SALT LAKE CITY — Count Gordon Hayward among the NBA players who will join a new league during the lockout.
But he's not headed overseas or to Las Vegas. He'll also be playing a different kind of game.
The 21-year-old Utah Jazz player has joined a professional video game league with IGN Entertainment. Hayward will compete with other eSports video athletes in a StarCraft II competition from Oct. 6-9 at Caesars Atlantic City in the IGN Pro League.
Hayward is excited to be among 256 players shooting for a share of a $100,000 prize pool in IPL 3: Origins.
"I've been playing video games for as long as I can remember," Hayward said in a news release. "I'm a competitive guy, and I love the competitive nature of video games.
"Pro-gamers are really sports stars themselves," he added. "The mental strategy that goes into planning your next move and what your opponent is going to do are skills you need to be successful playing basketball — and playing StarCraft II. If you want to be good, you have to put a lot of time and effort into it, just like with other sports. I've got the best of both worlds."
Hayward, who occasionally writes about his video game adventures on Twitter, is receiving coaching for the upcoming tournament from IGN Pro League coaches.
"Gordon Hayward's participation in the IPL and the Atlantic City tournament confirms the growing popularity of competitive gaming in the U.S.," eSports general manager David Ting said. "Video games will continue to be a dominant entertainment medium, and this event shows how professional gaming can become just as popular as mainstream sports."
The video game league has had 1.2 million unique visitors and 6 million page views in its online tournaments since launching this past April. The tournament can be viewed at www.ign.com/ipl.Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: DJJazzyJody