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01/30/20: 100 Thieves are looking to pilfer halftime viewers

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Good morning! It’s Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 and this is your weekly Esports Briefing.
100 Thieves are sneaking into the Super Bowl pop culture spectrum, announcing plans for the #CashAppHalftime stream on Sunday, hosted by Katie Bedford and Chris Puckett. Formally titled the 100 Thieves Half a Million Halftime Show and presented by Cash App, the stream will dangle a $500,000 prize pool with contestants that include Nadeshot, CouRage, Valkyrae, Yassuo and TheMob. More guests will be announced in the coming days. In addition, the team will be awarding $100,000 in chat during the festivities. l

With a last-minute major new deal with YouTube in hand (see below), the inaugural season for Call of Duty League saw Launch Weekend score nearly 1.2 million hours watched on the platform, with viewership led by the Chicago Huntsmen and OpTic Gaming and peaking at 102,891 viewers. CDL’s channel subscriptions surged to 743K subscribers as well. The next CDL home series is set to take place from Feb. 8-9, hosted by the London Royal Ravens.

The ESL Pro League caught many off-guard with the announcement that season 11 will feature a 24-team competition instead of the expected 48. Play will span four weeks in Season 11, including a full offline regular season in a studio and a three-day finals event at an arena location, with the league divided into four groups of six teams where every team plays in a best-of-3 round-robin competition. The group winners will be seeded into the late stages of the playoffs and group runners-up and third-placed teams will play in the early rounds of the playoffs, with all teams that finished in the final 16 of Season 10 invited for Season 11. Meanwhile, all other Season 10 teams received invitations to Mountain Dew League, where they can win direct slots to the ESL Pro League Season 12. The league apologized for not communicating the changes to the league earlier.

Meanwhile, B Site, the new franchised Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league, reeled in six North American-owned teams to serve as its initial franchise partners, according to ESPN. Set to launch in Los Angeles in March, the league will include Cloud9, Gen.G, Dignitas, MiBR, MAD Lions and CR4ZY. None of these teams will compete in the ESL Pro League, which will have a schedule overlap with B Site. In turn, no teams that will participate in the ESL Pro League are expected to enter B Site for its inaugural season. The league will run an online play-in and invite additional partner teams, with the intent of reaching anywhere from 10 to 12 teams.

Super Bowl week is seeing multiple layers of activity in the esports front, anchored by the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl, as top Twitch streamers such as NICKMERCS, TimtheTatman and DrLupo tackle Miami to help earn a $500,000 prize for the charity of their choice. The Streamer Bowl, presented by Twitch in partnership with the NFL Players Association, takes place today at 5p with top Fortnite players teaming up with sixteen NFL athletes including JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Evans, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Eric Ebron and more. Verizon and TurboTax signed on as Official Partners of Twitch Rivals, with Verizon 5G as presenting sponsor of the MVP pick of the tournament. Twitch Rivals is an esports tournament series designed by Twitch for streamers to compete in various

Meanwhile, Misfits Gaming Group’ Florida Mutineers are set to host the first ever “In The Know Bowl 2020” with Verizon Media’s content brand In The Know. The live Call of Duty showdown will feature the Call of Duty League franchise team Florida Mutineers players alongside NFL players including Davante Adams, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, and more, in addition to celebrity guests on Friday, livestreamed on In The Know’s social channels from 5-8p and co-streamed on YouTube. The exhibition pairs top professional Call of Duty players and influencers with pro athletes in a single-elimination 2v2 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare tournament. Kay Adams, host of NFL’s Good Morning Football, will be interviewing players and athletes live from the red carpet, and major Call of Duty shoutcasters MerK and Maven will provide in-game action and commentary.

Clash of Clans revealed plans for its World Championship 2020 via Supercell and ESL, dangling a prize pool of $1 million this year. Teams will be required to participate in monthly in-game clan war leagues or ESL Play Cups in order qualify for the monthly offline qualifiers with the winner of the qualifier punching their ticket to the Finals. The top four clans from the clan war leagues and the top four from the ESL Play Cups will be participating in the monthly offline qualifier at the ESL Arena Katowice.

