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01/19/23: YouTube shifts Shorts monetization strategy; Microsoft to lay off 10K employees; CoD legend Scump retires

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday January 19, 2023

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.
Adjustments to YouTube’s models for ad servicing and its YouTube Shorts platform could shake up the creator economy in esports and gaming in the coming months.

YouTube plans to shift its monetization strategy for Shorts to let partners earn money from ads between videos in the platform’s Shorts Feed, giving the Google-owned video publisher a leg-up on competitor TikTok when it comes to monetization for creators. While TikTok remains the top platform in terms of engagement and scope of users, monetization opportunities on TikTok are slow-going, with most creators relying on third-party deals that are then messaged as advertising.

This shift gives YouTube an advantage over TikTok from a short-form creator perspective. Another recent choice, however, might hurt gaming and esports orgs who use YouTube as a revenue stream.

YouTube’s adjustments to its violence and profanity policies include demonetization of content that includes use of profanity “consistently” or cursing and violent imagery in the first eight seconds of a video. These changes make engaging viewers via thumbnails or intro sequences more complex, but not impossible; the application of these policies retroactively to videos prior to the November 2022 guideline adjustments, however, has rankled creators in the gaming and esports spaces.

These ebbs and flows are part of being beholden to a hosting site in order to monetize content, and controversies springing from YouTube guideline updates are nothing new. However, the changes, coupled with the industry leaning hard into short-form video, could lead to a significant pivot in what kind of content influencers are creating, and how they provide it, in 2023.


The League of Legends Championship Series is shifting its schedule, the league announced, to accommodate fan feedback about the league’s early start times on Thursday and Friday. The LCS, North America’s premier League of Legends competition, will now begin at 5 p.m. ET on both days rather than 3 p.m. ET. Fans had called for an adjustment when the time slot was first announced, as competition overlapped with the average workday, particularly for West Coast fans. The LCS made the initial adjustment to playing on Thursday and Friday to avoid overlap with the League Europe/Middle East/Africa Championship, which runs Saturday through Monday.

Following a world championship that saw 4.2 million peak viewers, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang announced its 2023 plans, including the M5 World Championship coming to the Philippines in December. The title’s esports circuit, the Mobile Premier League, will begin its 11th season in February and run through May with pro competition across Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Middle East/North Africa, the Philippines, and Singapore. Other competitions, including the return of the North America Challenger Tournaments, will also be part of the official schedule. MLBB have also added other competitions to their tournament slate, including a first-ever tournament with multi-event mobile esports organizer Snapdragon Pro Series in July and a World Cyber Games stop in July. With a packed schedule and more than 250 official matches in 2023, MLBB developer Moonton Games hopes to capitalize on a record-breaking year and cement itself as not just a premier mobile esport but one of the best in the category, period.

VALORANT Champions, the world championship for Riot Games’ first-person shooter, will come to the U.S. in 2023, according to a report from Los Angeles is the likely target for the tournament, according to insider Alejandro Gomis, with competition taking place in August. The esport’s world championship has taken place in Berlin, Germany, in 2021 and Istanbul, Turkey, in 2022. The host city of Los Angeles is not set in stone, Gomis said, though the city is a likely destination for the championship’s first trip to the States: Riot Games’ Santa Monica studio and ties to the rest of the Los Angeles area would make for a tournament that is both familiar from an execution standpoint and an international destination for fans and teams.

The Fortnite Championship Series will feature a $10 million prize pool and a new tournament structure alongside an in-person global championship in 2023, the league announced. Though a far cry from the $100 million that developer Epic Games put up for the game’s esports league debut in 2018, the return to a global championship on LAN is a positive step for the FNCS. The 2023 finale will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, with $4 million of that prize pool on the line among 75 duos team participants. The FNCS will also feature three major tournaments throughout the year, with teams competing for $2 million in each of those competition legs. The majors are scheduled to take place online in February, April and July, with five weeks of competition for each. No date has been provided for the global final.


