It’s Thursday August 31, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.
Automakers continue to invest in competitive gaming with BMW signing on to serve as sponsor for the EU LCS Finals in Paris on Sunday. The deal with Riot for the League of Legends event was announced in a video posted on Twitter that showcased Unicorns of Love’s Romain Bigeard and Misfits’ Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage with an LCS branded BMW. The agreement marks the first major car manufacturer to sponsor League of Legends in either North America or Europe. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, recently announced a deal with ESL to sponsor multiple events across several global markets while Audi has a deal to sponsor the team Astralis.
NASCAR revved up plans for the NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, an esports-driven online racing series designed to showcase up and coming drivers that currently compete in certain NASCAR-sanctioned series including the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and NASCAR XFINITY Series as well as other racing disciplines. Partnering with iRacing.com, the slate revs up today at 8p for an eight week four-race schedule that will include the likes of Christopher Bell, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Blake Koch and more. Tonight’s event will be broadcast live at www.iRacing.com/live and will be followed by the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series powered by iRacing, which sees oval sim racers compete for over $20,000 in cash and prizes. “Through our long-term partnership with iRacing.com, NASCAR has been at the forefront of competitive gaming for years,” said Blake Davidson, Vice President, Licensing and Consumer Products, NASCAR. “The NASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational will further connect our drivers to the growing fan base of esports in an engaging and authentic way.”
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told the South China Morning Post that while the IOC is mulling a move into esports, don’t expect some of the industry’s top titles to be considered for competition. Bach noted in the interview that the org would only embrace competitive gaming as long as the games did not feature violence. “We want to promote non-discrimination, non-violence, and peace among people. This doesn’t match with video games, which are about violence, explosions and killing. And there we have to draw a clear line,” he said.
ELEAGUE booked its faces for its upcoming ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017, locking in Richard Lewis to host with a five-person rotation of commentators that includes Jason “Moses” O’Toole, Anders Blume, Daniel “DDK” Kapadia, Auguste “Semmler” Massonat and James Bardolph. The commentator team will serve in a hybrid caster-analyst role, offering pre- and post-match insights while also calling live in-game action In addition, Sue “Smix” Lee will be an in-arena correspondent. The Premier is set to launch with a special preview show on Friday at 10p on TBS.
The Rocket League Championship Series Season 4 is revving up this weekend, withPsyonix announcing its largest prize pool yet, with teams competing for a share of $350,000 for RLCS, which RLRS teams will vie for $50,000 in prizes. This year’s RLCS competitions will see the top 128 Rocket League teams in North America and Europe square off starting Saturday at 3p for NA action, while EY Play-in begins Sunday at noon.
The Overwatch World Cup confirmed pairings for its conclusion at BlizzCon 2017 with eight teams still in contention. The randomly-drawn brackets will see the UK/Sweden and Canada/Australia in Group A while, Group B sees China/France and South Korea/US with the main event starting Nov. 3 in Anaheim.
Bethesda and DreamHack revealed that Quake Champions is adding two tournaments this year, with a $75,000 tournament – The DreamHack Denver Quake Championship – and the Quake Champions Invitational, a major tournament slated for DreamHack Winter in Sweden with a prize pool of $350,000. Additional esports events for Quake Champions will be announced in the future. The DreamHack Denver Quake Championship runs Oct 20-22 while The Quake Champions Invitational at DreamHack Winter spans Dec 1-4.
BLAST Pro Series detailed plans to launch its first North American event in 2018, with discussions taking place for a host city that could include Miami, New York, Austin and others. The tournament, organized by RFRSH Entertainment will focus on North and South American teams with a format that features CS:GO teams squaring off with group stage matches and a grand final on the same stage on the same day.
We are getting close to a sellout and our lineup of A-grade instructors just keeps getting better. Go deep into the world of gaming influencers with Fidan Gutaj, Tweeday, and Marius Faulhaber, who will take part in teaching the ABCs of esports to our attendees. They will join names from ESL, Twitch, Nielsen, the Esports Ad Bureau and Team Dignitas for a very special Cynopsis Esports Master Class on Sept. 15 in NYC. We will be behind the scenes of ESL One New York as the east coast’s biggest esports event prepares to rumble and you don’t want to miss. Today will be the LAST chance to get tickets with a $100 discount (use the code CHRIS). Space is extremely limited so registertoday!
