01/18/18: Week one of OWL topped 10 million viewers

CynopsiseSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday January 18, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.


With week two of Overwatch League underway, the newborn org reports that its first week drew more than ten million viewers. With Twitch on-board as partner, opening day drew an average audience per minute of 408,000, and 280,000 for the week as over 10 million viewers tuned in over the four-day period via Twitch, MLG, and Chinese streaming partners ZhanQi TV, NetEase CC, and Panda TV.
 
“We’re thrilled by the overwhelming response to the Overwatch League’s opening week of play,” said Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Major League Gaming. “But this is only the beginning. With more than 35 million Overwatch players, the Overwatch League has the potential to become one of the most-watched leagues – of any kind – in the world.”
 
“We had high expectations for the inaugural broadcast of the Overwatch League on Twitch, given our platform’s passionate fanbase for Overwatch,” said Kevin Lin, COO of Twitch. “They really put on an amazing show and fans showed up en masse to support and celebrate Overwatch. Based on the response from the community, Overwatch League is off to a great start and we look forward to watching how the season progresses. This league demonstrates the power and potential of esports, and we’re thrilled to continue expanding our partnership with Blizzard.”
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES


Meanwhile, Riot laid out its map for the new season as they hit the first split of 2018. After locking in ten franchises and eliminating the threat of relegation, the NA LCS will debut its overhaul with best-of-one matched in lieu of three across nine weeks. Each team will go head-to-head twice during the regular season in these single game matches with the top six advancing to the NA LCS Playoffs. The action starts on Saturday at 5p with Team Liquid/TSM, followed by 100 Thieves/OpTic Gaming, Clutch Gaming/Golden Guardians, Echo Fox/FlyQuest, and Counter Logic Gaming/Cloud9. Pre-show coverage begins at 4:30p with Riot introducing new weekend shows that include NA LCS Countdown,NA LCS Lounge and NA LCS Tonight. Fans can watch the contests across Lolesports, YouTube and the riot games and NA LCS Twitch channels.
 
ESL is bringing PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds to Poland for a PUBG Invitational at IEM Katowice. The event will take place adjacent to Spodek Arena at the International Conference Center, as part of the IEM World Championship 2018 in Katowice where 16 teams from regions around the world will battle for their share of a $50,000 prize pool throughout the weekend of February 24-25. 9 teams will be directly invited from North America (3), Europe (3) and Asia (3). The remaining 7 teams, from North America (3), Europe (3), and South America (1) will fight their way through a series of regional qualifiers that starts with a 512 team open qualifier that will start Jan. 20 on ESL Play.
 
Speaking of Katowice, developer Smilegate announced that the Go4Crossfire January cup series held with ESL will serve as the Qualifier for the Crossfire IEM Expo Invitational 2018 in Poland on March 3. “We are delighted to come back to Europe for the second time with Crossfire IEM Expo Invitational,” said Smilegate Crossfire esports head Brady Yeo. “ESL is one of the leading professionals in the esports industry and we want to continue this partnership to deliver more Crossfire esports around the world.”
 
Major League Soccer confirmed its foray into esports, announcing a partnership with EA Sports to launch an esports league based on FIFA 18. The new event will see the top 19 players from the US and Canada compete in the inaugural eMLS Cup – taking place in April at PAX East – before moving on to take part in the EA Sports Global Series Playoffs and then the eWorld Cup. At launch, 19 MLS teams will participate, with each club entering its own player from its region. “This step forward into competitive gaming is a key component in our partnership with EA SPORTS to promote deeper engagement and connections between MLS supporters and the millions of FIFA players around the world,” said Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures.
 
Allied Esports announced a lineup of partnerships and events ahead of the grand opening of Esports Arena Las Vegas on March 22. The company also locked in an exclusive partnership with HARMAN Professional Solutions, a global leader in audio, video, lighting and control systems, for the 30,000-square foot venue and production studio. In addition, Allied Esports announced that its latest mobile solution, Esports Arena Drive, described as North America’s first mobile esports touring arena, will head to Daytona International Speedway with 704Games, the publisher of NASCAR Heat 2, for a multi-day tournament and fan activation at the Daytona 500.
 
