Organizers for Valve’s The International 2018 reportedly called a meeting with Dota 2 teams to inform them that they should no longer accept sponsorships from gambling websites and reiterated the company’s anti-gambling policy, which prohibits teams and players from associating with high volume CS:GO gamblers.
FNATIC will be pulling double duty at The International this year, announcing that – in addition to playing in the tournament – the team will also manage and run the OFFLANE SHOP – a merchandising pop-up where DOTA fans can purchase merchandise from three DOTA teams, including a selection of Fnatic Team jerseys and Fnatic GEAR peripheral in addition to Evil Geniuses and OG team merch and peripherals. “For an esports fan going to an event like The International is a highpoint of the whole year,” said Erik Londre, head of event Fnatic. “We always strive to go the extra mile and make already amazing experiences like that even better. When we saw that there was nowhere to for the fans to buy the jerseys of their favorite teams on site at TI we felt we needed to change that.”
Meanwhile, Invictus Gaming is heading to The International 8 with a new sponsor in tow, posting about a new deal with Betway. Activation will include content creation as well as serving as a jersey sponsor throughout The International 8 and the 2018-2019 season.
Razer inked a strategic partnership to become the official phone and headset provider for Tribe Gaming, a top mobile esports organization in North America. The deal includes an eight-episode docuseries slated for release by year-end that will follow the reining Vainglory world champions as they defend their title using Razer.
Esports venue Thunder Gaming announced a partnership with ZOWIE, a brand dedicated to the development of professional esports equipment. As part of the partnership, ZOWIE monitors will be featured inside the Thunder Gaming Esports Center. “ZOWIE monitors are critical to the gaming experience at Thunder Gaming Esports Center, and we are pleased to prominently feature them in our facility for our avid community participants to enjoy during ongoing weekly events, as well as special monthly events such as influencer-led competitions and national publisher tournaments,” said Christian Bishop, CEO of Thunder Gaming.
The Golden State Warriors NBA 2K League team, Warriors Gaming Squad, locked in its first sponsor courtesy of a deal with NETGEAR’s Nighthawk Pro Gaming brand. The agreement will now see Nighthawk Pro Gaming’s branding shown on the team’s in-game home court, as well as part of the team’s digital content.
The inaugural Overwatch League All-Star Weekend will see a group of All-Star players be special guests at the Los Angeles Dodgers Overwatch League Night on Aug. 22, where Lane “Surefour” Roberts of the LA Gladiators will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Fans can purchase special tickets to the game to receive an exclusive Dodgers Overwatch League shirt. All fans in attendance will also be able to take part in a meet-and-greet with Overwatch League All-Stars from 5:30 – 6:30p.
This week FanAI presents an interesting case of the impact of long term sponsorships have of the social followings of brands. FanAI found that a staggering 91.4% of paysafecard’s social followers are esports fans. In the quest to discover why, FanAI found that 83.3% of these followers were shared with ESL. paysafecard began sponsoring select ESL events in mid 2015 and eventually expanded to sponsoring all global ESL events in 2018. In contrast, the next highest esports brand’s follower overlap with paysafecard is only 19.7%. This suggests that the ongoing, 3+ year long partnership has had a significant effect on brand awareness and social ROI for paysafecard.
Infinite Esports & Entertainment and OpTic Gaming launched Greenwall VR, OpTic Gaming’s official virtual reality clubhouse in collaboration with Sansar. The VR space will allow fans of the esports organization to socialize with the fanbase where they can engage with staff and players of OpTic Gaming’s teams, and take part in an immersive VR environment to watch games, communicate with other esports fans from all around the world, submit fanart, purchase team merchandise, and more.
Major League Baseball is bringing a taste of competitive simulation to Little League. MLB, in partnership with Little League International and ESPN, will host a special Home Run Derby VR video game championship tournament in Williamsport with one player representing each of the 16 International and US teams that are participating in the 2018 Little League Baseball World Series. The Home Run Derby VR Little League Challenge presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will be held at PLAY BALL Park, adjacent to Volunteer Stadium, beginning at 11a and will live stream exclusively on ESPN3 and the ESPN app. In addition to the live stream on ESPN3, a 30-minute special highlight recap will air on ESPN and the ESPN app on Sunday, at 4:30p.
