06/07/18: Publishers locked in their times for E3 announcements

CynopsisESPORTS
It’s Thursday June 7, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning Esports briefing. 


Last call for E3 before companies roll out their slate of news for upcoming games and a slew of major conferences/video streams on the docket this year. We will dive deeper in to esports-driven activations and news below but setting the stage will be Electronic Arts kicking off the frenzy on Saturday at 11a PT at EA Play. Sunday sees Microsoft step up to the plate at 1p, followed by Bethesda at 6:30p. Monday opens with Square Enix at 10a, followed by Ubisoft at 1p, The PC Gaming Show at 3p and Sony at 6p. Nintendo wraps up the breakouts on Tuesday at 8:30a.
 
From a tournament POV, competitions include the Fortnite Battle Royale running on June 12 at 3:30p, the Nintendo Splatoon 2 World Championship on June 11 at 3:30p, the Super Smash Bros Invitational 2018 takes place on June 12 at 1p, while ESL will offer multiple competitions at ESL Arena throughout the expo.
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES


Valve is giving its competitive format for Dota 2 an overhaul. The company announced in a blog post changes to the Dota Pro Circuit for the 2018-2019 season with an eye to introducing a bit more structure to the year, increase team roster flexibility, and improve the spacing and importance of each event. Modifications to the scene will include no longer disqualifying a team for changing players mid-season although removing a team member will slash point totals by 20% and of a team plays in a Pro Circuit event without their official five-man roster they’ve designated, their points are reduced by 40%. If an organization owns multiple teams, only one of those can compete in the International 2019, regardless of points, but all teams can participate in Majors and Minors. Valve also provided the full schedule for next season, with play beginning Sept. 17.
 
Meanwhile, Ubisoft detailed changes to the competitive scene for Rainbow Six: Siege that includes a new format for the Pro League, splitting each year into two six-month seasons with a “Major” in between each season along with more LAN events with confirmation for the next two years of Pro League until May 2020. In addition, the league is bringing in a revenue share-based Pilot Program, with teams that will PENTA Sports, Vitality, Evil Geniuses, Rogue, SK Gaming, Mousesports, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FNATIC and Imoortals, which has now entered the Latin American esports scene with the acquisition of the roster who used to represent BRK E-Sports.
 
Tencent Games is hitting E3 for the first time, partnering with ESL to bring an Arena of Valor competition to the show. ESL will now host the Valor Series’ North American and European playoffs at the E3 ESL Arena in LA on June 12 and 13. “Tencent is committed to supporting and growing the mobile esports community by leveraging structured esports competition on both a local and large scale,” said Ramon Hermann, director of esports for Tencent America. “The Valor Series playoffs showcase the absolute best in mobile esports, as Arena of Valor offers gamers a fast-paced, competitive multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) experience without compromise, especially if you’re playing on gaming-inspired Razer hardware.
 
After news broke a week ago that the Overwatch League was looking to move its franchises to their home cities and begin travel for the 2020 season, ESPN revealed more details about potential plans. The site writes that while how teams will travel has not been decided, one idea discussed would be a “roadshow that would have all teams of a division travel to a city at once, essentially touring regions of the world.” In this model, Pacific Division teams would travel through the Midwestern United States, the West Coast of the U.S. and then through Asian cities; Atlantic Division teams, by comparison, would travel through the East Coast of the U.S. then to Europe. Each division is currently split in half by Texas, where Houston plays in the Atlantic Division and Dallas is considered the Pacific Division.
 
Blizzard announced that the first-ever Overwatch League Grand Finals have sold out, with play running July 27–28 at Barclays Center. More than 20,000 tickets were purchased to mark the largest esports event ever slated at Barclays Center. Meanwhile, voting for the Overwatch League All-Star Game Powered by Intel is now open for business to pit the most popular players in the Atlantic and Pacific divisions into the event. Voting will conclude at the end of Stage 4 on June 17. Starters will be announced the week of June 18, and reserves the week after. The All-Star Game and related festivities are scheduled for August 25-26 at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles.
 
Blizzard also unlocked details for Overwatch Contenders Season Two with the action beginning with China on July 1, with Australia and Europe kicking off on July 2, North America in July 3, Korea on July 4, South America on July 5 and Pacific on July 6.
 
