INDIANAPOLIS — From the computer screen to live and in person, NBA 2K is starting its fifth season live from the Pavilion at Pan Am in downtown Indianapolis.
The latest sporting event is helping to grow the future of esports in the city.
The tip-off tournament is underway, bringing in fans eager to watch their favorite teams game their way through the NBA 2K basketball court. Players like Manuel "Newdini" Newman come ready, eager to get to work.
"I just love the basketball game, I've always loved it and I'm just always excited to play it," said Newman, Wizards District Gaming power forward.
This is the fifth season for NBA 2K, but it's the first time an entire in-person season has been held outside of New York.
"And so when we were looking for places, we felt like Indy, which has hosted a ton of iconic events, was a natural fit," said Lindsay Ullman, head of business development with the NBA 2K League.
This tournament is the first of eight in-person events that will be held in Indy over the next five months. It's a big investment in the community and in the future of esports in Indianapolis.
"We're thrilled to be here. Indianapolis has been great hosts thus far and we feel like esports is the next wave. As we talk about these iconic events, we want to be one of those events," Ullman said.
"Esports is definitely taking off and me, personally, I don't think it'll ever surpass real sports. But this generation now, everybody is esports, everybody loves gaming and we have so many good influencers, all these guys that are showing you can make it in gaming. So I think it's just made it easier and I think it has a big future," Newman said.
As fans carefully watch some of their favorite players take the virtual court, the action sucks in the crowd and the players to the game.
League organizers are hopeful that with NBA 2K tournaments being played live here all season, it will draw in viewers around the world virtually and in-person in the heart of downtown Indy.
"It's fun," Newman said.
There's a $2.5 million prize pool for competitions over the course of the season here in Indy, including $250,000 over the next four days.
Fans looking to catch the action live and in-person can watch them here https://2kleague.nba.com/.