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10/15/20: Atari makes a move; OWL reports Grand numbers; Ninja head to CAA




Medias First Morning Read

Thursday October 15, 2020

Good morning and this is your weekly Esports Brief.
In the newest take on esports and gaming venues, GSD Group hired world-renowned architecture and design firm Gensler to unveil their vision for the pop culture and video game-inspired Atari Hotels with the first two hotels to open in Las Vegas and Phoenix. According to the announcement, the move will cater to esports fans as well as content creators via “one-of-a-kind hospitality experience” complete with state-of-the-art amenities. “Like Atari’s legacy in innovation, Atari Hotels is infusing synthetic reality into every aspect of the hotel, creating an immersive hospitality and gaming experience for our guests,” said Shelly Murphy, Managing Partner, GSD Group. “From our virtual interactive world to the physical locations, every element of Atari Hotels will offer a unique and authentic experience for everyone.”

COMPETITION
Another crown for the San Francisco Shock in the Overwatch League Grand Finals propelled the league to its the most-watched Overwatch League match in history, according to executives. The Grand Finals match against Seoul drew a 38% bump in viewership from the 2019 Grand Finals, delivering 1.55 million viewers globally. “I’m so proud of the entire Overwatch League staff who worked incredibly hard to put on a great show for our fans, and we’re extremely proud to finish this season with 38 percent global viewership growth,” said Jon Spector, VP of Overwatch Esports, in a statement.

The F1 Esports Pro Series presented by Aramco returns for a fourth year this week, as teams compete for a $750,000 prize pool via 12 races that will span four events. Live competition will be streamed online via F1’s official channels on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya, as well as broadcast on television by international partners such as ESPN (US), Sky (UK) and Ziggo (Netherlands), whilst Qualifying show content will be streamed exclusively on Twitch and Huya (China).

BLAST Premier Fall Series unveiled plans to see European and North American teams square off for a tier-one CS:GO championship, lining up a dozen teams to compete in the BLAST Premier Fall Series, which will run from Oct. 26-Nov. 4.

FACEIT revealed its first set of collegiate esports offerings, set to arrive as early as next month. Headlined by a combined $55,000 prize pool, the collegiate event suite will produce competitions across Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and VOLARANT for participating tams in North America.

League of Legends Pro League revealed that the Worlds 2020 final, set to take place on Oct. 31, will have a live audience, running at Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai, according to Ginx.tv. Only 6,312 fans will be able to attend, however. Attendees will need to maintain social distancing with each person having one free seat on either side of them. Additionally, attendees will need to have a level 30 Tencent server league account, and Chinese phone number.

The International 10 continues to make mountains, as the delayed event saw its prize pool top $40 million as Valve extended this year’s Battle Pass. That tally tops last year’s then-record of around $35 million. TI10 originally was scheduled to be held Aug. 18-23 at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm.

PUBG Corporation unleashed details around its next premier esports event, PUBG Continental Series 3 – four regional tournaments across North America, Europe, Asia, and Asia-Pacific. Each of the teams will fight for the right to be crowned their region’s Grand Champions and win their $200,000 USD regional prize pool (for a total of $800,000 winnings across all regions). PUBG esports fans can catch the NA Group Stage action on Twitch and/or YouTube on Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18 with the region’s Grand Final starting Nov. 5-6, Nov. 12-13, Nov. 19-20

Esports Entertainment Group signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the LA Kings and the LA Galaxy. As part of the deal, EEG will become the official Esports Tournament Provider of both teams and will operate three branded Esports tournaments using the company’s EGP tournament platform. “This is the first big U.S. push for our tournament platform, a key component of our Three Pillar Strategy for growth,” said Magnus Leppaniemi, EVP of Esports for GMBL. “The LA Kings and LA Galaxy are highly acclaimed teams, and we are incredibly proud to be a part of their ongoing success.”

Call of Duty League’s Minnesota Røkkr, ESPN Esports and esports networking platform eFuse are teaming up to host an all-female Call of Duty: Warzone competition. The #WeRokk tournament will stream Oct. 29 on the ESPN Esports Twitch channel with three teams playing for a $10,000 prize pool. Team captains participating in the event include Røkkr director of content Ashley Glassel, Washington Mystics WNBA forward Aerial Powers, and competitors from orgs that include Cloud9, Gen.G, G2, and Optic Gaming.

ESPORTS BUSINESS SUMMIT
More EBS keynotes have been announced, as the industry’s biggest business event continues to stock up on big names. In addition to Twitch’s CRO Walker Jacobs, opening night now set to also include Paul Mascali from PepsiCo as well as Daniel Kelley from HyperX as part of the event’s opening block on Oct. 27. New on Oct. 28 will be a conversation between leading content creator and Call of Duty World Champion Seth “Scump” Abner and Mike Lee, VP of Talent at UTA. Don’t miss out and get your tickets here now!

Be sure to check out our Deep Dives on Oct. 27, including Women of Esports, Presented by The Story Mob. Serving up two hours of discussion, with an A-list lineup of speakers, including a fireside chat with WNBA Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist (and gamer) Aerial Powers. Other speakers on the lineup will include FlyQuest CEO Tricia Sugita, Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson, and Women in Gaming CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman for our “SHE-E-O” discussion, moderated by Nicola Piggott, Founder/Co-CEO, The Story Mob. Plus IGC’s Karen Henessy-Coles moderates “See Her; Now Be Her” with C9’s Kristen Salvatore, Riot Games’ Monica Dinsmore, and Krista Hiner of ESG Law.

