Nintendo of Japan and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) have announced that they are partnering to create a new Splatoon 2 tournament series. Nintendo revealed the league’s name as the “Splatoon 2 NPB eSports Series,” which will feature 12 teams. Each of these 12 will represent one of the NPB major league baseball organizations. Exact details are sparse, but we do know the league will kick off in the Spring of 2019.
— Splatoon（スプラトゥーン） (@SplatoonJP) July 27, 2018
According to the website, only teams who participated in the annual Splatoon Koshien event in Japan will be eligible for entry into the NPB eSports Series. NPB has sent scouts to the Koshien event to evaluate potential teams. Nintendo will announce the accepted members to the public at an event next March.
The wording on the NPB website also seems to indicate that there will be no prize pool for the tournament, although players will still be compensated for their participation. This falls in line with other competitive tournaments held by Nintendo, which usually do not have prize pools.
This is not NPB’s first venture into the world of eSports. Previously, Konami and NPB partnered for the Pawapuro Championships, a tournament series for Konami’s baseball video game Jikkyō Powerful Pro Yakyū. According to Konami, the Pawapruo Championships drew in over 1.5 million live stream views, and the event was attended by 7,400 people. Konami and NPB also announced a league similar to the Splatoon 2 league for Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyu just last week, which they have dubbed the eBaseball Pawapuro Pro League.
It’s refreshing to see Nintendo trying to invest and involve themselves in an organization for their competitive Splatoon 2 players. In the past, the company was not so enthusiastic about the competitive aspects of their games. For example, the Super Smash Bros. scene grew largely through grassroots efforts from the players themselves, with little assistance from Nintendo.