The inaugural season of the East Asia Super League, the startup basketball league featuring competition between clubs from across mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, is set to receive the reality TV treatment.
The groundbreaking long-form series will be directed by Korean filmmaker John H. Lee (Battle For Incheon: Operation Chromite). The recently launched Korean production outfit Studio Ignite! will produce, along with CTRL Media, the production banner owned by NBA veteran and head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash, and Salty Pictures, the company established by Jonah Greenberg, former head of CAA China. Greenberg and CTRL Media’s director Ezra Holland are credited as executive producers of the show, alongside Marc Iserlis in association with Third Culture Collective.
The producers say the series will explore the high-stakes drama on and off the court throughout the EASL’s inaugural season as teams compete across the participating countries of the Asia Pacific region. Taking center stage will be the heart and soul of the players, the coaches and the greater team rivalries. “The series will pull back the curtains on the contrasting cultures, gameplay and lifestyles of all that East Asian basketball has to offer,” the production partners said in a statement.
On June 28, the East Asia Super League held its inaugural Grouping Ceremony to determine the teams and structure for the Season 1 schedule. Lee and Studio Ignite!’s production crew were on the ground in Manila to document the occasion and began filming the public and behind-the-scenes action with the league commissioners, top players, coaches and influencers.
The series will continue production as the inaugural EASL season kicks off in October, with the producers targeting a global release for the show in the summer of 2023.
“EASL is honored to be working with the production powerhouses of Studio Ignite!, Salty Pictures, and CTRL Media. This project has been in the works for some time, and we are so excited to kick it off with this group,” said EASL CEO Matt Beyer. “Their vision for the series shows that they really understand who we are and what we stand for as the hub of Asian basketball. We can’t wait to showcase this to the world.”
The EASL was designed to bring the burgeoning basketball cultures of East Asia together as a top-level international league. The champions and runners-up from the previous Japan B.LEAGUE, Korea KBL and Philippines PBA seasons will each qualify to compete in the EASL. The newly formed Bay Area Dragons from Hong Kong and the championship team from Taiwan’s P. LEAGUE+ will be the Greater China representatives.
The league then follows the following structure: The eight teams split into two groups of four to play a round-robin format. Each team plays a home and away game against their group, six games each, for a total of 24 games during group stage from October 2022 to February 2023, with two EASL group stage games taking place every Wednesday night. The top two teams in the standings from each group then advance to the Final Four and play in sudden death matches for the first-ever EASL championship in March 2023.
“When I found out about this project, it immediately resonated,” added Steve Nash. “Fans can zero in on players’ achievements and shortcomings on the court without understanding the complete picture. But this series is the perfect opportunity to show our fans more of what happens behind closed doors. I believe everybody will be able to appreciate the mental and physical challenges professional athletes face and overcome to stay on top of their game.”
Added series director Lee: “We’re telling real human stories in a way that’s never been seen or done before. This will be a multi-layered 10-episode docuseries that dives deep into the world of basketball via East Asia Super League’s premier competition.”