04/06/17: ECS hears London calling; GEICO doubles down on ELeague; Denial’s new quest



NAB Show® | April 22- 27 | Las Vegas| NABShow.com

eSports is big business. New content channels streaming live video game play are launching global fan communities and creating new revenue models. Hear from industry experts including Eric Brunner, Twitch and Eric Black, NBC Sports Digital & Playmaker Media. Additional highlights include Connected Car Hackathon, Virtual & Augmented Reality Pavilion and Facebook Live Pavilion.

Register today at NABShow.com with code NE09 for FREE Exhibits pass.


It’s Thursday, April 6, 2017, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

The Esports Championship Series is locked and loaded, launching its third season on April 14, with the finals locked in to take place at SSE Arena, Wembley in London from June 23-25. Top CS:GO teams will compete throughout the season for a cut of the $1,500,000 payout with fans able to watch the action on FACEIT’s official YouTube channel, courtesy of the company’s new deal with the platform. “We’re thrilled to bring the excitement of the ECS Finals back to Wembley in London,” said Michele Attisani, CBO and co-founder of FACEIT. “After an epic Finals in Southern California in Season Two, we’re looking forward to hosting Europe’s esports fans for the culmination of ECS Season Three.”

Meanwhile, FACEIT (along with the ECS) is teaming with Genius Sports, a leader in sports data technology and integrity services, in a move to “enhance the way data and statistics are used to engage with ECS fans.” The new platform will be integrated with the league ahead of Season 3 on April 14. Genius Sports developed a CS:GO analytics platform that provides real-time data driven predictions and will alert ECS to any unusual market patterns, as well as host educational workshops conducted by the Genius Sports team.


ESL is teaming up with Qwatti in a move to “cater to the needs of esports brands and companies interested in the world of sports, and sports franchises keen to get involved with esports.” “We’re very excited at the opportunity to work with the world’s leading esports company, and are looking forward to joining forces on what we have in the pipeline,” said Pedro Honorio da Silva, Qwatti’s Executive Director. “In our partnership with ESL, we will work on developing and delivering success market entry strategies for sports and esports companies that are interested in both spaces – a great array of projects for Qwatti that will bring us closer to our long-term growth and development targets.”

On the university front, Saturday sees another university champion get crowned as the four best collegiate teams in North America square off at 4p from UNLV for Heroes of the Dorm. Winners receive tuition for the remainder of their collegiate career, with coverage live on Facebook for the first time with LSU/Kentucky and Texas Arlington/California Irvine opening play.

Meanwhile, the University of Utah is launching a varsity esports program through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program, marking the first time this type of program has been launched by one of the major conferences. The first game will focus on League of Legends, with other games set to be announced in the near future. “It is important for big colleges and their administrations to jump in,” said program director A.J. Dimick. “And we hope to encourage that.”

Yahoo Esports is forming Smash Rivalries. Partnering with Nintendo, Yahoo will follow up its uLoL Rivalries competition with Super Smash Bros. Melee, launching a 16-man invitational taking place on April 8-9 in LA. Players will represent East Coast or West Coast in the event. Play begins a noon PT, and will see Daniel “Tafokints” Lee lead coverage while Yahoo Esports showcases behind-the-scenes interviews and moments on Twitter.

TSN reports that Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment informed the NBA on Friday that it will launch a basketball esports team. MLSE’s decision comes after the NBA said it would partner with Take-Two Interactive Software to produce the NBA 2K eLeague.

UEFA is preparing to dive deep into esports and video games, and is now inviting proposals for categories that include: Official football simulation game and associated Esports rights; Official football management games; and Football related casual games and associated Esports rights. UEFA appointed TEAM Marketing AG to serve as its exclusive marketing agency for the exploitation of certain media and commercial rights relating to the Club Competitions, while CAA Eleven Sarl will serve as the exclusive marketing agency responsible for the exploitation of certain media and commercial rights relating to the National Team Competitions. Rights will apply for the 2018  2021 cycle (Club Competitions) and 2018  2022 cycle (National Team Competitions).

Battlefy is lining up an online Splatoon tournament, dangling a trip to E3 2017 for contenders. The event will feature different game modes, including Turf War, Splat Zones, Tower Control and Rainmaker with the qualifying round (Turf War) slate for April 22 at 2p. The top 16 teams in the qualifying round then move on to the finals, which begin on April 29.

UMG Event announced an agreement with 343 Industries to bring a Halo Championship Series open event in Daytona at the Oceans Center on May 12-14. Teams will compete in a 4v4 "Halo 5: Guardians" tournament with a prize pool of $75,000 in addition to a $5,000 Free-for-All tournament.

