08/16/18: The NBA 2K League added four teams for season two


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It’s Thursday August 16, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning Esports briefing. For more news and coverage, check out: http://cynopsisesports.com (updated daily).

The NBA 2K League is turning 21, announcing a quartet of expansion teams for the league who will be competing in season two. Joining the roster of current squads will be the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves, bringing the total number of NBA 2K League teams from 17 to 21. (In case you are wondering, that leaves nine NBA franchises who aren’t participating: Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Houston, the Clippers, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and San Antonio.)
 “Welcoming these four world-class organizations and their passionate fanbases to the NBA 2K League is an exciting moment not only for the league, but for the entire 2K community,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue.  “From their innovative spirit to their global reach, we know each of these teams will be a tremendous addition, and we are thrilled that this growth offers the opportunity for new players, coaches and support staff to join the league.”

Meanwhile, after its inaugural regular season, the NBA 2K League is now gearing up for its first-ever playoffs, unveiling the official playoffs bracket with all games set to be carried on Twitch. The action tips off on Friday at 6p with a quartet of single-elimination quarterfinal matchups that will pair top seed Blazers Gaming against 8 seed Kicks Gaming, along with Pistons GT/Heat Check Gaming, Raptors Uprising GC/Cavs Legion GC and 76ers GC/Wizards District Gaming.

