03/03/22: Esports orgs set targets on Ukraine crisis; IEM Katowice’s big dance; Epic Games books Bandcamp
| Thursday March 3, 2022 Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is seeing multiple entities from throughout the esports ecosystem rally for peace in the region, bolstered by a call from Mykhailo Federov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine, for game development companies and esports platforms to block Russian and Belarusian players and teams from participating in events. Fedorov noted that doing this will “motivate the citizens of Russia to proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression.”|
Among some of the notable announcements to show support for the country, was BLAST Premier, which announced that no Russian-based teams will be invited to play in its events indefinitely and cancelled WePlay CIS Masters Spring 2022 as a response to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
ESL Pro League announced yesterday that – in addition to donations to UNHCR, paid time off for employees to volunteer for humanitarian relief and paid time off for affected colleagues – organizations with apparent ties to the Russian government, including individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict, will not be allowed to be represented, mainly Virtus.pro and Gambit. The league also paused all scheduled competitions in the CIS region. COMPETITION
The return of a live IEM Katowice 2022 wrapped up with 1.1 million peak concurrent viewers watching FaZe Clan and G2 Esports square off on Sunday, according to Esports Charts. That makes the event the only non-major to land in the top 5 of the most viewed Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments ever. The semifinal match between G2 and Natus Vincere hit a peak of 980,000, according to the site. Overall, the events throughout the tournament drew nearly 30 million hours watched with an average of 328,000 viewers.
Evo announced that long-time event pillar Super Smash Bros. will not be a part of the event’s lineup this year in Las Vegas. The full roster of games will be reveals on March 8. The event noted that the decision was Nintendo’s, which is also launching a circuit for the title later this year.
Killer mobile title Legends of Runeterra unveiled its plans for Worlds 2022, as the top 64 players from America, Europe, and Asia and other regions compete at the world championship finals in September. Riot Games will offer a prize pool of $200K for the event, with the finals seeing the top 16 competitors in play via a four-player round-robin group stage.
The doors are officially open for the Esports & Gaming Newfront, introducing brands to upcoming sponsorship opportunities in the industry! Slots are already going to hurry and grab yours today, only a limited number of slots are available! Click here for more info.
The National Hockey League rolled out plans and announced registration for the 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship. The 2022 NHL Gaming World Championship will consist of two separate tournaments with a Champion being crowned in both North America and Europe. Stateside, the NHL GWC – North America tournament will feature two weeks of Online Open play qualification, with game play beginning March 16 and March 23. STREAMHATCHET Elden Ring, the newest action RPG from FromSoftware and Bandai Namco, has received critical acclaim in its first week of release. Similar to the Souls series and Bloodborne from the same creators, the game was designed in collaboration with fantasy writer George R. R. Martin. The game has been praised for its gameplay and open world design, though it received minor criticism for its PC performance.
In the first five days of its release, Elden Ring saw a total of 65.1 million hours watched across all platforms, with a peak of just over 1 million concurrent viewers. About 89% of these views came from Twitch, with about 10.6% from YouTube Gaming and the remaining from Facebook Gaming.
The top 5 Elden Ring streamers have garnered about 7.5 million hours watched in the first 5 days of release. xQcOW had about 40% of that total with just over 3 million hours watched. He also hit a peak concurrent viewership of just under 100k.
Read more insights on Stream Hatchet’s blog. SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION
Razer struck a multi-year, wide-ranging sponsorship with Envy Gaming to become its Official Peripherals Partner and provider of headsets, keyboards, mice, mouse mats, and gaming chairs to the organization’s talent, creators, and professional esports teams. This overarching partnership will result in collaboration across multiple teams and properties under the Envy and OpTic Gaming banner including: OpTic Texas in the Call of Duty League, OpTic Halo, OpTic Valorant, Envy Rocket League, the Dallas Fuel in the Overwatch League, as well as integration with the organization’s diverse roster of content creators. Razer will also activate at numerous live esports events hosted in North Texas beginning when OpTic Texas hosts the first Call of Duty League major LAN tournament of the season.