Blizzard opened the doors to Blizzard eStadium, a new gaming venue in Taipei that can seat up to 250 fans. The arena will be leveraged for both local and international competition for the Asia-pacific region, beginning with the Overwatch Pacific Championship on April 8.

Smilegate is looking to revive the World Cyber Games, acquiring rights to the former esports staple, which shut down in 2013. Samsung previously owned the event’s rights.

Hi-Rez Studios is hunting for the next great caster, and is accepting audition videos for The Caster, an esports caster reality competition show that will see the winner receive $10,000 with an opportunity to get behind the mic at Hi-Rez Expo 2018, the annual esports world finals for SMITE and Paladins. More info can be found at TheCaster.Tv. Submissions close on April 10.




10 tickets left! Have you claimed your spot for the (soon-to-be sold out) April 12 World eSports Summit? Learn how to monetize eSports for your brand, network with 200+ industry experts and gain exclusive research on this booming industry. Avoid the wait list & register now by clicking here.

With the action underway for the advertising upfronts, how are brands leveraging esports to bolster consumer loyalty? What makes promotional tactics authentic? Find out in our session, “Upfront and Personal: Sponsorship in Esports.” Moderated by Geoff Keighley, panelists are set to include PepsiCo’s Mandy Mazzeo, Gamma Labs’ Cliff Morgan, Anheuser-Busch’s Nick Kelly, and Twitch’s Nathan Lindberg.
How are publishers leveraging the rise of esports into their publishing and marketing plans? Hear from Daybreak Game Company Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux Sturr in a special “fireside chat” with Polygon Editor-in-Chief Chris Grant as she breaks down the esports industry from a publisher perspective.

You’ve read about the report, now see it for yourself! Join us for a presentation from Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak as he discusses what investors can expect from the launch of the upcoming Overwatch League, covering audiences, sponsors and ticket sales and what partners need to know as they get ready to rumble. Don’t miss “Esports: An $8 Billion Call Option?


eSports & Gaming is taking center stage next week in NYC!
Pull up a chair at the Cynopsis World eSports Conference to an expert panel of over 40 industry experts sharing a wealth of useful information that you can utilize to see real growth for your brand. Join us from 8:30AM at 10 on the Park and understand how best to leverage this market.


Sponsored by: The Trade Group, Go To Team, PromaxGAMES, Polygon, Bruin Sports Capital, theScore, eSports Ad Bureau, rEvolution, rEvXP, NAB Show.


WESA is adding another set of high-profile teams to its roster, announcing that SK Gaming and Renegades will join as full members, expanding the association’s presence in North America. “We’re thrilled that SK Gaming and Renegades have elected to add their esports brands to the growing collection of leading teams that comprise WESA,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Chairman and Commissioner of WESA. “These teams will be a positive influence within WESA, and their contributions in the months and years ahead will be an important part of enhancing our collective vision for the organization.”

MLS landed its first esports athlete as New York City FC signed Christopher Holly to represent the club in FIFA tournaments and championships around the world. “At New York City FC, we are always looking for new ways to innovate and get closer to our fans," said Diego Gigliani, SVP, Media and Innovation at City Football Marketing, elaborated:  We are delighted to welcome Christopher Holly to the Club to represent NYCFC as the first ever eSports player in MLS." He noted that the team will be creating content around his play and livestreaming on platforms such asYouTube and Twitch.


Bethesda Softworks detailed more plans for Quake Champions, serving up a roster of warriors  aka Champions  that enable players to compete with their own style and closed beta launching today. “20 years ago, Quake set new standards for multiplayer competition and pushed the boundaries for graphics and gameplay,” said Tim Willits, Studio Director, id Software. “It’s important to all of us at id Software that Quake Champions remains true to the Quake legacy, and delivers the speed and gameplay our long-time fans expect, while also pressing forward by introducing innovative gameplay opportunities with new Champions and abilities.” The title, according to the company, was designed and built for eSports, integrating competitive features for professional and amateur levels of play and will be supported at tournaments and in leagues around the globe, including QuakeCon.

SPYR updated its flagship game, Pocket Starships, to include the first phase of a new player vs. player as it prepares to bring the title to the esports market. The update brings open-world battles and map designs. In the coming months, Pocket Starships will also add "team PvP" play and a tournament system, which will allow Pocket Starships to dive headfirst into eSports.


