02/23/17: The CW gets a shot of H1Z1; Cynopsis eSports Award finalists; Intel’s European royalty



CYNOPSISeSPORTS & GAMING
02.23.17

It’s Thursday, February 23, 2017, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

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The CW network is adding a prescription for H1Z1, lining up plans to carry a H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament on April 20 at 9p on the network. Developer Daybreak Game Company unveiled the news with the broadcast – H1Z1: Fight for the Crown offering a $300,000 prize pool, marking the first team-based invitational for the game with franchises such as Echo Fox, Rogue Gaming, Denial Esports and Panda Global now confirmed for the 15 team event. Meanwhile, CW Seed will showcase a five-episode docuseries featuring Echo Fox’s preparation for the contest.

COMPETITION

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We are thrilled to announce our nominees for the 2017 Cynopsis eSports Awards, which will take place at the World eSports Summit on April 12 in NYC. A big thanks to everyone who helped select our finalists, as well as everyone who entered, with the top five vote-getters (unless there is a tie) now up for contention. Congratulations to all of the nominees! Click here for more info.

Ambassador Award for Personality of the Year – which star was tops in serving the industry in front of the cameras as well as behind the scenes?

  • Richard Lewis
  • Michele Morrow
  • James “Dash” Patterson
  • Chris Puckett
  • Alex Richardson 

Esports Event of the Year – which tournament series raised the bar?

  • 2016 League of Legends World Championship – Riot
  • Cineplex WorldGaming Canadian Championship Series presented by PlayStation
  • ELEAGUE Season 1 & 2
  • ESL One Cologne 2016 – ESL
  • Intel Extreme Masters (IEM Katowice)
  • MLG CounterStrike: Global Offensive Major Championship

Esports Production of the Year – who leveraged their media platforms to deliver esports in a whole new way?

  • 2016 League of Legends World Championship
  • BlizzCon 2016
  • Chasing The Cup – Machinima
  • DreamHack Austin
  • ELEAGUE – Turner Sports

Best Esports Sponsor Activision – which branding activation opened new doors for sponsors?

  • Arby’s & ELEAGUE – Turner Sports
  • Bud Light All-Stars – Machinima
  • Elite Pro Headset – Turtle Beach
  • Mountain Dew League – ESL and Mountain Dew
  • XFINITY from COMCAST

SuperData released a market brief projecting that the global esports market will be worth $1.13 billion in 2017, and hit $1.36 billion in 2019. Examining the market size and revenue of the esports industry with forecasts growth through 2019, the report states that esports viewership will increase 21% in 2017, with audience numbers reaching 330M in 2019 while advertisers and sponsorship account for $839 million in revenue, representing 74% of the entire esports industry. In addition, ticket and merchandise sales will grow from $53M in 2016 to $74M in 2017, due to an increase in tournaments organized by game makers.

Hearthstone is set for a dual duel courtesy of new events being planned at SXSW and PAX East next month, according to reports. Each tournament will feature a $10,000 prize pool with PAX East slated in Boston from March 10-12 while the SXSW event takes place from March 16-18. The events are being put on by One Nation of Gamers and Republic of Gamers, with Geico lined up as the presenting sponsor.

Millennial Esports is hosting the first ever EA Sports sanctioned Madden NFL tournament on the West Coast. The Millennial Esports Madden NFL 17 Xbox Open and Millennial Esports Madden NFL 17 PlayStation Open will be held simultaneously, taking place at the new 15,000 square-foot Millennial Esports Arena in Downtown Las Vegas from March 25-26. Winners will earn double MCS points to qualify for the Madden Championship, set for May 2017.

ESL and Mineski Events Team are aligning to launch the Manilla Masters Dota 2 event in Manilla. The $250,000 event will see eight teams travel to the Phillipines to compete for the title of champions with the event running May 26-28. 

Major news from the Professional Esports Association, which is giving management an overhaul and will see Commissioner Jason Katz and additional staff are depart the organization. The PEA Board of Governors will directly manage PEA affairs while a decision is made about a new organizational structure. In the interim, the PEA Board has created sub-committees to manage its ongoing business.

