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05/14/20: ESL revamps StarCraft & Warcraft plays; FACEIT lands Rainbow runs; Popeye’s spicy deal

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday May 14, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
ESL and DreamHack are giving an overhaul to the ESL Pro Tour Starcraft II and WarCraft III: Reforged. Instead of four live tournaments, The ESL Pro Tour will now be held online across three seasons for the remainder of the year. A StarCraft II season will last five weeks while WarCraft III will compete over four. ESL Pro Tour will continue to be tied together through a ranking system leading the way to the Masters Championship of 2021. With tournaments shifting online, the summer, autumn, and winter seasons will each feature six weeks of competition. ESL Pro Tour points will split regionally, with each region competing within their own division for positions at the IEM Katowice Masters Championship 2021. In addition to both regular ESL Pro Tours, weekly ESL Open Cups will remain active for the wider amateur and grassroots communities.

“We are confident that this is the best design that Starcraft II & Warcraft III: Reforged can get in 2020, combining regional & global competition while providing a clear pathway to the Masters Championship of 2021,” said Shaun Clark, Senior Product Manager at ESL. “As esports are global and inherently digital, we are uniquely positioned to continue this legacy, hold our tournaments online, and even improve the format for players, fans, and partners. By heavily increasing broadcast hours of the ESL Pro Tour, we aim to deliver even more esports content than before to entertain and support the RTS communities.”

FACEIT entered into to a multiyear deal with Ubisoft to oversee Rainbow Six Siege esports in North America with dealpoints that include data integration, media rights and event production, as well as content and grassroots programs. The company will now manage all North American events, including the recently-announced Rainbow Six North American League, its offline US Division LAN program, all Rainbow Six Majors in North America and the Challenger Leagues for the United States and Canada. “When we set out to create the new Rainbow Six Siege North American League, we searched high and low for a partner that could hit the aspirational editorial and production quality we required for an offline league,” said Che Chou, Senior Director of Esports for Ubisoft NCSA. “FACEIT stood out as an obvious choice given their deep industry experience and impressive content portfolio. Combined with their robust tournament platform, FACEIT brings the complete package of production expertise and technology to elevate Rainbow Six esports to the next level in North America.”While Riot’s Mid-Season Invitational is off the books, the company announced that it will now host a tournament pitting the top four teams from the LCK and the LPL against each other later this month for a special League of Legends Mid-Season Cup,” The action begins on May 28 with the competition held online with LCK teams competing from LoL Park in Seoul and LPL teams from the Shanghai LPL Arena. Additionally, in order to ensure the integrity of the competition, Riot Games will artificially standardize the ping level to 30-40m/s through the use of third party tools.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross will hit a virtual track for the inaugural Monster Energy Supercross E SX event, presented by Toyota, which will be broadcast on NBCSN on Saturday at 4:30p. The 90-minute television special features seven Supercross athletes competing against one another in the 250SX Class and another seven athletes competing in the 450SX Class. Set in Anaheim at Angel Stadium. The NBC Sports broadcasting team of Leigh Diffey, Ricky Carmichael and Daniel Blair will call the action in both the 15-minute plus one lap 250SX Main Event and 20-minute plus one lap 450SX Main Event.

The LPGA is slicing into esports, launching a players-only esports tournament titled “LPGA eTour Live.” The four-week match-play esports competition will be produced in partnership with World Golf Tour (WGT) by Topgolf and see eight LPGA and Symetra Tour players play head-to-head in a series of nine-hole matches twice a week, starting today and running through a championship match on June 3. The last-eight line-up will see: Jessica Korda vs. Nelly Korda; Angel Yin vs. Lizette Salas; Tiffany Joh vs. Jenny Shin; and Jane Park vs. Lucy Li.