In other venue news, Houston’s Work America Capital Management will reportedly build a $70 million, 120,000 square-foot esports arena complex in the city. The facility will be titled “The Cannon,” the Houston Chronicle writes.
 
Clear your calendar!!! Cynopsis Esports is teaming with Chief Marketer and Event Marketer for the Esports Business Summit, the premier three-day industry event running Oct. 1-3, 2018 from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. We’ll feature five different tracks, unique networking opportunities, industry awards and access to the most innovative minds in the business. Sign up for info and get updates at http://www.esportsbizsummit.com/
 
Back to Blizzard, this past week saw the company draw up its 2018 esports plans. The 2018 season of the Heroes Global Championship will see HGC leagues in North America, Europe, China, and Korea again field eight teams a piece. After five weeks of play within the regions, the top four from Europe and North America will battle at the Western Clash from the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice. The broadcast crew for North America will see Josh “JHow” Howard take on a permanent role on the desk where, over the first half of Phase 1, he will be joined by Jaycie “Gillyweed” Gluck while Wade “Dreadnaught” Penfold to take her place for the second half of Phase 1. Thomas “Khaldor” Kilian and Tim ‘Trikslyr’ Frazier will be returning to the desk for HGC Europe.
 
Meanwhile, World of Warcraft is forging new plans for 2018 that will include – among other notables – two seasonal finals featuring the best North American and European teams, who will clash for the first time ever outside of the World Championship. The first season finals will be decided in March at a live event and both events will offer $100,000 prize pool. Meanwhile, Blizzard is also lining up multiple seasons of Arena Cups in NA and Europe, dangling cash as well as AWC Points. Teams with the most points from each season will be invited to compete at that season’s Finals event, with the first of three Arena Cup seasons launching Jan 31 and nine overall for each region during the year.
 
The British Esports Association announced first details of its inaugural British Esports Championships, designed specifically for school and college students. Competition will get underway with a pilot in February, running across three games: League of Legends, Overwatch and Project CARS 2. Weekly matches will take place, with fixtures pre-arranged, and time will be allowed for schools and colleges to hold their own internal trials, in order to put together their most competitive teams. British Esports will be working with the teachers, school leaders, representatives from the Department for Education and academics specializing in esports to monitor the pilot and demonstrate impact and best practice.
 
 
INSIGHTS

The Overwatch League kicked-off with 11 million views in its first week. The OWL peaked with 424,676 peak viewers during its first day, tapering off to 218,553 by week’s end. Although the OWL dominated Twitch at the beginning of the week, ELeague Major CS:GO tournament ultimately surpassed OWL’s audience and peaked during the third day of play with 518,008 views, generating 19 million total views. In the followers category, OWL’s followers grew by 73%, suggesting strong interest interest in the league.
 
 
SPONSOR ACTIVATION


With the new season of NA LCS kicking in, FlyQuest Sports locked in a deal with 5-hour ENERGY to join the team as the Official Energy Shot of the squad. 5-hour ENERGY’s sponsorship will focus on two original content series. The first, the myFlyQuest Challenge, will show various members of the League of Legends team engaging in off the rift activities throughout the Spring and Summer splits. The second series is the 5-hour Extra Strength Moment of the Match, which highlights the top plays from the weekend of competition. The partnership will also include jersey branding, social media activation and exclusive streaming integrations.
 
Speaking of which, FlyQuest Sports is also adding Snickers to the menu, announcing a deal with the candy brand to serve as the Official Chocolate of the team. Snickers will reportedly be present across all FlyQuest teams and will have an onsite presence both in the Team House as well as a presence at fan activations throughout the year.
 
ESL announced that Intel will serve as the official headline sponsor of the ESL Premiership, the UK’s national esports league. As part of the deal, Intel will work with Currys PC World to spotlight its processors.
 
