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NBA 2K League games to be played on PC, not PS4 or Xbox One

Equipment being provided by Alienware and Intel

NBA 2K18 - Kyrie Irving goes up for a jumper over Reggie Jackson
Kyrie Irving goes up for a jumper over Reggie Jackson in NBA 2K18.
Visual Concepts/2K Sports
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

All competition in the NBA 2K League, the esports organization featuring teams associated with real NBA franchises, will take place exclusively on Windows PC, the league announced today.

These games won’t use the existing PC version of NBA 2K18, however. The NBA 2K League will rely on a new, unique build of the game that is being developed specifically to provide a fair playing field for league competition. All official NBA 2K League games will be played in this version of NBA 2K, including regular-season matchups, in-season tournaments, playoffs and the finals.

Through multiyear partnerships with Dell and Intel, the NBA 2K League is providing Alienware computers for competition and most teams’ facilities. (Dell is Alienware’s parent company.) For games, the league will pair Alienware Aurora PCs with Alienware’s 25-inch 240 Hz gaming monitors. The NBA 2K League said in a news release that the computers will be able to deliver “more than” 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, and will be powerful enough to handle “ultra settings or 4K.”

A Dell spokesperson provided Polygon with the exact hardware specifications of the NBA 2K League PCs: Alienware Aurora running Windows 10 with an eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8700K processor, 16 GB DDR4 RAM at 2666 MHz and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card. The monitor is the Alienware AW2518H, a 1080p display with a 240 Hz refresh rate featuring Nvidia’s G-Sync technology.

“Our partnerships with Dell and Intel give us the ability to utilize state-of-the-art hardware and technology that will optimize league play and the viewing experience for fans around the world,” said Brendan Donohue, NBA 2K League managing director, in a news release.

It may seem odd that NBA 2K League games will be played on PC, especially since the qualifying events to narrow down the field of esports pros — which 2K Sports held online over the winter — took place only on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But consider the controllers: It’s hard to imagine anyone playing a basketball video game with a keyboard and mouse, so most NBA 2K players surely use a PS4 or Xbox One gamepad. By choosing the PC platform for esports competition, the league is ensuring that players can play with whatever controller is most comfortable for them.

Sixteen of the 17 inaugural NBA 2K League teams have also chosen to participate in this technology arrangement, which will outfit their practice facilities with Alienware computers and monitors. The only team that is not included is the Golden State Warriors’ esports counterpart, the Warriors Gaming Squad. A representative for the Warriors told Polygon that the team passed on the NBA 2K League’s Dell/Intel partnership because it is working to secure technology deals that will fit both the Warriors Gaming Squad and the Golden Guardians, the Warriors’ League of Legends team.

Each team in the NBA 2K League will roll with a six-person squad — five starters and one substitute — so only 102 esports athletes will make the cut for the inaugural season of competition, which is set to tip off in May. The teams will select their pro gamers in the NBA 2K League Draft, which will take place tomorrow, April 4, in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Check back on Polygon for coverage from the event.

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