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09/03/20: ESL Pro League snares Commissioner; ELEAGUE talks Super Punch; Twitch/FaZe Clan become Rivals



Medias First Morning Read

Thursday September 3, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
ESL and 13 CS:GO teams named Alexander Inglot as the first-ever Commissioner of the Pro League, in a move “to drive the creation of the new collaborative structure, optimize the governance, build the brand and to explore new revenue streams that can deliver further income for these teams, their players and ESL.” He will be joined by Hans Jagnow, who will support him as the VP Operations.

As Commissioner, Alexander Inglot will focus on the Pro League as well as a range of new collaborative business opportunities, while also ensuring that the new joint approach benefits ESL’s other tentpole events such as ESL One, and the Intel Extreme Masters Series.

“Alex went through a pretty rigorous process with us and the teams,” said Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO of ESL. “ESL has come a long way since we started, and we are proud to have delivered a range of premium tournaments and leagues for many years. But what the Louvre Agreement envisions is a step-change for the ecosystem and all those who love it and live it. The responsibility is now on Alex and Hans to work with the Louvre Agreement Board and Members to realize that vision and we are as excited as anyone to see what the future holds”.

COMPETITION
Twitch and FaZe Clan are partnering up for Twitch Rivals. Twitch Rivals: FaZe Face-Off ft. Warzone will serve as the first in a series of events with FaZe Clan and Twitch Rivals, and is slated to take place Sept. 17 at 5p ET on both twitch.tv/twitchrivals and twitch.tv/faze. The event will feature f FaZe Clan’ gamers including FaZe Apex, FaZe Rug, FaZe Temperrr, NICKMERCS and FaZe SWAGG, streamers such as SypherPK, Symfuhny, Vikkstar, and Aydan, as well as pro athletes like Ben Simmons, Josh Hart, Meyers Leonard, Allie Long, Zach LaVine, and Tarik Cohen. Multi-platinum musicians including Marshmello, SuperDuperKyle, Slim Jxmmi of Rae Sremmurd, Lil Durk, Dimitri Vegas, Alan Walker, Trevor Jackson and Carnage are also confirmed to compete with more celebrities to be announced soon. The pro-am will consist of up to 20 teams of four competing against each other in a Call of Duty: Warzone showdown for a total cash prize pool of $75,000 provided by Twitch and exclusive merchandise provided by FaZe Clan.

EA and Respawn Entertainment announced the Apex Legends Global Series will continue its fierce competition with the Autumn Circuit starting Oct. 3 with a prize pool of $500,000. The ALGS Autumn Circuit culminates with the Playoffs on December 19-20 with EA set to broadcast each circuit tournament’s final day, showcasing the best-of-the-best of that weekend on Twitch and dedicated official AGLS YouTube channel.

With the 2020 season in the books and ending on a viewership high note, the Call of Duty League will not expand before the 2021 season, according to ESPN, as a result of the pandemic. According to the report, both the league and team owners will look to return to their original business plans, particularly the popularity of offline events in the city-based league, before looking to recruit franchise buyers for a higher sum. The league did announce, however, that Season 2 of the CDL will be played in a four-on-four format instead of the five-on-five team structure of the inaugural season.

Nerd Street Gamers and Spectacor Gaming are serving up an all-women’s Valorant tournament on Sept. 12, titled the FTW Summer Showdown. The event will feature eight women’s teams for the title, with a qualifier set to take place on Sept. 5. Sponsors will include G FUEL and T1, the pro esports team co-owned by Spectacor Gaming. “We want to give more women a seat at the table in this industry — both for competitors and for women seeking a career in esports,” Nerd Street senior marketing director Paige Funk said. “We’re excited to team up with Spectacor Gaming, T1, and G FUEL to host our first all-women VALORANT invitational and spotlight female gamers who are making strides in the industry. From the players to the logistical staff, this tournament is a testament to the power that women have to drive the gaming industry forward today and in the future.”

Riot Games is making tweaks to its World Championship with the news that Vietnam Championship Series teams will be unable to compete this year due to COVID-19. The tournament will now move forward 22 teams instead of 24, with the play-in stage now featuring 10 teams instead of 12, split into two seeded groups of five teams each and play a round robin.

Collegiate StarLeague announced its 2020-2021 season with multiple competitions this season set to include League of Legends, Valorant, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Rocket League, Smash Ultimate, Fortnite and more. “The precautions many schools and college sports programs are taking this season, though necessary, have greatly affected the opportunities for college sports fans to enjoy and root for their favorite schools and teams. We at CSL recognize the key role that collegiate-level esports will play this season to offer replacement programming,” said Wim Stocks, CEO of CSL.

