08/17/17: Tespa’s Rocketing college acceptance rate; ELEAGUE prepares for another GO-around; Examining the Esports workforce

CynopsiseSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday August 17, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.


Psyonix has set a destination for college esports. The Rocket League publisher unveiled a deepened partnership with Tespa to showcase Collegiate Rocket League, which will serve as the title’s official competitive college league in the US and Canada for the title. Competition launches next month and runs through December and will see college teams compete in a 3v3 tournament for a share of $50,000 in scholarships and the title of CRL National Champions. Matches will begin being broadcast on Oct. 23 during the Conference Group Stage. The alliance evolves the pair’s previous arrangement, Collegiate Rocket League – Summer Series which wrapped up on Aug. 6.
 
“The Collegiate Rocket League – Summer Series showed us that the appetite for competitive Rocket League on the college level is there,” said Josh Watson, Esports Operations Manager, Psyonix. “We’re excited to start the full CRL program for the fall and offer even more competition and scholarship money for college students in North America, and continue to grow our competitive ecosystem.”
 
Meanwhile, Tespa laid out the rest of its plans for the new academic year, lining up competitive play for as part of its partnership with Blizzard for titles World of Warcraft, Overwatch, hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft 2 with over $1 million in scholarships and prizes up for grabs. The organization now boasts over 65,000 members and 220 chapters at different universities in addition to a new “Tespa University” initiative, which will open membership to all college students in North America.
 
 
COMPETITION


With $1 million once again on the line, ELEAGUE announced plans to bring back Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 kicking off on Sept. 1 on TBS with a preview of the action ahead. Live event competition will ensue with Group A on Sept. 8 at 10p and digital coverage available via Twitch, ELEAGUE.com and YouTube. The playoffs will then begin with the quarterfinals on Oct. 10 and 11, followed by the semifinals on Oct. 12, and the Finals on Oct. 13. “We couldn’t be more excited for the return of Counter-Strike as the game’s elite teams and players prepare to compete in the upcoming ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017,” said Christina Alejandre, GM of ELEAGUE and Vice President of esports, Turner Sports. “We’re looking forward to showcasing a tournament field that will provide a compelling live event experience and must-see content for our audiences across all platforms.”
 
The FIFA Interactive World Cup 2017 is hitting Telemundo Deportes this week with play running through Friday in London. Telemundo Deportes will carry the full competition live in both English and Spanish, across its digital platforms and its Facebook page and YouTube channel. In addition, the Final Showdown to crown a champion will air live on Universo on Aug. 18 at 11:30a. Karim Mendiburu will call the Finals Showdown alongside Alejandro Perez.  “Adding the FIFA Interactive World Cup to our portfolio of content represents a unique opportunity to continue growing our sports digital offerings while attracting a new generation of multicultural audiences,” said Ray Warren, President of Telemundo Deportes. “Hispanics are among the most engaged esports viewers and we are thrilled to bring them one of the most popular tournaments in the video gaming space.” 
 
Blizzard laid out the schedule for Overwatch Contenders Season One, which will pit eight North American teams against eight European teams starting on Saturday and a playoffs event slated to run Oct. 7-8. $100,000 will now be up for grabs in each region for Season One – doubling the prize pool of Season Zero – and the Overwatch League player signing window is now open for team owners building rosters for the League’s launch later this year. Repping NA will be EnvyUs, Rogue, Immortals, Envision, FNRGFE, Kungarna, FaZe Clan and Detroit Renegades. For Europe, contenders will include eUnited, 123, Laser Kittenz, Bazooka Puppiez, GamersOrigin, Singularity, Rest in Pyjamas and Misfits.
 
Meanwhile, the Overwatch World Cup has locked in its eight teams for the main event taking place at BlizzCon starting Nov. 3 in Anaheim. The weekend saw the US and UK both cement their spots in the tournament, where they will now join China, France, Sweden, Australia, South Korea and Canada. Blizzard will now conduct a draw on Aug. 28 to determine pairings.
 
