PGL is tapping IMG to represent the company in selling global media rights for its slate of events around the world. PGL has organized more than fifty events in the last five years, producing content for both national and international audiences with seven key events slated in 2018, including two Dota2 Majors, each with a prize pool of $1 million. In addition, PGL is producing two PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds Series events. “As the PGL global reach grows, so does our brand,” said Silviu Stroie, CEO of PGL. “IMG is an invaluable partner in making sure that our events and our stories find the right audiences across the world. We are excited to continue our work with IMG and push esports more and more into the mainstream, where it belongs.”
Raycom Sports locked in more than 70 markets so far to carry the new Heroes of the Dorm: Atlantic Coast Region television series this weekend. Partnering with Tespa, Blizzard Entertainment’s college esports network, the weekly, one-hour program will run from Feb. 17-March 1. Confirmed markets are set to include: New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Portland and Las Vegas. “We are very excited for Heroes of the Dorm: Atlantic Coast Region to begin airing this weekend,” said George Johnson, SVP of Programming and Distribution for Raycom. “Tespa has built the best collegiate esports environment, so we couldn’t ask for a better partner in launching this new series. And the demand from local markets has exceeded our expectations. We are jumping headfirst into this emerging space to bring engaging stories to its community of fans.”
Twitch gave its community guidelines an overhaul to create a stronger stance against harassment and inappropriate behavior. In a blog post, the platform noted that “Today’s update focuses on our anti-harassment and sexual content policies. Our goal is to increase clarity, strength, and consistency across our entire moderation framework, as well as the frequency and level of detail of our moderation communications.” Among the new initiatives will be any conduct the firm considers hateful will now result in an instant and permanent suspension.
ELEAGUE continues to roll out the stories of six elite Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams as ELEAGUE | Road to the Boston Major returns on Friday with an all-new episode at 10:30p on TBS. The second installment will focus on the New Challengers stage of the Major, as the top teams from regional tournaments around the world take on teams from the previous Major, including Cloud9, FaZe Clan, Mousesports and Renegades.
Esports platform SLIVER.tv announced the close of a $20 million Theta token private sale to blockchain and esports experts including DHVC, I Blockchain Capital, Nirvana Capital, aelf, Synapse Capital and leading Silicon Valley VCs DCM, Sierra Ventures and the Venture Reality Fund. Led by Danhua Capital and advised by Steve Chen, Co-founder of YouTube and Justin Kan, Co-founder of Twitch, the private token presale sold out in 48 hours.
Longtime Dota 2 casters Ben “Merlini” Wu and David “LD” Gorman announced their retirement from talent duties. In a Twitter post, Merlini noted that “I have no further intents to cast/analyze Dota 2. I have decided at this juncture in my life, casting does not align with what I want from my future.”
Renault will become Formula 1’s first team to go all in on an esports team, announcing Monday that it would partner with Team Vitality to create ‘Renault Sport Team Vitality,’ competing exclusively in motorsport-related contests. Philip Paschmeyer, Victor Locquet and Sandro Holzwarth will serve as the debut players, focusing on Rocket League Championship Series Europe.
Speaking of racing, Richmond Raceway announced plans for its inaugural iRacing team to compete in the 2018 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series. The newly-formed CHAOS CREW iRacing Team is made up of players who will compete in the 2018 NPAS season beginning on Feb. 20 at 9p on iRacing Live. “Esports is a part of the racing landscape that’s about to take a giant leap forward this year. As an engagement platform, we see esports as a great way to welcome new fans, and build another strong conduit into the regional school systems to support STEM curriculums,” said Richmond Raceway VP Mike Waddell. “NASCAR, iRacing, and the motorsports industry overall are driving esports into the mainstream and we look forward to being on the front end of this movement.”
Soccer platform Goal signed its first esports player in FIFA 18 rising star, Graham “GrayzaGoal” McIntyre, who will represent the world’s biggest football website at global tournaments. Following his successful qualification for the knockout stages of the continental FIFA 18 competition, Goal will work with McIntyre to produce FIFA 18 content across Goal’s social channels and on site.
Texas Wesleyan University is launching varsity esports teams in the fall of 2018. Recruitment for players is now underway, and the school will serve as the first university in Texas to join the National Association of Collegiate Esports. Overall, Texas Wesleyan will offer up to 12 $2,000 esports scholarships for players based on performance and game history and is eyeing teams for League of Legends, Overwatch, and Hearthstone.
StudioMDHR’s Cuphead is partnering with King Features Syndicate, official licensor of the property, for branding campaign that will build upon Cuphead merchandise at retail and expand into original content. King Features, known for bringing classic animation to life for properties Betty Boop, Popeye, Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon and Phantom, will build upon an impressive initial lineup of Cuphead merchandise at retail from Funko, Fifth Sun, Just Funky, Underboss NYC, Accutime and Bottleneck Gallery.