The release of Warcraft III: Reforged saw ESL unveil a new weekly WC3 cup. The ESL Open Cups will allow both new and veteran players to compete in weekly online competitions ahead of the offline ESL Pro Tour tournaments held throughout the year. The ESL Open Cups begin Feb. 2.

As League of Legends kicked its new seasons into gear, the LEC announced plans to travel to Budapest, Hungary for the 2020 Spring Finals, as well as Malmo, Sweden for the 2020 Summer Finals. Budapest will play host on April 25-26, while Sweden welcomes competitors on Aug. 29-30.

Meanwhile, the LCS Spring Finals will be headed to Texas.! Ford Center at The Star, based in Frisco, Texas to host the stars of North America’s League of Legends teams on April 18-19. The Star is a 91-acre campus including the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters and practice facility, as well as the brand-new GameStop Performance Center and headquarters of Complexity Gaming. “We are thrilled to partner with the City of Frisco in bringing one of the largest esports events in North America to Ford Center,” said Dallas Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones. “As the esports industry continues to grow, including here onsite with Complexity Gaming, we will continue to create and host one-of-a-kind experiences for fans all over.”

The Pokémon Company International confirmed that this year’s Pokémon World Championships will be held at ExCeL London from August 14–16, 2020. Top Pokémon Trading Card Game and video game players from around the world will be invited to compete. The 2020 Pokémon World Championships will also be home to a Pokémon Center store, where fans will be able to purchase a slate of products including a range of items themed around the tournament.

Nerd Street Gamers and the New York Riptide have partnered to produce a 3-leg Fortnite tournament at Nassau Coliseum. Nerd Street Gamers will provide the staffing, equipment, and design planning required to execute the esports tournaments at Nassau Coliseum with upcoming events on March 28, and April 11.

The Overwatch League cancelled its scheduled matches in February and March in China as a result of the corona virus. The league will reschedule for a later date.
The new seasons of the LPL and LDL are reportedly being delayed until further notice due to the coronavirus, with activities now being pushed back. A slate of other esports events are also being delayed as a result of the virus, including the Pokemon Video Game Championships in Hong Kong scheduled for February 2, while Polygon reports that the WESG Asia-Pacific Finals for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which was slated to run in macau, was also cancelled. Overwatch League teams the Guangzhou Charge and Shanghai Dragons announced a temporary relocation to South Korea ahead of the league’s new season.

As streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube fight for market share, a main focus has been esports viewership. Many leagues kicked off their seasons and large tournaments were held last weekend while broadcasting on the two most popular streaming sites in North America. This week, Stream Hatchet investigates the viewership breakdown of live Average Minute Audience (AMA) between Twitch and YouTube across some of the big esports events that recently took place.
· While YouTube is making a push to secure more esports viewership, Twitch was responsible for about 70% of the live AMA from the events over the weekend.
· YouTube’s new exclusive broadcast partner, the Call of Duty League, accounted for about 20% of their live AMA across the listed events.
· League of Legends still generates the most viewership as the LCS and LEC generated almost 52% of the total live AMA across the sample.
For more information about live AMA, esports events, and platform data, please visit
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Riot announced that a roster of partners will return to the LEC in 2020. Back as a National Partner for the DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) region, Tchibo is back to provide the LEC with its coffee kick. Logitech G renewed its partnership and returns as an official supplier for the 2020 season. Another returning partner, Warner Music, will be rejoining the LEC as Official Music Partner in 2020. The league also announce the return of global home appliances brand Beko back to the LEC as Official Domestic Appliances Supplier for the Spring and Summer Split.

The LCS also announced that it had extended its partnership with Red Bull North America as the league’s official energy drink partner. Red Bull will unveil a brand-new press and VIP suite within LCS Studios, enlisting community artist Melissa “Sade” Yabumoto to create artwork that showcases and celebrates the most-played LoL Champions from 2019.