The NBA 2K League unveiled the game schedule for its second tournament of the season, titled The Turn. The event runs Friday and Saturday with all games streamed on Twitch as the single-elimination tournament opens with a play-in game for the 16 and 17 seeds. The winner will earn half of the $150,000 prize pool, with the remainder being awarded to the second to eighth place teams.
 
ESL announced that the CS:GO Pro League wrapped up its seventh season with almost 118 million video views, marking a 42.4% growth compared to Season Six and a new all-time record for Pro League with the languages Chinese (49M), English (36M), and Russian (17M) leading views. More than 18 million hours of content, made up of 44 live streams in 22 languages across seven digital platforms including Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Znipe, Caffeine and Huomao, were consumed in Season Seven.
 
Meanwhile, ESL and WESA announced that Season Eight of the CS:GO Pro League will return to Odense, Denmark. The sixteen best CS:GO teams from Europe, North America, South America and the Asia-Pacific region will battle it out for a lion’s share of the US $1 million prize pool at the Sparekassen Fyn Arena from Dec. 7-9, while the group stages of the CS:GO Pro League Finals will be played out in front of a live audience for the first time, running Dec. 4-6.
 
The ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational 2018 became the first major fighting game tournament to track both competitors’ in-game eye movements at the same time, the league announced. ELEAGUE, in collaboration with its technology and marketing partner Dell Gaming, will leverage eye-tracking technology to offer fans “unprecedented access to the minds of professional Street Fighter players” as they compete for $250,000. Micro projectors and sensors supplied by Tobii Group will track each player’s eye movements and use the data to create a visual of where the competitors look throughout a given match. The overlay will be shown during special Dell “Getting Technical” studio analysis segments.
 
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Lots of news from Riot, which announced that the 2018 NA LCS Scouting Grounds will return in November to the NA LCS Studio in LA where the top 20 unsigned players from North America will fight for “their chance to prove they have what it takes to go pro and showcase their skills in front of NA LCS organizations.” This year, the event will introduce the Scouting Grounds Selection Period, a 4-month timeframe where a player’s progress on the Challenger ladder will be tracked and recorded every two weeks.
 
Finally, Riot Games will consolidate its existing pro leagues in Latin America under one banner.  The combined league will be played out of Santiago, Chile with the move designed to improve the competitive level offered by the region, per TEO.
 
Meanwhile, the EU LCS is heading to Madrid for the 2018 Summer Finals. Taking place at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid, the 2018 Summer Finals will run on September 8-9.
 
The Hearthstone Global Games opened voting booths for the event, allowing fans to select which players will represent their nation. The company narrowed down the field of viable competitors to the nine highest Hearthstone Competitive Point earners in each eligible country or region, with the top point earner per region locked in the Anchor position.
 
High school esports league PlayVS locked in $15 million in a Series A funding round that includes the San Francisco 49ers, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and professional athletes Russell Okung, Baron Davis and Kelvin Beachum, according to ESPN. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates with the total valuation for PlayVS hitting $50 million.
 
10 teams are revved up to compete for the RLCS Season 5 World Championship this weekend from The Copper Box Arena in London. Competition runs Friday-Sunday with broadcast beginning at 6:00 AM PDT on all 3 days on Twitch.
 
 
INSIGHTS


Stream Hatchet enables business leaders to track the consumption activity of every registered user on Twitch. Our technology allows us to segment viewers into groups based on, the type of content consumed, language it’s consumed in, and total hours watched. This week our insights focus on the average Twitch hours consumed by language over a year long period. 
  • On Average, Korean speaking viewers consume over 10 hours of Twitch content a month.
  • Twitch streaming is more popular among German and French speaking audiences than English speaking audiences.
  • PRC users may consume less live stream content on Twitch due to the market control of platforms like Douyu, Huya, and Zhanqi in the Chinese
For a deeper dive into how this technology works, as well as the consumption habits of a few other languages, visit our blog at: blog.streamhatchet.com
 
 
ACTIVATION


ESL locked in a deal with AT&T to sponsor a slate of mobile game tournaments in North America. USA Today writes that AT&T will have a 5G demo at the ESL Arena at E3 and score a presence at upcoming events that include the Arena of Valor Pro League, ESL One New York in September, and IEM North America in November. According to the companies, the partnership “aims to improve competitive gaming for everyone from the casual gamer watching at home to pro players inside the arena.” At events, AT&T will keep fans connected through Wi-Fi and charging stations, and showcase the latest in technology through immersive experiences and demos.
 