ELeague, created by Turner and IMG, is renewing its marketing partnership with GEICO ahead of its inaugural 2017 season. GEICO will continue to serve as the official auto and home insurance of the esports organization, and include a slate of promotional and marketing activities on television, digital streaming platforms, social, and on-site at ELeague competitions with custom-branded content, social media programs, and on-site activation. “The esports community just spills over with energy, enthusiasm and excitement,” noted Bill Brower, GEICO assistant vice president of marketing, “and we’re very happy to be part of it.  We know this is a great opportunity for us to connect with a unique audience, and we felt welcome from day one.  It’s a real pleasure for GEICO to partner with ELEAGUE in this new dynamic world.”
Meanwhile, Suburu of America is launching its own foray into esports, partnering with esports agency damage to launch the $20,000 Subaru Invitational, according to multiple reports, in a move to promote the 2018 Subaru Impreza. The tournament will run May 13-14 with eight teams competing. “Subaru is proud to support the young enthusiasts of the esports community through hosting our first invite-only tournament,” said Eric Park, the Zone Retailer Marketing Manager of Subaru of America. “Our goal is to build brand affinity with a highly-engaged, dedicated millennial community that shares our core values and are ready for wherever the road takes them. Millennial esports fans have a fierce dedication to the games and its players. We understand and appreciate that kind of passion and it was an easy decision to dedicate ourselves to the esports movement.”

WrestleMania saw WWE Superstars Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods, of “The New Day,” hit the ring as a living activation/partnership between WWE and Square Enix. The trio dressed as characters from Final Fantasy XIV with Big E dressing as the Samurai, Xavier Woods as the Monk, and Kofi as the Red Mage. WWE worked in collaboration with Square Enix to produce the entrance.

Burger King is exploring gaming as a promotional vehicle, launching the Burger Clan within Sony’s PlayStation $ community, according to TheDrum. The promotion is currently running in Spain, where the chain offers home delivery. "Burger Clan is a creative disruption in both the home delivery and gaming worlds and it strikes a great balance between useful and fun,” said Bianca Shen, marketing director for Burger King Spain. “As a brand we love acting differently but with a strong purpose and relevance. Burger Clan is a great example of this thinking."

Nintendo is accepting the challenge, announcing that the company will send feature a competitive between its players and a dairy farmer from Billings Farm & Museum in a head-to-head 1-2-Switch Milk battle to see whose cow-milking skills would come out on top. The1-2-Switch Milk game allows players use the Joy-Con controllers to move their hands up and down, mimicking the motions of milking a cow in real life.

NetGear signed on to sponsor PENTA Sports. The deal will now see PENTA use NetGear’s Nighthawk product line throughout its teams, and will also see the two work together on joint events and plan new products focused on esports.

Team Liquid announced an extension with Razer, lengthening their partnership through 2017/18. “I’m very proud that Razer is our longest standing partner,” said Victor Goossens, co-CEO of Team Liquid. “It feels like an eternity since we signed our first sponsorship with Razer. In an industry that moves at a million miles an hour, we’ve been on the journey together and it’s incredible that our two brands have come so far. The fact that Razer continues to work with us is a testament to the strength of our partnership and the hard work our players put in with our sponsors and during competitions.”

Overwolf announced the launch of the G FUEL Achievements Rewards event for League of Legends players. The program rewards PC gamers for their in-game achievements with real life products and will initially be presented by G FUEL Energy Formula. Players who score a triple-kill will win free goods, including a Free G FUEL 3-PACK delivered to their home or a 30% discount with their in store purchase.


Blizzard Entertainment emerged victorious in its lawsuit against Bossland GMBH, a Germany-based cheat generator for games such as Overwatch and World of Warcraft. The ruling comes was entered after Bossland opted not to defend itself, awarding Blizzard with $8.6 million via a federal court in California. The default judgment also blocks Bossland from selling any of the cheat products applicable to Blizzard games anywhere in the US.

PENTA Sports announced that Stephen A. Crystal – who recently was named a co-owner for Denial eSports  was joining the company as a partner. “Rarely have I seen the level of energy and commitment to the growth and success in eSports worldwide than I have seen with owners and team members of PENTA Sports,” said Crystal. “It is inspiring. And it is a major factor in my decision to join PENTA as a Co-Owner and Shareholder. The joining of forces between Europe and USA perspectives can only strengthen the foundation of what is already a major force in eSports in PENTA. They have a created a culture which is nurturing to professional players on its teams and engaging to IRS growing fan base. I am excited to play a small part in making a great organization even greater. Thank you to the other Co-Owners for this opportunity.”
The Digital Republic Media Group GmbH acquired Gamesrocket  a leading portal for the digital distribution of video games. The business will now be operated by United Games GmbH, a subsidiary company of Digital Republic Media Group GmbH.

