Immanuel Quickley has never been shy about his love for video games, nor does he hide how skilled he is, participating in numerous tournaments and leagues since the college basketball season ended abruptly back in March.
Now, the former Wildcat is participating in another tournament, this time for a good cause and to represent Kentucky.
Quickley is set to participate in a virtual NCAA tournament set up by former Louisville big man Akoy Agau, where competing players will represent their former colleges in a full bracket on both Xbox and Playstation platforms.
The tournament will partner with Primetime sports, a company designed to allow fans to interact with athletes and celebrities while live streaming video games for a small fee. At the conclusion of the tournament, a champion will be crowned like the official NCAA tournament, with 50% of the profits going to charity. The other half will be given to the winner of the event, along with $2000 cash and the new PlayStation 5 when the console is released this winter.
According to the release by ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, half of the money from fan question fees will be donated to two charities: Direct Relief and Save the Children. The former is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a stated mission to “improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergency situations by mobilizing and providing essential medical resources needed for their care,” while the latter is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts.
“When I was at Louisville and Georgetown, a bunch of guys played video games. What if we had a way to play the NCAA tournament?” Agau told Borzello. “Get someone from each of those universities, get guys to play out the tournament. … It’s for bragging rights. We would love to make this an annual thing. It’s a unique thing to do.
“A lot of those guys do play video games. So this is a good way to help raise money, get money in their pocket, people can tune in and watch and support their guy. A last hurrah to support one of their guys.”
Former Louisville manager Matthew Melander launched Primetimesports back in the fall, telling ESPN that he thinks it will be a new, creative way to interact with their favorite athletes and celebrities.
“We always wanted to do something with athletes, connect athletes with fans in a unique way,” Melander said. “We were trying to think of a new way for fans to interact with their favorite athletes. And video games, the platform is becoming more and more popular. A lot of guys that played video games in college, they continue to play that during their professional careers. The live aspect, as opposed to a recorded podcast, is a fun way to interact with their favorite athletes.”
In order to put the tournament together, the organizers re-created every roster in NBA 2K20 on both platforms, changing the team names, hometowns, and cross-referenced statistics to ensure each team’s attributes were accurate.
“It was a pretty long process to be able to get everything in line,” Melander said. “But it might be worth it for the players. I know they didn’t get March Madness this year, but to experience it through a video game, with the right courts, the right teammates, things like that.”
Matchups began this week, with three games being streamed per night on Twitch.
Quickley’s first game has not been announced as of yet, but we will post the stream here on KSR when Kentucky is scheduled to play.