05/09/19: Overwatch League details plans for this year’s Grand Final, hitting Philadelphia

CynopsisESPORTS
It’s Thursday May 9, 2019 and this is your weekly early morning Esports briefing. For additional longer-form esports news plus jobs, a team directory, glossary, calendar and data, check out our new esports hub updated daily: http://cynopsisesports.com.
 


 
The Overwatch League formalized its plans for the 2019 Grand Finals, confirming location, dates and broadcast arrangements for this year’s event. The Grand Finals will be held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sept. 29, with the two teams that qualify for the Grand Finals competing for the League’s championship trophy and a share of the US $1.7 million prize pool. The 2019 Grand Finals will be livestreamed on Twitch in 190 countries, and broadcast in the US on ABC from 3p-6p in addition to carriage on the ESPN app, overwatchleague.com, and the Overwatch League app. Additionally, the Grand Finals will air in the following countries via additional platforms: Canada (TSN), China (Zhanqi, NetEase CC, Bilibili and Huya) France (Mediawan), Germany (Sport1), and Russia (E Terra TV).
 
“Philadelphia is a legendary sports town with amazing fans and the Wells Fargo Center is the perfect venue to crown our next champion,” said Nate Nanzer, Overwatch League Commissioner. “The 2018 Grand Finals in Brooklyn was epic but we’re looking to up the ante for our season finale in Philly. We have 20 teams in the League now, so the path to the championship is going to be extremely competitive and very entertaining.”
 
 
COMPETITION AND VENUES

 
Valve is off and running to beef up its prize pool via the International 2019 Battle Pass, where 25% of all sales dedicated toward the tournament’s prize pool. This year sees a “Jungle Expedition” theme for players which will see players take part in a Wrath of the Mo’rokai special event. Just 18 hours of release, the Battle Pass has already reeled in $5.19 million, pacing well ahead of last year’s tally at this point, which ended up delivering $25 million for the event. The International 2019 hits China for the first time with the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai playing host from August 15-25.
 
Year three of the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival will have a slate of worldwide regional events to support the selection of the best female CS:GO and League of Legends teams, that will qualify for the year-end World Finals, which will take place in Dubai. Qualifying regionals include: Oceania, Asia, Europe and LATAM. Organized by Evoloop and presented by Grow uP eSports, the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival is an exciting event focused on celebrating women’s competitiveness in video games, as well as a platform to promote women empowerment.
 
Valve locked in dates for the 2020 and 2021 Counter-Strike Majors, announcing that the first Major event in 2020 will span May 11-24, with the second event running Nov. 1-14. Meanwhile, the first major of 2021 will be from May 10-23, with the fall event from Nov. 1-14, per Dot Esports.
 
Tencent Games detailed the roadmap for its 2019 Honor of Kings World Champion Cup with $2.36 million in prize money on the line. The slate will take place in a trio of cities: July 10-21 with the group stage in Seoul; the knockout stage in Kuala Lampur from July 27-Aug. 3; and the Grand Final in the Chinese city of Shenzhen on August 10. Twelve teams will compete in this tournament and the winner will receive over $1 million.
 
Blizzard in bringing in Latin America to be a part of the Arena World Championship circuit with play beginning May 16. The effort will be run in partnership with PVPLab.
 
New categories! We are officially accepting nominations for The Tempest Awards, the industry’s most prestigious business awards show, honoring the best in marketing, production, technology and more, taking place at the Esports Business Summit on Sept. 11. Click here and get your entry in today!
 
Electronic Arts announced that the culminating EA SPORTS Madden NFL 19 Championship Series event, Madden NFL 19 Bowl, broke franchise media consumption records, noting that its Twitch audience peaked at 97,000 viewers, to mark a rise of 650% over the previous year with the stream generating more than 2.5 million views, up 850%. Meanwhile, the ESPN2 broadcast of the one-hour final had a total reach of 805,000 viewers, and combined Madden NFL 19 Bowl Twitch and ESPN2 broadcasts secured a 208,000 average minute audience during the final, which tracks average minute-by-minute viewership.
 
Super League Gaming is teaming up with Capcom to forge a new partnership designed to create official community-driven amateur esports competitions and leagues for Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition players across the US, along with live and VOD content, as well as community-led local events. The deal will include the creation of a national city-vs-city tournament for Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition in which teams of players in major markets across the country will compete to be the Amateur-US City Champion.A core component of the program will be run by SuperLeagueTV, which will be producing, broadcasting and distributing live streams of competition.
 
