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10/13/22: FIFA kicks off Roblox Ball; BLAST serves up Fortnite’s return; Tempest Award Finalists announced


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday October 13, 2022

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.
FIFA and Roblox unlocked a new partnership that will offer the Roblox community, as well football fans around the world, free-to-play access to FIFA World – a virtual environment within the gaming platform that “celebrates the power of football and the rich history of its pinnacle events.” FIFA will work with Roblox to create a new online immersive experience for all football fans to hang out in social spaces, earn rewards and collect exclusive virtual items through various skill games and multiple collectors’ challenges. The FIFA World will also host bespoke video content, built from FIFA+’s extensive library, alongside exciting in-game events, while Spain star Pedri and German icon Lena Oberdorf will feature within.

“As part of our commitment to grow football and develop ways for new fans to engage with the sport, FIFA’s immersive experience on Roblox will provide football fans with a hugely exciting new way to interact with friends, celebrate the rich culture and heritage around the world’s biggest sports competition, and demonstrate their creativity and national pride through various features and mechanics,” said FIFA Chief Business Officer, Romy Gai. “FIFA believes that such a multi-layered experience will result in a truly inclusive and fun gameplay – in turn, engaging new and existing football fans from across the globe, as well as promoting the values of the sport to an even broader audience.”

COMPETITION

Esports event organizer BLAST will captain Fortnite’s return to in-person competition beginning with the Fortnite Championship Series Invitational from Nov. 12-13 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The duos tournament features a $1 million prize pool and kicks off BLAST’s agreement to “produce and deliver all FNCS Seasons in 2022.” “This partnership between BLAST and Fortnite Competitive has been built on bringing together first-class technology, industry-leading production and esports expertise,” Leo Matlock, the managing director for development at BLAST, said in a statement. “We’re excited at the prospect of thousands of fans being able to experience Fortnite in-person again and can’t wait to deliver an unforgettable two-day tournament.”

IEM Rio locked in all 24 teams competing in the CS:GO Major Championship, which offers a $1,250,000 prize pool and runs Oct.31-Nov. 13 out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The CS:GO Major itself consists of three stages, each its own format. Teams will include: 00Nation, 9z Team, Evil Geniuses, FURIA, Imperial Esports, Team Liquid, Bad News Eagles, BIG, Cloud9, ENCE, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, GamerLegion, Heroic, MOUZ, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, OG, Outsiders, Sprout, Team Spirit, Team Vitality, IHC Esports, and Grayhound Gaming.

Event 2 of the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship began Wednesday, with McLaren Shadow hoping to keep their stranglehold on the scene. Lucas Blakeley, a two-time race-winner, stood 21 points ahead of the competition entering Event 2, and his team led all teams by 14 points after three races. Event 2 will continue Thursday and Friday with Red Bull Racing Esports hoping to close the gap behind Frede Rasmussen, who won the most-recent race ahead of Event 2.

VALORANT Champions Tour OFF//SEASON events are already underway, but VCT EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) announced Wednesday the specifics of several events it is bringing to the party. The competitions include Super Dome BME from Oct. 16-22, the G-Loot VALORANT Clash from Oct. 19-Nov. 27 and Red Bull Home Ground from Dec. 9-11. The latter looks to be a premier competition to help round out the year’s schedule. VCT OFF//SEASON offers a robust offseason around the world for Riot’s tactical first-person shooter. Teams in the Americas have seven events available for the rest of the year and one in January 2023. VCT EMEA and Pacific also have eight events.

Esports Stadium Arlington plays host to a weekend-long festival featuring showmatches, prize pools, and celebrity meet-ups on October 15-16. The even is produced by OpTic Gaming and creator trio TST and titled “The Off-Season Charity Event.” Proceeds will be donated to Movember in support of charities focused on men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

NASCAR and iRacing announced the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series will stage an in-person event for the first time in series history as part of its 2022 season finale on Oct. 25. The series’ Championship 4 drivers will compete live at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte for the rights to take home the series title and $100,000. The 36 remaining drivers in the field will compete from their homes. ”The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series has a strong following throughout the iRacing and motorsports communities,” said Ray Smith, Director of Esports and Gaming at NASCAR. “There’s no better way to showcase the series than with this first-of-its-kind event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. We’re looking forward to welcoming fans out to the finale as some of the series biggest supporters, like Dale Jr., join us to crown the 2022 champion.”

In addition, the eNASCAR International iRacing Series returns with a five-race schedule, including a virtual race livestreamed at the ADAC SimRacing Expo in Nuremberg, Germany on December 6. D-BOX Technologies and Digital Motorsports continue as series partners with drivers across the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series and NASCAR Driver for Diversity Driver Development program all scheduled to compete.

EBS 2022 (Nov. 1-3, click here for tickets!)

