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05/12/22: ESL draws Acer deal; Splitgate’s big move; Dignitas’ digital drop


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday May 12, 2022

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.
ESL Gaming brought on Acer’s gaming brand, Predator, to serve as its official OEM partner for ESL One and DreamLeague. The new partnership kicks in with the ESL One Stockholm Major 2022, and will also cover Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) tournaments in Western Europe (WEU) and North America (NA). “We have been a proud partner of Acer for many years, and we are super excited to continue on this journey with them,” said Rodrigo Samwell, Chief Commercial Officer at ESL Gaming. “Together with Intel®, we are thrilled to take Dota 2 back onto the live stage later this month. Having a world-class brand like Acer join us in this magnificent step is great and shows the trust brands have in the potential of esports.”

COMPETITION

Sci-fi shooter Splitgate laid out its esports plans, and will offer up over a half million dollars in cash and prizes via the 2022 Summer Season and the return of the Splitgate Pro Series. The series announced that Prime Gaming came aboard as presenting sponsor, with the Amazon platform set to deliver new SPS content throughout the year. New teams entering the mix include T1, XSET, Spacestation, Moist, Luminosity and eUnited. Every single Pro Series match will be streamed over on Twitch.tv/Splitgate starting in June. Meanwhile, ASTRO Gaming will return for the Summer Season as the Official Headset & Audio Partner of the SPS. “The Prime Gaming team is passionate about supporting the incredible players in the world of esports, and we’re looking forward to the kickoff of the summer season of the Splitgate Pro Series,” said Andrea Cutright, Head of Global Marketing, Prime Gaming.

Halo Major HCS Orlando is now confirmed to be hosted at the Orange County Convention Center in central Florida from Sept. 23-25 with the event serving as the third and final Major, with a $250,000 prize pool.

DreamHack announced the addition of two Fortnite competitions to its DreamHack Summer festival in Jönköping, Sweden on June 18-21. Both are solo competitions and feature a $100,000 prize pool each, with one using the classic Battle Royale game mode while the other runs the new Zero Build game mode.

Riot rolled out plans for the League of Legends: Wild Rift Global Championship Icons 2022, running at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore, from June 14-July 9. The competition will see the top 24 teams from around the world square off for a share of the $2 million prize pool and the title of world champions.

The NHL announced the 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship broadcast team, tapping the talents of Cameron ‘NoSleeves’ Halbert, Anthony ‘GrizGoal’ Scibilia III and Carrlyn Bathe as the puck drops on the NHL GWC live stream schedule this Saturday at noon with the 2022 NHL GWC North American Xbox Console Semifinals.

Intel Extreme Masters returns to North America from June 3-5, during DreamHack Dallas for IEM Dallas 2022. While battling it out for a share of the $250,000 total prize pool, 16 top CS:GO teams will face off starting May 30 to earn a spot in the playoffs and play on stage in front of a live audience. The IEM Katowice 2022 runner-up G2 Esports, the ESL Pro League Season 15 runner-up ENCE Esports, the Danish powerhouse Heroic, the recently signed Cloud9 roster, and the remarkable Australian squad LookingForOrg are all among the qualified teams.

STREAMHATCHET
A total of 2.45 billion hours of video game live streaming were watched across all major platforms in April 2022, down about 5% from March. The top games reflect similar patterns from Q1 as a whole, with a few changes.
GTA V still dominates live streaming with 167 million hours watched last month. The RPG has reigned for almost a full year as the top game in live streaming. It was only beaten out by League of Legends in January this year by a mere 20k hours watched. GTA V has remained relevant with the popularity of its roleplay servers among live streamers like No Pixel, Eclipse, and Mafia City.
League of Legends took the second top spot last month with 147 million hours watched. Almost a quarter of that was from esports events and the conclusion of many spring seasons like LCK and LCS.
With the fading of Elden Ring from the top of the charts, Valorant and Apex Legends jumped several spots to third and fourth top games for April. They garnered 125 million and 90 million hours watched, respectively. Elden Ring is down 68% from March to about 51 million hours watched.

Read more on the Stream Hatchet blog.

SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION

FaZe Clan tied up a trio of new partnerships, including one with local commerce platform DoorDash, which will now see the company appear across FaZe Clan’s platforms as their official on-demand delivery platform. Throughout the partnership, FaZe Clan Talent will partner with DoorDash. FaZe Clan and DoorDash have also teamed up for a new livestream gaming series on Twitch called DashDays. Additionally, DoorDash will be integrated into Faze Clan’s slate of new programming and live events. “We are thrilled to be the official on-demand delivery platform of FaZe Clan and support gamers as the one-stop shop for everything they need to seamlessly support their gaming rituals and eliminate down time so they can focus on the games they love,” said David Bornoff, DoorDash’s Head of Brand Marketing. “We look forward to working together as we leverage our platform to uniquely engage and build lasting connections with the gaming community.”

