10/25/18: Previewing the events at TwitchCon

CynopsisESPORTS
It’s Thursday October 25, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning Esports briefing. For additional longer-form esports news plus jobs, a team directory, glossary, calendar and data, check out our new esports hub updated daily: http://cynopsisesports.com.


TwitchCon prepares for liftoff this weekend out of San Jose McEnery Convention Center with four major esports events: PUBG Broadcaster Royale: Omen Challenge, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s ‘Doritos Bowl’, the grand final of Fortnite’s ‘Fall Skirmish’ and GamesDoneQuick. Meanwhile, over 140 exhibitors will showcase their wares, with activations that include Fortnite Hall and Sony Interactive Entertainment, to Hershey’s and Nissin. Twitch also unveiled a new speaker series for the annual festivities, designed to “inspire and entertain the Twitch community with talks from Tony Hawk, Kevin Smith, and Felicia Day.” The discussions will cover a range of topics from establishing your personal brand to building and maintaining a strong community. In addition to the Twitch Talks series, the company announced a conversation between Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Twitch Co-founder & CEO Emmett Shear. Tony Hawk kicks it off on Friday at 1p PT.
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES

StarLadder opened the books on details for the launch of PUBG Europe League, announcing – in partnership with PUBG Corp. – regional competition ahead of its January launch. Each phase will offer a separate prize fund and in each of them will be defined the champions. Overall, there will be five leagues in the competitive structure: the PUBG Europe League with 16 teams, a Contenders League with 32 teams, Open League Europe: West, Open League Europe: East, and Open League Middle East and Africa. The qualifying system is see both regional online qualifiers and a LAN qualifier.
 
NBA 2K League will open the first stage of qualifying for the 2019 draft on Nov. 2 at noon, with play running through Nov. 26. Each potential player will be required to win 100 games in NBA 2K19’s Pro-Am mode or at the Jordan Rec Center, and win at least 50 percent of their games, in order to advance in the process. Each participant must also complete an online application by Nov. 26. Following the NBA 2K League Combine in December, the best players will be identified and made eligible for the 2019 NBA 2K League Draft. In addition, the league will conduct one or more tournaments outside of North America to identify additional international players for the 2019 draft pool.
 
ESL announced the return of the ESL One event series for the second time in a row with ESL One Katowice 2019 powered by Intel. From February 19-24, the tournament will see 12 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams duke it out in the legendary Spodek Arena with a $300,000 prize pool looming at the finish line. The group stage is set to take place from February 19-21, followed by the main event in the Spodek Arena from February 22-24. “We are looking forward to bringing ESL One back to the legendary Spodek Arena in Katowice as part of another double weekend full of action-packed esports,” said Ulrich Schulze, Senior Vice President of Product at ESL. “Our events in Katowice are like no others, thanks to the passionate fans which travel to Poland from all over Europe and create a breath-taking atmosphere in the arena.”
 
IEM Chicago locked in broadcast talent for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament, which kicks off on Nov. 6. Oliver James “OJ Borg” Borg serves as stage host for the event, while Alex “Machine” Richardson will be the desk host. Analysts include Chad “SPUNJ” Burchill, Jacob “Pimp” Winneche, and Tomi “Iurppis” Kovanen. Calling the shots will be Henry “HenryG” Greer, Matthew T”Sadokist” Trivett, Anders “Anders” Blume, and Jason “moses” O’Toole
 
DreamHack is heading to Dallas, announcing plans to bring the festival to the Texas metropolis in 2019 complete with its slate of activations and tournament play. Running from May 31-June 2, 2019, the event will serve up both the DreamHack festival experience and the next CORSAIR DreamHack Masters stop. The festival offers cosplay competitions, music acts, expo area, esports tournaments and more. For the first time ever this will be combined with the CORSAIR DreamHack Masters experience, a top-tier esports arena championship where the best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams in the world compete for a $250,000 prize pool.
 
FOX Sports unveiled new esports programming for new acquisition Caffeine, announced that FS1 and the FOX Sports app along with social broadcasting platform will air the Continental Cup 2018 presented by PlayStation. The event will see global gamers compete for a FIFA 19 championship during Paris Games Week 2018. FOX Sports Reporter Alex Curry hosts the live event, which runs on Sunday at 10a. In addition, FOX Sports will also celebrate the journey to the tournament with the series, “eSports Athletes Rising,” a behind-the-scenes look at gaming pros. The program follows “underdog FIFA 19 players from the US as they look to upset the competition on international turf.
 
