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03/18/21: Capcom’s Pro road; Blizzard staying home; Super League Gaming’s new additions



Medias First Morning Read

Thursday March 18, 2021

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Capcom mapped out plans for the Capcom Pro Tour 2021, echoing the format set during the 2020 tour due to the pandemic. The 2021 Street Fighter V competitive season will feature 32 events that span 19 different territories for a prize pool over $200,000 at Capcom Cup VIII. All 32 events will be held as online regional premiers, with the winner of each event qualifying for the Capcom Cup, which will be held in early 2022.

COMPETITION
Blizzard made staff cuts this week, revealing that the company was looking to step back from in-person events for the near future and will instead focus on online competitive play. Activision Blizzard reportedly laid off nearly 190 employees, including 50 from its esports division, many of whom were involved with running live events. “The esports team, much like traditional sports, entertainment, and broadcasting industries, has had to adapt its business due to the impact the pandemic has had on live events,” Activision told Reuters. However, the division would be looking to get back to live events some extent when possible, Tony Petitti, president of sports and entertainment at Activision Blizzard, told SBJ.

Riot Games’ first-ever Mid-Season Showdown, delivered by Grubhub, is ordering Greek, taking place on March 20 at 4p and culminating with the MSS Finals Weekend at the Los Angeles Greek Theatre on April 10-11. The LCS will shift to a two-day / Saturday-Sunday schedule until the MSS Finals Weekend.

Meanwhile, the League of Legends Championship Series is once again tapping the services of Nerd Street Gamers, partnering with the company for its Nerd Street Power Play to serve as its last chance qualifier tournament for the League Championship Series Proving Grounds. Taking place March 22-25, Nerd Street Power Play will determine the final two teams to qualify.

Major League Soccer’s esports league, eMLS, and Electronic Arts revealed the full details for the 2021 eMLS Cup presented by Coca-Cola. Spanning March 20-21, the top EA SPORTS FIFA players in North America will compete to crown the best player in the league with all competitors hailing from the United States and Canada. Competition will be played exclusively on PlayStation 4 with 12 eMLS players competing in a two-day, single-elimination bracket. In celebration of eMLS Cup, eMLS today debuted a limited-edition eMLS Cup jersey, developed in collaboration with adidas, which is now available for purchase on www.mlsstore.com. Net proceeds from jersey sales will benefit Special Olympics.

The 2021 NBA 2K League Draft was held over the weekend, as the 23 NBA 2K League teams selected 63 players to complete their six-person rosters ahead of the league’s fourth season, which will tip off this spring. Highlights included Lakers Gaming selecting Arshia “Krazy” Karimi with the first overall pick, while Alaina “DjLayyy” Haney and Ziah “ziah” Minor became the second and third women, respectively, to be drafted in the NBA 2K League. Five international players from four countries were selected. In addition, NBA 2K League President Brendan Donohue told news outlets that the league will likely look to expand once again in addition to adding more global media partners.

Super League Gaming unlocked an extension of their existing partnership with Topgolf Entertainment Group to broadcast a series of World Golf Tour by Topgolf competitive events. These events, streamed live across digital platforms, bring together avid golf fans, celebrities and professional athletes. “Topgolf continues to be one of Super League’s most important and exciting partners,” said Matt Edelman, Chief Commercial Officer at Super League Gaming. “We have a shared belief in celebrating play through fun, accessible, competitive experiences that are brought to life through premium content. WGT Live Series is a perfect example, having become one of the premiere live event broadcast series in virtual golf worldwide.”

Add some spice to your networking! Play Beat the Bomb at the Esports Business Summit University which runs March 23-24, and team up with colleagues throughout the industry as you take on challenges as well as other teams from EBSU. The 2-day virtual conference focused on the business of collegiate esports. We’ll go inside topics such as sponsorships, scholarships, recruitment, funding, and so much more. Hear from the Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Beasley, the West Coast Conference, CSL Esports, EGF, Learfield IMG, Skillshot Media, WWSEF/NASEF, Mountain West Conference, BoomTV/AVGL, NIRSA, NACE, FACEIT, Nerd Street Gamers, Twitch and more! It’s going to be an incredible learning opportunity and we hope you’ll join us. In addition, join us for our Hall of Fame ceremonies as we honor Kurt Melcher and Duran Parsi! Register now!