Missed our early speaking announcements for EBS? Well you missed a roster of amazing names from Twitch, General Mills, Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Pringles, NASCAR, Buffalo Wild Wings, Procter & Gamble, 100 Thieves, Gen.G, Rogue, Silicon Valley Bank, PUMA, Misfits Gaming Group, aXiomatic, NBA 2K League, ESPN, and more! The names just keep adding up so stay tuned for our announcements over the next couple of weeks along with Tempest honorees! Click here to register now.

Allied Esports joined the Esports Integrity Commission in a move to solidify Allied Esports’ observance and compliance with ESIC’s Code of Ethics, Anti-Corruption Code, Player Code of Conduct, Anti-Doping Code and other standards starting with the two-week VIE.gg CS:GO Legend Series tournament. “We are very proud to join the exceptional esports organizations and tournament organizers who believe in the integral role that ESIC plays in the structure and regulation of our industry,” said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. “From weekly community events to major international competitions, our players, sponsors and partners can be confident that we take fair play seriously and that we will continue to assist ESIC in the development and deployment of its best practices.”

Fandom announced the Muthead Tournament of Champions powered by Dunkin’, which will kick off a series of sponsored Madden programs to raise funds for the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September. Muthead, a Fandom property and the leading community for Madden Ultimate Team, will host the Muthead Tournament of Champions, bringing past winners from their weekly Madden Friday Night Football tournaments together tonight at 8p.

ACTIVATION
Envy Gaming and Jack in the Box announced a multiyear renewal of their sponsorship deal that first began in 2017. Jack in the Box will continue to serve as the Official Quick Service Restaurant of Envy Gaming and the primary jersey sponsor of the Dallas Empire and the Dallas Fuel under terms of the new deal. “When we first partnered with Envy Gaming in 2017, our main goal was to authentically connect with gaming culture in ways no other restaurant had,” said Adrienne Ingoldt, SVP, Chief Brand and Experience Officer at Jack in the Box. “We dove head-first into the partnership, making it a pillar of our digital and social efforts. Now, three years later, we see Envy Gaming as a long-standing partner that love to work with. Their team has helped us identify unique, real, and brand-relevant ways to connect with the gaming community, while breaking through the clutter. We look forward to another awesome year!”

Bud Light Seltzer kicked off a multi-game esports tournament featuring some of Twitch’s top streamers and personalities. The 16-player event wraps up tomorrow to crown the world’s best gamer. In addition, Norwegian DJ, Kygo, will be performing a halftime show on the final day of the tournament. Players will compete in four different games, Call of Duty: Warzone, Halo 3, Golf with Friends and Fall Guys, and continue on in the tournament based on a point scale. “As the Official Hard Seltzer of eSports, Bud Light Seltzer is providing gamers a unique experience.” said Joe Barnes, Director, Bud Light Sports Marketing. “We’re constantly finding new ways to invest in this growing industry and felt that Battle of the Best is giving esports fans what it was missing: a Super Bowl.”

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
PUBG Mobile has been one of the biggest games globally as the mobile gaming market continues to expand. With recent news of the Indian government banning the game, viewership will be heavily impacted. The implications of the banning, along with 117 other Chinese apps beyond just PUBG, are massive for the emerging gaming market in India. This week, Stream Hatchet analyzes where PUBG Mobile viewership was generated throughout August 2020.
· India was the clear champion in total hours watched of PUBG Mobile content on YouTube Gaming- leading second place Indonesia by almost 50M hours in August.
· With PUBG Mobile out of the picture, viewers may turn to another mobile battle royale game to replace the void. This presents quite the opportunity for new or existing games to capitalize on the Indian market.
· Indonesia, United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia accounted for one fifth of PUBG Mobile hours watched compared to India’s total in August.

For key esports market trends and insights, visit us at: StreamHatchet.com/Insights

PLATFORMS

Turner Sports’ ELEAGUE is dishing out another helping of ELEAGUE Super Punch, its show dedicated to gaming culture starting tomorrow evening at midnight on TBS. Hosted by Ify Nwadiwe, Kelly Nugent and J.D. Witherspoon with NBA veteran and social media star Rex Chapman set to join Friday night’s episode. The network will deliver new episodes of ELEAGUE Super Punch each Friday from Sept. 4 through Nov. 27. ELEAGUE Super Punch will feature top and trending clips, live guest interviews, contests with top streamers and interactive discussions with viewers and feature the week’s biggest moments in gaming.

