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05/06/21: Riot’s big bonanza; Intel resumes road to Games; Dignitas all-women’s VALORANT tournament

Medias First Morning Read

Thursday May 6, 2021

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Riot Games flooded the ecosystem with a bevy of news on Wednesday, announcing plans and sponsors for its entire lineup of esports titles, spanning Wild rift to TFT to Valorant to League of Legends. Highlights from the media events include:
· Plans for a global tournament aorund League of Legends: Wild Rift in late 2021. “We really believe that mobile gaming will help transform the future of esports,” said John Needham, Global Head of Esports at Riot Games, who added. “To top off 2021 for Wild Rift Esports, regional teams will qualify for our first-ever Wild Rift global tournament,” he said. “While we haven’t nailed down all the specifics, Riot is committed to a global Wild Rift Esports event in the fourth quarter of the year.”
· The next Global Teamfight Tactics Championship will be a live event taking place in China this October.
· VALORANT Stage 3 Masters will run out of Berlin and pit 16 teams for the event. The winner of Masters: Berlin will automatically qualify into VALORANT Champions where a single team will be crowned the best Valorant team of 2021.
· Riot is partnering with Spotify to launch MSI Team Anthems within the official League of Legends Spotify playlist. Each of the 11 qualifying teams selected one song that embodies the spirit of their team and their rise throughout the Spring Split.
· Riot is also launching a new podcast that will be available exclusively on Spotify that will cover trending LoL Esports news from around the world. The episodes will be hosted by League of Legends personalities and will drop weekly throughout the year.
· Multiple partnerships and upcoming activations, which are detailed below.

The Intel World Open tournaments got the greenlight leading into the rescheduled 2020 Olympics, serving up both a Rocket League and a Street Fighter tournament with country-based competition. The company posted that “When you think there’s nothing certain in this world, there is one thing we can assure you about. The #IntelWorldOpen IS happening! Be prepared. The best is yet to come.” The tournaments will run through July 21, just before the Summer Games begins in Tokyo.

Dignitas announced a $50,000 all-women’s VALORANT tournament, as the next edition of the VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Game Changers program. Verizon VCT Game Changers NA, presented by Dignitas, will host North America’s top Women’s VALORANT teams in the June 24-27 Main Event. An open qualifier, powered by Nerd Street Gamers, will precede the Main Event on June 19-20. Twitch will be the exclusive broadcast home and Dignitas and Twitch will open the opportunity for Twitch-exclusive content creators to apply for co-streaming rights to broadcast the event on each creator’s personal channel, as part of a joint-effort to champion women’s VALORANT content creators. Dignitas will surprise Twitch co-streamers with surprise gifted Twitch subscriptions and Twitch Bits throughout the duration of the event.

Overwatch League is tapping the University of Hawai?i at M?noa as host for its four regular season tournaments this year and spanning May–August 2021 and beginning this weekend with the May Melee. With the league split between the US and Asia, the move allows western teams to play in Hawai’i so neither side is handicapped by a different ping. “Working with the University of Hawai?i has helped solve one of our biggest challenges as we continue to safely compete in online competition,” said Corey Smith, director of broadcast technology for the Overwatch League. “Playing from Hawai?i unlocks online play between our East and West regions, which makes our competition stronger and our matches more exciting for fans globally. We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Hawai?i and local students to help make it all happen.”

Calling all bright, bold, unstoppable women and the colleagues who want to honor them. The early bird deadline to get your nominations in for the Cynopsis Top Women in Media Awards on Thursday! There are categories for every facet of the industry. If you are a top woman in media – or know someone who is – we want to cast a spotlight on someone deserving at our Top Women in Media Awards gala in October.

Learfield IMG College announced the addition of Rocket League as a featured game title for its esports events and league through a direct agreement with Psyonix. The game will be the centerpiece for Learfield IMG College’s upcoming nationwide Level Next Rocket League Spring Showcase Large-scale events, like the Spring Showcase, also will be complemented by year-round content creation and school-specific tournaments. With the move, Unilever joins as a cornerstone Level Next sponsor with significant engagement this spring.