Data collected by The Associated Press revealed that male gamers held 90.4% of collegiate esports roster spots and received 88.5% of scholarship funds in a sample of 27 public American schools surveyed by the AP during this school year. The AP requested roster and scholarship data from 56 public U.S. schools identified among the 192 participants in the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

The International Esports Federation announced that AUDITION will become a promoted title for the13th Esports World Championship, Eilat 2021, operated in individual format and players presenting their nations will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
This week, Stream Hatchet analyzes Bethesda Softworks live streaming viewership. Bethesda games are now available via the Xbox Games Pass, the first major announcement for the studio since its Microsoft acquisition in September 2020. Top titles like The Elder Scrolls Online and Fallout 76 have been instrumental in retaining viewers. However, special events like game reveals or newly added in-game content often generates short-term spikes. Even popular streamers broadcasting playthroughs, like summit1g, have created substantial jumps.

Since Bethesda joined Microsoft, the studio’s weekly hours watched increased 29% across all games. The news of the acquisition created a surge in interest and will likely see continued success with the Xbox Games Pass announcement. With that being said, Bethesda will likely need to keep up with new content. But this shouldn’t be an issue with Death Loop, Ghostwire: Tokyo, and a The Elder Scrolls Online DLC slated for release this year.

For more information about game and live stream industry trends, please visit www.streamhatchet.com/insights.

ACTIVATION
The Toronto Ultra announced a partnership renewal with SCUF Gaming. The deal will see a collaboration to offer a slate of fan engagement initiatives as well as a new content series titled the ‘SCUF Challenge Series with Toronto Ultra’. The partnership renewal will also see SCUF become the exclusive official controller of Toronto Ultra. “We’re honoured to renew our partnership with Toronto Ultra and the rest of the Call Of Duty League. Since founding SCUF almost a decade ago, we have been investing in supporting the development of Pro Players, Teams and Leagues with equipment and resources that enable them to compete at the highest level,” said Duncan Ironmonger, Founder and CEO of SCUF. “Our DNA is centered around complementing the growth and development of esports with a performance controller for use on PC or Console, and continuing our affiliation with Toronto Ultra is a great feeling for us here at SCUF.”

Jack Link’s signed on as primary sponsor of Riot Games‘ League of Legends European Masters slate. As the official protein snack partner of the European Masters, Jack Link’s will serve as the ‘Baron Power Play’ segment during broadcasts.

Dignitas announced that HyperX renewed and extended its partnership with the esports organization. HyperX will continue to be the official peripheral partner of Dignitas, including the organizations esports players and content creators. Through the partnership, HyperX and Dignitas will collaborate on new content for Dignitas’ fans. HyperX Cloud Comms, a new and recurring content series, will allow fans to hear each of Dignitas’ teams’ in-game communication, providing behind-the-scenes look at the voice comms during competitive matches. As part of the launch of the Official Dignitas website this month, the team’s professional players and content creators will compose HyperX branded tips and tricks articles.

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Did you know games will be played too? During the networking break on the first day, attendees can play “Beat The Bomb” Online. It’s the ultimate virtual networking video game. Teams take on Sequencer + Echo Chamber to earn time on their “Bomb Clock” for the final Cyberbot challenge to Beat The Bomb or #GetBlasted. Watch a video to see what it’s all about and register to attend.


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PLATFORMS
ESE Entertainment launched Virtual Pitstop, a new business unit dedicated to simulation racing and offering technology for video game developers, racing fans, and gamers to engage in motorsport related esports across the globe. The business unit will build on ESE’s existing client base and generate new revenue streams.
Super League Gaming picked up game livestreaming platform Mobcrush. Mobcrush’s influencers stream 2 million hours of original content a year and can distribute its streams to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and more.

Overwolf announced a $52.5 million Series C round and the launch of CurseForge Core, a User Generated Content as a service platform. The round was co-led by Griffin Gaming Partners and Insight Partners with participation from investors including Ubisoft, Warner Music Group, Meg Whitman, Gen.G Co-Founder, Kevin Chou, and existing investors Marker, Intel Capital, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and Atreides Management. The funding will be used to boost development firepower dedicated to creating services for creators. It will further be used to create more opportunities and vehicles to invest in, and with, the in-game creator community.

Enthusiast Gaming added news and strategy guide platform Icy Veins to its portfolio. The platform was founded in 2011 and serves as one of the largest independent Activision Blizzard fan communities.

Huawei announced that its AI based Assistant will now offer users esports news including live scores and more from major gaming events and tournaments around the world. The company stated that the initiative would make it the first virtual smartphone assistant to support esports ‘card’.