Twitch.tv revealed its initial list of games available for purchase over its desktop app, lining up 51 titles, all of which are available here. Games range from BATMAN  The Telltale Series and Minecraft: Story Mode to Tom Clancy’s The Division and SMITE.

American Leisure Holdings finalized a merger with eSports media production company GG Media Network. Incoming management will now include GG Studios’ co-founder Christian Bishop as CEO for American Leisure. GG Studios works with publishers and sponsors to create and distribute original eSports content for both television and digital platforms, with three divisions: GG Studios | Non-scripted Content Production; Talent Management and Brand Sponsorship; and eSports Events Management Division.

POWER PLAYERS  Denial eSports’ Robby Ringnalda

Amid recent headlines that saw esports powerhouse Denial eSports add not only a Rocket League team to its roster but also lock in deals with new co-owners in Hank Baskett and Stephen A. Crystal, the team is still looking to beef up investment to help grow the brand. Cynopsis Esports spoke with Ronny Ringnalda, CEO of Denial eSports, about the recent moves and what we can expect from the team moving forward.

Ringalda on launching Denial eSports: I was a pro player and realized about five or six years ago that there wasn’t much going in that direction for myself. So I stepped down and replaced myself on one of our games for one of our first teams. I then started marketing to sponsors, and that’s when things began to grow. We picked up sponsors and then added new teams. Last year, I started to realize how much capital was coming into the space and how many VC firms were starting to invest so I started looking in the investor route to find strategic partners because this is my baby and I don’t want to start partnering with someone that I’m going to hate for the rest of my life.

On adding Hank Baskett and Steven A Crystal: After many months of getting screwed over and finding many people that I would never want to work with, I ran into Steven and Hank, who are terrific, and got them involved. Over the next six months, we’ll be looking for one more strategic larger partner. Hank’s been in the space for about ten years now, and was the easier one for me because he is passionate about the space and very connected in the celebrity world so that opens up new opportunities for people we can work with. When it comes to Steven, he has been in the gambling side of the business, owning 15+ casinos and is an expert in raising and finding money. So we are now being strategic in where we want to go next.

On next steps: We want to do a partnership with a city to be able to have some sort of facility because that’s where I think esports is going. We have connections now in New York City, Tampa and obviously Las Vegas because of Steven, as well as LA.

On lessons learned: For me, it was learning to be upfront with people and not to stab people in the back because it goes around quick.


Following a $92 million fundraising round, Roblox announced the hiring of Remy Malan as Vice President of Customers. He will now “set the gold standard for customer service by implementing innovative features that will further enrich the community and promote Roblox as a fun and collaborative destination for children and teens.” He joins the company after holding various customer-facing executive roles at companies such as Teleplace and AOL Time Warner.

ON THIS DAY in 1982: Atari releases the Pac-Man video game cartridge for the Atari VCS system.    
Trivia: In what movie/game is the antagonist known as the Master Control Program? (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: The city of Derby in the UK named a street after which iconic game heroine? Answer: Lara Croft. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Julie Schell/NY; Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick-National Geographic/DC; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

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Work with producers and project leads to ensure proper QA deployment across multiple projects.
Quality Assurance Lead
Iron Galaxy Studios
Chicago IL
Take wireframes to complete, polished UI experiences by replacing wireframe objects with the polished, beautiful images they create.
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Iron Galaxy Studios
Chicago IL
Lead architecture and implementation of new features and changes to backend infrastructure considering efficiency, maintainability, stability, and security.
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Jackbox Games
Chicago IL
Collaborate with a small, tight team in developing successful games.
Software Game Developer
Disruptor Beam
Framingham MA
Research, evaluate, implement, and evolve performance-based product-marketing tactics.
Online Marketing Manager
Disruptor Beam
Framingham MA
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3D Environment Artist
Zenimax Media Inc.
Hunt Valley MD
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Zenimax Media Inc.
Hunt Valley MD
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Grapevine TX
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Grapevine TX
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Sucker Punch Productions
Bellevue WA
Provide daily feedback and direction to all the contributors on your missions, driving rapid iteration so that we can meet our high quality bar and reinforce the overall vision for the product.
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Sucker Punch Productions
Bellevue WA
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Cary CA
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San Francisco CA
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Respawn Entertainment
Beverly Hills CA
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Respawn Entertainment
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