Looking for funding? Are you ready to take esports to the next level? Then you need to take part in Bruin Battles! Taking place at the Cynopsis World eSports Summit on April 12 in NYC, and sponsored by Bruin Sports Capital, a select group of inventive attendees will have the opportunity to present their eSports idea (league, game, product, event, etc.) on-stage in front of hundreds of attendees in a Shark-Tank style session with one lucky attendee having a shot to get their project funded. Click here for more info and to get your plan into the spotlight and on the fast-track now!

INSIGHTS

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Source: Newzoo 2017 Global Esports Market Report

TEAMS

Misfits continue to expand, announcing the acquisition of Vainglory team Fates Zero on Tuesday. The new addition will make its debut at the Vainglory Preseason Invitational on Feb. 26 in San Mateo, California. “Fates Zero is one of the leading Vainglory teams in North America, and we’re happy to see them continue to compete at the highest level under an established esports organization like Team Misfits," Kristian Segerstrale, CEO of "Vainglory" developer Super Evil Megacorp, said in a statement. Misfits will be the sixth major team to add competitive Vainglory this month. The full Vainglory season is set to tip off March 11.

Luminosity Gaming officially announced that Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May would be joining the team where he will stream for the franchise on his Twitch channel. The Dot Esports writes that May would serve as a brand ambassador for the team, with the potential for the athlete to acquire a financial stake in the team. "The first time I spoke to Trevor, we talked at length,” said Steve Maida of Luminosity Gaming. “As the call ended, Trevor revealed to me that he was just about to start his baseball game.  I was pleasantly surprised and I think it speaks volumes about his passion for esports and gaming in general.  He is a genuine guy through and through and I couldn’t be happier to welcome to Luminosity Gaming.  There is so much we can learn from the world of traditional sports, and I hope that Trevor can pass on some of his experience to our players and management."

Gambit Esports is looking to expand with the launch of a CS:GO academy team. In a statement, the team noted that the “Gambit Academy is made up of young players, who still are to make a name for themselves in the competitive scene. We are not expecting bright victories right now, but we are waiting for the gradual and stable growth of the team under the supervision of the coach and manager. We signed contracts with the players expecting long-term prospects.”

Meanwhile, high-profile CS:GO player Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom signed on to join Team EnVyUs.

PLATFORMS

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Last week’s Call of Duty World League tournament in Atlanta saw Major League Gaming upgrade its viewing experience, bringing in source Quality streaming to its MLG.tv platform, which marks the highest quality stream possible for fans. Without secondary transcoding, the viewing experience is “indistinguishable from the actual game,” according to the league, with output that has no degradation in resolution. Source quality streaming also serves as the centerpiece of EVE (Enhanced Viewing Experience), esports’ first-ever real-time box score, which also aims to create the best esports viewing experience for fans. The true source broadcast is made possible due to a collaboration between the teams at MLG.tv and Infinity Ward.

ESL and SLIVER.tv are launching the first virtual esports stadium experience for fans worldwide at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2017, which runs on Feb. 25-26 and March 3-5 in Katowice, Poland. The new virtual esports stadium experience “captures the excitement of being at the event with thousands of fans and brings that energy into an immersive 360° VR space” and will offer dynamic lighting that is synchronized and changes as the game is played, capturing the mood of the match. Online viewers will see their avatars in the 360° VR stadium, interact with other live viewers through emoji’s, view each other’s gamer profile via integration with Valve’s Steam API and access live stats, replays and scores in real-time.

Game recording platform Plays.tv, led by Dennis “Thresh” Fong, has raised $15 million in funding as a startup, the company announced Thursday. Funding for the company comes from from Silicon Valley-based venture capital company Shasta Ventures as well as NBA Player Jeremy Lin along with the “owners and executives” of the San Francisco 49ers.

MARKETING

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Ahead of the launch of Nintendo Switch on March 3, the company is showcasing its new style of console via “highly visual, interactive living room-inspired spaces in places you would never expect” with the first experience taking place in the desert at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch today. Invited guests will get the chance to enter the interactive space and experience different Nintendo Switch games, with WWE’s John Cena locked in as the special guest at this location where he will play the game with invited fans and YouTube influencers. The second Nintendo Switch experience will pop up in Aspen, on Feb. 27 at Snowmass ski resort, while the final stop will be in Madison Square Park in New York on launch day, March 3.