Meanwhile, H4X.gg, a performance wear company for gamers, signed on to serve as the lead apparel sponsor at the Valor Series playoffs in the ESL Arena at E3 from June 12-13. As the clothing sponsor for the Valor Series playoffs, H4X.gg will outfit the shoutcasters with branded apparel, supply co-branded merchandise for on-stage giveaways, and showcase its products as part of the live tournament broadcast on over six platforms, including Arena of Valor’s official Twitch channel.
 
Alienware and Dell Gaming announced plans to hit E3 with gaming hardware and partnership news and immersive experiences and announced that the Detroit Renegades, the esports team owned and operated by Utah Jazz player Jonas Jerebko, signed on as the latest team to select Alienware as their exclusive technology partner. Alienware is also unveiling Alienware Academy, an esport skill-building online platform in partnership with Team Liquid.
 
E3 will also see The Trade Group anchor multiple activations at this year’s E3 Expo. The company announced that Twitch is tapping the company to create a “robust, multi-purpose exhibit that is similar to the one Twitch brought to PAX East earlier this year” and features gaming stations, a meet and greet station, streaming pods, Twitch partner lounge and more. For Facebook Gaming, The Trade Group developed “several distinct spaces including a livestream stage, Instagram pod, Oculus stations, streaming pods and a VIP lounge.” In partnership with Double A Events, The Trade Group also created an exhibit for Dell Gaming/Alienware. The 40’x50’ booth space will include virtual reality and other experiences to highlight the game developer’s partnerships for 2018. The company also announced plans to produce two unique activations to help Volkswagen and Subnation create an activation about the culture of gaming, as well as executing a “top secret activation” for Ubisoft. As Hajra explains, “The Ubisoft project is one of the coolest activations we’ve ever been involved with, so we’re extremely excited about it.”
 
The Los Angeles Valiant announced the formation of a social change partnership with the You Can Play Project, a group dedicated to ensuring safety and inclusion for all who participate in all sports – including LGBTQ+ players, coaches, and fans – with the Valiant serving as the first esports organization, franchise, or team to join the social change movement. As part of the partnership, You Can Play will provide diversity and inclusion training to LA Valiant players, coaches, and organization staff. The team will film a PSA to promote awareness of the You Can Play initiative among the esports community and You Can Play will have a presence at select Valiant events for fans to interact with and learn more about the organization and their initiatives.
 
Chipotle Mexican Grill unlocked a partnership with TSM to serve as the team’s first-ever TSM Fortnite House sponsor. The TSM Fortnite House includes Myth – team captain and the second biggest Fortnite streamer on Twitch – Daequan, Camills , and Hamlinz. This partnership will feature multiple integrations, streaming exposure and other activations.
 
The second edition of the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival – a festival designed to celebrate and promote women’s esports competitiveness and running July 20-22, at Casino Estoril in Lisbon – scored a sponsorship with Sephora, marking the beauty and cosmetic retailer’s debut into esports. Competitions will include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and League of Legends (LoL) in addition to a Clash Royale tournament. “The underlying idea of GIRLGAMER was born from the belief that esports competitions should be universal and inclusive. However, the female representation in the professional esports scene is still very low. Therefore, as a way to develop and motivate women’s competitiveness, we have created GIRLGAMER”, says Telmo Silva, CEO of Grow uP eSports.
 
Activision selected independent digital agency space150 as its social media agency of record, according to Adweek, and will task the agency with providing social strategy and activation for the company in the United States. “From the start, space150 demonstrated not only a deep understanding of our titles, but also a passion for our community,” said Activision CMO Tim Ellis in a statement. “We look forward to bringing the team’s insights into our social programs and collaborating to craft highly compelling creative executions going forward.”
 
Psyonix, in collaboration with Universal and Jeep brand, announced the Jurassic World Car Pack DLC for Rocket League. Releasing just a few days before Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrives in theaters, the pack will feature the Jurassic Jeep Wrangler and a collection of Jurassic Park- and Jurassic World-themed customization items.
 