The Global Loot League Season 3 Grand Finals has a date, taking place in Stockholm from Dec. 6-8, where 16 teams will battle over a $100,000 prize pool.  Seven teams from Europe, six from America, and three from CIS will make up the contenders.
 
N3rd Street Gamers and Blizzard Entertainment are partnering to bring a Hearthstone Championship Tour stop to Philadelphia, running Dec. 14-16. The tour stop will provide an opportunity for up to 256 players to compete in-person, taking place at Localhost Arena, an esports arena and LAN center located in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties district.
 
N3rd Street Gamers also inked a deal to occupy 18,000 square feet in Lakewood, Colorado that would serve as the state’s biggest esports arena. With the aim of attracting the largest names in the esports industry to the Rocky Mountain region, Localhost Arena will also serve as a general purpose gaming center with food, drinks, and lounge space, featuring over 120 PCs, a permanent event stage, a full-service bar, and a lounge. Its primary focus will be producing esports events and tournaments.
 
Psyonix is partnering with Tespa to launch the first-ever live Collegiate Rocket League National Championship. Set to take place on Dec. 8 at Arlington’s new Esports Stadium, the CRL National Championship will pit the top four collegiate teams from across North America to compete for their share of a $25,000 scholarship prize pool.
 
The BIG EAST Conference announced plans to launch its inaugural BIG EAST Esports season on Sunday in partnership with ESL. Initially, participating colleges will compete in Psyonix’ Rocket League this fall 2018 with additional titles set to begin in spring 2019. Matches for the BIG EAST Esports season will be conducted online on ESL Play, with the top four teams from each game moving on to compete in the semi-finals, and then finals, to be streamed on Twitch.TV/ESL_rocketleague and the BIG EAST YouTube Channel.  Schedules and results for all upcoming competitions will be available on www.BIGEASTgaming.com, as well as the esports section of www.bigeast.com.
 
Super League Gaming unveiled official dates and new offerings for their 2018 Fall Season. Anchored by Super League’s City Champs Tournaments, experiences will include League of Legends, Minecraft and Clash Royale for players across the country who can participate in new monthly online competitions, while players in City Club markets will battle for supremacy of City Champs. SuperLeagueTV will showcase all of the best gameplay, as well as a slate of original content series dedicated to celebrating the Super League community. The expanded set of offerings further solidifies Super League as the defining brand in the amateur esports space. Registration is available now at www.superleague.com/signup/.
 
Tencent Games mobile hit Arena of Valor announced that this year’s International Championship will offer $600,000 in prizes, with sixteen teams competing from around the world and taking place in Thailand from Dec. 15-16. The top four teams from regionals will automatically progress to Thailand while the remaining 12 slots will be filled through qualifiers.
 
 
INSIGHTS

The launch of a AAA battle royale poses a serious threat to publishers like Bluehole Studios, and Epic Games. This week, Stream Hatchet takes a look at the impact of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on the Twitch ecosystem. Here are our insights:
  • Black Ops 4 leads by the narrowest margin: Although Black Ops generated more hours watched, the Fortnite peak ccv was nearly 50% higher than Black Ops, due to the popularity of the Fall Skirmish tournament.
  • The ‘Ninja Effect” is losing traction: On Tuesday October 16th, Fortnite reached a peak ccv of 261K, only 30% of the CCV came from Ninja’s audience. The streamer was rivaled by Tfue, who generated 29% of the peak audience.
  • PUBG is becoming more international: PUBG is reaching its peaks when streaming hours are more conducive to an international audience. 80% of the top 10 streamers broadcast in a language other than english.
For further analysis of the future of Black Ops, Fortnite and PUBG, visit our blog at:blog.streamhatchet.com.
 
 
ACTIVATION

Hershey’s announced plans to partner with top streamers Ninja and DrLupo at TwitchCon 2018. The deal marks the brand’s first foray in the gaming world as the two personalities teamed with Hershey’s to promote the launch of the new Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces candy by live streaming together yesterday on their own respective Twitch streams. Fans will also be able to visit both personalities at the Hershey’s booth on Oct. 27 from 10-11a where samples of the new candy will be distributed.
 
League of Legends player Jian “Uzi” Zihao became the first esports personality to be sponsored by Nike, courtesy of a new endorsement deal. Uzi appears with Chinese actor Bai Jingting and basketballer LeBron James in the “Dribble &” campaign promoting James’ Shut Up and Dribble series. 
 