TEAMS
Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant became the newest investor in esports organization Andbox, joining business partner Rich Kleiman’s Thirty Five Ventures in the endeavor and serving as creative partners across a range of initiatives that includes the creation of new entertainment content and the design of new merchandise collections. “The passion that New York sports fans have has really hit home with me,” Durant said. “Andbox is bringing that same energy to esports here, and that’s

Former adidas executive Guillaume de Monplanet joined Team Vitality, serving as managing director and co-CEO. “Rooted in esports, I believe Vitality has the potential to be part of that group of brands. What the team has achieved in just 8 years is amazing,” de Monplanet said in a statement. “The level of talent and creativity demonstrated everyday … is just stunning. I am looking forward to exploring a new industry and hope my business and leadership expertises will help Team Vitality reach new heights globally.”

Version1 and Minnesota Røkkr announced a new partnership with digital media licensing provider ESPAT AI that will see images and video from its Call of Duty, Rocket League and Valorant teams distributed exclusively through the ESPAT AI licensing platform. In addition, ESPAT AI will continue to capture images and videos at Version1 and Minnesota Røkkr in-person events to expand the organization’s catalog for editorial and commercial use.

Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism is teaming with Gen.G to bring new programming that will spotlight the growing role journalism has in the esports industry. The series, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” launched this week, with upcoming topics will be “Working Sources Through Digital Media” on April 13, “Broadcast Journalism: Shoutcasters & Sports Casters” on May 11 and “Gaming’s Convergence with Fashion: It’s for the Culture” on June 15.

READYUP GAMES OF THE WEEK
INDUSTRY

Nevada state Senator Ben Kieckhefer is proposing that launch of an esports sanctioning body modeled after the Nevada Athletic Commission in a move to regulate high-level esports tournaments as well as draw events and boost tourism to the state.

Riot Games announced that an independent, internal investigation of harassment by company CEO Nicolo Laurent against a former employee concluded that “there was no evidence that Laurent harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against the plaintiff,” according to the Washington Post. As a result, the company will take no action against him. The claim alleged that Laurent made inappropriate sexual comments, telling the employee to be more feminine and watch her tone. Laurent also said that because O’Donnell refused his advances, she had duties taken away and was eventually fired.

Allied Esports Entertainment announced that the Company’s Board of Directors, in consultation with its financial and legal advisors, determined that a revised proposal from Bally’s Corporation constitutes a “Superior Proposal” under the Company’s pending stock purchase agreement with Element Partners. Under the terms of Bally’s revised proposal, Bally’s would acquire all of the equity interests of Club Services, Inc. an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company that directly or indirectly owns the Company’s poker-related business and assets, including the entities comprising the World Poker Tour for consideration totaling $90,000,000 in cash at the closing. The deal would no longer include Allied’s esports assets.

POWER PLAYERS
Two big announcements this past week saw Super League Gaming gear up for its post-pandemic plans with the acquisition of Mobcrush as well as the renewal of its ties with TopGolf (see above). In addition, last month, the company announced the sale of $12 million in stock in a move to boost working capital and general corporate purposes, including sales and marketing activities, product development and capital expenditures. Cynopsis caught up with Ann Hand, Chairman and CEO and Matt Edelman Chief Commercial Officer to discuss the recent moves, the company’s vision, as well as getting caught up in the GameStop/Redditor stock rush that swept headlines a few weeks ago.

On positioning:
Hand: There is a lot of public interest, both from institutional and everyday investors, to participate in the competitive video gaming and esports entertainment space. Our public listing allows us to opportunistically bring in capital to continue our accelerated growth, both organic and inorganic, with an enthusiastic base of investors.

Edelman: In the 12-18 months leading into COVID, the company built a digital foundation to support and complement our live events. The support took the form of an increasing commitment to producing live streams of our competitions and to publishing gameplay highlights and player profiles on social media, which began generating encouraging levels of viewership. The complement took the form of running online esports tournaments and investing in the growth of a dedicated digital community for Minecraft players (Minecraft was the first game title featured in Super League tournaments in movie theaters, so always a big part of our DNA).

When the pandemic hit, we leaned heavily into these areas. They had started to grow even without our full attention, and suddenly they were the parts of our business best poised to accelerate. We tripled down. We expanded our volume of live broadcasts and original content production, brought an increasing number of partners into online competitive events, and added exciting layers of functionality and gameplay experiences into our Minehut platform. Thankfully, all of these areas have fueled the fastest year of growth in the company’s history.