Twitch and live streaming platforms have always been a place where people have discussed finance-related topics, especially crypto currencies. In the last few months, The Crypto market has continued to experience turbulence, prompting discussions on Twitch. In addition, the IRS is invoking changes that will affect services like Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App in the United States.

The most chatted about Finance Brand was PayPal which clocked in at 500K chat mentions in December. The Digital Finance service provides an online payment system that is accessible in many countries across the world. This service allows you to transfer money digitally, quickly, and safely online.

Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog to find out what the most-mentioned crypto brands were in December.


BMW plans to discontinue its investment in esports activations going forward, a decision that could impact about a dozen different competitive organizations, was officially confirmed in a report from Digiday. A spokesperson for the automobile manufacturer said BMW is exiting esports, but BMW is planning to remain an active marketer with “in-home casual gaming and the metaverse,” according to Digiday. BMW has partnered with major esports brands since its first team deal with Cloud9 in 2019, including G2 Esports in 2020 and, just in November 2022, Fnatic in a deal that made BMW the provider of custom pro gaming mouse sets for its players. The status of these ongoing deals and recent activations remains unclear.

The League EMEA Championship re-upped its partnership with LG UltraGear, which will bring a new monitor model to the league going into the 2023 season. LG UltraGear will be the official monitor partner for the LEC for the second year in a row and provide its new 25GR75FG model to teams as the league expands to include Turkey, Commonwealth of Independent States and other former regional league competitors as official LEC teams.

Riot Games has brought on Rally Cry as a partner for its North American Challengers League, the organizations announced Friday. Rally Cry, a tournament organization platform, will also oversee broadcast production for Riot. The organizations have previously worked together, most recently as partners for the 2022-23 collegiate VALORANT season in September 2022. The NACL, a second-tier competition designed as a pathway into the League Championship Series, begins competition on Jan. 21.

Bayes Esports continued its accumulation of competitive data assets via a partnership with BLAST Premier following Bayes securing deals with tournament organizer ESL and League of Legends esports via Riot Games. Bayes, a live esports data provider and betting odds creator, will source content from BLAST Premier competitions to provide organizations and its audience with statistics and insights both in real-time and post-match. Automated content via a program called “Project V” is also in the works, according to Bayes.

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A pop in Buzz for Xbox among CoD players

YouGov BrandIndex Buzz scores indicate that Call of Duty players have heard positive things about both Xbox and PlayStation since news first broke about Microsoft’s planned acquisition of CoD parent company Activision Blizzard. Xbox’s score has risen more sharply but still trails that of PlayStation. Buzz scores reflect the percentage of people who are hearing positive things about a brand minus those who are hearing negative things.


Call of Duty legend Seth “Scump” Abner announced his retirement Tuesday and capped off a 13-year career complete with 30 major championships, all but one as a member of OpTic Gaming. Scump, 27, has been a fixture in competitive Call of Duty since 2011, when he rose to prominence first with Quantic LeveraGe and, less than a year later, when he transferred to OpTic. His Call of Duty League squad, OpTic Texas, has struggled through the first quarter of the season and failed to reach the quarterfinals of the first Major of the season. “Coming into the year, I was already on the fence about giving it another go, and I really thought that I could do it, but I overestimated my energy,” Scump said in a recording of his private announcement Monday. “The support I’ve been given with so many decisions in my career is astonishing, and I hope this is no different.” OpTic substitute Brandon “Dashy” Otell will replace Scump in the team’s starting lineup.

