State Farm is extending its League of Legends run, announcing a new deal that will carry its sponsorship through 2021 for multiple esports properties including: North America’s League of Legends Championship Series; League’s three global events: League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event; and the League of Legends College Championship presented by State Farm. Activation elements include: The State Farm Analyst Desk for LCS broadcasts as well as all English-language global broadcasts of global events, and the League of Legends College Championship; Integrated in-broadcast/in-steam content such as Assist of the Week, I’m Helping segment, and the Level-Up segment; Digital “Cheerboard” printers at all LCS home & away events and US-based global events, including the most recent LCS Spring Finals in St. Louis and the 2018 All-Star Event; and “Cospitality” Tents at LCS regional finals and global events, where fans can share their passion for cosplay.
Razer cemented a new partnership with Evil Geniuses, who will now be outfitted with Razer’s esports-grade peripherals including headsets, keyboards, mice, and surfaces for all training and tournaments over the next two years. “Team Razer is proud to partner with Evil Geniuses at the highest level of esports,” said David Tse, Global Director of Esports at Razer. “We are always inspired by their passion and commitment, and our partnership will be fueled by the best of esports technology and skills.”
A|X Armani Exchange announced a deal to become the first fashion brand to dive into esports waters, locking in a sponsor with the Italian team Mkers for the 2019-20 season for the team to serve as the global ambassador for the brand and wear a new official uniform at tournaments. “We are proud to be the first e-sports team chosen by a prestigious brand like Armani Exchange,” said Mkers CEO Paolo Cisario in the announcement. “It is a reward for all the effort sustained up until this moment, and it gives great credibility not just to us and the investors that believed in our project, but also to the entire Italian e-sports industry. Now the real challenge will be to yield tangible results.”
EGENCY, founded in 2018 as a premier esports production, marketing and talent management firm, announced that the company will change its name to Abacus3 effective immediately. According to company President Mark Nausha, “The esports and video gaming space is rapidly changing. The community is always building, growing, and evolving, and we felt we needed to go to market with a name that signifies that we are much more than merely an agency specializing in esports.”
Overwatch League announced that OWL Stage 2 Playoff and Finals delivered a new viewership high for the season with an average minute audience of 545,000, according to Nielsen. The finals rank as the best performing esports telecast of all time across ABC, ESPN and Disney linear channels.
ESPN puts the spotlight on University of California, Irvine’s League of Legends varsity team as it pursues a second straight collegiate championship and a shot at redemption on the international stage in a docu-series, Good Game: UC Irvine. Bonnie Bernstein served as showrunner running on ESPN2. “Good Game is another great example of our continued efforts into narrative storytelling for our linear audience,” said John Lasker, vice president of digital programming. “New fans as well as core esports fans will enjoy a look at UC Irvine’s remarkable season and the increasing popularity of collegiate esports.”
1047 Games, developer of Splitgate, announced a partnership with blockchain Esports entertainment platform SLIVER.tv to bring exclusive in-game items to viewers who watch streamers broadcast Splitgate gameplay to the platform. “We’re thrilled to be partnering with SLIVER.tv and bringing unique TFuel rewards to Splitgate players,” said Ian Proulx, co-founder of 1047 Games. “The streamers benefit from seeing tons of engaged viewers, who earn exclusive skins for watching Splitgate gameplay, and we, the developer, get more players enjoying our game. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!”
Complexity Gaming officially opened the doors to its new headquarters, titled the GameStop Performance Center and forwarding its vision for the “Esports 3.0” era, “where esports athletes are treated like professional sports athletes.” At The Star in Frisco, Complexity’s 11,000-square-foot headquarters sits near the Dallas Cowboys World Headquarters, allowing for seamless coordination between the two organizations and “establishing Complexity as one of the first esports organizations to fully integrate and connect with a traditional sports franchise,” according to the team. The GameStop Performance Center houses a public area and retail space for visitors as well as cutting-edge performance facilities for team members, including recovery, wellness and mental health amenities in addition to featuring advanced training rooms, a mind gym, a decompression porch, innovation lab and stream studio.
News this week that Turner Tenney, the 21-year-old professional gamer known worldwide as Tfue, sued his team FaZe Clan sent tongues wagging around the industry, with his claims that the team is violating California law and the Talent Agency Act by taking up to 80% percent of his earnings. His Twitch streams have been viewed more than 120 million times, and he has more than 10 million YouTube subscribers and 5.5 million Instagram followers and is now asking the court to terminate his agreement with the company in addition to “fair payment for his services plus disgorgement of Faze Clan’s profits and punitive damages,” per THR. However, the team replied to the accusations, claiming that it has only secured $60,000 from its partnership with Tfue while Tfue has made millions of dollars as a member of FaZe Clan, noting that FaZe Clan has not taken any percentage of the earnings the Twitch personality has collected from tournament winnings, Twitch or YouTube revenue nor any social platform.
After the League of Legends Championship Series instructed Echo Fox ownership to take “corrective action” after Rick Fox and others accused a stakeholder of racism, the team released a statement noting that plans were already underway to remove the investor, stating, ““We are working with the highest level of urgency to remove the investor from the Echo Fox organization. Our internal timeline has always been shorter than the one announced yesterday by Riot Games, with whom we have been in close communication. Diversity has been a hallmark and point of pride for Echo Fox since our inception and we share Riot’s desire to erase intolerance from esports. This is a company made up of amazing staff, talented players, dedicated fans and focused ownership. We will move through these challenges and be stronger for it.”
League of Legends creators Riot Games and its primary shareholder, China’s Tencent Holdings, are reportedly developing a mobile version of the game, according Reuters. The move, according to the report, comes in a move to help broaden the game’s user base in Asia.
Sony launched PlayStation Productions, a new production studio designed with the purpose to bring video game stories and their universes to TV and movies. Multiple reports state that the venture will be led by SIE chairman of Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden, and headed up by Sony veteran Asad Qizilbash, with THR writing that the “first slate of projects” are already in production on the Sony Pictures lot. “We’ve got 25 years of game development experience and that’s created 25 years of great games, franchises and stories,” Layden said. “We feel that now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television to give our worlds life in another spectrum.”
Netflix is going the other way however, and will be hosting a panel at E3 next month titled “Bringing Your Favorite Shows to Life: Developing Netflix Originals into Video Games.”
OverActive Media opened the doors to a live events production division following the acquisition of Toronto-based esports events company MediaXP, titled OAM Live. Ken Silva, Founder of MediaXP, now joins OverActive Media’s team in Toronto. “This is yet another step forward in our effort to build a world-leading, global esports platform that will redefine the future of sports and entertainment,” said Chris Overholt, President and CEO of OverActive Media. “The launch of OAM LIVE will progress our business growth by providing future partners, publishers and brands with an end-to-end solution for gaming events and esports broadcasts.”
A new report from Superdata notes that consumers spent $8.86 billion digitally on games across console, PC and mobile worldwide in April, up 7% from the same month last year. Premium console, up 17%, was the fastest-growing segment due to the continued mix shift towards digital channels for full game units. PC overall declined 4% year-over-year despite modest growth within the free-to-play segment.
Magid hired Jason Rice for the company’s Gaming and Esports practice. Rice joins Magid having spent the past four years at Greenberg Strategy where he led multiple engagements for clients such as PlayStation, EA, Facebook, Microsoft, Dell, ESPN, and MLB.