Hand on the stock sale: Super League and Mobcrush’s communities, offers, technology and monetization models line up beautifully. Our combination creates a formidable gaming-centric media platform offering great gaming experiences and entertainment along with a scalable in-event, in-stream and in-game advertising solution for brands. We additionally have a very complementary and material foot-hold with the teenage gaming demographic.

On the Mobcrush acquisition: Super League and Mobcrush’s communities, offerings, technology, and monetization models line up beautifully. Our combination creates a formidable gaming-centric media platform offering great gaming experiences and entertainment along with a scalable in-event, in-stream and in-game advertising solution for brands. We additionally have a very complementary and material foot-hold with the teenage gaming demographic.

Edelman on partnering with TopGolf: The original intent of the Topgolf partnership was to establish esports as a pillar of their location-based business due to their success as an interactive entertainment destination. Shortly after we got started, Topgolf recognized the opportunity to spur additional growth of World Golf Tour by Topgolf, or WGT – the industry leading virtual golf video game – also through esports. It was a natural extension of our partnership for Super League to produce the live broadcasts of signature WGT tournaments, which took place 1-2x per month. Before long, it became clear that WGT esports had incredible potential, which of course made for a natural focus when we were forced to pause live events.

In renewing our partnership, we followed the lead of the WGT community – their organic excitement inspired by WGT esports broadcasts; the growth in the WGT player base; the increasing notoriety of the top players; the build in anticipation before each monthly tournament; the awesome crescendo of fandom accompanying the Championships. Together with the WGT team, we are honoring all of this by raising the bar for the broadcasts – adding new motion graphics, delving deeper into key storylines, showcasing the drama between players throughout the season, and more. We have learned what the WGT community wants as entertainment, and how important it is to try to exceed their standards.

Hand on seeing SLG get swept into the Redditor/Gamestop stock surges: Well it is quite a ride! Exciting to see the large trading volume and real interest in SLGG stock. The Reddit community is full of passionate gamers and savvy investors so they really understand the Super League value proposition.

Edelman on surprises during the pandemic: The most unexpected development has been the creation of an entirely new business that spawned the launch of our fully-virtual, cloud-based video production and remote monitoring division, Virtualis Studios. When Super League was running esports tournaments in dozens of movie theaters simultaneously, with dozens of players in each, all playing on behalf of their home town, we designed an ambitious live streaming platform designed to turn every movie screen into a esports jumbotron. The building blocks of that system enabled us to become a fully-remote esports live streaming studio capable of ingesting and broadcasting hundreds of content feeds (gameplay, player cams, scoring data, etc.) within three weeks of closing our physical studio due to COVID-19. A year later, we have an ever-expanding roster of partners, both within and far outside of gaming and esports, for whom we are delivering unique, often custom, remote production solutions and workflows that are at the forefront of the permanent changes to video production accelerated by the pandemic. Virtualis has become a highly energizing part of our operation that we never could have predicted.

ROSTER MOVES

Riot Games tapped Victoria Horsley to oversee League Operations, Global Competitive Team, for VALORANT. Prior to joining Riot, Horsely serves as chief officer for Unified Esports Association.

Gaming Community Network announced the appointment of Chris Kindt as its new Chief Marketing Officer. Kindt will be responsible for driving GCN’s brand across its network of community sites, content creators, influencers and tournament/event operators. Previously, Kindt played a key role in the launch of VENN as its SVP of Marketing & Communications.

Smash INTERACTIVE announced that Cameron Reed will join the company as Executive Producer of Esports and Broadcast. Over his career, Reed has produced and directed esports events in North America including Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One, The Madden NFL Championship Series on the NFL Network, The Rocket League Championship Series, and more.

CSL Esports named Jourdan Kirby as Manager, Business Development, and Jake Amodio as Coordinator, Client Services. Kirby will be responsible for cultivating and maintaining business relationships with new and existing clients and driving revenue goals by identifying new opportunities to grow the CSL Esports brand. Amodio will assist the CSL Esports Client Services Team in client-relationship management, revenue and business development, renewal support, program ideation, and research and analysis.