Allied Esports was selected by interactive live streaming platform Trovo to create and produce a new community esports tournament series for gamers in North America, Latin America and Europe that will run throughout 2021. The Trovo Titans program, featuring over 100 events and 280 days of competition through weekly matches and monthly tournaments, will distribute $250,000 in prize pools for participants, plus additional incentives and rewards for viewers.

Call of Duty League revealed two new initiatives with the support of USAA, the League’s Official Insurance and Military Appreciation Partner. Call of Duty League will launch its first-ever Military Appreciation Week and the Call of Duty League Gives Back initiative, aimed at supporting the military community. Timed to Military Appreciation Week, USAA will also be the presenting partner of Call of Duty League Major III, broadcast May 13-16.

WePlay Esports saw both Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment-owned NetheRealm Studios and Bandai Namco Esports each deliver statements Friday that the companies will no longer work with esports tournament organizer. WePlay recently held the WePlay Ultimate fighting League featuring titles from the two publishers, which cited “differences in vision” as the cause for the pullout

IMC is set to host IMC College Clash, a series of university tournaments presented in concert with Team Liquid. Taking place over the first two weekends of May in three global regions — North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific — College Clash will consist of three open tournaments for university students to celebrate gaming and win prizes by competing in Riot Games’ League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics. College Clash will be broadcasted in its entirety on Team Liquid’s Twitch stream with tournaments beginning each day at 6:00 PM local time.

Ubisoft was able to firm up plans for the Six Invitational, announcing that the event got approval from French authorities and will still take place in Paris. The offline event begins May 11 and will take place with no audience on-site and will be under strict sanitary measures, according to the release.

Porsche is extending its virtual racing run with the announcement of a third season of the Porsche TAG Hauer eSports SuperCup championship. Following the season finale of the 2021 SuperCup season, Porsche and iRacing jointly announced that the Porsche 911 GT3 R would be coming to the platform.

USA Basketball is gunning to capture another FIBA Esports Open conference crown from May 7-9. 76ers Gaming head coach Jeff Terrell, the 2019 NBA 2K League Coach of the Year, returns to USA Basketball as the coach/advisor for the 2021 USA E-National Team for the FIBA Esports Open III. “In our first FIBA tournament, our team came together at a rapid pace and played for each other and not themselves,” said Terrell. “With this tournament, with most of our roster getting ready for the 2021 NBA 2K League, which begins play May 19, we will have less time to practice and gel. I feel that the group of players we have on this roster are proven winners, leaders of their respective teams and want to represent USA Basketball the correct way.
In all, the FIBA Esports III will feature 60 national teams playing in eight regional conferences from April 16-May 9.

Mobile games including PUBG Mobile, Garena Free Fire, Arena of Valor and Wild Rift, have reached significant popularity on streaming platforms like YouTube and Facebook Gaming. Stream Hatchet estimates that streams for dedicated mobile games accounted for 866 million hours watched in Q1 2021, approximately 37% of the total Q1 gaming watch time. Here are the key updates on this growing segment of the market:
Battle Royales lead the mobile gaming market: Between the top two game genres, BR games like PUBG mobile and Garena Free Fire generated an average of 151 million more monthly hours watched than mobile MOBA games.
MOBA games could be set to take a larger share of the future market: While BRs remain significantly more popular in the mobile gaming sector, watch time from Nov – Apr has decreased by 29%. During the same time frame, MOBA live streams have increased hours watched by 43%.
For more on how Stream Hatchet can help marketers keep ahead of trends within the video game and esports industries, visit us online at:

As mentioned above, Riot unveiled a slate of partnership news for its upcoming events. One key piece was that Verizon will be the Official 5G and Wireless Network Services Partner for both League of Legends Esports and VALORANT Esports, and both will be featured across the Mid Season Invitational and Masters: Reykjavik.

In addition, HyperX is on board as a founding partner of Riot Games’ VALORANT Champions Tour. The deal will see HyperX become the official sponsor for gaming keyboard, mice and mouse pads. “We’re excited to welcome our newest partner to the VCT. HyperX joins us as the Official Keyboard, Mouse, and Mousepad Partner of the VALORANT Champions Tour,” said Naz Aletaha, Head of Global Esports Partnerships and Business Development at Riot Games. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome them and have their amazing products supporting our event in Reykjavik and beyond.”

