournament, starting from 8:45pm AEST on June 19. You can catch the action live on the FIBA Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube pages.