ESL is renewing vows with Mercedes-Benz, adding another two years to their fruitful partnership. The new deal makes the auto brand ESL’s global mobility partner and supports a variety of National and Global ESL tournaments through Dec. 31st, 2020. The deal also includes the continuation of the Most Valuable Player award which has been presented to the tournament’s best player at past ESL One Dota 2 tournaments. The winner of the fan and expert voting will go home with a customized trophy, as well as a brand new Mercedes-Benz car.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
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Join Cynopsis and your peers for the ultimate gathering of the industry’s innovators pushing boundaries in digital media. The awards breakfast will include a celebration of The 2018 Cynopsis Model D Awards Finalists, and a salute to inductees on the Cynopsis Digital “It List.” Register before October 30th to save $100 on your ticket!
 
 

TEAMS

Nadeshot and 100 Thieves wrapped its Series A funding round, led by Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling recording artist Drake and SB Projects founder Scooter Braun. The two will now join founder Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag and Dan Gilbert, Chairman of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as 100 Thieves co-owners. Other new participants in the round include Sequoia Capital, WndrCo, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Tao Capital, Green Bay Ventures, and Advancit Capital.As co-owners, Drake and Braun will act as strategic advisors for 100 Thieves. Braun has also joined the 100 Thieves Board of Directors. 100 Thieves has already collaborated with Drake on the custom gaming stations that travel with his current Scorpion tour, and apparel collaborations are underway as well.
 
Forbes unveiled its ranking of esports most valuable esports companies, led by Cloud9, which tops the list with a valuation of $310 million. The list, according to the article, was created after “talking to company owners, bankers, and industry experts,” noting that numbers were “applied during each company’s most recent capital raise, comparable esports transactions, and their prospects.” Here are the rankings:
  1. Cloud9 — $310 million
  2. Team SoloMid — $250 million
  3. Team Liquid — $200 million
  4. Echo Fox — $150 million
  5. OpTic Gaming — $130 million
  6. Fnatic — $120 million
  7. G Gaming — $110 million
  8. G2 Esports — $105 million
  9. Immortals — $100 million
  10. Envy Gaming — $95 million
  11. 100 Thieves — $90 million
  12. Counter Logic Gaming — $50 million
 The brand new O verwatch League franchise based in Atlanta has a name, and will be called the Atlanta Reign. Atlanta Esports Ventures also announced brand details that include the team logo and colors ahead of the 2019. The Atlanta Reign official colors are light gray, red, and charcoal gray. The team logo features a red phoenix rising within a royal crest, referencing Atlanta’s city seal and making a nod to new beginnings. According to the announcement, the iconic phoenix “is crowned to complement the regal theme of the team’s name” while the “bold red typeface accompanies the emblem to offer a powerful announcement of the team’s brand.”
 
In addition, Wednesday night saw Overwatch League’s new Toronto franchise debut its moniker and colors, and will now be known as the Toronto Defiant.
 
NHL player Zach Hyman announced plans to launch new esports team E11 Gaming. The squad will be based in Toronto, with Oliver Silverstein serving as the COO. NHL.com writes that E11 Gaming has now signed three players, Garvin “BlooTea” Chen, Jake “Vicaros” Lyonns, and Chris “TheGeneral” Lee.
 
 
FanAI SNAPSHOT

Following last week’s investigation into the regional audiences of the Rocket League Championship Series, FanAI take a deeper look at the RLCS audience. Specifically, they addressed an area that has been difficult to find supporting data for; how loyal is the audience week to week for a given esport? To do this FanAI separated the RLCS audience into groups based on the week they first viewed the Twitch stream. Then the groups for each week were tracked to determine the percentage that continued to view in subsequent weeks. Through this analysis FanAI was able to show that 75% of the unique viewers for the RLCS Regional Finals were returning viewers who had watched at least 1 week of regular season play. While similar data is not yet available to see the retention rates of other leagues, at least for Rocket League publisher Psyonix, this data shows that it is likely their incentivized viewership structure helped drive viewers to return week to week. For brands and marketers, returning fans are extremely valuable for repeated exposure of sponsor messaging. Additionally, FanAI speculates that such loyal viewers would be more likely to support the game, league, and teams via product purchases.
 