Magic Gaming, the Orlando Magic’s NBA 2K League franchise, inked a deal with virtual reality developer CEEK VR in a move that will make the company a jersey sponsor for the team as well as provide in-game branding through signage on Magic Gaming’s virtual court.
 
Turtle Beach added Team Allegiance to its roster of teams in a deal that will see the company equip Allegiance’s esports squads with its Elite Pro line of gaming headsets and other audio accessories and gear. “To become an esports champion takes dedication, training, and determination no matter which game you’re playing,” said Andrew Lilien, VP of Marketing, Turtle Beach. “We see excellence and fun across the full range of games. We strive to support players’ journeys across all games by delivering the superior audio experience needed to crush all comers. Allegiance’s dedication to its teams and the passion of their fans melds perfectly with ours and we look forward to fostering the next generation of champions together.”
Meanwhile, Lightning Pandas tied up a partnership with Western Digital to serve as the team’s first official hardware partner.
 
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PLATFORMS


Daniel “KEEMSTAR” Keem, host of the Friday Fortnite competitions, posted that the most recent offering drew 8.8 million unique viewers for last week’s tournament across all of the platforms featuring the event, marking the biggest number so far in its run, although he noted that viewers could theoretically be counted twice if they were watching more than one livestream, with Ninja leading all entry points drawing 2.4 million, 2.6 million, and 1.9 million on the past three tournaments.
 
Overwatch League is now serving up detailed statistics for its players on its site with data that includes eliminations, deaths, damage done, and healing. Blizzard announced that more features, such as player comparison tools and leaderboards, would be added later.
 
Streaming platform Play2Live will now offer users the ability to challenge their favorite streamers on the platform with a new interactive task system. During any Play2Live stream, viewers can use Level Up Coin tokens – virtual currency that can be converted to other virtual or physical currencies – to set a bounty for a streamer to complete during their stream, according to DotEsports.
 
 
INDUSTRY


DisneyXD will be showcasing the action at E3, courtesy of a deal with IGN. Overall, IGN’s E3 2018 coverage is confirmed to run for six days this year, starting on Saturday at 10:30a and concluding on June 14 with live broadcasts from downtown Los Angeles and more than 40 hours of content. IGN will also feature exclusive live game demos and appearances from gaming’s biggest names, all from IGN’s stage on the show floor. IGN’s live E3 coverage will be presented on D|XP, Disney XD’s primetime programming destination for gaming enthusiasts. This marks the first time IGN’s livestreams from E3 will also be available on TV. Recaps showcasing highlights from E3 will also be featured on Disney XD. In addition, IGN also once again partners with Twitter at E3, bringing the element of real-time conversation to IGN’s E3 coverage.
 
Twitch’s E3 plans will include not only all the major press conferences streamed live on Twitch, in addition to special Twitch exclusive extensions for the Bethesda and Ubisoft conferences that will include the ability to sign up for beta access and newsletters as Ubisoft unveiled their lineup, while the Bethesda E3 Extension lets fans try game trivia, answer polls, and pre-order new games on Amazon. In addition to special guests and other content that will run on the platform during the week, Twitch is also putting on meet & greet sessions with popular streamers, including DrLupo, KingRichard, Pokimane and others.

Evo 2018, running Aug. 3-5 from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, will have a new presenting sponsor, with Cygames, producers of the Shadowverse digital card game, signing on. Plans include a booth at Evo 2018 to showcase Cygames Beast and Shadowverse game. “We are thrilled to partner up with Cygames for Evo 2018,” said Director of Global Business Development, Mark “MarkMan” Julio. “The Cygames brand across their products and their Cygames Beast gaming team are synonymous with quality and care. We’re excited to have new layers of support for players, the community, and the overall event from such a prestigious company.”

 

HyperX announced it has now shipped 5 million gaming headsets, noting that – with the popularity of video games Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds – the gaming headset market continues to grow at a rapid pace. “With the explosive growth of Fortnite, NBA 2K and esports, HyperX is seeing an exciting expansion in the global gaming headset market,” said Marcus Hermann, senior business manager, HyperX. “HyperX has been supplying hardcore gamers with gear for over 10 years and we are now seeing our HyperX headsets becoming more popular with casual gamers. Shipping 5 million headsets is a major milestone as we continue to grow.”