ESL locked in its teams and schedule for ESL One New York next month from Sept. 16-17, which will see both the North American and European qualities each feature seven invited teams along with one from the open qualifiers which run Aug. 19-20. Representing North America will be Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Misfits, NRG eSports, Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming, along with Renegades. On the European side will be G2 Esports, Hellraisers, BIG, Gambit Esports, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team EnVyUs and FlipSid3 Tactics
 
Now is the time to catch up and learn about esports directly from the experts at ESL, Twitch, the 76ers, Nielsen, brands and more! We are proud to be partnering with ESL for the Cynopsis Esports Master Class, a unique opportunity to pull back the curtain and experience for yourself what the competitive gaming industry is made of. Featuring not only lectures from some of the most successful executives in the space today, who will break down the ABCs of the business and its players, attendees will also go behind-the-scenes of ESL One New York at Barclays, and get your hands on some tickets to the weekend’s festivities for the largest esports tournament on the east coast (if you register early)! Get ahead of the learning curve and register today.
 
Super Evil Megacorp announced plans to host the Vainglory Unified Summer Season Championship at the Globe Theatre in LA. Play runs Sept. 8-10 and will see the 12 best teams from North America and Europe squaring off a chance to compete at Vainglory Worlds later this year.
 
Georgia State University is giving a “buy” rating to collegiate esports, announcing plans to enter the space. The school has now officially joined two organizations that enable national tournament competition and regional play including the National Association of Collegiate eSports as well as the Georgia Esports League which includes students from Georgia Institute of Technology, Kennesaw State University, the University of North Georgia and others.
 
The High School Esports League plotted course for its first HSEL Majors season, offering scholarship prize pools and tournament play as schools face off against other schools in their region and run the leaderboards. The HSEL Majors launches Oct. 8 with playoffs starting early December. Titles will include League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Hearthstone and Rocket League.
 
 
TEAMS


The Overwatch League added two more big-market teams to its repertoire, locking in Jack Etienne of Cloud9 to represent London, while sports staples Stan and Josh Kroenke are purchasing a team for Los Angeles. With the announcement, the League now includes teams from Asia, Europe, and North America, including two teams for LA. “Building communities around the best competitive experiences in the world is incredibly rewarding, and the Overwatch League offers the chance to create something special,” said Josh Kroenke, cofounder of KSE Esports. “We’re impressed by the vision and strategy for the League, and we’re going to build a great team for Los Angeles that inspires fans near and far.”
 
Meanwhile, Cloud9 – fresh off landing the London franchise for Overwatch League – announced the acquisition of Laser Kittenz’ European Overwatch squad. “What Laser Kittenz were able to do in Season Zero grabbed everyone’s attention, myself included,” Cloud9 CEO Jack Etienne said in a statement. “From top to bottom, the organization proved themselves committed to competition, devoting their talent and time to earning their place in Season One. I’m excited to welcome them to the Cloud9 family and we’re all looking forward to adding to their already long list of accomplishments.”
 
Finally, it looks like the Seoul Overwatch League franchise has locked in its roster with news that OGN Overwatch Apex reigning champions Lunatic-Hai agreeing to play in the upcoming league under Seoul franchise owner KSV Esports. According to an ESPN report. Lunatic-Hai will spend season one in LA where play will commence in the coming months.
 
 
PLATFORMS


With Team Liquid emerging as champions of The International 7 and a record prize pool of over $24 million, Dota 2 play helped drive the title to a new record with over 30 million hours watched for the week ending Aug. 13, according to Gamoloco. Meanwhile, the site also reports that League of Legends was bested by plucky newcomer PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, marking the first time that the title was bested by a game that wasn’t pushed by a top tier esports event with 16.9 million hours viewed compared to standard-bearer LoL’s 15 million.
 
Esports One opened the doors to what audiences can expect with the beta version of its new site, looking to give fans full control over how they watch the esports games, with the goal of providing esports fans with “the same depth of viewing experience as traditional sports fans.” Offerings include modules that will track ‘every data point you care about, to the second’ as well as Objective Tracker and ChatBot modules. “While Esports One is first and foremost a stats and data company, we see the opportunity that our platform can provide for advertisers. In the NFL it’s very common to see featured stats and key moments being sponsored. Rotating sponsor logos have become such a commonplace for broadcasters that users very rarely even take notice anymore,” said Matthew Gunnin, Founder/CEO of Esports One. “You rarely see any type of real-time product activation during major game events, largely due to the fact that it requires manual input to activate.”
 
Westwood One is adding markets to Checkpoint Radio’s nationally syndicated radio show is hosted by Nate Bender, Robbie Landis, Norris Howard and Joe Sloan and dedicated to esports and gaming. Joining the lineup for the weekly broadcast will 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia, 101 ESPN in St Louis, and ESPN 97.5 FM in Houston. In three months, Checkpoint Radio has grown in North America to include markets such as Toronto, Denver, Phoenix, Vancouver BC, Tampa, Montreal, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Rochester, and Orlando.
 