FaZe Clan also entered into a multi-year partnership with GHOST, a lifestyle brand that includes sports nutrition products, energy drinks, dietary supplements, merch and apparel. GHOST will be featured as an official sponsor of FaZe1: The Warehouse. “We are beyond excited to embark on this journey with our new partners at GHOST,” says Adam Bauer, SVP of Partnerships at FaZe Clan. “Our goal with this partnership is to propel GHOST as a household name within gaming and youth culture by giving our fans access to their range of sports nutrition and active lifestyle products. This was a perfect fit from day one as we share a common goal of creating a new standard for what a best-in-class partnership is through dynamic storytelling, authenticity and innovation. We can’t wait to get started.”

In addition, FaZe Clan revealed a collaboration with Ducky, with first set to be available in-store on the opening day of The Armory. The two gaming brands link up to present the FaZe Clan x Ducky One 3 Mini, a mechanical keyboard. “We are extremely excited to partner with Ducky to release our first official FaZe Clan keyboard,” says Derek Chestnut, FaZe Clan’s VP of Consumer Products. “Many of our founders and talent are longtime fans of Ducky, making this such an authentic way to continue to build out our consumer products business with Ducky’s high-tech gaming products and electronics.”

Pod Digital Media secured exclusive rights to podcast advertising inventory from ESPAT TV. The partnership will allow advertisers to target esports fans across the board including multi-cultural podcasts. “We are excited to partner with Pod Digital Media, to connect culture and esports fans with leading advertisers. Pod Digital Media is the leader in multicultural advertising, and we chose them to handle the advertising rights of our shows because they are embedded in culture and understand our podcaster’s unique needs,” says Dante Simpson, ESPAT TV CEO.

The Washington Justice inked a multi-year partnership with McDonald’s beginning with the new 2022 Overwatch League season. Through this partnership, the Justice and McDonald’s will collaborate on a number of initiatives to engage local Overwatch fans in the DMV. “McDonald’s is a globally admired company synonymous with excellence, and we are very proud to be partnering with them for the upcoming season” said Mark Ein, owner of the Washington Justice. “McDonald’s has built one of the most recognizable and innovative global brands and their support of our franchise, along with the unique opportunities it will provide to our fans here in the DMV, is a true testament to the explosive growth of esports and the appeal of the Overwatch League.”

The Call of Duty Endowment announced that it reached its goal of placing 100,000 veterans into meaningful employment two years ahead of schedule. In addition, Activision Blizzard is also committing $30 million in additional funding to support the program for the next five years. To coincide with the announcement, and in recognition of Military Appreciation Month, the Endowment released a white paper detailing veteran employment “lessons learned” over the organization’s 12-year history, with recommendations for veterans, employers, policy makers and philanthropic donors.

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PLATFORMS

The Board of the Global Esports Federation established the GEF Metaverse Council, aimed at “convening thought leaders and creators around the Web3 space”. In addition, the Metaverse Council will focus on shaping tangible metaverse development initiatives for our global community, blockchain technologies, NFTs and more. The Metaverse Council will be Chaired by Hugo Philion, CEO and Founder of Flare – GEF’s Global Partner for Blockchain Ecosystems. Melvin Kuek, Senior Advisor of the GEF, has been appointed Vice-Chair.

The much-hyped reality competition FAZE1 hit pause and will restart the series after multiple contestants tested positive for COVID-19. The team noted that once production is safe to resume, all 22 contestants will be able to participate.

TEAMS

Dignitas locked in on the team’s first digital collectable drop, teaming with Zytara Labs, a Web3 production studio for a Digiverse collection launching May 17. The collection is minted on the DigitalBits blockchain and made up of 2D generative Digis, Dignitas’ mascot, with traits including colors, emotions and accessories, all of which are based upon references across pop culture and classic video game nostalgia. The exclusive drop is free to claim on Hyprr and unlocks a whole host of exclusive, holder-only Dignitas content.

Team Liquid and parent company aXiomatic closed a $35 million growth round led by funds managed by Ares Management. The raise lifts Liquid’s valuation to an estimated $415 million. The round includes venture capital funds Revolution Growth and Hiro Capital, “From competitive excellence to engaging fan touchpoints, Team Liquid has always strived to be the best in everything that we do,” said Team Liquid President and COO Claire Hungate.“This growth round bolsters our ability to build out our business and ensure long term sustainability within this ever-evolving ecosystem.” “

Gen.G announced the opening of the application process for the third annual Gen.G Foundation scholarship. As a part of Gen.G’s $1 million pledge over the next 10 years, the scholarship focuses on women, people of color and low income students enrolled in a U.S. university or college who are interested in gaming, esports, entrepreneurship, journalism or content creation. Gen.G will partner with Eastern Michigan University, University of Kentucky, Heron Preston, and PUMA to provide resources, knowledge, and connections for the next generation of gaming leaders., selecting 10 students from across the country to receive a $10,000 grant.