Twitch Rivals locked in Fortnite as one of its games this month, with $2 million in tournament prizes on the line. The events begin tomorrow and will span four days with two events per day. Each contest will be a part of Epic Games’ ongoing Fortnite Summer Skirmish Series and include 49 duo teams from EU or NA competing for $260,000 in their respective regions with partners set to include Ninja/Cloakzy, NICKMERCS/SypherPK, Gotaga/Mickalow, and LPMassive/Thaaissa.
Thrirty-two teams are now vying for the Call of Duty World League Championship 2018 and a $1,500,000 prize pool on the line. Teams will compete in a group stage with 8 groups of four teams, before moving on to a double elimination playoff bracket. Fans can watch via multiple streams on MLG.TV and Twitch. Talent this year will include 15 casters/analysts for the English streams, including Rich Campbell, John ‘Revan’ Boble, Clint ‘Maven’ Evans, Joe ‘Merk’ DeLuca, Thomas ‘Chance’ Ashworth and Philip ‘Momo’ Whitfield. “The 2018 Call of Duty World League Championship is the culmination of an unbelievably competitive season,” said Adam Apicella, Vice President, Event Operations, Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “This year has been a record-setting season for the CWL, which has seen online and offline participation grow, while viewership has topped last year. And it all comes down to this, let’s see who is the best Call of Duty Esports squad in the world.”
FACEIT and PUBG Corp are teaming up to launch PUBG on FACEIT, beginning with a closed beta starting Aug. 17. The FACEIT platform will deliver a structured progression system for competitive PUBG, “setting a new standard for competition within the battle royale genre, and igniting the PUBG community,” according to the announcement. PUBG’s integration into the FACEIT platform will offer players, partners and organizers with the opportunity to create competitions, tournaments and leagues that feature customizable server settings, instant lobby creation and automatic stats and results.
Canada is poised to get its first Overwatch League franchise, with multiple reports that Activision Blizzard is entering final negotiations to launch a team that would call Toronto its home. The deal, according to ESPN, is led by a group anchored by Canadian entrepreneur Michael Kimel, with Splyce taking on operations of the quad. The ownership group will consist of funding from Kimel and his family – including Westdale Properties – as well as Splyce investor OverActive Media, which would claim 10% of the team in addition to handling operations.
FIFA and Electronic Arts are reporting that the FIFA eWorld Cup 2018 Grand Final generated a record global audience, drumming up more than 29 million views across online platforms during this year’s three-day event. According to the organizations, the global online audience for this year’s tournament marked a 400% rise in digital viewership over 2017 numbers with peak concurrent viewership during the Grand Final broadcast on Aug. 4 reaching an estimated 322,000 across 12 digital platforms, in addition to being delivered to 19 broadcasters covering over 60 territories around the world.
PUBG Global Invitational 2018 wrapped up on July 29 after offering a $2 million total prize purse. The event, according to PUBG Corp, peaked at over 100 million concurrent viewers from around the world via Twitch, YouTube, and more. “We are humbled by the enthusiasm from fans around the world to experience the pinnacle of PUBG competition at PGI 2018,” said Changhan Kim, CEO, PUBG Corp. “With the foundation laid at this year’s world championship event in Berlin, we made major strides in proving the potential of PUBG esports on a global scale and aim to present an even more robust esports offering in 2019 as we roll out our continued vision.”
Dr DisRespect reportedly revealed during a recent stream that he is planning to organize and host weekly PUBG tournaments. Aka Guy Beahm, the streamer has seen PUBG Corp. produce two personalized skins for him. “I don’t want to delay it anymore,” he said, according to Dexerto. “I’m going to be starting my own tournaments. We’ll have more of an official announcement later on once everything gets all polished out and trust me when I say this. It’s not going to be just a little…it’s going to be the next level of weekly tournaments. We’re going to be starting with Battlegrounds first. Money on the line, etc, etc, etc,”
Magid released findings from new research about esports. In an analysis conducted in June 2018, Magid found that 54% of consumers have heard of esports, up from 49% in 2017. On the other hand, viewership has remained relatively stable, as 23% of consumers report having watched some esports content, up from 21% in 2017. Overall, esports viewers are more likely to be male (69%), between the ages of 18-34 (51%) and married (64%) than the average consumer. Additionally, this group is more likely to be educated, as 54% of viewers have a college degree.
Don’t miss out! New speakers and activities are being added to the Esports Business Summit! Recent additions include…
  • Nadeshot talking activation with Quicken Loans CMO Casey Hurbis and Intersport’s Jed Strong
  • Streamers Censor and Pterodactyl spilling the secrets to content strategy
  • Commissioner Nate Nanzer delivering the State of the Union for Overwatch League
  • DrLupo discussing Fortnite and the life of a full-time streamer with Geoff Keighley
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Supercell’s Clash Royale League announced plans to launch its Fall season in North America on August 20 with fans able to watch the action on the new Esports Royale YouTube Channel. This year saw Supercell offer players around the globe a Path to Pro: the chance to be signed by an elite pro team starting with an in-game event called the Clash Royale League Challenge. Twenty five million players competed to qualify for the CRL in 2018, and just under 7,000 players from 113 different countries made it to the next round. With rosters now finalized, competition will begin for the eight teams representing North America in the CRL, which are Cloud9, Team SoloMid, Tribe Gaming, Immortals, NRG, Complexity, 100 Thieves and Counter Logic Gaming. 
Aug. 25 will see Overwatch League’s Atlantic and Pacific Division All-Stars square off in a series of custom skill-based games. The 18 players on each roster will compete in at least one game mode, and there will be no substitutions within each game, according to Blizzard, clashing in Lucioball Showdown, Mystery Heroes, Widowmaker 1v1, Talent Takedown, Presented by T-Mobile and Lockout Elimination. The All-Star game itself then takes place on Aug. 26 over a total of five maps.
IEM is officially hitting the Windy City, announcing a multi-year deal with the United Center and Wintrust Arena to make Chicago the new home of IEM starting this year. IEM will move from Oakland to Wintrust Arena, and then United Center for 2019 and 2020. As part of the yearly IEM competition together with Katowice, Sydney and Shanghai, IEM Chicago will feature the world’s best 16 teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive who will contend for a prize pool of $250,000 from Nov. 10-11, with group stages running Nov. 6-9. Calling the action in Chicago will be OJ Borg as stage host, Machine as deck host, reporter Stunna, analysts SPUNJ and Pimp, and casters HenryG, Sadokist, Moses and Anders.
World Electronic Sports Games announced plans to take the PAX Arena stage at PAX Aus 2018, running Oct. 26-28 Oct. in Melbourne. The tournament, organized by Alibaba Group’s AliSports, is partnering with Australian Esports League for its first foray into Australia, bringing together the best in the region to compete in Dota 2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, and StarCraft 2. Online events will begin on Sept. 1. “The growth of esports in the APAC region has been nothing short of meteoric,” said Luke Lancaster, Content Manager, PAX Aus. “This partnership with AliSport sets up PAX Arena as a truly international event, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

Last weekend, Call of Duty Black Ops 4 entered its second beta test prompting top streamers to test out the upcoming title. Black Ops 4 will feature a battle royale game type, making it a possible contender with Fortnite. Here are our insights:
  • During the four day beta, viewers consumed 2.9 million hours of Black Ops 4, making it the 12th most watched game on Twitch.
  • Of those 2.9 millions hours, roughly 20% were generated by the top 5 streamers of the game. This signals an opening for new streamers to engage with a broader audience.
  • Shroud, former CS:GO pro, generated over 1/2 of the total hours consumed by the top five streamers.
For more insights, including a comparison to the Battlefield 4 Alpha test. Visit our blog: blog.streamhatchet.com
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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.
Dive deeper! Don’t miss daily esports news at CynopsisEsports.com.
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
SPOTLIGHT – Mike LaBelle