European esports org ACEND announced it will no longer field Halo or Rainbow Six: Siege teams. The team, best-known for its VALORANT roster, also fields rosters in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Apex Legends. ACEND called out Halo developer 343 Industries’ lack of attention to teams that are not a part of its Halo Championship Series as a reason for leaving that esport, while the organization did not provide additional information about its exit from R6. ACEND Head of Esports Mark “Krimson” Senior, however, said on Twitter that the reasons were similar: a lack of opportunity to grow in the games’ ecosystems. “The timing comes from the start of the year and us needing to plan ahead for 2023,” he said. “For both titles sadly it just didn’t feel like there was much in the way of support for smaller organizations and minimal benefits of staying in the scene.”

Esports organization eUnited has shuttered, with only the company’s CEO remaining on-staff as of the start of 2023, according to a report from The Esports Advocate. Once one of the best teams in Call of Duty and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, eUnited reportedly ended contracts with all of its players across games including Gears of War and Rocket League at the end of 2022 and ended its relationship with the Halo Championship Series as a partnered organization.

Former League of Legends pro Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon is returning to the esports scene as an analyst for South Korea’s League Champions Korea. Huni, a former top laner who was the first player to qualify for a world championship with teams in three separate regions, announced his retirement in August 2022 after wrist injuries sidelined his time with TSM earlier in the year and returned to his home country of South Korea. The 25-year-old will bring seven years of perspective as a pro in South Korea, Europe and North America to the broadcast.


France announced its plans to build an “esports ecosystem” to support the country’s efforts to draw international esports events to France and put on Olympic Esports Week immediately following the country’s hosting of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. The plan, which was created by the France Esports work group in conjunction with French Minister of Sports and Olympic and Paralympic Games Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, calls for facilitating easier access to work visas for esports competitors, promotion of an amateur esports ecosystem in the country and France to continue to support game publishers and tournament organizers such as BLAST, which is hosting a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major in Paris in May 2023.

Microsoft plans to lay off roughly 10,000 employees this year, CEO Satya Nadella announced Wednesday. The move comes as the tech giant prepares for oncoming difficulties as consumers cut back post-pandemic spending on digital assets. “We’re also seeing organizations in every industry and geography exercise caution as some parts of the world are in a recession and other parts are anticipating one. At the same time, the next major wave of computing is being born with advances in AI, as we’re turning the world’s most advanced models into a new computing platform.” The cuts represent 5% of Microsoft’s workforce, Nadella said, and will take place through Q3 of the current fiscal year. The layoffs follow a 1% reduction in Microsoft’s employee base in July 2021.

Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum, software company Celonis SE’s co-CEO advised entrepreneurs to continue their work despite uncertainty, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. Alexander Rinke of Celinos, a software as a service organization, said cuts among industry mainstays like Microsoft, Amazon, Meta and others are concerning, but restriction in venture capital and a smaller market will benefit startups with the right stuff. “If you start out as a young company and then people throw $100 million at you, you probably don’t build the right fundamentals because you don’t have to,” Rinke said. “I think that this is a much healthier period to build a business than two years ago because in reality, capital can’t be free forever.”

Leo Lin, the former Vice President & Head of China at Riot Games, was promoted to President of Global Mobile Growth, according to a report from The Esports Advocate. Lin will report directly to Riot CEO Nicolo Laurent and oversee the developer’s suite of mobile titles including mobile multiplayer online battle arena League of Legends: Wild Rift, auto battler Teamfight Tactics and card game Legends of Runeterra. The move brings an executive from one of the most mobile-friendly games markets in the world into a position where he can try to promote similar engagement with handheld titles abroad.


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This recent sports record is too spicy to pass up. Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made some dubious history this weekend with how many missed extra-point attempts during his team’s playoff win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
What is the name of the video game-based TV series scheduled to premiere on HBO this week? Answer: The Last of Us. Kudos: David Westberg | SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank, California; Lorrie Shilling | El Segundo, California; Julian Waddell | Oakwood University Launchpad Entrepreneurship & Esports Center, Huntsville, Alabama; Luke Watson | Bright Moments, Los Angeles; Tom Moore | Kalt Productions, Los Angeles; Matt Deprey | C-SPAN, Washington, D.C.

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