 
TRENDS

 
Last weekend, Call of Duty World League took over London for a major tournament in the circuit. 16 esports teams journeyed to the Gfinity esports arena to compete for league points, and $325k in prizing. Using our technology to analyze session titles, Stream Hatchet investigates how competitive performance correlates with the live viewership of the top 8 teams:
  • 100 Thieves Beats eUnited in game and on Twitch: 100 Thieves matches generated 155.6K more hours watched, and an AVG CCV that was 4.9k greater than eUnited viewership.
  • A green wall in on Twitch: Although they placed 3rd, OpTic Gaming matches accounted for over 1/2 of the tournament’s hours watched.
  • Is Team Heretics really popular?: Heretic’s Avg CCV may have been inflated by OpTic Gaming. Their matchup generated a AVG CCV of 65.5K, the highest during the tournament.
For more information on gaming, esports, and live streaming platforms, visit us online at: blog.streamhatchet.com.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Esports Tempest Awards
The only recognition program that shines a spotlight on the industry’s most innovative esports companies, with categories that span production, marketing, talent, and technology.
 
Winners will be announced live at the HyperX Esports Arena during the Esports Business Summit and promoted across social media, and digital assets—reaching over 300,000 key Esports business industry players.
 

ACTIVATION

 
Hershey’s continues to dive into esports, this time announcing a partnership with the Los Angeles Valiant in a deal that will see Kit Kat serve as the new official candy of the Overwatch League squad, as well as the entitlement partner for the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend. Working with parent company Immortals, the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend, will run from August 24-25 at LA Live and feature branded activations and events alongside competitive Overwatch League matches. Inside the arena, fans will receive exclusive seating in the Kit Kat Team Lounges separated by team affiliation. The brand will now also collaborate with LA Valiant on original digital and social content for fans to experience, and to highlight the partnership.
 
 
PLATFORMS

 
Super League Gaming inked a network services agreement with NetLevel, a nationwide fiber network for out-of-home entertainment. The deal now opens the door for Super League to provide esports competitions and live viewing events in more than triple its current number of movie theater locations throughout the country. As part of the agreement, NetLevel will absorb Super League Gaming’s theater network connections into NetLevel’s network, which consists of more than 400 sites. With this deal, Super League Gaming will assign its network infrastructure at Cinemark and other theaters to NetLevel, adding to the 4,000-plus theater auditoriums that NetLevel already has under contract.
 
Wizards of the Coast launched a new Twitch series on Day9tv titled “What the Deck.” Sean “Day9” Plott hosts with the program spotlighting fans submitting their unique pre-constructed decks through MTG Arena to determine the gurus of Magic: The Gathering. The series will run biweekly with five episodes overall.
 
 
TEAMS

 
Complexity Gaming is getting a facelift, announcing an organization-wide shift designed to reflect “its continued commitment to the advancement of the esports industry and its push towards ‘Esports 3.0,’ where esports athletes are treated like professional sports athletes.” The move creates a new logo, color scheme, and website aligned with their sister team, the Dallas Cowboys. According to the team, As represented by Complexity’s new logo design, the five points of the star are used purposefully to articulate the company’s five C’s brand pillars, Competition, Community, Culture, Cause and Convergence.
 
In an investor call to announce first quarter 2019 results, Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, announced that the company had sold the first five city-based franchise slots for the Call of Duty World League, locking in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Paris and Toronto “to owners who recognize the scale of the opportunity from their partnerships with us on the Overwatch League.”
 
 
INDUSTRY

Around 150 Riot Games employees staged a walkout this week to protest the company trying to block a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit claiming some of the women involved previously agreed to arbitration clauses in their employment contracts. Riot subsequently released a statement stating that employees participating in the walkout would not experience retaliation and noting that “While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution.
 
QuakeCon is doubling down, announcing a second QuakeCon running in London and will take place at the same time as the one in Dallas. Revealed on the QuakeCon website, the events will span July 26-27 from the Printworks in London and at the Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center, from July 25-28.
 
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced a bill designed to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in “games played by minors.” He said he would introduce the bill, “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” to the U.S. Senate shortly. The Entertainment Software Association responded: “Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.”
 
Respawn Entertainment announced that season two of Apex Legends would be unveiled at E3 2019. “We’re now very focused on delivering for this massive global community with a long-term live service, including new seasons with more robust Battle Pass content, new legends, and exciting evolutions to the in-game environment,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in the earnings call.
 