 
Syracuse University is reportedly offering an esports media course for the Fall 2018 semester. Multiple reports state that the university’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications lined up a developed a class called Esports and Media that will explore the “historical roots of competitive video games to the current multi-billion-dollar industry.” Twitch will assist in the course.
 
 
POWER PLAYERS- Riot’s Michael Sherman


This week sees one of the largest esports collegiate championships taking place in LA, as the LoL College Championships get underway with either of the best university teams squaring off from the NA LCS Studio. With State Farm coming in this year as presenting sponsor, competing schools include Maryville University, Columbia College, University of Texas, Western University, University of Ottawa, University of California – Irvine, University of Illinois and University of Maryland. Cynopsis caught up with Riot Games Collegiate Esports Director Michael Sherman to discuss university landscape, how schools are levering esports, and what we can expect from the championship.
 
Sherman on the 2017-18 school year: The 2017-18 school year was a big year in growth for the college space, largely fueled by the growth of education from a variety of different sources. University presidents are asking more and more what they should be doing with video games. Holistically, they hear about what’s going on and they see all the numbers but they aren’t sure how those apply to their school. I think that’s because school are really intrigued by the application across the board where they can engage with a large population of their students. They are also curious because of the academic interest and performance of these students, who are high-performing and taking on really challenging majors. So you have the strategy starting that is utilizing gamers across the board and we as a publisher are trying to drive that for schools who want to do and learn more.
 
On questions: I think the common question being asked is where universities should be starting. They are all approaching it differently as you will talk to one school which wants to drive enrollment in their engineering department over the next ten years and doesn’t know where to start. Another school will point to their low engagement rates and ask how they can utilize and reconnect with their students to be more functional. At a base level, a school wants to understand the types of games are being played, who is playing them and how they can get support.
 
On Riot’s role: In addition to organizing competitions and running the league, we support student clubs across the US. We see our role as largely facilitating conversations between students and their administrators. We want to create the best experience possible for gamers and if we can help create a dialogue and connect what’s already happening on campus.
 
On Riot’s year: This was our biggest year of competition yet. We had over 311 schools participating, up from 285 schools last year. We also had more schools register for our programs this year, as we had 30 at the start of the season, up from 14 last year and already we are hearing about numbers around 70-75 who will have programs next year. At the same time, we did our deal with Big Ten Network for two years and also signed with the Peach Belt Conference. Now, our focus is to continue to bring more conferences into the fold and support the way that universities in group and making an investment in esports.
 
On the championship: This championship is going to be the highest level of competition we ever had. Many of these players have held number ones on the ranked ladder at some point. Second, we continue to look at opportunities to put a college spin into what people traditionally think of as esports.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

G2 Esports named Peter Mucha to the company’s senior executive team as the Chief Operating Officer. He will be tasked with managing and strategically growing G2 Esports operations worldwide, including leading the integration of a successful operational structure, defining and implementing business growth strategies, and leading the global operational teams that are crucial to the all-around success of G2. Mucha joins G2 Esports from the Symanto Group, where he led the business through its start-up phase, built the strategic vision and managed both the growth and internationalization of the business and its brand.
 
Global esports organization Gen.G announced the appointment of Jordan Sherman as Head of Sponsorships and Revenue. Sherman got his start in the sports business with Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the Los Angeles Clippers, where he served as Director of New Business, generating annual revenue for the team via digital, social, point of sale and in-arena activations.
 
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Participate in the creation of sophisticated digital experiences and must have a basic understanding of front-end web development.
Senior Front-End Developer
AKQA
San Francisco CA
 
We work in virtualized development environments and run in the cloud, so familiarity with Vagrant and Chef are a plus.
Senior AEM Developer
AKQA
San Francisco CA
 
Create business cases for site enhancements, clearly identifying the goals, KPI, and targets for proposed initiatives.
Senior Web Product Manager
Adobe
San Francisco CA
 
Architect, build and deliver products that delight customers with scalable and maintainable code under the hood.
Senior Software Engineer, Document Cloud
Adobe
San Francisco CA

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