SPOTLIGHT – Good Game
With a tenderness that echoes the relationship between the sci-fi genre and Adult Swim’s smash Rick and Morty, YouTube Red opened the doors to Dan Harmon’s latest project yesterday with Good Game. The esports-themed comedy features Game Grumps duo Dan Avidan and Arin Hanson, along with a cast that includes Michele Morrow, Michael Ornstein, Rahul Abburi, Jade Payton and Oliver Cooper following an underdog team looking to strike it rich as pros in the fictional game Killcore. The series was created Morrow and Jesse Cox, and executive produced by Harmon, Michael Waldron, Steve Levy and Jen Roskind, and along with Hanson and Lilley. Morrow and Cox also serve as executive producers. Episode one can be found here.
Morrow shared a few behind-the-scenes secrets with Cynopsis about the show…
Killcore was created on a StarCraft II engine: Killcore came to be because when we were first pitching around the show idea, a lot of people that we were meeting with wanted us to partner with a AAA video game title such as League of Legends or Dota 2. Jesse and I felt that, if we did that, it would no longer really be a story about a band of misfits coming together and trying to make it against the big dogs and instead it would be about League of Legends. We went all out in creating Killcore, putting together a giant pitch and treated it exactly like we would if we were making an actual video game, creating all the characters, abilities, voice lines, everything. We hooked up with an art director named Mark Gibbons who really understood what we were looking for, which was to make fun of the world of MOBAs while also celebrating it. We ended up going to Blizzard Entertainment, where I have a good relationship obviously, and they granted us permission to build the game on a StarCraft II engine.
Terry Crews was a dream cameo: Terry was a dream come true. One day we were talking about who we were going to cast and we had some many people coming in for all the roles. For the caster roles, I remember writing one day in all caps,” PLEASE GOD TERRY CREWS!” I never thought that would come to life but one day we got an email that said we put an offer out to Terry Crews and he was totally excited about doing it. I think I fainted and he was the nicest guy.
Some of the casting scenes were inspired by real-life experiences: There’s been so many times when you would do an event and while it looks like this big endeavor, when really it was just at a rec center. It would look big online but it wasn’t as big of an event in person. Of course, that has been changing as esports has been growing, but we wanted to show that even though it looks glamorous, it was important to see that sometimes you are casting between two bathrooms. For me, I’ve interview so many different people and you get so many different personality types, and with men you sometimes get the guy who barely even talks at all, but other times you get the guy who corrects you constantly and doesn’t let you talk. I’ve had experiences multiple times with people who assumed I didn’t know what I was talking about just because I was a woman.
Activision-Blizzard wants to start from scratch for the upcoming Overwatch League, requiring participating organizations to create separate business entities with specific branding to that league, according to ESPN. Regulations will see each of the associated teams will create new geolocated brands, as well as business corporations, specific to the Overwatch League, meaning that established esports teams such as Cloud9, Immortals and Misfits will need to find another name for their OL competitors. Meanwhile, NetEase, owners of the Shanghai Overwatch League franchise slot, filed for a trademark of the name “Shanghai Dragons” on Aug. 16, according to United States Patent and Trademark Office records.
Speaking of Overwatch League, Cloud9 is turning to fans to help name its OL franchise, posting “Be a part of history and help us name the London Overwatch franchise. The naming format will be ‘London [TEAM NAME]’ and the team will be a standalone franchise that we welcome into the Cloud9 family.” Cloud9 will later post the best names in a survey to narrow down the list of contenders.
NRG Esports acquired Canada-based Northern Gaming in a move that will see the entire Northern Gaming family and its assets sport the NRG moniker from now on. “Joining NRG will give our players and streamers unrivaled opportunity, and allow them to be more impactful in the esports ecosystem than we were able to with Northern Gaming,” the team said in a statement.