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.
Call for Entries Opening in August
Deadline: October 17
Event: March 2019 (NYC)

ON THIS DAY in 2011: Age of Empires Online is released worldwide.
Trivia: A young Fred Savage is seen playing the video game Hardball in the opening scene of which iconic movie? (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: What does Dota stand for? Answer: Defense of the Ancients. Kudos: Julie Reuther/Sydney; Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Julie Schell/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Joey Olson-Lowe’s/Arlington; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Jaymz Wooden-Bottelsen American Dart Lines/Santa Maria; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica
Later — Chris
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JOB OPENING: MANAGER MARKETING STRATEGY/Discovery & Science/LA & NY: Strong PM to dvlp 360 mktg plans for Discovery & Science using on-air, cross channel, digital and paid mktg tactics. Manage creation/delivery of creative assets, identify strategic partnerships & execute consumer events/promotions. 3-5+ yrs exp pref. Apply (8/23)

JOB OPENING: DIRECTOR, LEGAL & BUSINESS AFFAIRS/TV One/Silver Spring MD: Res for providing business & legal support to all depts. Structure/negotiate/draft a variety of content acquisition agreements. Min 5 yrs of prior legal exp w/a cable channel or ntwrk. Min 7 yrs of TV industry exp pref’d. Full info/apply HERE (8/23)

JOB OPENING: SR SYSTEMS ENGINEER/GSN/Santa Monica: 8-10 yrs. IT exp BA/BS in CIS. MAC/PC, system network operations, infrastructure, end-user systems, hardware setup, disaster recover, hardware setup and config., helpdesk/client services. Apply directly on www.gsntv.com/careers (8/23)

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JOB OPENING: COMMUNICATION MANAGER/PAC-12/SF: Develop & implement strategic programs to increase brand awareness and promote all aspects of Pac-12 Networks. 5-8 years of relevant exp PR & communications, strong network of 828 and B2C, nat’l business & trade media contacts. Full info/apply HERE (8/22)

DIRECTOR, DEVELOPMENT/NBC News and MSNBC/NYC: Peacock Prod has an exciting opp for a Director of Development to join a newly revamped team and help create high end factual entertainment for broadcast, cable and OTT. 8 yrs of exp dvlpmnt and/or prod of factual series, specials and documentaries. Full info/apply HERE (8/22)

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JOB OPENING: SENIOR MEDIA BUYER/SPURRIER GROUP/Richmond, VA: Work with planner/strategist to determine best tactics for target audience; 3-5 yrs exp w/broadcast, radio, OOH & print buying. Digital & International buying exp a +. Knowledge of STRATA, Nielsen, SQAD & Simmons. Send qualified resumes to spurriergroup@gmail.com (8/20)

JOB OPENING: SOCIAL & SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING ANALYST/SPURRIER GROUP/Richmond: Results-oriented candidate w/excellent creative skills, capacity for making data-driven decisions & aptitude working w/ automated campaign mngmnt tools. MANDATORY! 2-3 yrs of Social & Search Engine mktg exp, mngng high volume ad buys. Resume to: spurriergroup@gmail.com (8/20)

JOB OPENING: DIRECTOR, CONSUMER INSIGHTS & ANALYSIS/PBS/Arlington, VA: Provide research-based strategic direction to leadership and stakeholders. Analyze ratings & viewing metrics &  interpret data to inform decision making. Use various tools to analysis & solutions. Min 8 yrs related rsrch exp pref @TV ntwk. Apply HERE (8/20)


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By Charlene Weisler Rick Welday, President, Xandr Media is on the forefront of addressable advertising for his company. He spoke at the ARF conference this week about what it is, how it is defined and its future prospects. The media industry is grappling with a changing and transformative marketplace where consumer consumption behavior is controlling […]

MRC and CMAC Announce a Joint Measurement Agenda in China

The Media Rating Council and the China Media Assessment Council, an independent working unit within the China Advertising Association, announced a summary of their continuing agenda to validate and improve digital audience measurement in China.  After the completion of a series of meetings in 2018 to review audit findings of the digital audience measurement products […]