Blizzard changed the name of its online gaming network, bringing back the Battle moniker. The site will now be known as Blizzard Battle.net, marking the second time in under a year that the platform’s name has been changed. “When we announced that we’d be transitioning away from the Battle.net name for our online-gaming service, we suspected that the shift would be challenging,” Blizzard wrote on its blog, adding that “We understood that Battle.net stood for something special – it represents years of shared history and enjoyment, community and friendship, for all of us and our players.”
 
 
MARKETING


ESL announced that both HyperX and paysafecard have signed on as official sponsors for the Gamescom PUBG Invitational, running Aug. 23-26 in Cologne. Deal points see HyperX join as official gear partner for the competition, where it will provide the players with mice, keyboards, mouse pads while paysafecard is set to support the festivities as official payment partner. “HyperX are proud to sponsor the first major PUBG LAN invitational at Gamescom 2017, the world’s largest gaming developer event,” said Annie L. Gerard, Global Strategic Marketing Manager, HyperX. “Our full line-up of gaming gear, including the HyperX Cloud Alpha, which will see its world preview at this year’s Gamescom, will be available to use on 80 PUBG gaming platforms during the PUBG Invitational where gamers will compete for a prize-pool of $350,000.”
 
Ninjas in Pyjamas announced that it was ending its partnership with Betway as main sponsor of the team, noting that – due to its entry to the League of Legends European Championship series – it would be forced to end its affiliation with the company. “It is no secret that entering League of Legends comes with a new set of regulations related to the league as it is a different competition in a different competitive landscape,” the team said in a statement.
 
 
THE META
What’s hot this week…
 

The 2017 Oceania Smite Pro League starts August 19th! Catch the action live on Twitch as the best Australian teams begin a season-long competition for the title and $35,000 AUD. Also coming up on the 19th of August, we have the 2GGC SCR Saga kicking off as the best singles and doubles Smash Players around compete in Smash Bros 4 for a TBD prize pool; tune in live on the 2GGaming Twitch Stream to catch the action.
Provided by: Esports One & Esportspedia: Revolutionizing Esports Data
 

INDUSTRY


Take-Two is telling courts that its use of real players’ tattoos in their digital NBA 2K player representations equate to fair use in the game. THR writes that with tattoo studio Solid Oak Sketches accusing the publisher of knowingly violating copyright applicable in its work, Take-Two believes it has the right to realistically represent the look of players it has licensed for use in its games.
 
In other legal news, former soccer star Edgar Davids won a lawsuit over Riot Games, claiming that the League of Legends developer used his likeness for a skin, according to multiple reports. The skin, dubbed Striker Lucian, saw Riot claim that the similarities between their model and Davids were not enough to confuse the two. The ruling saw the judicial body write that “The court has come to the conclusion that the skin should be considered as a portrait. Striker Lucian is so similar to the former player – dark skin, sporting look, aggressive style, black dreadlocks and sporting goggles – that the skin and images of Striker Lucian remind people of the player. That assessment has taken context and the purpose of use of the portrait into account.”
 
Inc. Magazine named mobile esports platform Skillz as the fastest growing company in America on its 36th annual Inc. 5000 list. Over the past three years, Skillz has notched revenue growth of over 50,000%, with a revenue run-rate that is currently over $100 million. Skillz is the first esports company to top the list. “With over six million private companies in America, it’s a tremendous achievement to rank number one,” said Andrew Paradise, CEO and founder of Skillz. “Our growth is a testament to the hard work of the incredible Skillz team and our developer partners. Today marks a turning point in the growing dominance of eSports within the broader sports industry.”
 
Blizzard is reportedly launching a new “global diversity and inclusion initiative” in a move to recruit and retain more staff members who are currently underrepresented at the company, according to Kotaku, which obtained an internal memo about the move. Blizzard CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime said in the email that women now make up 21% of Blizzard’s workforce, while underrepresented minority groups represent 14%. To counter this, the company will look to work with organizations such as Girls Who Code to find candidates.
 
 
SPOTLIGHT – Scott Carmichael, Prodigy Sports

Search and recruitment firm Prodigy Sports first voyage into the world of esports wrapped up this week with the announced that Grant Paranjape would take on the role of Director, Esports Team & Business Operations with Monumental Sports & Entertainment (see below). The placement marks the first hire by Prodigy Sports within esports following its announcement this year of a dedicated division for the industry. Cynopsis Esports asked Prodigy Sports founder and CEO Scott Carmichael about his observations and experience taking on the industry.
 
