TCL is returning as the official TV of the Call of Duty World League. “With our award-winning 6-Series earning a reputation for premium picture and ultra-low input lag to allow the best possible gameplay, esports remains incredibly important to TCL,” said Chris Larson, Senior Vice President of TCL. “As an official partner, TCL will be featured in tournament broadcasts, as well as have branding in original Call of Duty World League programming. TCL will also engage with fans through on-site gaming lounges at Fort Worth, TX, Anaheim, CA, and CWL Finals, as well as the Call of Duty World Championship in August, and will have a booth in all four tournament locations showcasing televisions for competition playback. In addition, TCL will be the presenting sponsor of “Hot Mic” with CWL talent Clint “Maven” Evans, a high energy preview show for the Call of Duty World League.
“Call of Duty World League continues to grow, and we’re excited to welcome back TCL as a sponsor of the league in 2019,” said Brandon Snow, Senior Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “CWL Las Vegas, our first event of this season, was our biggest start to a new season and the highest viewed CWL open event ever.”
Chinese league of Legends team Royal Never Give Up has signed a global strategic partnership with Chinese smartphone brand Hongmo. The smartphone company will manufacture and sell a branded smartphone in China, which is on-sale this week. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
European esports organization Method has signed a partnership deal with PC peripherals company Corsair. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Method noted that it spans all of Method’s esports lineup, which includes teams in World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Rocket League, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and FIFA 19, among others. Corsair will provide gaming gear for the players.
Car manufacturer Audi has signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese streaming platform Panda TV. Audi will act as the “title sponsor” for a new Panda TV esports show called “Marvelous Esports.” Players and content creators that use Panda TV will be featured on the show.
U.K.-based esports organization Endpoint has signed a sponsorship deal with meal replacement brand Soylent. “We’ve dominated the UK CS:GO scene for the last two years and felt it’s time to take the team – and UK esports league – to the next level and try to become the first UK team in the global top 30,” Endpoint COO Peter Thompson said. “In Soylent, we’ve found the perfect partner as they know what it takes to win and have the product to help us do so.”
Virtus.pro will partner with gaming chair brand DXRacer to create a line of products in the Virtus.pro colors. Virtus.pro’s players will also receive the gaming chairs to use while streaming. Many other esports teams have partnered with the gaming chair brand in the past, including Tempo Storm, Fnatic, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Valve reportedly issued a record number of Valve Anti-Cheat bans on Steam in December, according to statistics from SteamDB. More than 611,000 VAC bans were issued across Steam games with the VAC system enabled, dwarfing the last record of 193,000 bans in July 2018.
Let’s Play Live, an esports media company based in New Zealand, has acquired esports platform CyberGamer. Founded in 2007, CyberGamer is a long-standing community platform with more than 387,000 users in Australia and New Zealand. CyberGamers founder Jeremy Klaosen assured CyberGamer users that the “ladders, leagues, and forums” beloved by the community will transition into the Let’s Play Live acquisition. “Over the last 11 years since founding CyberGamer I have lived and breathed esports,” Klaosen said. “I am excited about the road ahead and the world-class production and opportunities LPL will bring to the community I love so much.”
A professional Smash Bros. player, Joseph “Mango” Marquez of Cloud9, was suspended from Twitch on Monday for passing out from drinking too much while streaming. Marquez said on Twitter on Jan. 7 that his Twitch ban will keep him off the platform for seven due to “dangerous consumption of drugs or alcohol,” according to an email posted to Twitter.
Sony announced during its pre-Consumer Electronics Show press conference that the PlayStation 4 is nearing 100 million units sold. The company said that, to-date, Sony has sold 91.6 million PlayStation 4 consoles. Sony last reported sales at 82 million in July 2018. Sony noted that holiday sales were good for the company, with 5.6 million consoles sold alongside 50.7 million PlayStation 4 games. Subscribers to Sony’s PlayStation Network also grew to 90 million by November 2018.
Sony announced on Jan. 9 that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the most-downloaded non-free to play game in December. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 came in second, followed by Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2, Battlefied V, FIFA 19, Mortal Kombat XL, Marvel’s Spider-Man, NBA 2K19, and Madden NFL 19.
Nintendo has just launched a new website dedicated to competitive Splatoon 2. The website, designed to help players find teams to participate in future tournaments, is only open to to European players at this time. The first European tournament is scheduled for Jan. 13.
Esports Entertainment Group, an online gambling company, announced its new global headquarters to open in Malta. The company said the location is strategic for its place in the European Union and workers experienced in online gambling. Two executive hires will lead the new office initiative – Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Adrien J. Lefèvre and Head of Payments Jenny Pace. Esports Entertainment Group also added Alan Alden, General Secretary of Malta Remote Gaming Council, to its Board of Directors.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch will add the game’s competitive playlist, League Play, to Black Ops 4 as part of the new World League Hub. It’s expected to be added by the end of January, according to the developer. In the World League Hub, players can access everything Call of Duty esports, including participating in League Play events and watching tournaments.
The Tokyo government is expected to host an esports event in 2019, governor Yuriko Koike announced this week. The two-day event will have $460,000 set aside from the government’s budget for the event. Details regarding the venue and dates have been been announced yet. Koike wants to event to promote Tokyo’s video game and anime industry. “Esports involves many different industries, and the event will be an opportunity (for companies) to get some publicity,” Koike said, according to The Japan Times.
CES 2019 is ongoing in Las Vegas. Multiple esports brands, developers, and sponsors are in attendance. Representatives from Blizzard, Twitch, HyperX, YouTube, and more participated in informational panels spread across the week’s events.
Developer Blizzard Entertainment has announced that Sam Braithwaite, who formerly led Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft esports, will take over Hearthstone esports in 2019. He’ll take the reins from former Hearthstone Senior Global Franchise Lead Che Chou, whose departure was announced last week. Braithwaite has been with Blizzard since 2016. He’s been part of the Hearthstone esports team for the past six months. Chou will move to Ubisoft to work as its senior director of esports.
Activision-Blizzard also lost two Chief Financial Officers over the past couple weeks. Spencer Neumann’s contract with the developer was terminated due to “cause unrelated to the Company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.” Neumann is reportedly headed to Netflix. Blizzard CFO Amrita Ahuja is leaving the company to join mobile payment company Square.
Activision Blizzard announced new leadership additions, with Call of Duty Executive Vice President Rob Kostich named President of Activision. Former CFO Humam Saknini has been named President of King Digital Entertainment, while CFO Dennis Durkin will add President of Emerging Business to his resume.