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09/17/20: Riot’s big Bose deal; Empire feel post-Post Malone effect; Shroud sports colors




Medias First Morning Read

Thursday September 17, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Riot Games continues to shore up partnerships ahead of the League of Legends World Championships, unveiling a deal with Bose on Wednesday that designated the audio brand as an official partner of LoL Esports and its global events: the World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event. As the official headset partner of LoL Esports Global Events, Bose will provide its SoundComm professional headsets to players, coaches, referees and production team beginning with the 2020 League of Legends World Championship from Sept. 25-Oct. 31 in Shanghai. As part of the sponsorship, Bose’s new QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset has also been named the Official Gaming Headset of LoL Esports Global Events. Bose and LoL Esports will also be working together to provide fans with an inside look at the team dynamics of LoL Esports during matches through “Sounds of the Game” content.

“Bose has been an industry leader in audio technology and innovation for decades, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to both level up the pro player experience across LoL Esports and our global events while also providing an even richer audio connection to our fans,” said Naz Aletaha, Head of Global Esports Partnerships & Business Development, Riot Games.

Earlier in the week, Riot locked in plans for the organization and teams of the play-ins and group stage draw with two groups of five teams, with each group playing one round-robin cycle beginning Sept. 25. The last place teams will be eliminated, while the first-place teams advance to the group stage. The Group Stage, which runs Oct. 3-6 and Oct. 8-11 then sees 16 teams participating.

COMPETITION
Meanwhile, Overwatch League has its final four in place, with San Francisco, Philadelphia, Shanghai and Seoul set to face off for the crown. The 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals will begin on Oct. 8 in China. The 2020 champion will take home a $1.5 million prize and the championship trophy. The runner-up gets $750,000, with $450,000 for third place and $350,000 for fourth place.

Riot Games scored a 70% viewership uptick for Sunday’s championship match at the League of Legends European Championship Summer Split playoffs as G2 Esports’ win over Fnatic delivered an average minute audience of 819,400, up 70% over the 2019 summer finals. The total hours watched across the full Summer Split reached 40 million, per Reuters, for a year-over-year increase of 85%.

More big changes are ahead for Call of Duty League. The league revealed that Season 2 will transition to PC play with controllers, instead of using consoles on Monday morning. Players will be able select which controller they use, according to the post: “This change provides players with expanded choice of controller, allowing them to select the League-approved controller style that works best for their game. More details and rules pertaining to peripherals will be released at a future date.”

Pringles, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jack in the Box, Nathan’s & Mountain Dew. A feast of brands will delight your senses are this year’s virtual Esports Business Summit, running Oct. 27-29. Hear from these brands and more as the lay out their strategies in esports, what they look for in a partnership and how they are measuring results. Click here to register now!

Ubisoft will offer the first World Cup for Rainbow Six next year as 45 country-based teams compete in a tournament in a move “to share their love, pride and unconditional support with the team that will represent them on the worldwide stage.” Fourteen teams will be directly invited while the other 31 will have to compete in a qualifier. Tony Parker will serve as the tournament’s official ambassador.

ESL revealed its roadmap for ESL One Germany 2020 Online powered by Intel. The longest running professional European Dota event will now being online starting Oct. 5 and run through Nov. 1, featuring 16 teams from the European and CIS regions. For the first time in its history, the tournament will be produced from a virtual studio. “Despite the challenges that face events across our industry currently, ESL One Germany 2020 Online is still set to be a landmark moment in the esports calendar,” said Ulrich Schulze, Senior Vice President Product at ESL. “We are proud and excited to bring together the world’s best teams and to work closely with them to deliver some new and exciting Dota format to our fans.”

Riot is now sponsoring a fifth NA VALORANT Ignition Series event, titled the FTW Summer Showdown and running as an all-women tournament which will feature the largest-ever women’s tournament prize pool $50K, sponsored by Riot, T1 and G FUEL. The showdown is now expanding from its initial one-day, eight-team format to a three-day, twelve-team tournament, with a significantly increased prize pool over the course of September 11-13. “The VALORANT Ignition Series is all about showcasing the best talent of our community, and we want to use our platform to celebrate those who do great things,” said Anna Donlon, Executive Producer of VALORANT at Riot Games. “Competing as a female in games is a daunting task for many reasons, so when we heard of Nerd Street Gamers’ and Spectacor Gaming’s FTW Summer Showdown, we knew we wanted to throw our support behind the tournament and elevate it to the level of our VALORANT Ignition Series.”