A mighty congratulations to all of the finalists for the 2022 Tempests Awards, honoring the best in production, activation, and technology from across the esports and gaming landscapes. Thank you to everyone who entered, and to the judges who have to make some extremely difficult choices! You can check out all of the category finalists by clicking here. See you all for the big show on Nov. 2!

State of the Unions are back! Hear from leaders from Riot Games, Twitch Rivals, NBA 2K League, and ESL FACEIT Group, among others, as they walk audiences through their 2021 seasons and give attendees a sneak peek into the year ahead. Join the lineup and plan out your map!

Collegiate Esports continues to make its mark in the ecosystem, and EBS has the names that are driving the train. In addition to a full day of programming as part of the EBSU Path to Pro track at this year’s show, we will feature a rare opportunity to see the heads of NACE, ESPORTSU and Electronic Gaming Federation meet with Riot Games to break down the trials and tribulations of university esports in addition to paving the road head.

STREAMHATCHET
Red Bull still leads the charts this month as the top energy drink by chat mentions on Twitch live streams with 148K mentions in September.
That number is up 13K from the last time we reported on this metric in May of this year. Red Bull is extremely active in the live streaming and esports space, sponsoring not only individual content creators but also hosting and sponsoring their own events.
Monster Energy jumped above G-Fuel this month with 109K chat mentions, up from 101K in May. Monster partnered with Apex Legends in September, incentivizing gamers to purchase Monster to receive exclusive in-game loot. Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale released in 2019 that has consistently stayed in the top 10 games leaderboards on live streaming. In September of this year, the game garnered 60 million hours watched across all platforms, making it a great option for Monster to partner with.
Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog.

SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION

DreamHack and Sony Music Entertainment announced a new partnership to bring the very first DreamHack Japan gaming lifestyle festival to the island in 2023. As part of the collaboration, Sony Music Entertainment will become the license holder in the country for the experience. “We are very excited to be hosting DreamHack in Japan, which is extremely popular with esports fans all over the world, and we are looking forward to providing our entertainment contents that we specialize in such as esports, music, gaming, animation, etc, to create the world’s best DreamHack,” said Tsutomu Noguchi, SVP Planning and Production, Live Creative Group at Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.. “Together with ESL FACEIT Group and STARBASE’s highly creative team, we hope to create the best DreamHack in the world.“

IMSA’s first professional virtual racing series hits the track this weekend with Michelin signed on as entitlement partner of the IMSA Esports Michelin Global Championship. The series will feature the world’s top professional sim racers and teams competing for cash purses totaling $25,000 in the four-race series. Races will be broadcast on iRacing and VCO YouTube, Facebook and Twitch social media channels, with the debut event starting at 1:45p on Sunday.

Speaking of racing, Saturday’s NASCAR race out of Las Vegas will see a familiar name to esports fans. OpTic Gaming announcing that the team would be sponsoring driver Corey LaJoie and Spire Motorsports’ #7 car in the race. The org revealed the green paint scheme on Twitter this week.

Gen.G teamed up with TiMi Esports, a subsidiary of technology conglomerate Tencent, to help promote mobile MOBA game Honor of Kings to a global market. The deal will see Gen.G compete as a guest team at the Honor of Kings International Champions event in December with the two companies cooperating in various ways leading to the title’s global launch.

Best of the Best Awards

Mark your calendars for February!

We’re speeding right through fall and with that comes the new year right around the corner. Best of the Best & Rising Star Awards salutes excellence in TV programming, innovators, and leaders in the media industry. Do you know someone worthy of some recognition? Nominations are open now! Enter today before prices increase on October 31st.

ENTER NOW

IT’S ALIVE!: YouGov Living Data Insights
What are American esports fans drinking? YouGov Profiles data reveals that regular esports followers show a remarkably strong preference for various brands of energy drinks, many of which are active esports sponsors.

TEAMS

The NBA 2K League and Australia’s National Basketball League tied up a landmark agreement that will see the NBL launch an NBA 2K League expansion team, NBL Oz Gaming, representing Australia. This marks the first time an Australian professional team has joined a global esports league on a permanent basis. NBL Oz Gaming will be based in the U.S. during the 2023 season, with the team’s location still to be announced.

Former G2 CEO Carlos Rodríguez will be suspended from managerial or operations of the organization’s teams in Riot Games titles following an investigation by the developer. The eight-week suspension is retroactive to a Sept. 17 incident in which Rodríguez was seen in a video on Twitter partying with controversial internet personality Andrew Tate. The League European Championship, in which G2’s League of Legends team competes, determined Rodríguez was in violation of league rules that prohibit actions from managers that are “prejudicial or detrimental to the best interest of the League, Riot Games or its affiliates, or League of Legends.” G2 had previously put Rodríguez on eight weeks of unpaid leave, and the former League of Legends player turned team owner announced on Sept. 23 via Twitter that he is stepping down as CEO of the team he founded. Rodríguez will have to undergo sensitivity training and executive training from a third party that is unaffiliated with himself, G2 or Riot Games within the next 120 days in order to return to any managerial duties for Riot Games-affiliated competitions.

