The league is launching the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship on Friday, a tournament that will crown a champion in June in Las Vegas. League officials and esports experts say it’s a way to attract millennials to hockey and to find new ways to connect with current fans.
In what NHL executive vice president and chief revenue officer Keith Wachtel acknowledges is a basic start to esports, the tournament will allow players to match up 1-on-1 in “EA Sports NHL 18” qualification rounds. That will be followed by regional finals in the United States, Canada and Europe on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One ahead of the June 19 championship.
The goal could eventually be to put on something similar to the season-long NBA 2K League, which is set to begin in May, and eMLS, which has 19 of 23 teams taking part using “FIFA 18.”