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Check out more jobs in Cynopsis Classifieds »
Job of the day
VICE PRESIDENT, MARKETING & PARTNER INSIGHTS >>
ViacomCBS/NY, NY: Partner and liaise with senior sales management on brand strategy and positioning. Measure the efficiency of traditional and non-traditional advertising campaigns and author and present consumer-focused research on brands, generations, trend and categories. 10+ years’ experience in media or consumer research required. Full info HERE (3/31)

DIRECTOR, DIGITAL SCHEDULING >>
PBS DISTRIBUTION/ARLINGTON VA: Lead PBSd’s digital scheduling function to support our growing distribution business across VOD, streaming and educational platforms by ensuring accurate, on-time content launches. Direct day-to-day activities of the scheduling team and execute on content release plans. 7-10 years’ experience in Content Scheduling/Programming required. Full info HERE (3/29)

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>>
SAG-AFTRA/NY or LA: Conduct financial statement and operating analyses of publicly-held companies. Research, analyze and identify the implications for internal clients. Comprehensive understanding of micro- and macro-economics principles and have an understanding and awareness of worker rights impacting SAG-AFTRA members. Full info HERE (3/28)

PROJECT MANAGER, CREATIVE MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
>>
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TEMP COORDINATOR, ON AIR >>
SCH/GSN/SM
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DIRECTOR OF CONTENT DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION
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APM STUDIOS/ST PAUL MN: Develop and create innovative, high quality content. Set editorial vision and brand voice for APM Studios’ new podcasts and their product development across platforms and formats. Lead collaborations with external media and distribution partners. 10+ years’ experience in media, 4+ years management experience required. Full info HERE (3/27)

DIRECTOR, PROGRAMMATIC SALES (CTV) >>
ORIGIN MEDIA/REMOTE:
Striking partnerships with DSPs, agencies, brands, and agency trading desks to integrate with Origin’s programmatic solutions. Sourcing and managing PMP/PG business and adopt existing clients and grow their relationships. 5+ years of programmatic advertising video sales experience. CTV experience is a plus. Full info HERE (3/26)

OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE (DIGITAL/CTV) >>
ORIGIN MEDIA/REMOTE: Oversee administrative tasks, work with Sales to assist in the production, maintenance, and delivery of sales materials and RFPs from advertisers. Manage contracts with in-house legal counsel and organize and manage all company contracts and documents. 1-3 years of experience in sales or operations and familiarity with the Google Suite of products. Full info HERE (3/26)

HEAD OF GLOBAL PROCUREMENT
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SALES PLANNER
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MARATHON VENTURE/NYC: Serve as the primary point of contact for our media partners, responsible for exceeding expectations by effectively anticipating and solving problems. Review client orders for accuracy and resolve discrepancies. 2-3 years related experience and strong organizational skills and attention to detail required. Full info HERE (3/25)


SENIOR MANAGER OF MARKETING OPERATIONS >>
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MANAGER, DIGITAL CONTENT PROGRAMMING >>
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INTEGRATED MARKETING MANAGER >>
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SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SCRIPTED SALES & CO-PRODUCTIONS >>
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SALES ASSISTANT – NATIONAL >>
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VICE PRESIDENT, GENERAL MANAGER >>
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COMMUNITY MANAGER
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DIRECTOR, CURRENT PROGRAMMING >>
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DIGITAL MANAGING DIRECTOR >>
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SENIOR MANAGER, NEWS & CONTENT >>
SPECTRUM NETWORKS/NYC:
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MANAGER, PROGRAM & CONTENT STRATEGY >>
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DIRECTOR OF PRIME TIME TELEVISION
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VP of GAMING and ESPORTS >>
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Gravity Road is a creative company bringing together marketing, entertainment, and technology to create things people want to spend time with. We are looking for someone that is a commercially minded gamer, a strategic thinker and a proactive doer to join as our VP Gaming and Esports. Full info HERE (3/19)

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Lead and mentor a team of engineers, supporting their career and technical development.
Senior Software Engineer, Backend
Take Two Interactive
San Francisco CA

https://careers.take2games.com/jobs

Collaborate on technical designs to meet product team, technical partner, and end user needs.
Senior Software Engineer – Desktop Application
Take Two Interactive
San Francisco CA

https://careers.take2games.com/jobs

Working with other designers to raise the quality bar and contribute to our evolving design system of components, styles, and interactions.
Senior Product Designer – Designs Systems
Discord
San Francisco CA

https://discord.com/jobs

Work with product, design, and other team members on how to maintain accessibility standards for the long-haul.
Senior Software Engineer – Accessibility
Discord
San Francisco CA

https://discord.com/jobs

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