Traditional and new collegiate conferences converge for our Collegiate and Amateur Esports Deep Dive, in partnership with Intersport. Four hours of conversation that tackles all aspects of this thriving sector, led by the latest data from Intersport’s Kurt Melcher. Join the Big East, West Coast Conference, the Esports Collegiate Conference, Collegiate StarLeague, Learfield IMG, universities from across the country and many more as we dissect and debate the opportunities and challenges that schools are facing now in this industry.

ACTIVATION

Just ahead of last weekend’s 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals, IBM and the Overwatch League announced its “first-of-a-kind” multi-year deal to bring IBM’s cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to esports. A sponsorship component kicks off at this year’s Grand Finals, as the brand becomes the official AI, cloud, and analytics sponsor of the Overwatch League. The deal covers the 2020 Grand Finals and the entirety of the 2021 and 2022 Overwatch League seasons. Starting in 2021, IBM and the Overwatch League will be working closely to develop technology solutions leveraging IBM’s expertise in natural language processing and machine learning to improve the league’s rankings system, and utilize IBM’s Watson AI capabilities to create live and in-broadcast predictive analysis, with specific solutions currently under development.

Tempo Storm teamed with G Fuel to bring gamers new content, events and activations. The brands will begin by working with Tempo Storm creator communities throughout the remainder of 2020 and expand beyond the organization in the new year. “Our mutual focus on authentic community-building and memorable content creation represents an alignment unlike any other for Tempo, so to say that Tempo is excited about our future with G FUEL would be an understatement,” said Ryan Turner, Tempo’s Senior Partnerships Manager. “Both the Tempo and G FUEL teams have invested significant time and effort into molding the foundation for this partnership into something special. Expect some big things to come to our communities soon, and an even bigger 2021.”

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STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Stream Hatchet identified the top sponsored segments of the past week in their latest analysis. Companies are continuing to leverage Twitch and other streaming platforms to reach a new market via partnering with popular streamers. Campaigns ranging from new game releases, hosting watch parties, and co-streaming NFL games were this week’s most watched sponsored segments.
· With over 177K hours watched, negaoryx hosted a watch party for Amazon’s newest Original Series called Welcome to the Blumhouse. Amazon has used streamers as virtual watch parties in weeks prior but this is the first time it reached the top #ad of the week.
· Q3 2020’s most popular streamer, xQcOW, streamed Black Desert Online – a MMO RPG game – to an average of 50K viewers. Publishers and developers frequently use streamers to showcase gameplay and expand their potential marketing reach.
· TimTheTatman was back streaming the NFL’s Thursday Night Football game for yet another season. Their partnership was successful last season after generating impressive viewership and engagement as the NFL doubled down on the streaming audience again this year.

For more information about live streaming market share and other data, please visit www.streamhatchet.com/insights.

PLATFORMS

In China, news that Huya Inc. agreed to buy DouYu International Holdings Ltd. in an all-share deal sent shockwaves throughout the esports and gaming industries. Tencent Holdings Ltd., which currently owns stakes in both companies, will hold about 68% of the merged business’s voting shares, giving the WeChat operator control over a live-streamed gaming leader akin to Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch, according to Bloomberg. China’s game-streaming market is estimated to generate $3.5 billion in revenue this year, according to iResearch.

Upcoming esports reality competition series Gamemaster, produced by Peach Maria Productions, announced plans to begin pre-production in Atlanta on Nov. 9, following an eight-month delay due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. The series will begin production in January 2021, and is set to debut on a major streaming service in March 2021 with Wil Wheaton set to host and serve as Commissioner. “After an eight-month delay, we are thrilled to finally begin the pre-production process. This pandemic has impacted so many people around the world, including those in our industry — but we are working with some of the best partners available, including the CDC, to safely bring our cast and crew on site so we can bring this show to life,” said GAMEMASTER Creator and Executive Producer John Colp.

TEAMS
ReKTGlobal, parent company of Rogue and London Royal Ravens, announced that the company had raised $35 million in funding with the raise coming from Summit Partners. The company will now look to broaden its portfolio, recruit additional executives, and leverage its existing assets.

FaZe Clan continued its expansion into the livestream event space with a new event that will see FaZe members and friends of FaZe compete against each other playing Among Us. The “FaZe Clan Among Us In-Vent-ational,” is slated for October 19th and will air 5p ET on FaZe Clan’s YouTube and Twitch channels, produced in partnership with BoomTV and G FUEL. Fans tuning in will have the chance to win giveaways of limited-edition FaZe products and merchandise.

TEO writes that soccer superstar and Guild Esports co-owner David Beckham inked a $20 million “influencer” deal with the esports company in May, a month before he invested in Guild. The deal would pay Beckham at least $19.78 million over five years, with one payment made in each of the five years, while Guild will be allowed to use Beckham’s name and image to market the company. The deal includes a reported “safety feature” that puts more than $7 million in an escrow account to guarantee the remaining payments for second and third years will be made.

INDUSTRY

The expansion of esports gambling globally, a trend accelerated during the pandemic, has the potential to spur even more growth, according to projections from FansUnite Entertainment Inc., a technology company providing leading online gaming solutions, and its subsidiary Askott Entertainment, which focuses on B2C and B2B esports betting products. From March through September Euros wagered through FansUnite’s business-to-business platform, Chameleon, has increased 650% from the same seven-month period in 2019. “What we have seen this year is the beginning of a new era in the esports gambling industry,” said Scott Burton, Chief Executive Officer of FansUnite. “Fueled in part by a shutdown of traditional sports worldwide, extended time at home because of the pandemic, and growth in legal betting opportunities in the U.S., esports gambling has gained significant new interest.

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EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
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SENIOR LINE PRODUCER >>
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PRODUCER >>
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