08/24/17: Sliver’s giant slice; NCAA conference makes esports jump; OpTic Gaming’s big month

CynopsiseSPORTS & GAMING
It’s Thursday August 24, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.

 

Esports virtual reality platform SLIVER.tv landed $9.8 million in a series A round of equity funding anchored by Danhua Capital, along with Heuristic Capital Partners and ZP Capital. The platform has now generated $17.5 million to date and has carried multiple global esports tournaments in 360º VR by partnering with brands that include ESL One, DreamHack and Intel Extreme Masters.
 
“I’m thrilled to welcome Danhua Capital, Heuristic Capital Partners and ZP Capital to the SLIVER.tv family,” said Mitch Liu, co-founder and CEO of SLIVER.tv. “Our platform today enables our global fans to connect and truly experience esports in a whole new perspective.  We’re on the cutting edge developing the next-generation live streaming technology, and this new funding will accelerate our R&D investments in machine vision, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.”
 
 
COMPETITION


NCAA Division II conference the Peach Belt is going all in on esports, announcing that it will launch an Esports Championship starting with the 2017-18 academic season. Year one will focus on League of Legends, and see all 12 PBC institutions compete with five-player teams (along with one alternate.) At the end of the regular season, the top eight teams will advance to the PBC Esports Tournament with the winning team crowned the Esports Champion. The championship team will receive the same trophy and honors as other sports in conference with esports competition featured on the PBC website with updated standings and weekly recaps. “This is tremendously exciting for us,” said PBC commissioner David Brunk. “Esports is one of the fastest-growing competitive endeavors in the country and is a perfect opportunity for us to expand the impact of the Peach Belt beyond traditional sports on campus.”

 

NBC Sports Group and FACEIT’s Universal Open Rocket League esports tournament will wrap up with live coverage of the Grand Finals this weekend on NBCSN. With $100,000 in prize money on the line, the 2v2 tournament will see coverage of the Day 1 of the Grand Finals on Saturday night at midnight, followed by Day 2 of the Grand Finals on Sunday at 9p. Kevin Knocke will host coverage and will be joined by casters WavePunk (Caleb Simmons), Corelli (Jack Collier), and JorbyPls (Joey Ahrens), as well as analysts Quinn Lobdell (Michael Behrouzi) and Jamesbot (James Villar), and reporter AxelToss (Alex Rodriguez).

Electronic Arts and the NFL detailed plans for the launch of the Madden NFL Club Championship, a competitive gaming and esports event within the Madden NFL Championship Series that will involve all 32 NFL clubs to mark the largest competitive gaming commitment ever by a US professional sports league. Competition kicks off with the launch of EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 G.O.A.T Edition for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 today with players able to qualify first through online competition with high-performers advancing to tournaments at select NFL stadiums, popular cultural landmarks and more. Once the final 32 players are identified, one per NFL team, they will compete in the Madden NFL Club Championship Live Finals which starts with the Pro Bowl Experience in Orlando and concludes at the Super Bowl Experience.
 
Meanwhile, Formula 1 is taking on esports with the launch of the Formula 1 Esports Series. Play begins next month and  will see fans and gamers from around the world race to be crowned the Formula 1 Esports Series World Champion. The series is a partnership between Formula 1, Codemasters, and Gfinity. The launch of the competition coincides with the release of the official F1 2017 game with competitors racing through three different stages and the first Formula 1 Esports World Champion crowned on the same weekend as the final 2017 Formula 1 Grand Prix. “This launch presents an amazing opportunity for our business: strategically and in the way we engage fans. First, it’s a growing category with tremendous fan engagement that we’re entering in a big way; and we are proud to have Codemasters and Gfinity joining us on this ride.”
 
CD PROJEKT RED, creators of The Witcher series of games, is now training for Thronebreaker, a single player story campaign for GWENT, as well as the GWENT Masters — the official esports series for The Witcher Card Game. The esports series invites players to compete across a brand new season-based mode and a variety of official and licensed tournaments for a spot in the grand finale of the series and the title of first ever GWENT World Champion with prize pools ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 and a total of $850,000 at stake.
 
You gotta walk before you can run! Learn the essential elements of doing business in esports and hear from Nielsen, ESL, Twitch, Team Dignitas, the Esports Ad Bureau and more at 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.
 
 
TEAMS

G2 Esports announced a slate of investment from the entertainment, financial, and traditional sport sectors, locking in new investors for the team that include the likes of FC Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes, Eric Mindich’s Everblue Management, MACRO Ventures, and Marc Lemann of Go4It, among others. Capital will be used to “enhance G2 Esports’ talent infrastructure as well strengthen their content and brand initiatives.” “In this increasingly digital world, I see tremendous potential in esports. Carlos’s vast experience as a successful player, entertainer and successful team owner combined with G2’s impressive track record makes this investment a perfect fit. Esports is the next generation of sports and League of Legends is its cornerstone. I couldn’t be more thrilled to invest in and partner with G2 Esports,” said Gomes.
 