Collegiate esports organization NACE Starleague landed a deal with AMD to serve as its official GPU partner for the upcoming season. The agreement includes all NACE Starleague competitions as well as activations within the America East and West Coast conferences.
This week’s Call of Duty League Major I – kicking off today – will see Mountain Dew serve as presenting sponsor of the event and will activate with the MTN DEW Spark Zone, a reserved section for key Call of Duty League fans. Other activations will include Aim Lab, Razer and Scuf.
FACEIT launched FACEIT Ads, a new advertising platform targeting brands looking to reach out to esports audiences. The company states that the new division is designed to provide brands with ad space on FACEIT’s platform in addition to serving as consultant to brands looking to understand the gaming audience. FACEIT Ads will be topped by Moritz Natalini.
Renegades and GameTime secured a partnership with the United Dairy Industry of Michigan to offer the Midwest Collegiate Invitational presented by Milk Means More. The invitational will see a three-part tournament with 12 universities invited to compete in the main event league play begins on march 6 with the championship slated for April 9. “We are always focused on driving the growth of the esports ecosystem — from high school and college events, to amateur and professional competitions,” said Chris Roumayeh, GameTime VP of Operations. “To partner with Milk Means More on this invitational is a dynamic opportunity, and we are super excited for these universities to battle it out in Rocket League to see who will be crowned the champion.”
Enthusiast Gaming locked in a deal with digital asset mining company Hut 8 to become a sponsor for EV.IO and Luminosity Gaming. The partnership will see the pair collaborate on new content and experiences involving mobile and blockchain gaming, Web 3.0, NFTs and cryptocurrency. AND THE SPORTS MEDIA AWARDS BRAND OF THE YEAR IS…
Crypto.com, the world’s fastest growing cryptocurrency platform, serves over 10 million customers with the crypto app, along with the Crypto.com Visa Card — the world’s most popular crypto card program — the Crypto.com Exchange and other products. Crypto.com NFT is the premier platform for collecting and trading NFTs, carefully curated from the worlds of art, design, entertainment and sports.
Join us April 19 at the New York Athletic Club to celebrate. PLATFORMS With Juked out of the gates, the platform released its list of most-followed teams since launch, with 100 Thieves leading the pack with a narrow lead of OpTic Gaming. The Juked app is designed to serve a community of like-minded esports fans to discuss esports news, matches, tournaments, and more.
GameSquare Esports is launching Fourth Frame Studios, a content production and creative execution studio at the intersection of gaming and culture. The house tapped former FaZe Clan Vice President of Content Oluwafemi “Femi” Okusanya to oversee operations as the studio develops creative content solutions for brands to reach the next generation of consumers. Actor, singer, dancer, and musician Jordan Fisher will join the Fourth Frame Studios team as Creative Advisor for Original IP Development to inform the studio’s expansion into original programming for TV and streaming platforms. Former 100 Thieves VP of Marketing and brand executive at Adidas and Activision, Mark Rasoul, will support the launch of Fourth Frame Studios as Strategic Brand Consultant. TEAMS
Gen.G kicks off International Women’s Month celebrations today, led by the “WORKshop – Women in Music and Gaming” livestream featuring 88Rising music artist Ylona Garcia, 88Rising music artist Stephanie Poetri, and VALORANT voice actress Shannon Williams (Gen.G Content Creator). The women will discuss their careers and experiences as both musicians and gamers, providing insight behind the lens. Throughout the month, fans will see support for these charities coming from Gen.G VALORANT personalities including Gloria “ploo” Kim, Sean “sgares” Gares, and Caitlin “supcaitlin” Huang in addition to variety streamers Nathan “Stanz” Stanz, Krysta “Krystalogy” Eason, and Mia “BlissKai” Henderson.