Popular Spanish esports organization KOI’s strategic partnership with European org Rogue will bring several of Rogue’s teams under the KOI banner in 2023. The teams will combine efforts to “dominate esports in Europe,” they said in the announcement, with KOI founder Ibai Llanos becoming a “featured ambassador of the partnership” for both organizations. Llanos is one of the most-followed international internet celebrities in the world, with the fourth-largest Twitch audience globally; his stream of Rogue’s recent matchup against Top Esports at the League of Legends World Championship, despite showing no gameplay, drew nearly 275,000 views. The partnership will encompass Rogue’s League of Legends, Rainbow Six, Rocket League and Call of Duty teams, the organization announced. KOI also fields a League of Legends team in the SuperLiga and is partnered with Riot Games as a franchised VALORANT team in EMEA for the upcoming 2023 VALORANT Champions Tour.

The Cleveland Browns launched a gaming community dedicated to fans and gamers titled “Chompions League” and kicking off on Oct. 18 at 7p. Chompions League comes in partnership with the online gaming platform Rival. The league will also explore “opportunities to host in-person tournaments to create exciting events and interactive opportunities for community members,” in addition to its online engagements.

PLATFORMS & WEB3

Longtime esports commentators Duncan “Thorin” Shields and Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles announced a new venture Tuesday in the form of Last Free Voice, a podcast network focused on independent content. Last Free Voice will be led by CEO Peter Morris, who led audience expansion for Barstool Sports and Funny or Die. The brand will bring “the most respected and notorious talent” in esports to fans, according to a statement, and be bolstered by the immediate edition of Summoning Insight, the flagship show run by Shields and Mykles. The show’s YouTube channel has 68,000 subscribers, and episodes typically bring in around 60,000 viewers, according to YouTube analytics. Fellow content creators Richard Lewis, Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera, Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat, Wolf Schröder, Daniel “Dgon” Gonzales and Alex “MauiSnake” Ellenberg will also contribute to Last Free Voice, the organization announced. LFV has eight shows in its current lineup.

Meta has acquired game studios Armature Studio, Camoflauj and Twisted Pixel in an effort to expand its virtual reality and metaverse offerings, the company announced during Meta Connect 2022 in Oct. 11. The announcement came with the reveal of the Meta Quest Pro, a premium VR headset that will begin shipping later this month. Armature Studio is known for the production of the VR version of Resident Evil 4, while Camoflauj works on Marvel’s Iron Man VR as well as Republique, another VR title that released in 2020. Meta also announced the upcoming inclusion of Xbox Cloud Gaming on the Meta Quest Store and a bevy of other titles and updates during the showcase.

Tournament organizer Stride Esports will partner with Practice Server for production and as a platform for events, the companies announced. Stride holds child- and teen-focused competitions in Minecraft, Fall Guys, Fortnite, Rocket League and other titles, while Practice Server tailors its tournament administration services around “catering to scholastic and amateur competitors” in remote settings.

INDUSTRY

Electronic Arts reports a record-breaking launch of EA SPORTS FIFA 23 with over 10.3 million players within the first week, signaling the biggest launch period in EA SPORTS FIFA franchise history. “The response from our fans has been nothing short of incredible, and we’re thrilled that our community is playing with their favorite players and teams across FIFA 23 in record numbers, ” said Nick Wlodyka, SVP, GM of EA SPORTS FC.“With both the Men’s and Women’s World Cups, and exciting updates to our women’s club football content in game still yet to come, we’re just getting started on providing players with the most authentic and immersive experience yet.”

ROSTER MOVES

Former Akuma Esports CEO Ben Feferman will join GamerSaloon as its COO and Head of Esports, the company announced. Feferman will be tasked with assisting the company in the launch of Dot City Gaming, a sports game-focused esports organization. He will also lead GamerSaloon’s push for new sponsorships and partnerships as the company looks to expand its esports footprint.

READYUP WHAT TO WATCH

Model D & It List Awards

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Innovation. Excellence. Inspiration. Do these words resonate with you? Model D & It List Awards recognizes those creators who are crushing the glass ceiling and raising the bar for the digital media industry. Taking place November 17th at Edison Ballroom, this luncheon will be a spectacular showcase of achievement and dedication. Keep an eye out for registration and in the meantime…

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Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
What are the three rules for taking care of a mogwai (from Gremlins)? Answer: Do not expose the mogwai to light, especially sunlight, which will kill it; do not let it come in contact with water; and above all, never feed it after midnight. Kudos: Danny Araque/NY; Joe Olson-Lowe’s/DC; Glen Ross/Blackburg; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; Madelyn Summers-Kohl’s/Chicago; Creed Heilskov-ImOn Communications/Cedar Rapids; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Luke Watson-Bright Moments/LA

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