Liverpool Football Club launched its gaming community, “LFC Gaming” with fan engagement platform provider Rival. “Rival is thrilled for the opportunity to work with one of the world’s most decorated football clubs and together, create innovative experiences for its global community of fans,” said Rival CEO Matt Virtue. “Given LFC’s uniquely passionate following, we see unlimited possibilities to augment Liverpool’s online engagement and growth opportunities through gaming and esports.”

INDUSTRY

Electronic Arts is moving on without FIFA, announcing that its soccer games will now be published under a new EA SPORTS FC moniker starting in 2023. The brand will feature more than 300 individual licensed partners, giving players access to more than 19,000 athletes across 700 teams, in 100 stadiums and over 30 leagues around the world. “Our vision for EA SPORTS FC is to create the largest and most impactful football club in the world, at the epicenter of football fandom,” said Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson. “For nearly 30 years, we’ve been building the world’s biggest football community – with hundreds of millions of players, thousands of athlete partners, and hundreds of leagues, federations, and teams. EA SPORTS FC will be the club for every one of them, and for football fans everywhere.”

Apex Legends Mobile is poised to launch worldwide on May 17. For the mobile version of its battle royale IP, Respawn and EA partnered with Lightspeed and Quantum Studios. Fans who pre-register for the game will earn a variety of in-game rewards on launch, including Holo-Sprays, gun skins, and banner frames.

Belong Gaming Arenas announced partnerships with two local school districts – the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District in Dallas, Texas, and Williamson County School District in Nashville, Tenn. – to help establish scholastic esports programs and support the nationwide development of the amateur esports ecosystem. Tapping into its network of local gaming centers, Belong will provide dedicated practice and competition space for approximately 40,000 students.

Glytch is tapping Populous as the design architect for its planned 32 esports stadiums across America and Canada. “Glytch is doing what we believe is the logical next evolution of esports,” said Brian Mirakian, Senior Principal and Global Esports Director at Populous. “There needs to be a critical mass of stadiums and teams distributed regionally across the Americas equipped with consistent broadcasting platforms, diverse food and beverage options, upscale fan amenities, and location-based entertainment. We are excited to embark upon this design process with Glytch and Legends to connect esports and gaming with more people – both the fans of today and the future.”

Nerd Street announced an expansion of its lineup of esports camps across North America, with an eye to ‘build healthier gaming habits’. The company has now aligned itself with US Sports Camps, Esports Camps at Seton Hall University, Apprentice Esports and the City of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department.

ROSTER MOVES

Jake Perlman-Garr was promoted to the Global Head of Corporate Development at Riot Games. In his new role, Jake will be responsible for all investments and on behalf of Riot Games and will lead investments on behalf of Riot’s Underrepresented Founders program. Jake joined Riot in July 2021 with the acquisition of Kanga.

Gen.G and its partner Eastern Michigan University announced Gamers Outreach Founder, Zach Wigal as their 2022 Ring of Honor recipient. The Ring of Honor was established to celebrate EMU graduates who have accomplished great things in the technology, gaming, and/or esports industries. Wigal joins inaugural award recipient Kyle Ellicott, a 2007 computer science graduate and co-founder of Topio Networks and ReadWrite Labs. “The work Zach has accomplished with Gamers Outreach in such a short amount of time is nothing short of the prime example of what it really means to be in the Ring of Honor,” said Arnold Hur, CEO for Gen.G. “Zach encompasses exactly the kind of excellence Gen.G’s partnership with EMU looks to foster in the next generation of our industry.”

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Trivia
Since we seem to be on a space opera roll these past two weeks… what was the name of Michael Rooker’s character in the Guardian of the Galaxy movies? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In honor of Star Wars Day yesterday, what is the name of the frozen planet featured in Empire Strikes Back? Answer: Hoth. Kudos: Julie Reuther/Sydney; Marco Diggs/London; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Joey Olson-Lowe’s/Arlington; Rick Dascher-WarnerMedia Studios/Atlanta; Glen Ross/Blacksburg; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids-Chris Zamzow-Learfield/Plano; JT Ward-Spark Connect/Chicago; Julie Schell/Chicago; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Dan Hanson/Vail; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Greg Dudsic/Palmdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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