Gaming brand J!nx signed on to become the official supplier of jerseys for Echo Fox. ESPN broke the news that the platform will offer jerseys on the team store and on the J!nx marketplace for $59.99. "Jerseys are certainly a way to capture a fan’s loyalty," team owner Rick Fox stated.  "It makes sense that eventually Team Echo Fox fans would be able to get a jersey worn by a rookie like Akaadian just like NBA fans would want to get a jersey of a rookie that they wanted to rep."

Just Born Quality Confections, the makers of candy brands Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales, are launching new limited-edition promotional packaging for the sweets that will offer locker codes inside each package for NBA 2K17. The brand teams up with NBA 2K17 featured cover athlete, Paul George, to introduce a new line up of NBA 2K17 promotional packages at NBA All-Star for the promotion. "The partnership with 2K Sports was a natural fit for both the Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales brands since we know a lot of our fans are gamers, plus, basketball is one of the top sports enjoyed by both our male and female fan base," said Brian Bachrach, Business Team Director at Just Born Quality Confections. 

Square Enix was awarded with three brand new Guinness World Records achievements for records set by games within the Final Fantasy series. The awards were presented on stage during the European Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival event held in Frankfurt. Records include being the“most prolific role playing game series”, due to 87 different RPG titles, in addition to “longest end credits in an MMO game” and “most original pieces of music in a videogame (including expansions) achieved by FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn.”

Endemol Shine UK and OP Talent announced that – following the sell-out success of his UK and Australian performances  gaming personality Dan TDM’s live tour will be extended to include North America, in collaboration with Live Nation Entertainment, across 21 cities this spring. With more than 16.5 million subscribers and nearly 10 billion views across his two award-winning YouTube channels, Dan ranks as of the most viewed YouTube creators on the planet. Cities are set to include; New York, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Dallas and Los Angeles and launched March 24 in Boston.

G2 Esports unveiled a partnership with HyperX, to serve as the official SSD and memory partner of G2 Esports throughout 2017. “HyperX is proud to continue our commitment to the eSports community and welcome G2 to the HyperX family,” said Daniel Kelley, director of corporate marketing, HyperX. “G2 has a great track record of success, and we’re looking forward to supporting them with elite HyperX gaming gear to compete at the highest possible level.”

INDUSTRY

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Blizzard VP Jeff Kaplan told the crowd at this year’s DICE Summit that the company’s mega-hit Overwatch was spawned from failure. Describing the creative process for building the world of Overwatch in Las Vegas,  Kaplan showcased the behind-the-scenes thinking for building the futuristic world in the game. Kaplan said that Overwatch was launched from the pieces of failed project Titan, which was designed to be the successor to the online game World of Warcraft. After the game was cancelled in 2013,  the team had to come up with another game idea in a span of six weeks. Noting that World of Warcraft players could get tired of dark worlds, the team opted to create a more light-hearted vision of Earth, noting that, “We found out over time environments like this can be oppressive and fatiguing to players.” Personnel then focused on making a world that was inclusive, where everyone was welcome. “Overwatch is more about the heroes than anything else, and they are part of the world-building process,” Kaplan said.

Bethesda and Microsoft both announced plans for E3 2017 briefings, with both companies targeting Sunday, June 11 for their presentations. Microsoft will shift from Monday, taking place at 5p. Bethesda did not announce a specific time for its showcase; but it will mark Bethesda’s third-ever E3 briefing,

Square Enix opened a new studio in Tokyo to build narrative-based RPGs, along with a new role-playing game, with a working title of "Project Prelude Rune." The studio, named Studio Istolia will develop the title, and stands for a derivation of the Greek word for "story." "The aim of the studio is to provide unforgettable stories that will inspire players in their own lives, and bring new game experiences to everyone around the world." Square Enix said in a statement.