Finally, League of Legends Esports revealed that Cisco will be providing the network supporting MSI in Iceland and Riot Games’ production centers in Berlin and Los Angeles. According to the announcement, for the first time, pro teams at MSI will be able to practice from the comfort of their hotel rooms on the same high-performance servers at ultra-low ping.

DHL and ESL Gaming cemented a multiyear extension of their partnership. DHL has been the Official Logistics Partner to ESL since 2018 and the new agreement will expand to include the full ESL CS:GO Pro Tour, all of ESL’s global Dota 2 properties, and ESL Mobile. As a result, DHL will expand its scope from six tournaments in 2020 to deliver over 20 tournaments. “We are very happy to extend our partnership with DHL in what is an exciting time for our company and the esports community at large”, said Ralf Reichert, CEO at ESL Gaming. “With the addition of ‘ESL Mobile’, we will be able to provide entertainment to fans across the globe and it’s great to continue on this journey with DHL providing an essential business solution as our Official Logistics Partner.”

Coinbase, CS.MONEY and Red Magic were named as partners for BLAST Rising, which kicks off this week. The trio of brands will see their branding feature heavily across the three-week Counter-Strike tournament. For Coinbase and CS.MONEY the partnership is an extension on their current sponsorship of BLAST Premier while Red Magic will be returning for their second event after sponsoring last year’s BLAST Premier Fall Series.


Sony locked in plans to integrate Discord into its PlayStation Network by 2022, in addition to investing in the app and holding a minority stake in the company. Discord is used by more than 140 million gamers each month, primary via PC and mobile devices. “We’re constantly looking for new ways to enable players around the world to connect with one another, form new friendships and communities, and share fun experiences and lasting memories,” Sony president and chief executive Jim Ryan said in a blog post, He added that “Our goal is to bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together.”

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OpTic Gaming CEO Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez is reportedly looking to break up with NRG and become the sole owner of the OpTic Chicago Call of Duty League franchise, according to Dexerto. Reports also stated that eUnited is proposing a merger with what would be the solo OpTic brand, although that plan was not expected to move forward.

Luminosity Gaming inked Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns as a content creator. “I’m so excited to be joining my new teammates Darius Slay and Richard Sherman on Luminosity Gaming,” Towns said in the introduction video. “It’s an amazing adventure to get to this point, and I can’t wait for you guys to see the rest we have in store for you.”

Envy Gaming is giving a boost to high schools and middle schools across Texas, courtesy of a partnership with Generation Esports, the founder and operator of the popular High School Esports League (HSEL) and Middle School Esports League (MSEL) programs. Envy will integrate its professional esports players, coaches, and content creators into HSEL and MSEL curricula, as well as help market and increase participation in HSEL and MSEL gaming tournaments to schools and students throughout Texas.

Activision Blizzard reports 27% net revenue growth in Q1 2021, bolstered by Call of Duty for a $2.28 billion net haul during the quarter. Monthly active users across Call of Duty titles swelled by 40% year-over-year, and tripled since 2019, according to the company to hit 150 million in Q1.

Electronic Arts announced the acquisition of Metalhead Software, a Canada-based video game studio and developer of the Super Mega Baseball franchise. With this move, EA SPORTS will work with Metalhead to continue to develop baseball experiences The Metalhead team will continue to work out of their Victoria, BC studio while partnering with the global EA SPORTS team to expand the Super Mega Baseball franchise.


Rogue co-founder and CEO Frank Villarreal announced his departure from the organization. He posted that “My original goal with Rogue was not to create the successful organization that it is today. I built it because I wanted to create a family and a home for myself and for a group of incredible people I knew in the esports industry. Rogue’s purpose was to allow each of them to shine and to learn and become the best versions of themselves. I don’t know if we always lived up to that ideal, but I do know that we tried.”

theScore Media and Gaming, operator of esports-focused content brand theScore Esports, announced the hire of Eric Wachs as VP of esports sales. In this new role, he will help to lead the platform’s global partnerships team. Wachs most recently served as director of strategic alliances for Live Nation.

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