ESPN is also picking up a new series in partnership with Millennial Esports Corp. that will see esports racing content featured on the lsports channel supporting coverage during the second half of the Formula 1 season. The show, World’s Fastest Gamer powered by Millennial Esports, will showcase how McLaren, a global luxury automotive, sports, and technology brand, found its 2018 simulator driver from tens of thousands of gamers across the globe, with at least four half-hour shows specifically produced for ESPN. The first airing of the show will see all four episodes run back-to-back on ESPN2 and streaming on the ESPN App on Aug. 25 at 7a. Each episode will also re-air a number of times throughout the remainder of 2018 and leading into the 2019 season.
Hi-Rez Studios is dividing development resources into three studios with Titan Forge Games focused on Smite, Evil Mojo Games taking on Paladins and Heroic Leap Games dealing with Realm Royale. Chris Larson will oversee all three teams as GM for first party studios.
Discord announced plans to open Discord Store, offering individual games for purchase. Currently, the offering is being rolled out as a beta test to about 50,000 Canadian players and will be expanding to more over time. In addition, the company will upgrade Nitro. The store will offer a curated game store experience as well as “First on Discord” titles
The New York Red Bulls made headlines at the opening of 2018 when the team brought in Mike LaBelle as its eMLS athlete. Bringing with him an audience of hundreds of thousands of followers from his video content, LaBelle has quickly emerged as a key face in the rise of eMLS. Cynopsis asked him about joining the team and his secrets to creating content. For the full interview, visit CynopsisEsports.com.
LaBelle on recruited by the Red Bulls: The first time I met the RBNY staff was in NYC for a FIFA event at the Microsoft Flagship Store on 5th avenue. I hosted a tournament that included a 2v2 with Tyler Adams and Derrick Etienne Jr playing with the finalists of the event. During this same trip, I chose to make a visit to the stadium to get an idea of work climate and also meet with additional RBNY employees.
This was the beginning of our relationship. We discussed goals, soccer, and we aligned well on a shared interest with content creation. The process of joining the Red Bull’s family going forward included phone calls, emails, and also contractual details as to becoming a Red Bull athlete. The club was also kind of enough to fly out my mother and I as well to attend a Playoff game in 2017.
On his current schedule: My schedule is BUSY! I’m streaming 20+ times per month, creating at least another 15+ videos, and updating social handles on the daily. I don’t have standard hours at Red Bull Arena, but I’m creating content each week.
- RBNY Activations!
- Going to the Matches! (Instagram Takeovers)
- Filming content with the players, including collabs with other influencers
- I’ve done media with Bleacher Report, Barstool, Copa90, Fortune Magazine, Cooligans, NY Post, Cheddar on Wallstreet, Microsoft, etc… I almost work as a liaison bridging the gap between gaming and soccer to help create this fluid relationship.
- Represent RBNY at all competitive FIFA events and also in appearances
On keys to building audiences through content:
- Be engaging with your audience. As you put out content, make sure to REPLY… LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE! The people are always right. Don’t ignore their feedback.
- Understanding Trends
- Learning algorithms
- Create a posting schedule. Your content will become people’s TV shows!
- Improve your content! People love to see improvement with content. It’s like your way of showing them YOU CARE. Upgrade camera, improve editing, put out additional content.
Electronic Arts saw the departure of chief design officer Patrick Soderlund. In a letter announcing the move, CEO Andrew Wilson noted that, “As an integral part of the management team for many years – including as head of Worldwide Studios and, most recently, Chief Design Officer – he’s been an agent of change and transformation.” Wilson continued, “From his early vision for Frostbite, which has now become a cornerstone for our technology strategy, to being a champion for Players First experiences, Patrick has always ensured we put creative at the center of everything we do.”
Mark Deppe has been named that Inaugural Commissioner of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation, where he will guide successful activation of new NASEF high school esports clubs and teams in addition to overseeing esports tournaments between high schoolers across the United States and its territories, Canada, and Mexico. Deppe has been behind the esports program at UC Irvine, and will continue in that role as Director of the Esports Program.
Former NASCAR executive David Higdon has a new lane to oversee, joining Riot Games in the newly created position of global head of communications, esports. Higdon previously served as VP of integrated marketing communications for NASCAR and as CCO for the LPGA.
DreamHack made several hires to form and lead a new global Brand Partnership team. As part of the DreamHack’s Brand Partnership team, Martin Sirc has been named Head of Brand Partnerships – Key Accounts, and Steven Norris has been named Head of Brand Partnerships – New Business. Sirc will be responsible for all key account managers globally, with focus on existing key clients and game publishers. Norris will create a new team, focusing on non-endemic brands and new business. DreamHack has also recruited Nasim Abu Qouta as Senior Sales Executive.