POWER PLAYERS  Intel’s George Woo

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This weekend kicks off IEM’s crown jewel, IEM Katowice. Returning for the fifth year in a row, the event will now span two weekends, serving up gaming action to the Spodek Arena with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II and League of Legends with a total prize pool of $650,000 this year. The event will also serve up new ways to watch the action, including a new deal between ESL and SLIVER.tv that will offer viewers a new virtual esports stadium experience.

Over the last decade, IEM has hit five continents, producing over 60 live events under the management of George Woo, eSports Marketing Manager at Intel. Cynopsis caught up with Woo to break down the company’s evolution from a branding play to esports staple and what we can expect from Poland.

Woo on IEM’s growth strategy: This is our 11th season and we’ve been running these events around the world creating history and growing the brand. Back in 2006, we basically launched this as more of a brand awareness play, just being part of the conversation. Fast forward, in the last couple of years, while we are still creating brand awareness, but we’ve really honed in on what this platform can do for Intel. With the explosion of digital platforms like Twitch or Facebook Live, it now gives us a major platform for our viewers to watch unlike in the past where we experimenting with platforms that weren’t as robust.

Now there are over 4000 tournaments in a year that are taking place, and IEM is among the most prestigious which elevates us and gives us a platform to reach millions of viewers. In addition, IEM has been a great platform for the community, providing unmatched competition and memorable experience with a platform where friends can connect.

On improving diversity: This is also a platform where we can push some of our initiatives such as diversity so we can continue to bring in more females, greater ethnicity, religions, etc. I think finding role models are the greatest challenge in improving diversity. Most developers are men, for example, and they are designing these games more for males. Having female role models in the space is important whether it is in design or as a pro gamer and will give younger female members in the crowd inspiration for their own goals.

On the VR push: We’ve always pushed the boundary of innovation, and this year with Oakland we really focused on VR. That was an amazing experience, we know that not everybody has a headset but we need to be in the forefront and in the leadership position. Through our partnership with Sliver.tv, people who don’t have a headset can still download the app and watch our content in 360. Hopefully, they will buy a headset down the road, but our goal in three to five years will be to get a VR title that is esport friendly, one where there are hundreds of thousands of people who will tune in.

On IEM Katowice: Poland is our crown jewel of the whole schedule. This year, what is exciting about it is that we are splitting it into two weekends. This Saturday and Sunday, we will be hosting our League of Legends World Championship, and in the second weekend, we will be doing our CS:GO and Starcraft World Championships. Adjacent to that, we will be opening up our IEM Expo, which will serve as a trade show with 18-20+ partners featuring their latest products along with side tournaments featuring titles such as Crossfire.

Then there is the whole community aspect of it where fans can meet their favorite players and win prizes. I’m guessing attendance will be in the 130-140,000 range, and last year our stream numbers hit 34 million unique viewer with 2 million concurrent viewership so our numbers are very comparable to traditional sport. We’ll continue with our VR broadcasting, and Sliver will add a virtual arena. One thing that we’re bringing back to Poland will be a cosplay competition, which is an important part of pop culture that we want to be a part of, now that we aren’t really doing IEM at tradeshows.


A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE


Looking for funding? Are you ready to take eSports to the next level?
 
Then you need to take part in Bruin Battles! Taking place at the Cynopsis World eSports Summit on Wednesday, April 12 in NYC, and sponsored by Bruin Sports Capital, a select group of inventive attendees will have the opportunity to present their eSports idea (league, game, product, event, etc.) on-stage in front of hundreds of attendees in a Shark-Tank style session with one lucky attendee having a shot to get their project funded.

Get your plan into the spotlight and on the fast track now! http://www.cynopsisesportsconference.com/bruin-battles/.



ON THIS DAY in 2016: Ubisoft releases Far Cry Primal.   
 
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Trivia: Name the character pictured above. (Email chris-sports@cynopsis.com with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: According to the Guinness World Records, which North American-based franchise holds the record as the all-time highest-earning esports team as of August 2016? Answer: Seemed to be a tough one. As of Aug. 15, Evil Geniuses had earned $14,626,094 from 580 tournaments. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine
02.23.17

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