Meanwhile, Korea’s Overwatch League franchise made its debut roster official, signing Lunatic-Hai to take part in the competition. Included in the mix will be Kim “EscA” In-jae, Kim “zunba” Joon Hyuk, Gong “Miro” Jin-hyuk, Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, Yang “tobi” Jin-mo and Moon “Gido” Gi-do as the first six players to the squad. .
 
 
PLATFORMS

Activision’s Call of Duty WWII Beta has esports audiences on the proverbial brain once again, introducing at gamescom a new aerial-shot POV that can be leveraged to showcase the battles from above the action. The SkyCam-ish feature can be activated in CODCaster mode to make it easier for fans to understand the flow of play.
 
Na’Vi founder Alexander ‘ZeroGravity’ Kokhanovskyy is now backing DreamTeam, a new venture described as the “world’s first esports recruitment and management platform for amateur, semi-pro, and pro teams” with a beta version set to launch next month. The platform will look to serve as an all-in-one solution for gamers who want to build, grow, manage and monetize their team with features that include a recruitment network and database as well as club growth tools. “With 17 years of esports experience I personally progressed from amateur player, to semiprofessional, to professional CS:GO player, and then to team captain, coach, manager and CEO. Wearing all of these hats gave me the unique perspective of the challenges players and teams face. By removing the barrier to entry, I am confident that the launch of DreamTeam will lead to a hundreds of thousands of new clubs and teams in upcoming years, and will significantly increase esports market revenue and viewership. We have a unique opportunity to forever change the landscape of the industry and make esports the number one sport on the planet.” said Kokhanovskyy.
 
PvP Live is evolving to launch a daily online competition feature where users will be able to sign up and enter competitions starting Sept. 5. Contests include free-to-play and premium competitions with guaranteed prize pools and a cash-based currency system. Casey Wehr, CEO of PvP Live said, “We’ve experienced tremendous growth over the past year and we’re excited to launch this new product for our community and the industry. Esports is our passion and it is everywhere right now. We feel that with the help of our game developer partners, our platform will enable esports competitions to become more accessible to all players.”
 
German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 signed a partnership with ESL to bring esports content to its platforms. Next week, the ProSieben Maxx channel will run a new magazine series titled Ran eSports, marking the first German free-to-air channel dedicated to esports, according to the company. ProSieben Maxx will also air the final of the FIFA Interactive World Cup starting today. ProSiebenSat.1 also renewed its ties with ELEAGUE.
 
Wargaming is preparing for an assault on Facebook, locking in a deal to provide more than 1,000 hours of live and on-demand video content on Facebook Live to build its gaming community. Content will be available globally across Wargaming’s Facebook Pages with coverage of its esports events, including a livestream of the World of Tanks regional and final tournaments running on the platform. “Bringing exciting and uniquely-created live video content to Facebook was an obvious step for us,” said Jamy Nigri, Senior Vice President of Commercial Development for Wargaming. “We’ll be introducing new ways to interact with our games to our 3.9 million Facebook community members and gamers across the globe. Player happiness is at our core, and we can’t wait to let fans engage through Facebook.”
 
 
INSIGHTS
 

Source: Newzoo
 
 
MARKETING


Comcast is teaming with Activision in a deal to provide its Xfinity Internet customers access to the Call of Duty: WWII Private Multiplayer Beta, starting first on PlayStation 4 on Aug. 25 and available on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Sept. 1. To play, interested customers can visit xfinity.com/CallofDuty through Aug. 31 and enter their Comcast account number to obtain a unique access code along with instructions on how to redeem the code and the dates of the beta availability. “We’re excited to give our Xfinity Internet customers the chance to play the latest version of the Call of Duty Multiplayer 2 months before release,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Partnership Marketing at Comcast. “Our partnership with Activision is a natural extension of our esports affiliation and gives us the chance to offer our customers something really special, further positioning XFINITY as a brand whose products and services are synonymous with gaming. We are excited to work with Activision to develop content and create unique experiences for our customers.”
 
AMD is aligning with Bethesda Softworks to serve as the title sponsor for the Quake World Championships, which offers a $1 million pool and starts today at QuakeCon in Dallas. “We’re proud to be partners for the inaugural Quake World Championships and help bring Quake back to the forefront of the sports world where it belongs,” said Scott Herkelman, corporate vice president and general manager, Gaming, Radeon Technologies Group, AMD. “We’ve enjoyed a fantastic collaboration with Bethesda across many projects. Working together on the Quake World Championships is one of the most exciting opportunities, where industry-leading technology can shine and our support of esports can grow through the incredible popularity of competitive Quake.”
 