Team Liquid is hosting a World of Warcraft Race to World First Twitch broadcast starting on March 8 at 9a with the event being touted as “the largest event of its kind in World of Warcraft Race to World First history.” It will feature 28 players and 11 casters with additional content running on the series Liquid Ready Check and Liquid After Dark.
Galaxy Racer is racing into the North American market courtesy of the launch of the HER Galaxy brand, an grassroots esports initiative designed to serve as an inclusive ecosystem for female-identifying gamers. For partnered teams, HER Galaxy’s support will include providing funds to cover salaries for five players and a team coach, as well as additional support for travel, marketing, PR and branding. INDUSTRY
Epic Games added another feather to its cap, announcing the acquisition of Bandcamp, an online music store with a focus on independent musicians. “Fair and open platforms are critical to the future of the creator economy,” the company said about the deal. “Epic and Bandcamp share a mission of building the most artist-friendly platform that enables creators to keep the majority of their hard-earned money.”
Intema named Damage as their creative agency, which the goal of overseeing the rebrand of the parent company from Intema to React Gaming Group. “As we moved forward with our ambitious 2021 acquisition plan, it became increasingly clear that we needed a partner to help deliver innovative creative & content that was cohesive across all of our companies and, most importantly, that understood the needs and affinities of our gaming communities,” said Laurent Benezra, CEO of React Gaming Group. “As the top creative agency in the global gaming, esports & streaming space, it was no question that Damage will bring unparalleled branding & marketing capabilities to React Gaming Group.”
Nerd Street Gamers locked in a partnership with US Sports Camps. The deal will see Camp Localhost, a gaming and esports camp produced by Nerd Street Gamers, provide a pair of programs for ages 9-13 and 14-17 that will blend on-screen gaming and physical activity. The week-long camps will run across nine states in the US. ROSTER MOVES
Galaxy Racer appointed Akemi Sue Fisher as the CEO of Galaxy Racer’s new North American division. “We are thrilled to welcome Akemi as CEO of Galaxy Racer North America while we complete our expansion into the region,” said Paul Roy, founder and CEO of Galaxy Racer. “We believe the combination of Akemi’s impressive experience across technology and e-commerce as well as her passion for supporting and empowering women will be imperative as we continue to expand as a global esports powerhouse. We look forward to working closely with Akemi and watching her grow our newest North America team.”
Wisdom Gaming promoted Jaycie Gluck to Senior Vice President of Wisdom Gaming, with the current Senior Vice President, Ian Anderson, being promoted to Chief Innovation Officer. “The evolution of both Jaycie’s and Ian’s roles within Wisdom has not only been incredible to watch, but has allowed us to achieve pivotal milestones in such a short timespan,” said Mike Zweigbaum, CEO and Co-founder of Wisdom Gaming. “Wisdom is a next gen company, and their collective experience and leadership will be instrumental in supporting our growth.” READYUP EVENTS OF THE WEEK OTT VIRTUAL CONFERENCE = FIVE DAYS OUT!
First Look: OTT Virtual Conference takes place next week! Don’t miss your chance to hear from the OG’s on the opportunities and risks involved in spending your advertising dollars with OTT.
FIND OUT MORE Trivia
It is once again Arcade month, how time flies! What movie, pictured below, featured Michael J Fox becoming a “Crack Shot”? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city). Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Using controls with your feet, which arcade staple is pictured last week? Answer: Dance Dance Revolution. Kudos: Julie Reuther/Sydney; Allison Weiner-MMSI/Warwick; Joey Olson-Lowe’s/Arlington; Glen Ross/Blacksburg; Travis Wacker-ESPN Chicago, Good Karma Brands/Chicago; Melissa Hill-Moroch/Lansing; Amelia Enberg-EW Scripps/Las Vegas; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica Cynopsis Team Chris Pursell
@VegasandVine Kerry Smith
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