With week one under its belt, the Call of Duty League formally unveiled its lineup of sponsorship deals for its inaugural season, with partners that are set to include MTN DEW AMP Game Fuel, PlayStation, Astro Gaming and, SCUF Gaming, returning partners in Call of Duty esports. In addition, the league is adding the U.S. Air Force for 2020. MTN DEW AMP Game Fuel returns to Call of Duty esports in a multi-year agreement which designates the drink as the official beverage of the Call of Duty League, the Call of Duty League City Circuit and Call of Duty Challengers. PlayStation 4 was named the official platform of the Call of Duty League and the official partner of Call of Duty Challengers. The U.S. Air Force. Meanwhile, inked a one-year agreement, that will see the military branch activate on-site at League weekend events and be featured in League broadcasts including sponsorship of a “Match Metrics” broadcast feature.

G2 Esports unveiled its newest partnership with Philips Monitors to bring Philips Momentum products to the team’s players and content creators. Among the teams utilizing the deal with be its Rocket League squad equipped with Philips Momentum monitors in its 3,498 square-foot gaming house in Long Island, New York.

The Overwatch League’s upcoming 2020 Opening Weekend is seeing the league partner with agency Psyop to debut “action-packed promotional videos to hype up fans leading up to the Opening Weekend.” The new campaign launched yesterday.

Verizon and Dignitas struck a “first-of-its-kind” strategic partnership that will lead into the launch the nation’s first 5G esports training facility, dubbed the Verizon 5G Gaming Center. Located in Verizon’s 5G Lab in Los Angeles, the 5,500-square-foot training facility will serve as Dignitas’ west coast headquarters and home to its League of Legends teams. Dignitas’ 2019 World Championship-qualifying team will train exclusively at this facility and compete in the League Championship Series, which kicks off Jan. 25 in Los Angeles. The two orgs will also identify and develop ways that Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network can enhance player performance, improve recovery, and enable players to connect with fans.

Jersey Mike’s Subs is extending its partnership with Team Liquid through 2022, with the pair continuing to create co-branded content with all of the org’s top tier teams, as well as create unique rewards for fans. Program elements include: Jersey Thursdays; Jersey Mic’d.; Subs for Dubs; and New! Sub Bombs. The program kicks off this weekend during LCS, when Team Liquid will take over the West Los Angeles Jersey Mike’s restaurant next to the LCS arena for a special co-branded experience.

Misfits Gaming extended its partnership with Milk It!, courtesy of the Milk Processor Education Program. The deal will focus on the team’s Fortnite players and streamers throughout 2020, and will include a Milk It! logo on the players’ jerseys. Activation will sponsor content including further “Misfits Story” videos

Turtle Beach unlocked a new working partnership with the Chicago Huntsmen CDL Franchise. The partnership with the Chicago Huntsmen will see the team using Turtle Beach’s original Elite Pro and Elite Pro 2 gaming headsets for team play, as well as all streaming activities. Additionally, Turtle Beach intends to work directly with H3CZ and the Chicago Hunstmen players to create a wealth of “unique, engaging and fun content” to support the Turtle Beach brand.

Activision Blizzard announced that it would be bringing its esports leagues and events exclusively to YouTube in a deal with Google. The partnership spans multiple years and includes live broadcasts of Activision Blizzard’s esports leagues and events —including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, Hearthstone Esports, and more. Over the weekend, YouTube played host to the newly created Call of Duty League. All competitions will be livestreamed on each league’s YouTube channel and will include archived and other special content.
Team Rogue is mining for talent in new ways, announcing the team’s first pro Tweeter in s8n. Satan’s parody Twitter account boasts more than 2.4 million followers. “Please say hello to our first Rogue Pro Tweeter @s8n. It only cost us our soul to get him onboard.#GoRogue,” the team said in the announcement.

Fnatic renewed its partnership with Esports Charts, which will now deliver insights to the organization spanning viewership analytics for its own teams and its competitors. “Data is at the heart of what we do, to make commercial decisions, provide feedback and measure value. ESC provides us with accurate viewership data that allow us to reach our goals and report back to our partners value they’re receiving from their assets,” said Craig Santicchia, Partner Development Director of Fnatic.