FACEIT tied up a partnership with the Unified Collegiate Esports Association (UCEA) to host its leagues for the new academic year, with the platform hosting Rocket League, Overwatch, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competitions. FACEIT will provide its platform and staff to support the leagues with play starting this month.

Twitch is bringing back its annual SUBtember event, locking in Capital One as a sponsor starting Sept. 1. All month long, viewers can support their favorite streamers and get major discounts including 20% off the first month of new recurring 1-month subscription; 25% off the first 3 months of new recurring 3-month subscription; and 30% off the first 6 months of new recurring 6-month subscription.

Sponsored Content: Ross Innovations in Esports | A Customer Case Study

Ross Live | 2020 esports week featured a live case study presentation featuring James Dean, Founder and CEO at ESL UK, and Andrew Wagnitz, Director of Broadcast and Technology at Next Generation Esports (NGE). Cameron Reed, Esports Business Development Manager with Ross Video, sat down with James and Andrew to discuss how esports productions have been able to achieve “more with less”. The group also discussed how the industry has had to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic and where esports is headed in the future. Click here to see the results.

TEAMS

Post Malone signed on as part of the ownership group for Envy Gaming, taking an undisclosed equity stake in the company and its esports teams, which include the Dallas Fuel, the Dallas Empire and Team Envy. “I grew up in Texas and I’ve been gaming my whole life, so this just really felt right,” said Post Malone. “I have always wanted to be a part of bringing gaming into the professional sports world so to be involved with what Envy is doing in my hometown feels like such a perfect fit.”

FaZe Clan announced the addition of its newest member Bronny James, officially known today as “FaZe Bronny,” and the son of LeBron James. In addition the team is teaming up with Anti Social Social Club for a new merchandise collaboration that includes hoodies, tees, mouse pads and one limited-edition, special computer, and available at AntiSocialSocialClub.com.

Global esports organization, Gen.G, announced a $1 million commitment to developing the next generation of leaders in the gaming industry, creating a dedication to education through the establishment of the Gen.G Foundation – a $1 million scholarship fund devoted to supporting women, people of color, and low income students interested in entering the professional world of esports. Alongside founding partners, the University of Kentucky, Eastern Michigan University, Silicon Valley Bank, and Bumble; Gen.G will offer scholarships to 10 students in the program’s inaugural year – establishing the “Gen 10.”

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POWER PLAYERS: Turner Sports’ Jennifer Dill
POWER PLAYERS: Turner Sports’ As mentioned, Turner Sports’ ELEAGUE will present new episodes of its hit gaming culture show ELEAGUE Super Punch, beginning Friday night at midnight on TBS. Ahead of the new shows, Turner Sports VP of esports Jennifer Dill spoke with us about Super Punch, its early success, what to look forward to in the upcoming episodes and more.

Dill on the show concept: ELEAGUE Super Punch is about celebrating the passion for videogaming and its cultural extensions to trends in areas like entertainment, sports and music. We created the show to appeal to range of fans, expanding our focus to a variety of games and the streaming personalities that make them continually relevant. When you watch an episode of ELEAGUE Super Punch, you should expect an energetic mix of games, contests, interviews and stunts that provide a uniquely entertaining spotlight on what’s new, now and next in a laid-back and inviting way.

On takeaways from earlier episodes: One of the constants with ELEAGUE is our commitment to staying agile and our willingness to utilize different production techniques, segments, and other elements of our content. Through feedback from fans, advertisers and business partners, we observed that ELEAGUE’s young, passionate audience loves interactive experiences, so we have identified ways to give them an even larger say in each episode of Super Punch – from the games we play to the topics we cover.

On priorities for the forthcoming shows: Our goal is to celebrate the gaming community in an inclusive and entertaining way. Viewers can expect a great lineup of guests joining our hosts each week that represent a cross section of the gaming world and mainstream entertainment – including athletes, entertainers, and other celebrities. We think that having Super Punch feature high-profile guests from across the spectrum of sports, pop culture and entertainment provides natural opportunities to draw more people into the amazing, vibrant gaming community who might not have otherwise known it as well.

On remote production through the pandemic: Throughout this time, we have been able to continue providing award-winning esports and gaming content across all platforms. The gaming space tends to lend itself to remote content creation due to the physically distanced nature of streaming and videogaming in general – for example, it is common for influencers, professional players and talent to have their own gaming/streaming setups.

