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10/20/22: The International 11’s prize pool lags; G4 TV shutters again; Riot scoops up World of Tanks studio


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday October 20, 2022

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.
Updates on the Call of Duty League 2023 season: The Toronto Ultra will host Major V, and the qualifying stages for Majors will consist of three weeks of online gameplay, during which each team will play five games. Those three weeks will determine seeding for the LAN matches at team-hosted tournaments. Major I is the only exception, as there will be only two weeks of qualifiers with teams playing four matches each. Opening Weekend kicks off Friday, December 2.

COMPETITION

The prize pool for The International 11 is lagging after eight consecutive years of topping its own record as the largest prize pool in esports. Last year’s edition of the event would be tough to top regardless, as delays gave the mostly crowdfunded pot 140 days to grow vs. the 119-day cycle during The International 9. However, TI11’s pool is also tracking behind the event’s 2019 numbers, with a prize pool of around $16.8 million after 47 days vs. the $19.3 million TI9 brought in by that time. Part of the slowdown is attributed to the later release of the battle pass that primarily spurs The International’s crowdfunding efforts. This year, the pass released months later than usual on Sept. 1, and TI11’s reward bundle is split into two parts with the second dropping Nov. 3. The playoff portion of The International 11 began Wednesday night and runs through Oct. 30.

Early viewership for the 2022 League of Legends World Championship Group Stage has reportedly dipped by 38% from last year’s event, according to Esports Charts. According to the site, viewership drops for the Group Stage, which took place in New York before wrapping up on Oct. 16, were affected by time zone changes that were challenges for Asian and European fans. The Group Stage’s concurrent viewership peaked at 1.39 million for a T1/Fnatic battle that took place on Day 2. This stage of the 2022 World Championship has thus far drawn 46.5m hours watched.

Wizards of the Coast casts up the 2022 Magic: The Gathering World Championship takes place this month in Las Vegas via Magic30 with fans able to watch on Twitch. The XXVII World Championship will run Oct. 28-30 with 32 players on deck to compete across three formats to determine the 2022 world champion and a slice of the $500,000 total prize pool. Casting the event will be Maria Bartholdi, Paul Cheon, Eilidh Lonie, Cedric Phillips, Corey Baumeister, Mani Davoudi, and Marshall Sutcliffe.

The Halo World Championship event caps the 2022 HCS season with $1 million on the line. The event gets underway at noon on Thursday and runs until Sunday. Matches will be carried across four broadcasts, with games featured on the primary Halo Twitch channel, as well as on HCS, HCS Red and HCS Blue.

Activision Blizzard cemented plans for its Calling All Heroes Challengers Cup, with play kicking off with the first qualifier from Oct. 21-23. Play will be streamed via the PlayOverwatch Twitch and YouTube as well as Overwatch League YouTube. Casters will see microphone duties for Sydney “Waffles4Syd” Nguyen, Samantha “NaoriMizuki” Timms, Victoria “GottMoxi” Johnson, and Dusttin Lee Bowerman. Calling All Heroes is a gender inclusivity program designed to improve the environment for underrepresented genders in the Overwatch and Overwatch League community. Through initiatives, such as Challengers Cup and Caster Camp, the program will “focus on the three pillars of culture, visibility, and community to ensure everyone has an equitable chance to meet their full potential within Overwatch.”

Brag House announced a new esports tournament in partnership with Coca-Cola and McDonald’s USA for students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the U.S. in 2022. The Black & Positively Golden Gamers Tournament Featuring Fortnite will see 400 HBCU students compete against one another to receive one of three $15,000 scholarships provided by Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The entire tournament will be streamed live via The Brag House app on iOS and Android, and the Celebration Bowl will take place in-person in Atlanta.

XP League was awarded the STEM.org Accredited Experience Trustmark, making the brand the first and only esports franchise to be certified as a STEM.org Accredited Educational Program. “We are elated and honored to be recognized as a STEM Accredited Educational Program,” said Jay Melamed, XP League CEO and Brand President. “This validates the core format in our educational-based programming and our overall mission in empowering young players everywhere to build on their talents and become who they are destined to be.”

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

We are under two weeks! Don’t miss the star power of EBS. Newly announced… Explore the world of gaming under the banner of Web3! Join a killer lineup of names such as Web3 gamers and Twitch Streamer Brycent; Darren Glover, VP of gaming at VaynerSports and Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, Co-owner & Chief Gaming Officer at OpTic Gaming for a daring journey into this new world and how it will impact esports and gaming moving forward.

Join Mike Sepso, CEO and Co-founder of Vindex, at EBS as he delivers a State of the Union for the entire Esports Industry on Nov. 2. Get your insights from one of the foremost leaders driving the industry forward today!

The GameHERs returns for another amazing round at EBS! Nov. 1 will see The*GameHERs Workshop: Making the Esports Industry More Inclusive for Women at Every Level take place as one of our annual breakout deep dives at the show. This panel will discuss tangible ways we can help women feel more included and direct our content strategies from a more balanced perspective. This event has been created to motivate, encourage and inspire action and includes speakers from various esports and gaming backgrounds who are building intentional strategies and seeing success and growth in reaching a more inclusive community. See you there!

STREAMHATCHET
The mobile games market is projected to grow to $338B by 2030, according to Straits Research. For brands looking to invest and advertise in the space, it is important to understand the opportunities surrounding the mobile games industry.

