The season may not have ended with a championship for the gaming or the real team last season, but it's still an impressive step for Dallas' NBA team, the Dallas esports community
"The game itself is all over the place," Donohue says during an interview at the Mavs Gaming's home office and training facility in Deep Ellum. "It's extremely popular in areas around Europe and Australia. This is a great area for us to grow."
The NBA launched its esports league last May, with 17 six-player teams including Mavs Gaming and has expanded to 21 teams for the next season. That kind of reach not only has the potential to bring more esports fans and players to the area but it can also reach sports fans even if they've never picked up a controller in their life.
"We did a lot of community activation last season, and we got out into the community and made sure we repped the gaming community and this new arm of the Dallas Mavericks," says the Mavericks' director of esports Trey Christensen. "[Mavs Gaming point guard
Mavs Gaming set up their home base in the Mavericks' old head office on Taylor Street in Deep Ellum, complete with training accessories and a sleek gaming station for both practices and tournaments. The team has also made some noticeable appearances with their own kiosk and gaming center at American Airlines Center during the Mavericks' home games to gain more fans and possibly some new power players for the squad.
"Last year, we weren't able to make the playoffs, but that's the goal for us during the current season," Christensen says. "The whole team is built around our new head coach [L.T. Fairley] and Dimez and we're hoping to fill things out with some new, young talent. We're also hosting more events in this [Taylor Street] facility and not just NBA2K and esports. We just had Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the Mountain Dew League, and we're also talking with the Dallas Fuel from the Overwatch League."
The league as a whole has attracted a large following in its inaugural season. Donohue says the NBA2K League has 1.8 million fans on its social media channels and 650,000 viewers during the league's finals on the streaming platform Twitch between the New York Knicks' championship team Knicks Gaming and the Miami Heat's Heat Check Gaming.
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"The whole notion of why someone would watch anyone playing video games, I think Twitch answers that," Donohue says. "There are 15 million people a day on Twitch. The fact that it's a traditional sport means that no matter where they are across the world, they know what basketball is."
Donohue says more NBA teams are expressing their interest in joining the NBA2K League. The potential for growth is so big that it could even go beyond the basketball league that launched it.
"We believe in our model for development in individual markets and teams having ties to that market," Donohue says. "We have NBA teams involved and likely all will be involved but there's a potential for this market to go beyond America."