 
POWER PLAYER – Robbie Douek

 
After making its first-ever stop stateside in Miami, BLAST Pro Series now has eyes on LA, locking in partnerships and teams for July 13 at the USC Galen Centre in Downtown Los Angeles. The company, owned by RFRSH Entertainment which also owns Astralis, now has eyes to go deeper in the years ahead for the global CS:GO tournament circuit that this year saw a new tournament format – one global series with seven of the best teams in the world, seven live tournaments in seven international venues with a total prize pool of $2.25 million. Cynopsis Esports asked Robbie Douek, President & CCO at RFRSH Entertainment, about the companies experiences and plans moving forward.
 
Douek on the US market: US is the biggest entertainment market in the world and also a main market for esports and CS:GO specifically. Being a cross over between world-class live arena entertainment and esports of the highest caliber combined with our ambition to become the most entertaining and the most watched live esports tournament in the world, the US market is a natural next step for us. Presenting this kind of show and tournament to the US audience is something we’ve been looking much forward to, and the way we were welcomed in Miami tells us, we’re on the right track. It was an amazing show in Florida last month!
 
On takeaways from Miami: We were reminded that US is a different and very quality aware market. The audience and partners are used to big shows, which keeps us on our feet, but we were also reaffirmed that what we do is on par with the very best of live entertainment out there. The Miami show was broadcast online to millions on Twitch and the tournament was broadcasted on TV channels in more than 130 countries worldwide. Even if the time zones can be a challenge, we actually secured a record audience online, and a main takeaway is definitely that the concept of world class live entertainment combined with the very best esports has to offer is a winning one.
 
On hitting LA:  What you can always expect from BLAST Pro Series is some of the best esports has to offer and a live event second to none in regards to entertainment, massive digital and audio stage set-up for a riveting competition format, fans who love to show their love for the players and teams and an audience engagement that is really something special. On top of this we have entered our first Music Partnership with a major rock band; Asking Alexandria. This alone will give a new dimension to the show and live experience.
 
On challenges: Velocity and going Global. We have scaled fast, with strong offices in Copenhagen and London and this year tournament operations in different continents. Our teams are constantly on the move competing around the world and we have already hosted tournaments in Sao Paulo, Miami and Madrid with LA just around the corner. it’s certainly been a great test for our operations in 2019 and as we scale into 2020. We have hired accomplished and seasoned professionals from the world of Sports and Entertainment that take these challenges in their stride. I can’t praise the team enough for their amazing hard work and dedication. It’s the making of our amazing company.
 
On growth: BLAST is well known in certain geographies and our teams have footprint in others, we want that Global presence for all our IP. We want to make sure that fans around the world can experience the pure adrenaline and premium nature of BLAST Pro as well as get the chance to meet and learn from Astralis or Origen. I am personally very interested in how eSports continues to become more mainstream and how brands and consumers are embracing it around the world. It’s so exciting to watch that.
 
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ON THIS DAY in 2006: Nintendo announces the release name for its next-generation console system: the Wii.
 
 
Trivia: Which Smash Bros. fighter/game character is 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: In the Mortal Kombat universe, Cassie is the daughter of which two characters? Answer: Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Hugo Salgado-Emporio Films and Media/Mexico City; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
 

For more news and coverage, check out: http://cynopsisesports.com (updated daily).

Later — Chris

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/Discovery/NYC or LA: Thought leader & strategist to connect research methods w/new data analytics. Utilize primary research, Nielsen data & consumer databases to develop programming, scheduling & marketing strategy for Discovery & Science Channels & stay competitive in industry trends/changes. 10+ yrs media exp req. Apply HERE (5/17)

 
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MGR, STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT/NBCU/NYC: Help identify, develop, and implement business opps across & within the ELG network brands & studios portfolio. Creative strategic thinker w/3+ yrs media business dvlpment and/or investment banking exp.  Full info HERE (5/17)

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AD SALES – SALES ASSISTANT/Crown Media Family Networks/NY: Responsible for working with Account Executives and Sales Planners to service and maintain agencies and clients on a daily basis, Marketing, Communication or Advertising. Apply HERE (5/15)

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DP/PHOTOJOURNALIST/Katz Networks/Atlanta: Work closely w/Field Producers in shooting live trials for COURT TV.  Light, shoot, mic intimate interviews; documentary style ENG; extensive travel. 3+ yrs live news network exp and 5+ yrs exp as DP with exp in News. Full info & how to apply HERE (5/10)
 

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