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12/23/21: Halo is golden in HCS bow; Hearthstone reshuffles; Arena of Valor opens doors


Medias First Morning Read Thursday December 23, 2021 Good morning! It’s Thursday and Esports Brief and last of the year! Happy Holidays! The Halo Championship Series kicked off the title’s return to esports with viewership records, as the Raleigh event peaked with 267,000 viewers while averaging 113,000 viewers throughout three days of play, per Esports Charts. Those numbers are both good enough to top any previous event for the title. Overall, fans watched over 3.6 million hours across the weekend.

With the Raleigh event in the books, 343 Studios and Microsoft are now looking to expand the HCS Team Partnership program. Halo Esports lead Tahir “Tashi” Hasandjekic tweeted that the Halo esports team at 343 will be looking to expand the Team Partnership program for the Halo Championship Series between February and April. Currently, there are nine esports organization officially partnered with HCS: Cloud9, Envy, eUnited, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2, Na’Vi, Sentinels, and Spacestation Gaming. COMPETITION Blizzard Entertainment unlocked a new competitive foundation for Hearthstone in 2022, which will offer up a total prize pool of $3 million, along with an expanded World Championship. The roadmap will include two seasons in 2022, with Season 1 spanning Feb.-March, and divided into three regions (Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe). Season 2, meanwhile, will be titled Grandmasters: Last Call. The 2022 World Championship will then feature 16 players battling for a share of the $500,000 prize pool. Blizzard also unveiled the new Battlegrounds: Lobby Legends series, allowing top-ranked players from the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe and China to vie for a share of a $500,000.

On the down side, the Hearthstone World Championship 2021, held purely online and featuring the top eight players, was down this year, peaking at 23,409 viewers, according to Esports Charts, and averaging 16,326 during its run. That was despite a prize pool of $500K, with the event down significantly from its peak last year of 89,246, while 2019 drew 276,206.

ESL Gaming is partnering with Intel and DHL to launch a women’s CS:GO circuit, aiming to boost awareness, provide new opportunities, and improve the representation for all women CS:GO players. The CS:GO ecosystem for women offers $500,000 across regional leagues, standalone events at DreamHack festivals, and ESL Cash Cups. The new leagues feature eight teams in both Europe and North America and a total of $150,000 prize pool. The three best teams from both regions, together with a South American and an Asian-Pacific team coming from open qualifiers, participate in the Global League Finals at DreamHack Dallas (June 3-5, 2022) and DreamHack Winter (November 25-27, 2022). In addition, ESL Gaming committed to instituting a women players council that will aid in defining further details around the CS:GO ecosystem for women as well as a talent development program.

The Call of Duty League mapped out plans to kick off their Vanguard circuit, with play set to include the introduction of Pro-Am and Warzone events as well as four regular-season Majors in 2022. OpTic Texas will play host to the first Major in early 2022. The eight-team Majors will consist of a new knockout bracket in which every squad will start in the winners bracket. The company will launch a Pro-Am midseason tournament with will run with Call of Duty: Warzone events throughout the season. The 2022 Call of Duty League regular season kicks off on Feb. 4.

Arena of Valor is expanding its boundaries, announcing plans to broaden its esports infrastructure and bring the game to more regions. The AoV esports map will be split across five stages and include open-for-all amateur tournaments, regional cups, pro leagues, as well as the AIC and the World Cup. The AIC will be held in June with a prize pool of $2 million, while the AWC will take place in October.

The Global Esports Federation unveiled the host nation for three additional iterations of the Global Esports Games with the lineup now locked in through 2026. Previously announced were Istanbul for 2022 and Riyadh for 2023. Now joining the lineup will be China in 2024, UAE in 2025, and the US in 2026.

NBA 2K League detailed a lineup of tweaks for its 2022 season, including: a tournament-centric season structure; new 3v3 tournaments entitled by Coinbase; a significantly higher total prize pool; and amateur teams vs. NBA 2K League teams in the Coinbase 3v3 tournaments. The League’s existing marquee 5v5 tournaments—The Banner Chain Powered by AT&T (The Tipoff, The Turn and The Ticket) and the NBA 2K League Playoffs and Finals—will continue as the key components of the League’s standard 5v5 competition. In addition to the League’s standard 5v5 competition, the League is partnering with Coinbase to host three new 3v3 tournaments, and a culminating 3v3 championship.

The eNASCAR International iRacing Series is expanding to a five-race schedule with new partners D-BOX Technologies and Digital Motorsports joining the series in 2022. The D-BOX eNASCAR International iRacing Series presented by Digital Motorsports will visit virtual tracks in the United States, Canada and Belgium, beginning at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Jan. 8. Drivers will compete via iRacing.com with the field will containing an even mix of drivers from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series, and select drivers from NASCAR’s 2022 Drive for Diversity class.