North inked a new main sponsorship deal with esports bookmaker GG.Bet, which will become the principal title sponsor of the team and will be featured prominently on jerseys and will see a unique documentary series on North’s 2018 as well as other activations throughout the year.
 
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PLATFORMS & TALENT

100 Thieves is releasing a new weekly documentary series calling The Heist, spotlighting their North American League of Legends Championship Series team. The series will drop weekly on the team’s YouTube channel.
 
Intel Extreme Masters locked in talent for its StarCraft II tournament ahead of the Olympic Winter Games. IEM PyeongChang runs Feb. 5-7, and will feature 18 top players from around the world competing for a $150,000 prize pool. Calling the action will be host Sue “Smix” Lee with desk host James “Kawlaris” Carrol. Running commentary will be Yoan “ToD” Merlo, Dan “Aerosis” Stemkoski, Nick “Tasteless” Plott, Kevin “Rotterdam” Van Der Kooi, Jared “PiG” Krensel and Nathan “Nathanias” Fabrikant.
 
The 2017 Hearthstone World Championship Tour begins today from Amsterdam as 16 players and the Last Call qualifiers from every region battle for the crown. Returning to the casting table for the HCT World Championship on the Hearthstone Twitch channel are: Brian Kibler and Dan “Frodan” Chou, Simon “Sottle” Welch, Alexander “Raven” Baguley, TJ Sanders and Nathan “Admirable” Zamora with a prize pool of $1,000,000 in play.
 
Nickelodeon in Latin America is partnering with Spanish production firm Mediapro for a scripted series about esports, titled N00Bees. The Spanish-language show centers around a group of friends who form an esports team and will go into production in April before airing on Nick across Latin America in the third quarter of 2018.
 
 
TEAMS


Las Vegas-based team Rogue has a new owner, as ReKTGlobal announced that it was acquiring the esports organization. The esports infrastructure company now takes on a team that previously saw investment from DJ and EDM entrepreneur Steve Aoki, and will “provide the necessary resources and infrastructure for Rogue to take its expansion to a new level.” ReKTGlobal will retain all current Rogue employees and staff, and focus on expanding the esports organization’s scope, enter new games and pursue Overwatch and League of Legends franchises in the future. “The combination of Rogue and ReKTGlobal is unstoppable. We have all the right elements to dominate the industry: a champion esports team, a passionate fan base, exciting and genuine content, events and activations, deep roots in both esports and traditional sports, connections to the right sponsors and partners, and the best management in the industry,” said ReKTGlobal founder Amish Shah.
 
The University of Providence is launching a scholarship-based esports program designed to bring 10-15 new scholarships to its esports club beginning with the next academic year with more scholarship opportunities set to be added over the following two years. In addition, the school will join the National Association of College Esports for this year’s season of League of Legends.
 
Team Dignitas is bringing a Super Smash Bros. Melee Team in-house. The Super Smash Bros. Melee Team will mark the sixth squad in the Team Dignitas family that includes a Counter Strike Global Offensive men’s and women’s team, Heroes of the Storm team, SMITE team and PUBG team. The Team Dignitas’ Super Smash Bros. Melee Team will include marquee players Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez from Canoga Park, California, and Jose “Lucky” Aldama from Norwalk, California. 
 
With MLS jumping into the esports world, the New York Red Bulls signed Mike LaBelle as the club’s first esports player. LaBelle will represent the Red Bulls in the eMLS, and in FIFA tournaments around the world.
 
Mobile operator MTS added Gambit Esports to its portfolio. With the team sporting rosters in League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, among other titles. Team CEO Konstantin Pikiner will remain in his role, where he will serve as the Chief Gaming Officer at MTS.
 
Team Liquid is adding MOPA Team, a Brazilian Rainbow Six: Siege squad to compete in the 2018 Pro League. The team includes Leo “ziG” Duarte, André “neskwga” Oliveira, Lucas “yuuk” Rodrigues, Jose “Bullet1” Victor, and Thiago “xS3xycake” Reis.
 