Psyonix is adding in-game items for another four esports teams to Rocket League, as part of its revenue-sharing enterprise. The publisher announced that the Pittsburgh Knights, eUnited, Team Reciprocity, and Veloce Esports will now take part in the initiative, serving branded car skins, wheels, and player banners for fans. With the announcement, a total of 14 teams will now have items available for purchase.

OverActive Media and Universal Music Canada locked in a multi-year strategic partnership that will see both companies creating content and co-existing at the intersection of esports, music and culture. The multi-year partnership will include select music from UMC artists in OAM original content pieces, official music playlists curated by Toronto Defiant and Toronto Ultra players, team walk-out music during Overwatch and Call of Duty live broadcasts, UMC artist performances at event weekends in Toronto, and both brands will come together to launch official Defiant and Ultra DJ searches in the coming months.

Get ready for Super Nintendo World at Universal Orlando, with Comcast announcing that the experience will become part of the new Epic Universe park in 2023, encompassing 750 acres. The company’s first Nintendo-themed park will open in Universal Studios Japan just before the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with additional parks also slated for Universal’s parks in Hollywood and Singapore.

Allied Esports Entertainment commenced an underwritten public offering of its common stock with shares being offered by Allied Esports and certain selling stockholders. In addition, Allied Esports expects to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase additional shares of its common stock at the public offering price, less underwriting discounts and commissions, to cover over-allotments, if any. Allied Esports will look to use the net proceeds to fund general corporate activities and working capital requirements.

Meanwhile, Allied Esports selected architecture, engineering, design and planning firm HOK as its partner in creating its new retail esports venues. The two companies will begin working on the new venture immediately, with plans to open the first location at Simon’s Mall of Georgia in Buford, Ga., in the second half of 2020. “With our first-of-its-kind on-mall esports venue initiative, we had the opportunity to meet with the best in the design business, and we were impressed from the start by HOK’s experience, resources and overall enthusiasm for this project,” said Jud Hannigan, CEO of Allied Esports. “We are thrilled to be able to unveil this design to gamers in the Southeast as we continue to develop infrastructure and experiences for our growing network.”

Atari is getting into the hospitality business, announcing a deal with GSD Group to acquire the rights to build video game-themed Atari Hotels in the United States, with the first location breaking ground in Phoenix later this year. Atari Hotels will look to level up hotel entertainment with fully immersive experiences including the latest in VR and AR. In addition, select hotels will also feature state-of-the-art venues and studios to accommodate esports events. Initial additional hotels are set to be built in Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Esports Integrity Commission launched a new initiative designed to introduce regulations for talent and player agents with an eye to protect players and content creators. “Consistent and proportional regulatory frameworks in high risk areas are an important component of the longevity of the esports industry,” said Stephen Hanna, Director of Global Strategy and Partnerships at Esports Integrity Commission, adding, “We hope that, at the conclusion of this exercise, we will have a scheme which will instill confidence in talent agents enrolled in the scheme while also reducing overall risk associated with talent agency operation.”


Activision Blizzard Esports announced the promotion of Jon Spector to Vice President, Business Operations and Product Strategy, Overwatch Esports. In this expanded role, Jon will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the league, leading both the Team Business Operations and Franchise Strategy teams in addition to being responsible for overseeing Overwatch League rules, governance, tournament structure, play formats and delivery platforms.

Gaming influencer agency Loaded announced that former Riot Games veteran Bridget Davidson will join the company as Vice President of Talent, where she will oversee the day-to-day operations for Loaded’s growing roster of talent, as well as foster new relationships and brand partnerships for the company. Davidson will report to Brandon Freytag and be based in Loaded’s Los Angeles office. Prior to joining Loaded, Davidson served as Senior Esports Manager at Riot Games focusing on Pro Player development and career advancement, as well as Riot’s broader VIP relations.

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