06/01/17: ROG expands the pool; Twitch’s E3 lineup, Lagardere feels the Love

CynopsiseSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday June 1, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.


ASUS Republic of Gamers is opening up ROG Masters 2017 , with the event set to showcase over 20 pro teams for the dual Dota 2 and CS:GO tournament for a $500,000 prize pool. After last year’s event was tailored for Asia, this year will see teams compete in 30 country qualifiers in addition to Open Regional Qualifiers in the Americas, EMEA, APAC and China who are all vying for a spot in the Grand Finals in November 2017.

“For over a decade ROG has been committed to providing the most innovative hardware to gamers worldwide, and last year we offered the gaming community an opportunity to live their esports dream by launching the first ever ROG Masters,” said ROG Marketing Director, Derek Yu. “Thanks to extremely positive feedback, ROG Masters returns this year as a global affair, inviting pro teams and amateur players from over 30 countries across five continents.”
 
 
COMPETITION


The International 7 is once again pacing for a new record prize pool for the Dota 2 competition and has already reeled $12.5 million for the prize pool courtesy of its annual crowdfunding exploits. According to Forbes, this year’s compendium has been on sale for less than a month, and – including the base prize pool from developer Valve of $1.6 million – has amassed $12,548,218. Last year’s record total generated just under $21 million.
 
DreamHack announced plans to partner with Bluehole to host what is being described as the world’s largest LAN activation. The event will come as part of the DreamHack Summer 2017 Battle Royale , where winners will compete daily for prizes and glory in an event to determine the best PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds player and team. Bluehole Inc. will host dedicated LAN servers with hourly matches where up to 10 simultaneous 100 player matches can be played.
 
Skillz is recruiting a new Street Fighter to the platform, partnering with Beeline Interactive for mobile competitive play. According to the announcement, fans will be able to experience a “wholly unique” experience as well tune in to live broadcast competitions integrated natively within the game, powered by the Skillz platform. “With this partnership, Street Fighter will define the future of competitive mobile gameplay,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. “With worldwide competitions and countless physically organized events, Street Fighter has helped lay the foundation of modern pro gaming for both players and spectators. We’re excited to facilitate the delivery of this competitive experience to mobile gamers.”

Speaking of Street Fighter, ELeague’s Street Fighter V Invitational Grand Final ended with Victor “Punk” Woodley defeating Arman “Phenom” Hanjani but audiences saw the league leverage a ugmented reality character visuals into its live coverage through a partnership with Ross Video and The Future Group. The tech allowed for large, lifelike virtual Street Fighter characters to appear next to analysts, on stage next to the players and throughout the competition space.
 
Following a year that saw a slew of deals between sports and esports entities, how are these new partnerships actually benefitting the brands? What have these sports powerhouses learnt about esports fans? How is competitive gaming being leveraged? Hear from some of the innovators from the sports world who took on esports and learn from their experiences at our latest webinar “ How Sports Brands Can Leverage the Esports Explosion ,” taking place on June 27. Book your spot now by clicking here .
 
R iot Games is posed to host the finals of the North American League of Legends Championship Series this year in Boston, with ESPN suggesting that the event will take place in TD Garden. This year’s event will take place from Sept. 2-3 and feature the third place play off match as well as the grand final of the Summer Split.
 
Intel Extreme Masters r evealed that it was getting in on the action for this year’s WCS circuit, returning to Shanghai to host a 16-player tournament in StarCraft II from July 27-30. Competitors will vie for a share of a $25,000 prize pool, WCS points, and the title of IEM Shanghai 2017 champion. The 16-player tournament at IEM Shanghai 2017 will begin with a double-elimination best-of-three group stage, consisting of four groups. From there, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be best-of-five, leading up to a best-of-seven grand finals.
 
Twitch is partnering with BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America, publisher of TEKKEN 7 to launch the TEKKEN World Tour. In addition to being the exclusive broadcasting platform for this competitive gaming league, Twitch will manage TEKKEN 7 league operations, circuit events, and content on a global scale. The tour kicks off on June 16-18 at the CEO Fighting Game Championships with additional stops in Orlando, Dallas, Orange, and more. The six-month season will have a total prize pool of over $200,000.
 