Mercedes Benz locked in a deal to partner with ESL with the alliance set to include tournament sponsorships across several global markets beginning with ESL One Hamburg 2017. “Our wide-ranging international commitment to sport allows us to accommodate the interests of our diverse target groups,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, VP Marketing Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars. “As a brand, we maintain close contact with our customers, are able to build up empathy and to become an accepted part of their world. We have been following the extremely fast-growing esports segment for some time now and are firmly of the opinion that this new involvement will complement our existing sports sponsoring activities with an eye on the future and allow us to make contact with a very interesting, new target group.
 
T-Mobile inked new sponsorship deals with esports teams TSM and Cloud9, marking the first telecommunications partner for both of these organizations. “At Cloud9, we’re always looking for partners who are going to elevate us to the next level and we’ve found just that,” said Jack Etienne, Founder and CEO of Cloud9. “Partnering up with T-Mobile will allow us to work together on some really exciting projects that we can’t wait for the fans to see.” Meanwhile, TSM said in a statement that “We’ll work together on a number of moments throughout the year to give esports fans more access to the sport they love.”
 
In other sponsorship news, Scuf Gaming signed an extension as the official professional gaming controller partner of Major League Gaming and the Call of Duty World League. Kevin Flynn, Director, Call of Duty Esports stated that “We see our collaboration with Scuf Gaming as a natural fit and great opportunity to continue to push esports forward. We have consistently seen many CWL players and teams rely on their SCUF controllers in the heat of battle. We’re excited to continue our partnership.”
 
 
THE META
What’s hot this week…


Sixteen of the best CS:GO teams in the world will clash in Malmo with $250,000 on the line and battle to be named a DreamHack Masters Champion.
Provided by: Esports One & Esportspedia: Revolutionizing Esports Data

INDUSTRY

With gamescom underway, the show has already delivered a bevy of new trailers, shorts, levels, skins and characters for esports staples ranging from Call of Duty and PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds to Overwatch and Rocket League. In early news, Microsoft detailed in its gamescom livestream a lineup of games that will be enhanced for the upcoming Xbox One X. Overall, more than 115 games were laid out for the console with titles that include Halo 5, Resident Evil 7, Dishonored 2, Halo Wars 2, Killer Instinct, Rocket League, Gears of War 4, and more.
 
Nielsen turned on the ignition for Nielsen Esports, launching a new business vertical focused on competitive gaming that will “leverage the company’s expertise and leadership in media consumption and valuation.” The division will offer sponsorship valuation, fan insights, custom industry research and consulting services to rights holders, media platforms and brands around the world that are moving this fast-growing market forward. Stephen Master, Managing Director of Nielsen Sports North America, and Nicole Pike, Vice President of Nielsen Games, have expanded their current roles within the Nielsen Entertainment group to co-lead the global Nielsen Esports business.
 
Nintendo added PayPal to its payment options for eShop purchases on the Nintendo Switch. Users will now be able to link their Nintendo account to their PayPal account on the console.
 
Unikrn is launching the sale of $100 million in cryptocurrency in Sept. with company CEO Rahul Sood, telling Reuters that the Unikrn embraced cryptocurrency as a way to bypass banking institutions. The new currency is called UnikoinGold, while the current UniKoin, which allows users to bet on esports, will be phased out. 
 
 
SPOTLIGHT – Ryan Musselman, OpTic Gaming


The past thirty days have been historic for one of esports anchor clubs, OpTic Gaming. Not only did the team lay claim to the 2017 Call of Duty World League Championship, it also locked in Chipotle as a sponsor and announced plans to love its headquarters from Chicago to Dallas. Meanwhile, player departures and a CS:GO team overhaul once again pushed the team into the headlines this week, with ELEAGUE announcing that the changes were “inconsistent with ELEAGUE’s rules for the CS:GO Premier 2017,” and that the squad would be replaced by another qualifying team. But with business running at full steam, Cynopsis Sports asked OpTic’s COO Ryan Musselman about the club’s recent bevy of news.
 
Musselman on the keys to staying successful: Perseverance. Perseverance. Perseverance. This roster has been through a host of unique scenarios, from high spirited championships to major upsets. We have yet to see another roster go through so much diversity, only to stick together and finally win the big one. The players have great faith in each other’s ability to perform and get the job done and this faith was not shaken in the past, despite suffering tough losses in previous endeavors at the world championships.