Evil Geniuses CEO Peter “ppd” Dager is stepping down from his position, with the team announcing that Phillip Aram will be assuming the role of COO. “Removing myself from the CEO position at Evil Geniuses was a personal decision based entirely on my desires both personally and professionally,” Dager posted. “Over the course of my playing and management career at EG, I have become attached to the organization as well as the countless supporters of our rosters. Leaving EG will be bittersweet, but ultimately I see nothing but a successful future for both myself and the organization I am leaving behind. I want to thank all of the staff and teammates who I have been fortunate to work with over the last four years and will continue to wish them nothing but continued success.”
Jordan’s Olympic Committee opened the doors to a new esports training center in the country, where members of the Jordan team will be able to train for the esports competitions at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan next month. The JOC launched a temporary committee to manage esports with Zain and Red Bull backing the initiative.
Boise State announced plans to host esports teams as an officially sanctioned varsity activity for undergraduate and graduate students with teams recruited and selected from current students who have part or full-time status at Boise State University. They will compete in intercollegiate play as part of NACe. Teams will compete in the NACe regular season against member schools and selected tournaments from TESPA, uLOL, Collegiate Star League (and other organizations as part of intercollegiate play. Games selected for the inaugural eSports season will include League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Rocket League.
Nintendo is pulling the plug on its social platform Miiverse on Nov. 8. The news broke from an announcement on the Nintendo of Japan site with the Wii U’s chat app and TVii also being shuttered.
Bluehole’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds saw the ESL Gamescom PUBG Invitational tournament help push the title to new highs, with the game’s creative director Brendan Greene tweeting that it had topped 800,000 concurrent players on Valve’s Steam storefront alone. And topping the charts the next day with 878,000 concurrent players.
Xbox is considering dabbling in cross-platform multiplayer play with developers. Speaking to VG247, Xbox VP Mike Ybarra noted that the company was open to conversation with developers looking to support cross-play on PC and consoles.“The demands of consumers and developers have changed,” says Ybarra, per gamasutra. “People are like, ‘we want all of our gamers in one multiplayer pool together, playing’.”
What’s hot this week…
The European Summer League is an open qualifier for the Hearthstone Championship Tour. This will bring both experienced and new comers to play at venues all around Europe. The sheer range of talent makes for an exciting tournament, you might even get to witness the rise of the next big Hearthstone player! Another thrilling tournament is the Red Bull Smash Gods in Los Angeles, the weekend includes both qualifiers and the finals. However, there is a twist! Players that make it through the qualifiers get drafted by 8 Smash veterans to play in their team for the finals.
Gamescom 2017 set new highs for the European event, announcing that over 350,000 attendees representing 106 countries attended this year’s festivities. In response to the record breaking year, “Gamescom 2017 set new standards and a new visitor record,” said Gerald Bose, President of Gamescom organizer Koelnmesse GmbH. “More than ever it proved its exceptional worldwide importance as a 360 degree experience event and leading communications platform for current and future themes of the computer and video games industry.”
EA Sports revealed its top 10 young stars and the top 50 overall highest ranked players for the upcoming EA Sports NHL 18, based on the game’s rating system. Cover star Connor McDavid took the top spot in both the young stars as well as for the top 50 players overall with a 93 rating – up five points from his ranking last year. NHL 18 hits the ice on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Sept. 15.
Esports coaching platform Gamer Sensei announced that it had picked up an additional $4 million in venture funding, led by Accomplice and Advancit Capital, joined by Origin Ventures, CRCM Ventures and Kiwi Ventures, with additional participation from other new and existing investors including, aXiomatic, Abstract Ventures and Subversive Capital. The funding will help fuel the continued growth of the company at its headquarters in downtown Boston. “The esports industry is hotter than ever as evidenced by the growing number of traditional sports groups and team owners – from the NBA to the NFL – looking to get in on the action,” says Rohan Gopaldas, Co-Founder & CEO of Gamer Sensei. “Gamer Sensei is front and center with a unique offering that benefits both players and coaches, and this latest investment will allow us continue to build and evolve the platform to implement new features and forge new partnerships.”
Nintendo’s summer “Nindies” showcase saw the company showcase the lineup of new indie games that will be coming to the Switch. Titles includes a new No More Heroes: Travis Strikes Again entry from Suda51’s Grasshopper Manufacture set for 2018 as well as Super Meat Boy Forever, Shovel Knight:King of Cards and a slew of other games set for the console.