WoW Classic esports is returning in October with the Fall Conquest, running Oct. 3-18 as teams in North America and Europe compete for their share of each region’s prize pool. Teams of 15 players will sign up for their region and battle against each other on live servers using the War Game feature.

Super League Gaming is partnering with Hit Parader, a film, TV, and live events production studio born out of the former iconic rock music magazine brand, for a new partnership to provide rock musicians with a dedicated esports platform titled Rock N’ Jock. The exclusive Rock N’ Jock tournament features a mix of eight teams made up of top record labels, including Better Noise, eOne, Fearless, Metal Blade, Nuclear Blast, Rise, Roadrunner and Sumerian, and will be filled with rock stars, celebrities, and athletes competing for the top spot in a classic bracketed format. “Rock musicians are gamers too, and HIT PARADER is the ideal brand to celebrate their passion for play by creating a dedicated esports brand with the launch of Rock N’ Jock,” said Super League Chief Commercial Officer Matt Edelman. “Music is such a big part of gaming. Producing and broadcasting a tournament for some of the top rock artists in the world will be epic.”

BLAST is overhauling the financial structure for BLAST Premier, stating that the pandemic’s effect on the circuit mandated the moves, including the reduction of prizing being awarded to team participating in the season, although more funds would now go directly to teams participating in the series in a move to create a “more sustainable model for the broader industry.” In 2020, the Blast Premier prize pool for events will drop by $1,150,000, while 2021 will see prizing reduced by $1,775,000.

FANAI INSIGHTS
When famous rapper Post Malone became a co-owner of Dallas Empire, their social following grew 3.2%—showing that, slowly but surely, the mainstream pop culture audience is becoming esports fans. What teams or sports from the esports world are you excited to see join the mainstream?

ACTIVATION
Team Liquid partnered with Dell Technologies to open the franchise’s new Alienware Training Facility in Utrecht in the Netherlands. The facility will act as Team Liquid’s European headquarters and regional capital for the organization’s pro teams, talent and staff. According to the announcement, the 1,060m2 state-of-the-art facility was designed from the ground up to provide a healthy and sustainable environment for esports training, performance and overall wellness. Among other highlights, the building features multiple dedicated areas for players, staff and the community.

Domino’s Pizza Deutschland and G2 Esports are partnering up with the pizza brand becoming the official quick-service restaurant for G2 in Germany. Domino’s Pizza and G2 will collaborate to produce a slate of content-related projects as well in addition to hosting viewing parties for the League of Legends World Championship.

The Golden Guardians unveiled a partnership with Softgiving, an online fundraising platform that integrates directly into livestream events. “Community impact is at the core of the Warriors’ company values,” said Hunter Leigh, Head of GSW Esports. “As we expand our charitable efforts this year and beyond, having a trusted partner in Softgiving to connect our fans to charitable opportunities will significantly increase our potential impact.”

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Recently, a new craze has emerged on streaming platforms around casual multiplayer games like Fall Guys and Among Us. Competitive games like League of Legends, Fortnite and Call of Duty have obviously cultivated audiences interested in high-octane gameplay. However, casual games are trending as streamers have banded together to generate content outside of the typical competitive realm. Fall Guys brought casual games in focus with an incredible launch a few weeks ago but Among Us has since taken the reigns as the new king. This week, Stream Hatchet analyzes the changing of guards as Among Us has stolen a large portion of the casual games market.
· Among Us hours watched have increased 653% week-over-week since August 9th while Fall Guys has decreased 60% over the same time frame.
· With 46M hours watched last week, Among Us was the #1 ranked game across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming.
· Not only has Among Us dominated total hours watched, but the game also generated a peak concurrency of 838K viewers while averaging an audience of 273K, the highest average of any game last week.

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

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PLATFORMS
Ninja is heading home to Twitch. Following his run on the now-defunct Mixer, the famed streamer inked an exclusive deal to return to the platform in a multi-year agreement. “I am excited to get back to streaming full-time and connecting with my loyal fanbase,” Ninja said in a statement. “I really took my time to decide which platform was best and Twitch has been supportive throughout this process and understanding my overall career goals. In this next chapter, I’m going to make it a point to elevate and bring more eyes to underrepresented creators. I am looking forward to working with Twitch to demonstrate how this amazing community of gamers can make a meaningful impact.”

