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Image courtesy of Heather Hofmann
Image courtesy of Heather Hofmann
Matthew Hofmann (right) stands with NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donahue at the inaugural NBA 2K League Draft.

“With the 10th pick of the fifth round of the 2018 NBA 2K League Draft, Bucks Gaming selects KinG PeroXide, point guard from New York.”

It was a surreal moment when Glendale native Matthew Hofmann heard his gamer tag called by Managing Director Brendan Donahue on April 4 at the first-ever NBA 2K Draft in Madison Square Garden. Hofmann, 21, will now play video games professionally and compete in the inaugural season of the NBA 2K League beginning in May.

His reaction to getting drafted is one that most people still share when they talk about professional video gaming.

“It was a dream come true,” Hofmann told QNS. “I couldn’t believe I’m going to be playing games and getting paid. I’m at a loss for words.”

NBA 2K is the most popular basketball video game on the market, and the NBA 2K League is a joint venture between the NBA and Take Two Interactive, the publishers of the video game. Hofmann was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks’ gaming team and will be moving to Milwaukee next week, he said.

According to the NBA 2K League website, all players will be signed to a six-month contract with a $32,000 base salary, though the first-round draft picks get a $35,000 salary. Players will have opportunities to sign endorsement deals to earn even more money, and there are three tournaments and the league championship that pay a total of $1 million in prize money to the teams.

There will be 17 teams that compete in the inaugural season, all affiliated with a real NBA franchise. Each team selected six players in the draft, but during games the players will each control their own player on the screen in five-on-five matchups.

To qualify for the draft, 72,000 players from around the world competed in a combine to determine their skill level, and Hofmann was one of the final 102 chosen to attend.

Hofmann laughed as he reflected back on the first time he got an Xbox. It was Christmas Eve, and it was a family tradition for the kids to open one present early, he said. The gift they chose to open turned out to be the Xbox controller, but they had to wait until Christmas Day to use it.

Call of Duty was his first love when it comes to video games, Hofmann said, but he started playing NBA 2K in 2007 and never looked back. He was always active and played in several real basketball leagues growing up, but when an autoimmune disorder slowed him down, he played the Xbox more and more, said his mother, Heather Hofmann. Until recently, she couldn’t believe how good her son actually became at video games.

He would say he’s pretty good at this, but we would say, ‘Yeah, yeah, get out of the house or we’re going to smash the Xbox,” Heather Hofman said with a laugh. “Every parent goes through that at some point with video games. It’s just amazing that you can make a career out of something that was a pastime.”

Although he was announced as a point guard at the draft, Hofmann actually prefers playing power forward. The 17-week season will start on May 1 and include 14 regular season games and three tournaments. The playoffs will begin on Aug. 17 and last for two weeks, with the league champions taking home $300,000.

Hofmann has his sights set on winning it all, but in terms of preparation for the biggest moment of his career, he’s just going to keep playing.

I achieved my goal of making the league, and now my goal is to win the championship,” Hofmann said. “You have to keep playing and stay in rhythm. I know it sounds weird, but the more you practice the better you become. It’s just like anything else.”

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