Team Liquid unveiled the Teamfight Tactics Liquid Galaxy Qualifier presented by Jersey Mike’s Subs, in partnership with Riot Games, beginning Saturday. The LGQ will see 2,000+ participants battle for two seats at the Teamfight Tactics: North America and Oceania Final. From there, two players will go on to compete at the global Teamfight Tactics: Galaxies Championship for a $200,000 prize. “Teamfight Tactics players have some of the biggest hearts (and biggest brains) in esports, and we’re honored to work with Riot and Jersey Mike’s to give them their first chance to shine on a regional and potentially global stage,” said Steve Arhancet, Co-CEO of Team Liquid. “Team Liquid’s roots are in supporting communities around esports, and the Liquid Galaxy Qualifier is our way to support the community around TFT – by celebrating the top players in the space and creating moments fans will remember years from now.”

ESL is hitting pause on the $1 million Intel Grand Slam CS:GO circuit due to the the halt on international play as teams shift to a regional format. “Tournaments with multiple winners in multiple divisions do not point to the world’s best team with enough clarity,” ESL said in a statement.

The Esports Upfront is going virtual this year! If you represent a brand looking to activate in this sector, this annual event is a MUST attend to learn not only about the unannounced opportunities for partnerships from platforms like Twitch to international leagues such as ESL and everything in-between, but also to learn about activation trends in this space and best practices from global brands who have been there. Attendance is free for brands and their agencies. To request an invite, click here.

ONE Esports announced that it will cancel next month’s Singapore Major. “Due to the current global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the current regulations in Singapore, we want to inform everybody that the last DOTA 2 Major of the Year, Singapore Major, will be canceled,” the organization posted on Twitter. “Take care, be strong, and keep yourselves safe and healthy!”

The Drone Racing League announced that the first-ever fantasy virtual drone racing series, the 2020 FanDuel DRL SIM Racing Cup, that will premiere on Saturday at 2:30p on NBCSN. The series will run for eight weekends on NBCSN and Twitter and feature 12 elite DRL pilots battling it out on the drone racing simulator. “DRL authentically merges the digital with the real, so we’re thrilled to highlight the virtual side of drone racing on NBCSN and Twitter starting this Saturday. The high-speed, futuristic racing combined with daily fantasy is great for the whole family — and it’s all for an amazing charity supporting frontline workers,” said DRL President Rachel Jacobson.

Mobile Gaming is often an underlooked sector of the esports and video game streaming market. While it still represents a fraction of streaming content, the Mobile Games industry accounts for 55% of the Video Game Industries revenue. Stream Hatchet enables business analysts to uncover market trends related to mobile gaming live streams across the leading distributor platforms. This week, we focus on the leading distributors of Mobile Gaming live streams:
· Facebook emerges as the market leader: In Q1 2020, 55% of the top Mobile Gaming Live streams were watched on Facebook Gaming.
· YouTube takes a close second: Even without Video On Demand Hours Watched, YouTube Gaming live streams account for 43% of the market.
· Twitch falls behind in mobile: While Twitch remains the market leader in broader live streaming (65% of the total live streaming market), they only represent 2% of the mobile game streaming audience.

For more insights on how the Video Game Streaming industry is being impacted by COVID, be sure to visit this link and download our COVID streaming report.

Cynopsis’ Workplace Satisfaction Report
We are proud to reveal the results! We solicited our community of agencies, brands, networks, production companies, and streamers to provide an actionable benchmark for soft benefits, incentives & more.

A few of the key findings from the 8-page report:
· The top two soft benefits that mattered most were maternity/paternity leave.
· Ad Agencies, Cable networks, and Broadcast Networks scored highest among employees who agree that they understand their company’s vision.

NRG’s Call of Duty League franchise Chicago Huntsmen locked in a partnership with Popeyes in a deal that will include a jersey sponsorship as well as the brand serving as title sponsor of the team’s Call of Duty: Warzone tournament, known as Family Feud.Cloud9 is teaming with health care provider Kaiser Permanente to launch a mental health campaign known as “Presence of Mind.” The initiative will look to leverage gaming as a way to reach the youth and young adults for conversations that address mental health and wellness. In addition, mental health experts and clinicians from Kaiser Permanente will now work with Cloud9’s athletes, coaches, and staff to launch conversations with the community as well as content on Twitch.

