05/27/21: Fnatic eyes Asia; FaZe Clan’s Xbox reunion; LCS PA’s new vision
| Thursday May 27, 2021 Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief. Fnatic landed a $17 million funding round led by the massive Japanese company, Marubeni Corporation. The investment will incorporate a strategic partnership to support Fnatic’s expansion into the Japanese esports sector as well as the Asia-Pacific market. Fnatic CEO Sam Mathews said: “We’re so excited to have the strategic know-how of Marubeni leading this funding round. Marubeni’s knowledge of Japan’s business landscape will be a huge asset to Fnatic as we expand our commitment to APAC.” COMPETITION It was a great viewership week for Riot Games as the Mid-Season Invitational saw its return in Reykjavik, delivering an average of 711,465 viewers, with over 61 million hours watched, according to Esports Charts, up 40/9%. Peak viewership topped 1.8 million, (not counting Chinese viewership numbers) during the final.|
Meanwhile, Valorant’s first LAN event opened hot in Iceland, and day three saw battles between EU and NA teams drew EU vs NA competition. The Team Liquid vs. Version 1 match peaked at just under 750,000 viewers, while the Sentinels vs. Fnatic series drew 720,000 viewers, according to Esports Charts.
Finally, Riot confirmed that the 2021 League of Legends World Championship is returning to China for the second year in a row, with the finals taking place on Nov. 6 at the Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen. Last year’s final was held in the Shanghai Stadium.
The inaugural ESL National Championship Global Playoffs is kicking off in a move to give local teams the opportunity to compete and climb the EPT structure. A global playoff for the National Championships will take place on EU servers in 2021 and scale for 2022, with the competition going global on LAN post-covid. Finalists of the NCGP competition will earn a direct slot at one of the EPT Masters and EPT Masters Championships. This year, the winning team will be able to pick between the IEM Cologne Play-In spot and the IEM Summer slot. The second placed team will receive the slot left over.
The National Hockey League revealed the team of talent who call matches for the 2021 NHL Gaming World Championship. Led by host Arda Ocal, co-hosts for the European and North American tournaments will include Andrew ‘Nasher’ Telfer as an analyst, while Faizal Khamisa (MassMutual East), Carrlyn Bathe (Honda West), Steve Dangle (Scotia North) and Cameron ‘NoSleeves’ Halbert (Discover Central) will each host one of the Club Finals. Khamisa will join Ocal for the first Club Final – MassMutual NHL East Division Club Final – on May 22-23 on the NHL’s Twitch channel beginning at noon each day.
DreamHack revealed the trailer, graphics and gameplay footage for the free hybrid festival and online multiplayer game, DreamHack Beyond, with the interactive event kicking off on July 24 and offering featuring themed worlds, 20+ festival halls, game demos, hourly tournaments (including Hearthstone and Rocket League), cosplay, live streamed music and screenings, and more. “The goal for all of us at DreamHack is to provide great experiences for our fans, which have traditionally thrived by bringing communities together for these shared and beloved festivals all around the globe,” said Marcus Lindmark, President DreamHack, SVP Project and Event Operations at ESL Gaming.
Blizzard announced that Overwatch 2’s PVP play (and therefor esports presentation) will now feature five versus five instead of six versus six. Compositions will drop a tank, and will now feature two healers, two DPS and one tank role.
Riot confirmed plans for the inaugural League of Legends: Wild Rift: Origin Series that will pit teams from Europe, CIS, Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa facing off in a set of monthly, best-of-three double elimination competitions, running across June, July, and August, leading to an offline finals in September 2021. STREAM HATCHET TRENDS Twitch subscriptions have seen major growth in the past year. Stream Hatchet estimates that Twitch Prime, a sub tier through an Amazon Prime subscription, had over a 36% increase with 41 million subs. Going forward, Twitch will likely see more subscriber growth thanks to their recent announcement of local subscription prices beginning in Q3 of this year. This means that the cost of Twitch subscriptions will reflect the user’s local cost of living instead of a set price. This will allow Twitch subscriptions to be more affordable for viewers globally. Here are some key insights for Twitch subscriptions over the past year:
· Twitch Prime saw a 36% increase in subs since 2020. Prime’s evolving benefits like exclusive game loot likely appeal to the recent first-time subscribers.
· Tier 1 Twitch subscriptions saw the biggest increase in March 2021 with 4.9 million subscribers. This growth was largely assisted by Ludwig’s record-breaking subathon that lasted 31 days and made over 1.4 million dollars.
For more on how Stream Hatchet can help marketers keep ahead of trends within the video game and esports industries, visit us online at: www.StreamHatchet.com. SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION ESL Gaming announced that Shopify, a leading global commerce company, will be a key sponsor of the ESL Pro Tour StarCraft II, including Intel Extreme Masters Katowice 2022. As part of the agreement, ESL Gaming, Shopify and TLnet will join forces to host a map contest for community mapmakers to try to find the best new map while a video series featuring players and key community members will be produced to tell the stories of people who are dedicating their lives to StarCraft II. “As major fans and supporters of the StarCraft® II community, our focus has been on backing third-party community events and cheering on our pro team, Shopify Rebellion,” said Dario Wünsch, Esports Program Manager at Shopify. “Being on the pro circuit with ESL Gaming allows us to forge even closer ties to the SCII community and to help continue building upon its momentum. We’re excited to become more deeply involved and to support players and mapmakers on the journey to build an even stronger SCII esports ecosystem.”