Meanwhile, Allied Esports announced that the Allied Esports Truck, North America’s first and only 18-wheel mobile gaming truck, is set to appear at the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the 86th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 31 at AT&T Stadium. The special eNASCAR Arcade activation with Goodyear will provide attendees with a racing experience as fans get the chance to race each other at some of NASCAR’s most iconic tracks via iRacing simulators on the truck’s main stage. SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION Immortals appointed global sports marketing agency SPORTFIVE as its exclusive global commercial sales agency, which will now work across Immortals’ esports and gaming portfolio, focusing on revenue generation, business development, sponsorship integration, and partnership development. SPORTFIVE will support the commercial development of Immortals’ esports teams across the League of Legends Championship Series, Valorant, and Wild Rift. Additionally, SPORTFIVE will be tasked with seeking out brand partners to integrate into the organization’s owned and operated channels of original content on its YouTube, Twitter, Instagram.

PLATFORMS

PlayVS is pulling back from the collegiate esports scene, making an announcement that the organization would “pause” its collegiate leagues. In addition, the company is also halting its youth leagues. In the announcement, PlayVS stated that “We realize now that the best path towards accomplishing that vision is through our High School product. As a company, our focus has always been on providing the best competitive opportunity for high school students. We firmly believe that by building a strong foundation in high school, we will be able to provide the most benefits for the esports and collegiate ecosystem as a whole.”

LiveXLive, a global platform for livestream and on-demand audio, video and podcast/vodcast content in music, comedy and pop culture, is teaming with Super League Gaming to create experiences within the metaverse tied to LiveOne’s music, lifestyle and pay-per-views in events. The two companies plan to offer fans and gamers opportunities to enjoy immersive 3D environments featuring exclusive content, unique virtual goods, NFTs, and gamified activities that drive increased affinity and socially-connected engagement. HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CYNOPSIS

We wish you a wonderful and safe holiday and Happy New Year! We look forward to welcoming you to one of our 2022 virtual or in person events. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming programs including Best of the Best & Rising Star Awards (February), Measurement and Data Conference (June), Top Women in Media (October) and Digital Model D + It List (November).

VIEW THIS YEAR’S BOB FINALISTS TEAMS A recent study from YouGov noted that American boys aged 13-17 are gravitating toward esports teams as their new fandom anchors, with three out of the top five teams with the most support from the demo being esports teams. FaZe Clan hit the rankings at number one at 22%, with 100 Thieves (11%) and NRG (10%) coming in fourth and fifth respectively, behind only the NBA’s Lakers and Warriors on the list. Meanwhile, Cloud9 also made the top ten, tied with the Patriots and Yankees with 8% of respondents considering themselves fans. The report suggests that one important factor in this shift could be the nature of how the content is delivered. INDUSTRY Electronic Arts 2021: Year In Gaming detailed how the publisher’s global community played, including player habits, favorite teams and characters, and how they engaged. The year saw the Electronic Arts global player community grew even larger. Out of the millions of new people to join our player community this year, the majority were from Europe (30%), followed by the United States (25%), Asia Pacific (22.5%), and South and Latin America (15.7%). With more than 500 million players around the world, the biggest games globally were Apex Legends and EA SPORTS FIFA. As one of the most played franchises, Apex Legends players placed more than 322 billion Pings, took more than 24 billion ziplines and used 12 billion jump pads. In FIFA 21, players around the world took to the virtual pitch to score more than 22 billion goals. ROSTER MOVES Evolution Championship Series appointed Rick “TheHadou” Thiher as the org’s new General Manager for the world’s largest fighting game event. Thiher will be charged with overseeing the overall strategic vision and direction for the event as well as the day-to-day operations. He will also continue as Event Director for Combo Breaker.

Evil Geniuses announced that former WarnerMedia executive Krystal Hauserman has joined the company as Vice President and Global Head of Marketing. As the global head of marketing, Hauserman will leverage her expertise in the entertainment industry, including prominent roles at WarnerMedia and Fullscreen, to build on EG’s 20-year legacy as the company defines what it means to be a gaming organization in 2022 and beyond. HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM CYNOPSIS

We wish you a wonderful and safe holiday and Happy New Year! We look forward to welcoming you to one of our 2022 virtual or in person events. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming programs including Best of the Best & Rising Star Awards (February), Measurement and Data Conference (June), Top Women in Media (October) and Digital Model D + It List (November).

VIEW THIS YEAR’S BOB FINALISTS ON THIS DAY in
Sonic the Hedgehog typically sports what color shoes? (Email cpursell@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
In which entertainment/gaming franchise would you fly in a starship marked NCC-1701? Answer: Star Trek. Kudos: Mike Lu-Spectrum Reach/NY; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Jim Snider-jVISION/Toronto; Kobe Yashi Maru-WMS/Atlanta; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Lorrie Shilling/El Segundo Cynopsis Team Chris Pursell
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