PlayVS announced the largest ever scholarship pool in high school esports history, giving students across the country access to over $600K in scholarships. Esports scholarship programs have helped propel the industry and cement its place into mainstream culture alongside the likes of traditional sports. “Esports is experiencing a massive cultural moment. With the ongoing pandemic, more students and schools are participating than ever before and PlayVS saw an opportunity to reinvest in this community and their futures in an impactful way,” said PlayVS Founder and CEO Delane Parnell. “With our commitment to awarding these scholarships, we’re taking an important leap forward in accelerating the futures of students who might not otherwise have the opportunities awarded to them towards receiving a higher education.”

Bayes announced the closing of a $6 million funding round, which included participation from the Pohlad Family investment group, Fertitta Capital, Sony Innovation Fund, and other sports and media investors. The funding will be used to further expand the data and content offering on its platform and to develop new platform features that benefit both data suppliers and consumers.

TEAMS
FaZe Clan and Invisible Narratives offered more details for their upcoming feature film, a thriller titled “Crimson” that will be released on October 29th on Inviz.tv ahead of Halloween. The film features gaming and YouTube personality FaZe Rug and will feature other top content creators from FaZe Clan, a collective boasting over 230 million combined followers, “Invisible Narratives was founded with a mission to address the shift in how content is consumed, and to deliver IP to the next-gen audience directly where they already live,” said Invisible Narratives co-founders Adam Goodman and Andrew Sugerman. “FaZe Clan is the perfect partner for our first direct-to-consumer movie on Inviz.tv. ‘Crimson’ will deliver a unique experience that combines a cinematic film alongside limited edition merchandise to a highly engaged, global fanbase – just in time to save Halloween 2020!”

Astralis Group is reportedly merging all of its activities and teams into a singular brand, with the Origen LEC brands and the Future FC FIFA roster shifting under the Astralis umbrella. The company also detailed the new “Astralis universe” that will incorporate a new social media structure, merchandise, media initiatives, and “fan-related products.”

The Gen.G Foundation officially opened its application process for students to apply to be a part of the inaugural Gen 10 class – a group of 10 students from all over the country that will receive a $10K scholarship to be awarded in December. “The gaming industry has only scratched the surface of developing talented young gamers who can lead the industry’s next generation,” said Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G. “This and future classes of the ‘Gen 10’ will strengthen the diversity and representation that gaming needs to reach its full potential.”

XSET, the newly-launched gaming and lifestyle organization, announced a partnership with SCUF Gaming to provide their pro roster with state-of-the-art controllers. “Since our inception as a company, we’ve supported the leagues, teams, and players that are leading the professional gaming community,” said Duncan Ironmonger, Founder and CEO of SCUF Gaming. “Now as XSET is looking to grow its influence and compete at the highest level, not only will their roster of talented players have access to the most advanced controllers available, they will have the backing and support of SCUF.” In addition to providing controllers, the SCUF logo will be featured on XSET game jerseys and other team merchandise.

READYUP SPOTLIGHT

LIFESTYLE
Shroud is launching a with a new line of products from Logitech that will reportedly include keyboards, headsets, mouse and mousepads, with more exclusive products also on the docket. The Shroud x Logitech product line will feature a black and blue color scheme featuring the streamer’s logo branding.

ROSTER MOVES

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings announced key industry additions to its Senior Management Team, naming Thamba Tharmalingam as Chief Operating Officer, Warren Jansons as Senior Vice President, Revenue and James Jackson as Vice President, Engineering. Previous Chief Operating Officer, Eric Bernofsky, will be taking on a new role as Chief Corporate Officer.

TOP WOMEN IN MEDIA
Cynopsis is gearing up to recognize the 2020 Class of Top Women in Media – trailblazers who are pushing the industry forward, while empowering & inspiring others. On October 13-16, we’re excited to have the following guest presenters announce the honorees:
-Ana Jurka – Anchor & Reporter – Telemundo Deportes
-Monica Raymond, Star of Hightown – Starz
-Sheereen Russell, Group VP Ad Sales/Client Partnerships & Inclusive Engagement – OWN

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2013: Grand Theft Auto V is released.

Trivia
What color do the ghosts become when Pac-Man east a Power Pellet? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Name the 1981 arcade classic pictured last week. Answer: Frogger. Kudos: Luke Watson-Entertaining Concepts/NY; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank

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