In the past half-decade, the sporting world has begun to embrace Esports competitions. Although there is still much work to be done to grow the popularity of sports video games, there are a number of notable Esports competitions affiliated with professional sporting leagues. Below I’ve highlighted the most significant esports competitions that are sponsored by professional sporting leagues.

NBA 2K League

Getting its start in May 2018, the NBA 2k League has gained a lot of traction in its few years of existence. The league began with 17 teams, each affiliated with a specific NBA franchise, but has expanded to 25 teams since then, with 22 of the teams being affiliated with NBA teams, including a team in Mexico who is affiliated with the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA puts on the annual competition in collaboration with Take-Two Interactive, a professional Esports League which has assisted in hosting the 2k League along with U.S. professional sports league.

NBA 2k League began with a 5v5 format, similar to the actual NBA, but has added a 3v3 league as well in the 2021-2022 season. The Wizards District Gaming team, affiliates of the Washington Wizards, have been the dominant team in the league’s 5-year existence, as they’ve won the championship twice. Although the NBA 2k League is still in its infancy, it has shown that it has the potential for major growth because of the global popularity of the NBA.

ePremier League

The ePremier League was one of the easiest Esports leagues to create due to Fifa’s immense global popularity, and the Premier League is widely regarded as the best domestic soccer league in the world. The ePremier League was founded in 2019 and is open to all competitors over the age of 16. The ePremier League involves 40 qualifiers, each of which represents one of the respective 20 clubs in the Premier League for the particular year.

Each year the competition, players compete for a piece of the $100,000+ prize, which has been awarded to a different player each year. The competition involves three online qualifiers, with a playoff being decided to decide the 16 competitors who will compete in the group stages. The eight competitors who make it out of the group stages then engage in a playoff until an eventual champion is decided. The ePremier League’s 4th season has just concluded, as the competition has seen a rise in viewership, likely due to the growth in Esport’s popularity.

Virtual Bundesliga

Similar to the ePremier League, the Bundesliga, the top flight in Germany, also hosts an annual Esports competition in Fifa called the Virtual Bundesliga. Although it is not as popular as the ePremier League, it has begun to gain traction across Germany and the rest of the world.

The competition began in 2018 and has been held for the past five years. RB Leipzig representatives claimed the 2023 championship, as 29 clubs across the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga have taken part in the competition. Virtual Bundesliga has a long way to go, but because of the passionate fandoms in Germany, it wouldn’t be surprising to see it become one of the premier Esports competitions in the world.

NHL Gaming World Championship

The final entry on our list takes us back to North American sports, as the NHL has hosted the NHL Gaming World Championship for avid hockey fans to compete in EA’s NHL. The competition is open to competitors in North America and Europe, with a separate competition for each console, including Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

The competition begins with open play, which is exactly as it sounds since all competitors are allowed to play. From then, 64 competitors move on to a large bracket, which plays out until the final two competitors from each console remain. These eight players compete to decide who will be crowned Club Champion. Although this competition is relatively unknown, it has made great strides since its founding just a few years ago.

Esports and the Olympics: What does the future hold?