Wilson’s run as the Official Game Ball of NBA 2K League is officially underway. The league and brand unveiled the Official Game Ball as part of a multiyear partnership, leveraging “a unique silver coloration that amplifies the electronic feel of esports,” and featuring the NBA 2K League logo on both sides of the ball and league name on the front and back panels.
Meanwhile, Upper Deck announced the company’s first-ever esports spokesperson in conjunction with the global launch of Overwatch League Series 2 Trading Cards. Salome “Soe” Gschwind-Repp, will make her debut in the fourth esports trading card product from Upper Deck. “As a mainstay of the Overwatch League since day one, we are honored to create Soe’s first-ever professional trading card,” said Bubby Johanson, Director of Game Development at Upper Deck. “ Overwatch League Series 2 is a robust product that offers something for every level of collector, from collecting the complete base set to chasing super rare multi-autographed player cards.”
Anheuser-Busch InBev partnered with OpTic Gaming for the launch of esports viewing party platform TheCooldown.gg in the UK. The platform allows users to seek and request viewing parties at local bars, in addition to launching their own events., per EI. CYNOPSIS 2021 RESOURCE CENTER
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www.cynopsis.com/resource-center PLATFORMS Flashpoint is offering fans NFTs in partnership with Rally.io and packaged with “premium collectible cards to celebrate the third iteration of the tournament and the start of the 2021 Major cycle.” Fans will be able to purchase artwork of players with proceeds going to the team and tournament. Every NFT purchased will have a unique edition number in its title and will be delivered to the purchaser’s Rally.io account/wallet as a 2160p .mp4 video file.
The LCS cemented a partnership with digital media licensing platform ESPAT in a move to produce and distribute photos from LCS broadcasts, the LCS arena, and behind-the-scenes for editorial and commercial use. In addition, the multi-year deal also sees ESPAT serve as the official home for LCS’s digital media archives.
Riot announced plans to update and rebrand its co-streaming program with LCS returning on June 4. The LCS Watch Party Program will serve as a “new-look for the existing co-streaming initiative” with an eye to deepen the connection between LCS and program partners through more opportunities for content, more community engagement and more centralized communication with the LCS. Only members of the LCS Watch Party Program will be permitted to co-stream live LCS games and Academy games.
Spotify announced its newest podcast – in partnership with Riot Games, spotlighting League of Legends. Now available, Rift Reaction will be offered as a weekly podcast that will cover trending news in the world of LoL Esports, including all of the big moments from MSI to Worlds and League of Legends All-Stars. Hosted by Travis Gafford and Emily Rand, the new 40-episode series will “react to the biggest breaking stories — from rule changes, player movement, execution of tournaments, social issues and more. Plus, each week, fans have the chance to join the conversation with interactive polls and Q&A.” TEAMS FaZe Clan announced a collaboration with Microsoft’s Xbox alongside a 3D animated content piece featuring a digital rendering of FaZe Clan’s first New York house and paying tribute to the role Xbox 360 had in the organization’s early years. The collection drops on the organization’s 11-year anniversary, May 30 to commemorate the team founders meeting on Xbox Live. This collaboration marks the first time FaZe Clan has partnered with Xbox and celebrates the impact Xbox 360 and Xbox Live has had not only on FaZe Clan but the gaming community as a whole.
FlyQuest unveiled a new logo and a fresh new visual lookfor the team’s brand. In that announcement, the team stated that “Now, ahead of the LCS Summer Split, it’s time to change things up, complete the rebrand we started in 2020, and reinforce our direction for the future.”
Team Liquid is extending its long relationship with SAP. The partnership, which began in 2018, has seen SAP support Liquid by implementing and co-developing innovative technologies that boost gameplay for the org’s Dota 2 and League of Legends teams. The company works closely with the squads, providing in-game data analytics and helping elevate match preparation routines and strategic insights. SAP will also support Team Liquid in its continued investment player growth and improvement, as well as recruitment of promising talent.
The Cleveland Cavaliers entered into a deal with Esports Entertainment Group to become the team’s official esports tournament platform provider. The multiyear partnership sees Esports Entertainment Group will annually operate three co-branded esports tournaments for the Cavs utilizing its Esports Gaming League platform. INDUSTRY BlizzCon’s annual in-person gathering will go dark for the second year in a row. Blizzard announced that the festivities, typically set for the beginning of November, would not take place this year and the “ongoing and uncertainties” of the pandemic prevented the company from having the time to properly prepare for the event. In the announcement, the publisher state that “in the meantime, we’re planning a global event for the early part of next year, combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.”
As for E3, the virtual version this year will see Microsoft’s presentation showcase both upcoming Xbox and Bethesda games on June 13 as part of a 90-minute show. READYUP GAMES OF THE WEEK ROSTER MOVES
The NA LCS Players Association is getting an overhaul with the org tapping the services of Phillip Aram, formerly of Evil Geniuses, as the association’s new Executive Director in addition to a new Board of Directors. In the announcement, the LCS PA detailed its goals to protect players from ‘any effort to diminish their rights, opportunities, or ability to compete’, increase player participation in the association, and ensure that players are invested in the ‘collective future’ of the league and fellow cohorts. “The LCSPA is now fully independent of Riot,” said Aram, per Dexerto. “The players, led by Darshan, have rebooted the PA and control all decision making and future funding to ensure it truly reflects and represents their interests.”
Panda announced the addition of Anthony Delconte to the team as Director of YouTube Channel Management. Delconte was formerly oversaw day-to-day growth and strategy for CNBC’s digital video partnerships, as their new Director of YouTube Channel Management. Measurement & Data Conference
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