After a year as partners, AOC and Red Bull are extending their ties for another year, with AOC set equip both gamers and casters with its gaming monitors at Red Bull esports events, beginning with the League of Legends Red Bull Solo Q. “We are proud to strengthen our partnership with Red Bull and take it to a global level”, says Stefan Sommer, Director Marketing and Business Management at AOC. “Working together allows us to reinforce the esports community in more and more countries and we are proud that our monitors were selected as preferred gear to facilitate players’ top-notch performance.”

ONE Championship announced new strategic partnerships with Xiaomi, Intel, HP and Logitech, designed to leverage multiple ONE content stacks and platforms, including ONE Championship’s martial arts and esports businesses, as well as ONE Studios. Commitments span martial arts and esports platforms in 2020 and will also include The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition. “The announcement of these partnerships is a testament to our team’s exceptional work alongside global brands to solve their marketing and business needs,” said Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO of ONE Championship. “We believe that by harnessing the power and reach of our content stacks and platforms, brands can benefit from engaging with our millions of fans across the globe.”

The Overwatch League and Call of Duty League locked in a deal with Sportradar for a comprehensive integrity program designed to protect both leagues from betting-related corruption. Under the terms of the deal, Sportradar will monitor global betting activity related to domestic and international Overwatch League and Call of Duty League competitions organized by Activision Blizzard Esports and will report any potential integrity issues to the company to help safeguard the integrity of the competitions. In addition, Sportradar will help educate players on betting integrity risks and rules and will also develop an app to enable players to anonymously report suspected integrity issues.Speaking of betting, the Nevada Gaming Control Board released a notice of approval to permit betting on DreamHack Masters Spring. Tree different wager types will be allowed: head to head, match winner, and overall winner.

Allied Esports’ European division is beefing up its programming and production services from the HyperX Esports Studio in Hamburg, Germany. Allied Esports recently introduced “Esportstudio,” a live series presented by esports company Home of Esports showcasing well-known professional athletes competing in the video game version of their sport. Allied Esports will also bring back its popular Legend Series on starting today with five bi-weekly tournaments and broadcasts featuring Valorant. Allied Esports will also produce a new series titled HyperX Game Spotlight. Each three-hour episode will feature in-depth conversations with the game’s developer and influencers associated with the title. Finally, Allied Esports has partnered with PENTA, WELOVEESPORTS and KAYDEE to move gaming and esports entertainment expo Gamevention, which made its debut in Hamburg in 2019 with more than 10,000 visitors, online in June with a new name – #DIGI1. The new virtual format will include a 23-hour live stream filled with professional and amateur gameplay, influencer conversations, surprise guests, product showcases and more.

Sleeper, a fantasy sports and messaging app, launched a fantasy League of Legends game available in five regions and their respective leagues (LCS, LEC, LCK, VCS, CBLoL). In addition, the company announced a new $20 million Series B of funding to help expand into more sports and esports. Investors in the company include Andreessen Horowitz, NBA all-stars Baron Davis and Kevin Durant, the NFL’s JuJu Smith-Schuster and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin.

For the second week in a row, TheGrefg leads with his special event, a Fortnite stream to raise funds to fight COVID-19. The stream’s average minute audience is nearly double the following top stream, indicating that philanthropic oriented streams are still popular. The other top streams, Rubius and auronplay, have specific role-plays within Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V. Both players create characters and stories within each game. In a world where streams and stories are major forms of entertainment, streams that combine both would be well-positioned to draw large audiences.


Epic Games made headlines yesterday with the reveal of Unreal Engine 5, courtesy of a demo running on the PlayStation 5. New and upgraded features include improvements to sound, water physics, animation, along with two specific technologies: Nanite, and Lumen. Nanite is a virtualized geometry technology that allows for film-quality source art to be imported directly into the platform while Lumen serves as a lighting technology that allows game worlds to shift with scene and light changes. The tech will preview in early 2021 with a full release later in the year. Projects built in Unreal Engine 4 will be compatible with and can be moved to Unreal Engine 5 once it launches.READYUP


Vlad Marinescu has been named as the new President of International Esports Federation, replacing a departing Colin Webster.


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