POWER PLAYERS – EA’s Matt Marcou
Just ahead of football season, Electronic Arts and the NFL laid out the game plan for this year’s Madden majors, with the two organizations recently announcing that the Madden NFL Club Championship, a competitive gaming and esports event within the Madden NFL Championship Series, will involve all 32 NFL clubs to mark the largest competitive gaming commitment ever by a US professional sports league. Competition sees 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. The tournament joins the Madden NFL Classic on October 20-21 and the Madden NFL Challenge on December 15-16 as EA Majors for the title with $1.15 million on the line this season.
Cynopsis chatted with EA Competitive Gaming Commissioner Matt Marcou about year one of the series, lessons learned and what we can expect with the new season.
Marcou on goals: Our goal through this is to make stars of all of our players. We are trying to grow our gaming community even further. It is inherently a competitive game and most of the matchups are person vs. person so the genesis of all of this is to facilitate that engagement. Last year, we ran the first-ever Madden Championship Series program and while it was what we expected it to be overall, but one of the things we learned was that the trial program we ran with the teams from year one was received positively so we wanted to make sure we did more of that. That’s why we made a push this year to expand to all 32 teams. Our other big takeaway was that the more we tied it into the NFL’s key event, the more excitement it generates. So that’s why we ended up weaving this event into the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl experience.
On team involvement: Each club last year ran their own tournament, they picked the venue, the broadcast experience. Etc. The feedback I received was that it really opened their eyes to what the future could be and all of them were very happy with how it went. That’s why all of them came back for this year.
On moving from player to Commissioner: I loved inspiring gamers to compete. I grew up looking at competitive gaming the same way I look at traditional sports. I grew up playing baseball, football, soccer, etc. and I took that same enthusiasm into my video game competitions. I grew up attending those competitions and my mom took me to those the same way she took me baseball or soccer practice. So for me, it is about having that experience from my childhood and wanting to bring that to a new generation of gamers.
On feedback: Each year is a learning experience and we move forward with the feedback. We now want to get the word out and increase accessibility while continuing to focus on the player-first message.
Nielsen is launching a new unit focused on esports, offering global research and consulting services for the exploding industry – in 2017, revenue is projected to increase 41% to $696 million, with a 50% growth in global audience, to 191 million. To learn more about how to get in the game, register for the information-packed event with experts in the esports space AND a VIP/behind-the-scenes tour of ESL One.
ON THIS DAY in 1992: Midway Amusement Games releases Mortal Kombat v3.0 to arcades in the US.
Trivia: What is the name of the main island that serves as the setting for PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds? (Emailchrisemail@example.com your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The first Assassin’s Creed game was originally conceived to be a spinoff of what other franchise? Answer: Prince of Persia. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Glen Ross/DC; John McHugh/Charleston; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Hayne Park-Ellation/San Francisco; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica
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JOB OPENING: AD SALES ACCOUNT EXEC/Crown Media Family Networks/LA: Sell Nat’l advertising time to ad agencies and clients. Strong negotiation skills and presentation skills. Strong knowledge of Los Angeles mktplace. BA/BS req & Min 2 yrs exp. Apply HERE (9/7)
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JOB OPENING:DIR, FINANCIAL REPORTING/AMCN/NY: 10+ yrs tech accting & reporting exp. 2+ yrs superv exp. Prepare the consolidated fin statemnts, incl bal sheet, inc statemnt, statemnt of comprehensive inc & statemnt of cash flows & related footnote disclosures for AMC Networks Inc. on a quarterly basis. Perf calculation of earnings per share for the quart & annual SEC rpts. Full info/apply HERE (9/7)
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JOB OPENING:SR DIRECTOR, DIGITAL STRATEGY & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT/NBCU/Universal City: Evaluate, structure & help implement business growth opportunities in the digital media space. Bus Dev exp & track record of growing a consumer-facing, entertainment-focused digital property. BA deg, MBA pref’d. Full info/apply HERE (9/6)
JOB OPENING:PROD MNGR, ON-AIR/NYC: Mng promotional assets & timelines for orig prog slate. Work w/producers & vendors for promos, EPK shoots. Request & track show materials for promo use. 5-7 yrs exp, pref w/in Crtv Svcs. Exp working with scripted series. Resume HERE(9/6)
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