Carmichael on opportunities in esports: We’ve had a number of inquiries from both mainstream esports organizations as well as a few under the NBA 2K eLeague platform, but many of those groups are still determining the ideal direction to go in their hiring. We’ve had dozens of conversations with key leaders and execs within the esports ecosystem and have heard varying opinions on how to structure their teams. Candidly, I believe the hiring has been slowed as many are admittedly still trying to “figure it all out. That being said, nearly everyone we’ve spoken to who are in position of building their organizations are looking for passionate gamers with a level of business acumen that runs across many touch points within the esports industry.
 
On the talent pool: Not surprisingly, the talent pool skews much younger – many in the early to mid-20’s – yet their experience level spans 5-7 years.  Most are getting their experience, initially as a gamer on the player/athlete level, then leading into “management” type roles within teams, publishers, etc. There are also many professionals who bring 10+ years of experience and have been working in more traditional jobs while an esports organization or career was a pastime. There is a blend of talent between those who have worked at a publisher and seen the growth of tournaments, those who played competitively back in the days of a tournament being held in a hotel ballroom, and those who have gotten in more recently and work with some of the marquee organizations. The talent pool at the moment is also filled with a lot of ‘experts’ who are potential in it for the money and steer clients in the wrong direction. Our job has been to conduct due diligence and ensure that the candidates we present are well respected by industry peers.
 
On gaining experience: As we’ve seen, numerous colleges and universities are now offering not only a curriculum around the esports and gaming industry, but scholarships are now common place as schools develop a competitive landscape.  Like traditional sports, the best way to get experience is to get involved. So many young organizations are still in dire need of help, so if you can do graphic design, see if there is an opportunity to assist. If you want to work on the player operations side, get to know the title of interest extremely well and see if there are coaches or player operations people you can work with. If business is the goal, see who is looking for help in building out the sponsorship team. Attend the major tournaments for titles that are of interest, be open to meeting people and don’t pass judgement on the industry.
 
On comparing the process to sports placements: Although we’re still in the early stages of developing a significant footprint in this area, esports is such a different dynamic than traditional executive searches in sports.  As mentioned, many of the experts in the space are much younger, yet tremendously advanced in their mindset, intellect and vision.  Although you wouldn’t, theoretically, put someone with fice years of experience in a senior leadership role in a traditional sports organization, many of the leaders within esports demand a great level of respect and thus, recognition, for what they’ve accomplished.  It’s a very interesting and eye-opening phenomenon and clearly changed the way we’re recruiting, especially within the esports sector. 
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

As mentioned, Monumental Sports & Entertainment hired Grant Paranjape to serve as its new Director of Esports Business and Team Operations. There, Paranjape will report to Zach Leonsis and will direct strategy and business initiatives for MSE’s esports business operations, including for its forthcoming NBA 2K esports team. He joins the company from Splyce, where he secured partner relationships, lead strategic business initiatives, and worked with team managers to create an experience for players across 11 titles.
 
Good Gaming is launching a strategic Minecraft division and named Adam “Fluxty” Wathan to oversee operations where he will serve as Head Administrator.  
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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Cynopsis Esports Master Class – Reserve your space, while you can
 
Cynopsis is partnering with ESL to provide you with the ultimate esports experience, including:
 
A high-level look at the opportunities and challenges in the esports industry, an information-packed event with experts in the esports space AND a VIP/behind-the-scenes tour of ESL One with a pass to the weekend esports tournament.
 
Space is limited – Register by 8/30
 

ON THIS DAY in 1998: EA announces plans to buy Westwood Interactive from Virgin Interactive Entertainment.
 
Trivia: Which Overwatch character pays tribute to a classic movie by proclaiming, “I’m your Huckleberry”? (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: The name Tetris comes from a combination of the word “Tetra” and… Answer: Tennis. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Daniel Hanson/Vail; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 
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Have a strong sense of what makes user actions in games feel great.
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Understand the basics of Photoshop, Substance Painter, & Substance Designer.
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Design, schedule, document and develop core gameplay systems.
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Work closely with UI artists, programmers and Project Directors to drive interface style and function.
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Looking for someone with deep understanding of game engines and game creation tools.
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