The Professional Esports Association announced two new members to the association with the additions of Team Dignitas and Misfits. The two teams now bring the overall tally of member squads to nine, joining Team solo Mid, Cloud 9, Team Liquid, Counter Logic Gaming, NRG Esports, Immortals and Complexity.
 
 
INSIGHTS


Source: Newzoo
 
 
PLATFORMS


Twitter is partnering with Riot Games Oceania to live stream the inaugural League of Legends: League of Origin tournament globally on the platform and connected devices. The tournament takes place this weekend from the ESL Studios in Sydney. “Twitter is one of the most engaging platforms for fans of the OPL and OCS esports leagues, so it made sense to team up for League of Origin,” said Daniel Ringland, Head of Esports at Riot Games Oceania. “The livestream on Twitter will be a shortcut for fans in Oceania and around the world, as they can both watch and engage on the platform at the same time.” To celebrate the inaugural League of Legends: League of Origin, Twitter is also launching special tournament emojis.
 
ReadyUp detailed plans to launch a platform dedicated to esports team management. Per VentureBeat, the offering features tools for roster management, scheduling, and communication that “enable esports athletes to efficiently manage and optimize their teams, allowing them to focus on competition and player development” with a launch slated for the fall of 2017. “With hundreds of millions of global esports enthusiasts, we believe esports’ scale and fragmentation now warrants a comprehensive set of team management tools,” said Alemania, in a statement. “ReadyUp will bring the best practices in traditional sports that have been successful at providing structure and efficiency from running recreational teams to managing large sports organizations.”
 
IMG’s Boomeo locked in a partnership with esports franchise Astralis that will see the team’s CS:GO squad exclusively use Boomeo servers and game mods – including Duels, Pre-Fire, Deathmatch and Retakes – to warm up and train for competitions. Members of Astralis will be producing exclusive educational and training content for Boomeo that will be released throughout the summer. “We’re excited to work with Boomeo on innovative educational content and specific skill training. For us it’s about continuously developing as a team and as individuals, and to constantly move forward,” said Frederik Byskov, Manager of Astralis. ” The competition in CS:GO is fierce and cooperating with professionals like Boomeo is a part of our strategy to constantly improve to stay ahead.”
 
 
MARKETING


After announcing a deal with Dr. Pepper, mousesports upped the ante this week, courtesy of a deal with Vodaphone, which will see the team’s jersey sport the brand as head sponsor beginning with the ESL Pro League finals in Dallas. Vodaphone will support all mousesports teams from CS:GO to Vainglory. “In Vodafone, we have found a strong and attractive brand that shares our passion and wants to shape the growth of mousesports and esports together. Connectivity is the lifeblood of esports and we are glad to not only have gained the best, but also the internationally most renowned partner”, said mousesports CEO Cengiz Tuylu.
 
Bud Light is recharging its 2017 Bud Light All-Stars esports campaign and will – f or the next two weeks – encourage fans 21 and over to vote for their favorite players from four different games – Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Hearthstone and Street Fighter V. Winners and final Bud Light All-Stars will be announced in late June with each member set to begin streaming on the Bud Light Twitch channel each Thursday from June 29 through December. Contenders include: Clayster, Crimsix, Jkap, and Scump for CoD; JDM, Rush, SGares and Shahzam for CS: GO; Firebat, hafu, HotMEOWTH and Reynad for Hearthstone and Chris Tatarian, Flash, jWong and Marn for Street Fighter V. “We took a big first step last year when we introduced Bud Light All-Stars, and through our live and digital programming we learned a lot about what esports fans want to see from brands,” said Eelco van der Noll, VP of experiential marketing at Anheuser-Busch. “We listened to both fans and players, and this year they’ll see a stronger focus on enhanced digital experiences that consistently bring them and their friends closer to their favorite top players in North America.”
 
Meanwhile, digital tabletop company Roll20 is getting into esports, locking in a deal to sponsor Heroes of the Storm pro squad Team 8 in the Heroes Global Championship. With the partnership, the team will now compete as Roll20 esports going forward beginning with the Mid-Season Brawl at Dreamhack in Sweden ., per VentureBeat.
 

The Ubisoft logo is once again getting a makeover, as the company introduced a new swirl for the iconic mark, describing it as “an evolution of our existing logo that marks a new era for Ubisoft, one with an increased focus on live and digital games as well as a player-centric approach to creating immersive worlds.”
 
