Global esports organisation Gen.G has unveiled a partnership with motor oil brand Mobil 1 to launch ‘The Tune Up’, a community improvement and engagement programme centred around NBA 2K.

The programme will help NBA 2K players ‘tune up’ their skills in a series of tournaments offering cash prizes and coaching sessions with NBA 2K pros, alongside including an educational content series.

The Tune Up programme. Image credit: Gen.G / Mobil 1

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The Tune Up programme runs from January 11th until May 31st and will launch with a tournament offering cash prizes of $2000 (~£1400). A second round of tournaments will commence in May.

As part of the activation, Mobil 1 and Gen.G will also host a four-part stream series about NBA2K gameplay and tips for players.

In addition to the virtual activations, Mobil 1 will collaborate with 2K Games’ charitable initiative 2K Foundations for a basketball court rehabilitation in Minneapolis. It will also work with Project Backboard for two additional projects in Cleveland and New York.

Speaking exclusively to Esports Insider, Gen.G CEO Arnold Hur said the programme was part of a push by the organisation to connect more with the wider communities behind the esports titles it competes in.

“One of the big things for us as an esports organisation was to go deeper into each game’s community, create more conversation with the community, and just be involved,” Hur said. “The 2K community is so massive, and I feel like we kind of understand the pro community, but we haven’t done enough with the community at large.

“Especially within esports, you forget that the vast majority don’t play at a pro level, don’t know really what’s going on at the pro level. So there’s a big opportunity to kind of look beyond esports, beyond the esports Twitter bubble.”

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Hur emphasised that community engagement is a strategic direction for the organisation.  Now Gen.G has established its roots in the core esports community, it’s time to tap into the large and lucrative iceberg of gamers that exist outside it.

He said: “There’s this huge gap between the pro community and the ‘actual’ community player base, and we like being that bridge. We think the opportunity lies in bridging different communities together. It’s something that we’ve done historically, even when we’re talking about bridging the East and West.

“ I feel like within esports especially, there’s a lot of gatekeeping about what is and isn’t esports, what matters and doesn’t matter. But we’ve got to really think that we’re still so tiny that we’ve got to try to grow the sport and grow the community across the board instead of being so restrictive.”

For Hur, Gen.G and esports is now big enough that it has a responsibility to create a positive impact on real and virtual communities alike. “Instead of always thinking how can we leverage the NBA to create a bigger community around 2K, it’s more how can we work with 2K to have a bigger impact on basketball in general.”

As an official partner of the NBA, Mobil 1 joined Gen.G’s programme because it wanted to have an impact in both gaming communities, and local communities through the rehabilitation projects, Hur added. “Mobil 1 is very forward-thinking and very innovative about trying something a little bit different, trying to really start figuring out these communities and breaking into them’.”

Esports Insider Says: Gen.G is attempting to extend its influence beyond the oftentimes restrictive confines of traditional esports fans. Targeting a new cohort of gamers appears a wise engagement strategy — and it gets to do good in the real world in the process.

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