 
INDUSTRY

 
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences unveiled nominees for its 21st DICE Awards, co-hosted by Greg Miller and Jessica Chobot. Winners will be revealed at the ceremony on Feb. 22 from in Las Vegas as the culmination of the 2018 DICE Summit. Overall, 68 games from 2017 received a nomination, led by Horizon Zero Dawn, which leads the group with 10 total nominations. Other titles with multiple nods include: The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild with 6 nominations; Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Cuphead with 5 nominations; and Gorogoa, PUBG, and Super Mario Odyssey which received 4 nominations each.
 
Speaking of DICE, the AIAS announced four additional speakers for this year’s Summit, running Feb. 20-22 from Las Vegas. Names are set to include: Neil Druckmann, Creative Director of games such as The Last of Us, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Dan Trachtenberg, Director and Writer of 10 Cloverfield Lane, as well as Maureen Fan, CEO and Co-Founder of Baobab and Executive Producer and Artist Maja Moldenhauer.
 
Nintendo opened the doors to Nintendo Labo, a new offering for the Switch designed to allow players to insert the console into cardboard items and create objects ranging from robots to pianos. The new line of interactive build-and-play experiences will be available on April 20.
 
Millennial Esports Corp. closed the first tranche of its previously announced non-brokered offering of equity units of Millennial for gross proceeds of $12,121,380. Part of the proceeds will be used to complete the previously announced acquisition of an approximate 82.5% majority interest of Eden Games. “The acquisition of Eden Games represents a major milestone for Millennial Esports Corp. and demonstrates how the company continues to evolve in parallel with the Esports industry,” said Millennial Esports CEO, Alex Igelman. “Eden’s acquisition secures our position as a leading mobile racing game publisher and in combination with our existing racing IP, including World’s Fastest Gamer, positions Millennial as a leader in global Esports racing.”
 
Disney is looking to bring its properties to new genres according to VentureBeat, with company SVP of games and interactive experiences Kyle Laughlin stating that role-playing games and brawlers were two possibilities for its brands. In addition, the next wave of Disney mobile games will come from publishers Ludia, Glu, and Gameloft, as well as PerBlue.
 
A new report from Digi-Capital is projecting that games revenues from both hardware and software could top $230 billion by 2022. For 2018, the company is forecasting total market revenues of around $165 billion, anchored by mobile, PC hardware and online PC games.
 
Dot Esports is broadening its wings and will be launching The OP, a new vertical dedicated to general gaming news. Content will focus on particular games that have a competitive element at their core, such as Pokemon Go, Fortnite, Destiny 2, and Animal Crossing. “Instead of the IGN model with generalised reviews of everything coming out and just a sort of thumbs up thumbs down approach, we’re going to focus on certain games and the competitive spirit that makes them so engaging,” said Riad Chikhani, CEO and founder of GAMURS, parent company of Dot Esports.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin will step down from the COO role at the company but will now take on a newly developed role. Meanwhile former Pandora COO Sara Clemens will come aboard to step into the role, along with Mark Weiler, who joins from Rubicon Project to become SVP, Head of Platforms & Services at Twitch; and Amir Shevat, VP of Developer Experience, who joins from Slack.
 
Jim Ryan has been named deputy president of Sony Interactive Entertainment. Ryan will continue in his role as president of SIE Europe and SIE’s head of Global Sales and Marketing, but he will now work under SIE CEO John Kodera and alongside existing deputy president Kazuo Miura to further the PlayStation business worldwide.

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Wednesday, FEB. 7th | 4:45pm – 8pm | Espace, NYC
We’re gearing up for the annual Cynopsis TV Awards, saluting excellence in national TV programming, from writing and directing to casting, hosting and more.    The awards celebration will include the 2018 Buyers & Planners honorees, awarded for outstanding campaigns that have run on broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. Be sure to register your team before January 23rd as seating tends to fill up quickly!
 

ON THIS DAY in 1995: Yahoo is born.
 
Trivia: In Game of Thrones, what is the name of Arya Stark’s preferred sword? (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
 
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