With E3 on the horizon, EA began rolling out details for its EA Play event, running June 10-12, announcing that Nas will be joined by DJ Green Lantern and Dave East for a free live concert on June 10 from 6 – 8 pm for everyone that attends the event. Meanwhile, the player FanFest will feature over 140 hands-on gaming stations, demos, live music and more. In addition, global community creators will be participating in the EA Game Changers Creators Cave, where they’ll get the chance to capture early game footage, edit content to share, livestream directly from the show and interact with our studio development teams.
 
 
INDUSTRY


Speaking of E3, Twitch detailed coverage plans for this year’s event, with programming slated for June 10-15 that will include: all press conferences (EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, PC Gamer, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo, Intel); a Pre Pre Show; as well as exclusive reveals, gameplay, developer interviews, and more from the Twitch Stage. Hosts are set to include djWHEAT, Anna Prosser, HelloKittyLink, Ezekiel_III, Seltzer, Swiftor, Okaydrian and Jon Carnage
 
In other Twitch news, the company announced that TwitchCon 2017 tickets are now on sale. This year’s event will take place in Long Beach, CA from Oct. 20-22 with the “early bird” special running at $159 for a three-day pass and ticket to attend the Twitch afterparty.
 
Speaking of streaming, Microsoft Beam has a new name, and will now be known as Mixer. “Mixer represents our vision for the next generation of multiplayer – watching and participating alongside your friends in gameplay streaming from anywhere in the world,” co-founder and Mixer engineering lead Matt Salsamendi stated via Xbox Wire. With the facelift, Microsoft is adding new features to the platform, allowing users to view streams and engage with fellow streamers in “near real time.”
 
Penny Arcade and ReedPOP announced a global expansion of PAX gaming events under a new Powered by PAX brand with the first slated to be GC PLAY Powered by PAX in Guangzhou, China from November 10-12. The Powered by PAX brand of events will be run by the same teams behind the successful North American and Australian shows including PAX West, PAX East, PAX South, PAX Aus, PAX Unplugged and PAX Dev.
 
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 240 into law, opening the doors to legal esports wagering in the state by allowing p ari-mutuel betting to include competitive gaming and other events like award shows.
 
Virtual reality gaming start-up Playsnak announced that it had secured an additional $1.2 million seed investment from global publisher and developer gumi Inc. This investment completes its initial seed funding round with a total of $2.5 million with the investment reflected both the scale of its global ambitions and Playsnak’s early promise in the VR spaces.
 
 
POWER PLAYERS – Lagardere Sports


Sports marketing agency Lagardere Sports grabbed headlines earlier this year when it entered the realm of esports by singing Unicorns of Love to a partnership. Shortly thereafter, the agency added to its roster of clients, by picking up the likes of Team ROCCATT and SK Gaming as well, with an eye to grow their brands via sponsor acquisitions, product development and expansion of digital channels and media rights. As the company continues to inflate its influence in the industry, Cynopsis asked Andre Flackel , Director eSports at Lagardere Sports about the company’s new forays and what the agency can do for the industry.
 
Flackel on Lagardere’s interest in esports: I could easily say that it is about the impressive numbers on viewership, social media reach etc. but it’s more than that. It’s about the young generation – the generation Z, Y, millennials, digital natives… whatever you want to call them. They or let’s better say we (because I’m part of it) consume media and interact with each other in different ways than generations before us and we have different interests than generations before. The world is constantly moving. Faster than ever: the internet changes everything. Still, a lot of people underestimate that. For me, esports is on top of that wave and shows from a sports prospective that the world is changing. Ten years ago who would have ever thought that gamers will be like popstars? We at Lagardere are only reaction to what is going on already. We know sports marketing quite well, we helped to build the football business 20 years ago. Now we want to help grow the esports business and become an important part of the eco-system.
 