QuakeCon announced plans to return to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in 2018 for the annual festival. This year’s event will feature a number of changes, including the reintroduction of panels and presentations along with three days of exhibits in the QuakeCon 2018 expo hall, which for the first time, will be open Friday-Sunday. In addition, the company is expanding the amount of space given to PC players, encouraging them to bring their own PC to play.
Psyonix and Hot Wheels are launching a new toy set coming this fall called Hot Wheels Rocket League RC Rivals Set. The set will feature bluetooth-connected Octane and Dominus Battle-Cars that players will control using smart devices to truly bring Rocket League to life at home. In addition, the two companies will also introduce new Hot Wheels DLC into Rocket League following the success of the initial Hot Wheels content introduced in game in 2017.
A new Esports Betting Operator survey from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, showed growth in the betting industry, anchored by the success of the Overwatch League and CS:GO majors, with 100% of respondents believing that esports handle will grow over the next year, and 82% projecting that the sophistication of esports wagering will catch up to traditional sports within two years. Meanwhile, 64% of respondents believe that Battle Royale-style games can drive substantial wagering activity, anchored by PUBG.
POWER PLAYERS – Tespa’s Adam Rosen
Saturday will see history made with the debut of the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship. The event sees the Fiesta Bowl, Blizzard Entertainment, and Tespa play host in the first-ever esports tournament to be sponsored by a collegiate football organization where the top four teams will come together at Arizona State University starting at 3p MT with University of California-Irvine/University of California-San Diego, followed by University of California-Berkeley/University of Toronto; the Showmatch pitting Arizona State University/University of Arizona and the Grand Finals, all showcased live on Twitch and MLG.
Meanwhile, Tespa and Blizzard recently unveiled their collegiate plans for 2018, all anchored by Tespa plans to distribute more than $1 million in scholarship prizing in 2018 through intercollegiate leagues, with more than 5000 teams competing from more than 1400 universities. Cynopsis Esports spoke with Adam Rosen, President and co-founder of Tespa and Esports Program Manager at Blizzard about the organization’s growth, the NCAA and the opportunities ahead.
Rosen on the state of collegiate esports: The landscape if very different now compared to when we founded Tespa and the perception of esports continues to grow. One of the things that we are seeing is that – in the beginning – people were more resistant to calling themselves a gamer. Now, they are proud of being a competitor. We have students coming to us and it is growing by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile, the universities have taken notice with the way they are socializing and engaging with each other. They are also finally recognizing this as a legitimate sport. One of the things that we are trying to do is to make esports a fundamental part of culture and universities are trying to attach themselves to that now.
On the NCAA and regulation: It is something that we think a lot about and there are a lot of groups that we could be partnering with. One of the things that we are focused on is to create the best experience for students possible along with providing students opportunities. We now see the NCAA talk about esports and more and more conferences are getting involved as well and, for now, we will continue to make sure we are in the best position to represent the interests of the player as these discussions grow.
On proudest moment of 2017: One of the things I was most proud of was the growth that we saw. We are giving out over $1 million in scholarships to students. One of the biggest challenges for students in gaming has been to find a way to pay for their education and focus on their academics without having to worry or work. I’m also proud of the universities that we are starting to engage. When we first started Tespa, some of the schools we spoke with wanted to pretend that this community didn’t exist. But in 2017, we made a significant amount of progress working with universities to showcase their esports community, honoring them when they win, and recognizing the efforts that their students were putting in.
On partnering with the Fiesta Bowl: We are looking for partners who believe what we believe, that esports provide a fundamental value toward the student experience. We started talking to the Fiesta Bowl in 2017 and they shared a lot of the same beliefs that we did about how esports can grow. One thing led to another and we thought that their skillset of creating these high-quality sports experiences presented an opportunity for us that we wanted to capitalize on.
Esports communications pillars Anna Rozwandowicz, Kalie Moore and Nicola Piggott announced plans to team up to launch of The Story Mob, described as an international consultancy offering strategic communications counsel to brands, teams, on-air talent, startups and investors in the esports space. Rozwandowicz joins from ESL, Piggott comes from Riot Games and Moore serve at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. Clients will include the likes of Team Liquid, Fnatic, Red Bull, DOJO Madness, Split Media Labs and BITKRAFT Esports Ventures.
GameStop COO Tony Bartel and EVP Michael Hogan have both been removed from duties by the game retailer. The news follows the departure of former GameStop CEO Paul Raines and appointment of CEO Mike Mauler.
100 Thieves named John Robinson as the team’s first President and Chief Operating Officer. Robinson will be charged with growing monetization capabilities and partnerships for the organization.