Introducing the Flow Blockchain: Home of NBA Top Shot

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Flow promises a fast, scalable, and developer-friendly blockchain

Three words are of huge importance in the blockchain space: Speed, scalability, and friendliness. The Flow blockchain from Dapper Labs, the creators of CryptoKitties, is promising all this, and more. 

DappRadar will soon be tracking Flow blockchain dapps. In the meantime, it’s essential to get a better understanding of the Flow blockchain, what it offers, how it faces off against the competition, and what projects are already signed up to build on Flow. 

Patience is key

The team behind the Flow blockchain has been testing and evaluating different approaches to solving a key problem of scalability since launching Crypto Kitties in 2017. Unfortunately, they came to realize that none of the existing solutions were fit for the applications they wanted to build.

“Every other decentralized blockchain’s plans for scaling depend on some kind of sharding or side chains. Unfortunately, our team recognized early on that these approaches make interactivity between smart contracts significantly more complex and error-prone,” says CEO of DapperLabs Roham Gharegozlou in a post on the Dapper Labs Medium channel

After two years of research and experimentation, Flow was born. A blockchain design touted to meet the mainstream developer and consumer expectations without sharding the network or compromising decentralization.

How is the Flow blockchain different? 

In a traditional blockchain, every node stores the entire state and performs all of the work connected with processing every transaction in the chain. Flow has a pipelined architecture that divides the jobs typically done by a single node across five different node types. Significantly reducing unnecessary effort and improving overall efficiency. 

Flow rethinks many other design choices to improve usability for developers and consumers, including upgradeable smart contracts, human-readable security, and more. The protocol is secured via a variant of HotStuff, a Proof of Stake consensus algorithm developed by VMware Research. 

This approach empowers developers to securely and easily build on top of each others’ code, creating entirely new products and services. In a similar way to open-source software, this added composability on Flow allows developers to innovate faster, ultimately leading to more consumer choice.

What can you build on Flow?

Flow is a reliable platform for applications that can provide entirely new features and benefits to their users. Examples of experiences that can be powered by Flow include artists or bands using crypto tokens to supply millions of fans with unique new ways to show their fandom. 

Games that reward players for adding value and enable assets and identities that users can take across endless open environments; or platforms for sports fans around the world to trade verified, authentic, limited-edition digital memorabilia in real-time such as NBA Top Shot.

The list of projects and brands already involved is certainly impressive. 

Source: Flow

Early Success – NBA Top Shot 

The Flow blockchain beta mainnet went live with NBA Top Shot in September 2020. Already, NBA Top Shot has already amassed thousands of users and a record-breaking early access period. 

NBA Top Shot allows users to collect and trade moments of the game’s season, complete sets of dynamic plays, and win challenges. The ability to trade moments in a peer-to-peer marketplace is what has really stirred interest from collectors and gamers. 

On January 15th, 2021, a Ja Morant highlight (No. 1 out of 49) was purchased from the platform’s secondary marketplace for a then-record $35,000. According to The Action Network, the Morant highlight’s original owner got it out of a pack and sold it in November for just under $2,000.

That new owner then sold it for $35k, making an extraordinary return on investment in less than 50 days. 

Four days after the Morant sale, a group of investors bought a LeBron James dunk highlight (No. 23 out of 59) for $47,500, capping off a 24-hour stretch in which the site saw more than $1 million in sales. 

Then, on Friday 22nd January 2021, a collector purchased a No. 1 LeBron James moment from Top Shots’ From The Top Series 1 set for a whopping $71,455, smashing the previous record. These record sales go hand-in-hand with a lot more trading volume on the platform, reaching more than 6.3 million dollars in trading volume on January 26th.

Flow blockchain
Source: NBA TopShot Twitter

A boom in non-fungible token (NFT) sales and interest arrived after one of the most active periods for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology throughout 2020. Crypto markets are peaking right now and investors are looking for an alternative asset class to transfer value into to try and avoid inflationary pressures. 

Unlike Bitcoin, which is exchangeable. NBA Top Shot moments are completely unique NFTs. Each NFT can only have one owner and it cannot be duplicated. In this way, NFTs are used “to create verifiable digital scarcity” and digital ownership.


The Flow blockchain is designed to meet the mainstream developer and consumer expectations without sharding the network or compromising decentralization.

Flow has a pipelined architecture that separates the jobs typically done by a single node across five different node types, significantly reducing redundant effort and improving efficiency. 

The involvement of entertainment brands like Warner Music Group and Ubisoft as well as high growth innovators like Animoca Brands, developers of crypto games including F1 Delta Time and Sandbox show the Flow blockchains intent and user adoption strategy. 

NBA Top Shot has already smashed multiple NFT sale records and amassed thousands of users. 

Investors are looking for more stable assets to avoid inflationary pressures and NFTs such as those purchased in NBA Top Shot offer such opportunities. 

DappRadar will be integrating Flow blockchain dapps in the near future. 

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