On Turner Sports’ evolving approach to esports and gaming content: We launched ELEAGUE in 2016 as a premium esports tournament and content brand, and accomplished our goal of creating an authentic voice within the space. In the years since, we have continued to innovate across production and live events, with a central focus on driving fan engagement and creating buzz. We know that esports and gaming are foundational pieces of the cultural zeitgeist for Millennial and Generation Z fans, so we will continue to create new and different ways for our passionate, dedicated fan base to watch and engage with our premium content experiences.

LIFESTYLE
Nike stitched up esports-themed merch for the League of Legends Pro League ahead of the 2020 League of Legends Global Finals in Shanghai and is offering newly designed clothing that represents all four teams competing from the league in the coming weeks. Footwear will see a World Championship-inspired design for the Air Jordan I Zoom Air CMFT. Every item in the collection will feature the Nike swoosh with other team-oriented patterns.

Wizards of the Coast unveiled not only details for its upcoming slate of Magic: The Gathering releases through 2021, but also partnerships with AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and K-Swiss. In collaboration with K-Swiss, Magic unveiled a limited edition sneaker inspired by the iconic look of one of its most beloved characters, Jace Beleren. The reimagined Gstaad ’86 sneaker is crafted with premium leather overlays and underlays that are accented by glow-in-the-dark elements — the leather collar lining, printed designs, rubber outsole and extra laces. Metal lace clip-ons modeled after Jace’s character design and a debossed Magic: The Gathering logo at the tongue and a sublimated sockliner of Jace’s artwork.

READYUP SPOTLIGHT
INDUSTRY

PUBG Mobile was banned in India by the government as part of a move that blocked 100 other mobile applications, finding apps to be “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, Defence of India, Security of State and Public Order,” noting that apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an “unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

Allied Esports created the first opportunity for legal esports betting in New Jersey through its VIE.gg CS:GO Legend Series tournament, which runs through Sept. 13. The announcement allowing legal esports betting in the state was made by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), and was facilitated by New Jersey-based gaming and esports agency Gaud-Hammer Gaming Group. “We are extremely proud that bettors in New Jersey will place their first legal esports wagers on the VIE.gg CS:GO Legend Series,” said Fran Ng, CEO of Allied Esports Entertainment. “Between our recent data and video rights agreements and focus on competitive integrity, we have raised the value of one of our key tournament brands and provided our partners with an innovative business solution. We are excited to play a new role in the rapidly growing esports betting market and believe we have taken the necessary steps to capture future opportunities in the U.S. and around the world with our unique offerings.”

Ford Models added new signings to its newly created Esports and Gaming division, including veteran esports host, caster, and personality, Britanni Johnson, Ford’s first female gaming personality. Johnson is delivered the voice of the “Guardian Angel” in the Borderlands franchise, and is also the Head of Creators for G2 Esports. She will be joined at Ford by one of the top female gamers in the world, Emmalee “EMUHLETT” Garrido, a professional CS:GO player and team captain for Team Dignitas owned by the Philadelphia 76ers. Ford has also signed influencer, gaming content creator, host and renowned “sneakerhead,” Bobby Toub, better known as “Bobby Solez,” a pioneer of mobile gaming trucks who recently launched his own company, NY Console Kings.

Collegiate StarLeague announced the formation of a new business titled CSL Esports, providing services and support for colleges and universities leveraging CSL’s esports expertise with activity at all 65 of the Power 5 conference schools. The offering includes online and live tournament creation and support services, online league operations and administrative support, content creation and distribution, on-campus events (live and online), intramural leagues, and esports advisory services to support programs, team formation, and curriculum development, among other offerings.

GameCo announced the debut of a “turnkey, outsourced, and full-service esports betting solution specifically built for the regulated US market as part of its iGameCo brand.” Through partnerships with top data platform GRID, oddsmaker 10Star, and software developer Askott Entertainment, the company will offer casinos with a “plug-and-play esports betting solution that integrates a betting platform, data and video streaming services, and odds plus risk management.”

Skillz Inc. and Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. agreed to a business combination that will result in Skillz becoming a publicly-listed company. “Today we’re a leader in casual esports and are well positioned to capture the global esports opportunity which will increasingly define the gaming market,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and Founder of Skillz. “Skillz fulfills the human desire for community and competition and is shaping the future of interactive entertainment.”

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