On the move to Dallas: While we love the state of Illinois and being headquartered close to downtown Chicago, other cities have had a much more progressive and futuristic approach towards esports and expressed a lot of interest in working with OpTic.  In jest, I don’t want to discount that we are looking forward to a warmer climate, but we have important plans to execute content on a larger scale and the esports approach of a “gamer house” that OpTic invented takes it one step further. A large step further. We’re not ready to share the full meaning and details yet, but we do believe Dallas will be the right city to help us execute our vision.
 
On building brands: OpTic has always had a genuine focus on building the players’ individual brands through content, leading to a deeper connection with the audience. This is a core fundamental that we believe is important to the player’s individual career and it cultivates the OpTic brand overall. It is this focus that has allowed us to not only build and retain our deeply connected audience, but to expand it as well. Connecting partners with our story creates a higher level of engagement that our sponsors are not experiencing elsewhere and we are committed to seeing that their brands are positively impacted. We lead the entire industry in non-endemic partnerships which is really key to growing the industry as a whole. I would argue that we are actually making it easier for leagues and competitors alike who can point to our success and say “Hey, see?  Esports offers a brand-safe environment!”  OpTic also presents a fresh approach towards sponsorship and while I cannot reveal our secret sauce, what’s most exciting is that we are just getting started.
 
On the influx of investment in esports: Overall, we view the capital injections as positive. It is a good demonstration that many well-respected professionals believe in the staying power of esports. It is allowing teams to build better partnerships that incorporate a solid infrastructure with tenured management which leads to team organization and more predictability which ultimately leads to more structure within the esports landscape as well.  These seasoned individuals come not only with capital, but a wealth of business knowledge that can transfer to the rising industry of esports.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES


Robert Kraft’s upcoming Overwatch League team has found its president, tapping Chris “HuK” Loranger to serve as the organization’s President of Gaming where he will oversee player acquisition, training, and daily operations of the league.
 
Jonas “bsl” Alsaker Vikan was named Global Tournament Director at ESL where he will be charged with the execution of all ESL high-profile competitions, including ESL Pro League, ESL One and IEM tournaments. “I was always a fan of competitive gaming and fortuned enough to turn my hobby into a profession,” said Alsaker Vikan. “It’s amazing to see how far the industry all has come and I am very excited to become an active part at ESL, pushing and fostering esports even further in the upcoming years.”
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
ANNOUNCING: The Cynopsis Short Form Video Festival
March 7, 2018 | NYC
Now Accepting Submissions – Enter Here
Winning submissions will be showcased at this one-of-a-kind festival, where idea-rich panel discussions will be led by producers, directors, actors, marketers, and more.
 

ON THIS DAY in 2000: Nintendo reveals the Gamecube and Game Boy Advance systems in Japan.
 
Trivia: The first Assassin’s Creed game was originally conceived to be a spinoff of what other 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: Which Overwatch character pays tribute to a classic movie by proclaiming, “I’m your Huckleberry”?  Answer: McCree. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Jason Valluzzi-Active International/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Christian Perilla-Fusion/Miami; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank
 
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Develop new and enhance existing graphics technologies to help achieve state-of-the-art visuals.
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Rockstar
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Rockstar
Boston MA

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Work closely with art and design to understand and define game features and system requirements.
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Demiurge Studios
Cambridge MA

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Oversee the development of a mobile/PC free-to-play title from inception to the digital shelves.
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Demiurge Studios
Cambridge MA

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Work with a team of artists and developers to create a AAA user experience for next generation game projects.
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Stardock
Plymouth MI

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Collaborate with production to coordinate the resources, schedules, and priorities for technical art and VFX.
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Work with artists, designers and gameplay engineers to implement editor functionality and improve overall workflow for the team.
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WB Games
Chicago IL

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Research challenges being encountered by team members with tools and runtime to reduce downtime created by bugs or configuration problems.
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WB Games
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Bioware
Austin TX

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Experience with web operations best practices at scale, architecture design, troubleshooting and performance tuning.
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Bioware
Austin TX

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Drive the development of new innovations across Xbox Live, Beam, and Universal Store.
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Microsoft
Redmond WA

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Deliver progression modeling, balance analysis, multiplayer performance and social impact analysis.
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Microsoft
Redmond WA

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Provide daily feedback and direction to all the contributors on your missions, driving rapid iteration so that we can meet our high quality bar.
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Sucker Punch Productions
Bellevue WA

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Using proprietary tool sets to implement story based missions and game content.
Senior Game Designer—Content
Cryptic Studios
Los Gatos CA

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Collaborating with other talented programmers, artists, and design teams.
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Los Gatos CA

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