On what Lagardere brings to the table: We are an established sports marketing agency with over 50 years of experience and offices all around the world. We have access to nearly every brand, broadcaster, sports organizations as well as mayor stadiums and arenas. We are the world-wide leader in marketing and distribution of sponsorships and media rights and we are offering a Full-Service portfolio for marketing and media: management/brand/digital consulting, sponsoring, hospitality, events, operations, etc.
To be more concrete, from an esports organization perspective (teams, leagues as well as publishers), we help to grow their business not only by bringing in money via sponsorships but also thinking, strategizing and executing long term. This is exactly what we are doing for traditional sports organizations like Borussia Dortmund, CAF (Confederation of African Football) or the NFL. From a brand perspective we offer access and proper marketing to approach a target group which becomes more relevant and that brands doesn’t  reach via classical media or doesn’t even understand at all – yet.
 
On goals for its partners: We want to offer brands the best possible advertising platform to reach a new target group. Even more important is to help brands (together with the team) to get the context of the new advertising platforms (digital) and language to speak to their potential customers. At the moment we have signed three esports teams. Unicorns of Love, Team Roccat both League of Legends and SK Gaming with Counter-Strike as well as Vainglory and Hearthstone (both Mobile Games). Each team is very unique. Providing these teams the best partners to rely on, will put their organizations in a better position to succeed. Moreover this will have an impact to the whole eco system of esports and take it to the next level we believe.
 
On lessons learned: It takes much longer to convince brands to place advertising and sponsoring budget in esports than in traditional sports. The reason for that is that a lot of decision maker are not familiar with esports yet. Our job is to educate brands and help them find their way into this booming market. Having said that we see more and more brands want to enter the esports market. I believe the biggest brands in the world are about to get it. Still we are talking most of the time about test budget. If all of us advertisers in this industry deliver good sponsoring and advertising for these brands and show the value, than this test budgets will become bigger and more brands will follow.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Take-Two Interactive named David Ismailer as the company’s new president of its 2K lineup. Ismailer replaces former president Christoph Hartmann, and had served as the brand’s COO and SVP of Publishing, helping the studio deliver the likes of BioShock, NBA 2K and Mafia.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
August 3 |Dream Downtown, NYC |11:30AM – 4:00PM

Industry experts from Facebook, NBCU, ABC, Hulu, Quigley-Simpson, 22squared and others are joining together to lead a series of panels including:
Monetization That Makes Sense
The Advertisers Speak
Hitting the Bullseye with Data & Audience Targeting
 
Seating is limited, so be sure to register your team today!
 
ON THIS DAY in 1991: Nintendo announces the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
 

Trivia: Considered as the one of the most evil villains in gaming, Kerrigan – aka the Queen of Blades – appears in which game franchise? (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: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell is also the founder of what restaurant chain? Answer: Chuck E. Cheese’s. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Heather Allen-WWE/Stamford; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; Daniel Hanson/Vail; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Elena Chavira-OMD/LA

Later — Chris

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Manage one or more product categories from design concept to production garment.
Senior Manager, Technical Design
Under Armor
Baltimore MD
 
Establish, monitor and achieve goals with minimal supervision.
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King Show Games
Minnetonka MN
 
Development of efficient code and scalable database structures in order to support high server request volumes.
Back—end Developer
King Show Games
Minnetonka MN
 
Lead and set the long-term vision for user experience in Nintendo’s online universe, and evangelize vision with web production, dev and creative design teams.
Senior Lead, User Experience
Nintendo
Redmond WA
 
A lead position that designs and creates art for software products and leads other artists on assigned projects.
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Nintendo
Redmond WA
 
Lead the testing effort for the back-end game platform.
Lead SDET (Platform Team)
Wargaming
Seattle WA
 
Design and develop game infrastructure services.
Software Engineer (Online Presence)
Wargaming
Seattle WA
 
Establish and maintain cinematic style with regard to shot selection, pacing, character blocking and camera direction.
Senior Storyboard Artist
High Moon Studios
Carlsbad CA
 
Scripting gameplay events and objectives to enhance the level design.
Senior Mission Designer
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Carlsbad CA
 
Responsible for creating original and imaginative concept art for characters, environments and other game assets.
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Ready at Dawn
Irvine CA
 
Work both independently and in cooperation with Designers and other Artists to complete assigned projects.
Senior Environment Model and Layout Artist
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build an extensive connected fitness platform and deliver products and features that help facilitate improving the health and quality of life for users.
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Under Armor
San Francisco CA
 
Collaborate with and mentor team members to produce and manage high quality code.
Lead Engineer
KIXEYE
San Francisco CA
 
Work on concepts and production assets, creating characters, environments and UI items.
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