In September of this year, mobile games generated 157 million hours watched across major live streaming platforms Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming. That is just 6.7% of the total live streaming market, which saw 2.3 billion hours watched last month.

While mobile games account for only a fraction of the total live streaming viewership, they make up a unique subset of the games played on live streaming. When looking at the top 50 mobile games in live streaming, the industry is dominated by three genres: Shooter, Battle Royale, and MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. These genres saw 77M, 73M, and 53M hours watched last month, respectively. (Some games are categorized by multiple genres and may be counted twice based on their secondary genre).

Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog

SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION

Tyson brand is partnering with Gaming Community Network to launch a limited series, “Chicken and a Video Game,” featuring professional athletes like Karl-Anthony Towns, Micah Parsons and Javier “Chicharito” Hernández competing in popular video games while enjoying chicken dishes. Streams started this week on Twitch, with new series running on Fridays.

Riot Games acquired World of Tanks co-developer Wargaming Sydney in a move Monday that will “accelerate development of live games,” according to Riot. Wargaming Sydney will be rebranded as Riot Sydney. The development staff will join Riot, the developer announced, while the publishing team remains with Wargaming. Riot Sydney is expected to “augment the League of Legends, VALORANT and tech teams at Riot,” according to a statement from the company.

SteelSeries and KontrolFreek unveiled their latest collaboration with Activision to celebrate the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II. Inspired by Call of Duty’s Simon “Ghost” Riley and Task Force 141, and curated for PC and console gamers, the new limited-edition Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II collection features two versions of the award-winning SteelSeries QcK mousepad, an ultra-exclusive numbered keycap, and a set of KontrolFreek Performance Thumbsticks.

Global software development company Globant locked in a deal with FIFA that will include Globant becoming a global sponsor of the FIFAe Series from 2023 until 2025. Alongside the introduction of the EA SPORTS Cup, league partners and confederations will hold a range of tournaments as part of the circuit. These include the eChampions League, the ePremier League and Virtual Bundesliga.

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation selected ThinkWrite Technologies as its Official Esports Headset Provider. ThinkWrite Technologies will offer its 250XG Victory Gaming headsets to NASEF members for esports events, along with career insights from ThinkWrite audio technology experts.

Tempest Awards

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IT’S ALIVE!: YouGov Living Data Insights
It should come as no surprise that esports fans are a significantly younger group than fans of traditional sports. But the extent of variation in age-wise breakdown between them and followers of traditional sports is still noteworthy.

PLATFORMS/METAVERSE

It is the unfortunate end of the line for G4 TV, which saw parent company Comcast Spectacor pull the plug on the game-focused channel just a year after it re-launched. An email to employees from Spectacor CEO David Scott reportedly stated that the company’s efforts to revive G4 from its early 2000s heyday “didn’t gain traction.”

B/R Gaming will debut an all-new series, in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), that “dives into the cross-section between gaming and sports with B/R Gaming’s Run The Game.” Golden State Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo, Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Gary
Payton II will talk about their passion for gaming as they compete in a challenge featuring Fortnite with charity donations to a cause of their choice. Digital episodes will drop consecutively through Oct. 21, on the B/R Gaming YouTube channel and on TBS, Oct. 24, at midnight.

World Champion Fantasy, a technology developer of PlayerX, an online fantasy esports platform, announced that Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has become an equity investor in the company. Smith-Schuster will also act as advisor, spokesperson and new product collaborator for WCF.

TEAMS

The NBA 2K League announced that Hawks Talon GC won the NBA 2K League Draft Lottery and will have the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA 2K League Draft. Nets GC will have the second overall pick, and Grizz Gaming will have the third overall pick. The 2022 NBA 2K League Draft pool will consist of players who win draft eligibility as part of the “NBA 2K League Draft Prospect Series,” “Sony Scouting Grounds” tournaments, unretained players from the 2022 season, select competitors in the NBA 2K League’s APAC, Australian and European Invitationals, and other high-performing players in the 2K community as determined by league and team officials.

Gen.G locked in a strategic partnership with sports and esports marketing agency SPORTFIVE in a multi-year deal with an eye on improving and growing Gen.G’s commercial portfolio. SPORTFIVE will also become the lead commercial representative for Gen.G.

INDUSTRY

The Global Esports Federation and Yunus Sports Hub are partnering for Esports for Development (E4D) – focusing on accelerating the UN Sustainable Development Goals through the global esports community. Together, the two orgs will work to identify, build capacity and accelerate the development of social businesses in the esports industry.

ROSTER MOVES

OpTic Gaming is making changes at the top. The company revealed that Adam Rymer, who joined the then-named parent company Envy Gaming, Inc. in summer 2020, is stepping down from the position of CEO and will transition into a strategic advisory role, effective immediately. Hector “HECZ” Rodriguez, founder of OpTic, will reassume the position of CEO of OpTic, driving the organization’s long-term vision for innovation, content, media, and fan engagement.

READYUP WHAT TO WATCH

Esports Business Summit

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TRIVIA
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Which actress was the first to be killed on screen in the Scream franchise of movies? Answer: Drew Barrymore. Kudos: Cathy Russo-Paramount/NY; C.J. Bottitta-Big Picture Productions/Apex; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Sidney Prescott/Woodsboro; Julie Schell/Chicago; David Westberg-SAG*AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Luke Watson-Bright Moments/LA; Greg Dudsic-REI/Palmdale; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions\/LA

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