 
PLATFORMS

 
Blizzard also announced plans to debut a new tool for Overwatch esports, called the Overwatch World Cup Viewer. Being beta tested ahead of BlizzCon for the Overwatch World Cup, viewers will be able to select their POV by switching between first- and third-person perspectives for all players. Free camera modes and top-down viewpoints will also be available for audiences
 
A week before BlizzCon, Blizzard announced platform plans and incentives for fans watching the festivities. On Twitch, Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft II fans will have the chance to earn in-game loot simply by watching their championship esports tournaments on Twitch. Fans who watch Heroes of the Storm or StarCraft II for a total of four hours during BlizzCon Opening Week and/or BlizzCon will receive one Rare Loot Chest in Heroes of the Storm and the Alarak Portrait in StarCraft II. Fans who watch eight hours of the HGC Finals at BlizzCon Opening Week and/or BlizzCon also will receive a Cheery Vikings Portrait in Heroes of the Storm while 12 hours will deliver a Cheery Vikings Spray. Fans who watch eight hours of the WCS Global Finals pick up a James “Sirius” Sykes Portrait in StarCraft II, while tuning in for 12 hours will add the 2018 WCS Finals Emoji Pack, as well as the Heaven’s Devils Spray.
 
Meanwhile, Blizzard and Facebook Gaming are teaming up to offer a special series of In-Stream Rewards, giving members of our community a chance to earn a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket and discounts on this year’s event gear by watching select Gaming Creator channels and our Opening Ceremonies livestream. To be eligible for these BlizzCon In-Stream Rewards, you’ll need to be logged into your Facebook account and watch each broadcast for at least 10 minutes.
 
Cinedigm announced plans to launch esports digital-first linear channel, WHAM, on the streaming television service Pluto TV. “Pluto TV’s dynamic platform is the perfect complement to Cinedigm’s mission to redefine the traditional viewing experience,” said Erick Opeka, Cinedigm’s President of Digital Networks. “We’re excited to bring WHAM’s premium content to Pluto TV’s rapidly growing audience, giving viewers access to an eclectic library of specially curated content that they simply cannot find anywhere else.”
 
To celebrate the Fortnite Fall Skirmish Finals, Super League Gaming is hosting “Play and Watch” parties on big screens at select movie theaters across the country. Sunday will see attendees receive a special digital spray redeemable in Fortnite and entry into a grand raffle for Fortnite merchandise. Fans also may participate in mobile matches while in the theater, with Victory Royales and other achievements earning additional raffle entries.
 
 
INDUSTRY

Registration for the 2019 D.I.C.E. Summit is now open. The annual event returns to Las Vegas from Feb. 11-13 in a new venue, the Aria Resort & Casino. Additionally, submissions are now open to the video game industry to submit the best games from 2018 to be celebrated next year at the annual D.I.C.E. Awards, which takes place on the evening of Feb. 13 with the afterparty to follow at Jewel Nightclub.  This year’s D.I.C.E. theme will explore the idea, Trailblazers.  At D.I.C.E., game makers will share insights into the groundbreaking principals and tools that drive and empower them, their teams, and the community at large to create better worlds in which to play and a better world in which to live.
 
Live-betting esports platform Unikrn got approval for its wagering license by the Isle of Man, opening the doors for users to legally gamble on competitive video games. Unikrn rolled out to 20 countries a slate of online offerings, and will soon bring esports wagering to most of Europe, South Korea and other Asian countries, as well as parts of Latin America. Certain types of esports betting will also be available in the US, according to the AP. With the Isle of Man approval, Unikrn will enable users to bet on top esports teams and tournaments, as well as activating skill-based betting allowing gamers to bet on their own success in top titles including Fortnite, Dota 2 and League of Legends.
 
After being caught and later admitting to cheating during a match at the eXTREMESLAND 2018 Asia Finals, former OpTic India player Nikhil “Forsaken” Kumawat has been handed a five year ban from the Esports Intregrity Coalition. The CS:GO player won’t be able to compete in any esports-related activity “for or with any ESIC member organisation” during the span.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Activision Blizzard announced the addition of veteran NFL executive Johanna Faries to the company’s Esports Leagues leadership team, where she will serve as Head of Product for the Call of Duty World League. Faries brings over a decade of experience from the NFL with an emphasis on business and fan development. In her new role, Faries will oversee strategic leadership, business operations and product development for the Call of Duty World League.
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
SUBMIT BY 11/14
The Cynopsis TV Awards salute excellence in national TV programming, from writing and directing to casting and hosting. In addition, we recognize outstanding achievement across teams, platforms, and overall merit. In short, winning a Cynopsis TV Award is acknowledgement that your work has risen to the top in entertaining and enriching a broad audience. Winners will be announced at the highly-anticipated awards gala, this February in NYC.
 

ON THIS DAY in 2000: Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the Nintendo 64.
 
Trivia: What is the all-time best-selling game console? (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: Tech titan Steve Wozniak is credited with building this classic Atari game (pictured above). What is the name of that game? Answer: Breakout. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Brian Traynor-Endeavor/NY; Ken Gerlinger-Peach Belt Conference/Augusta; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica

For more news and coverage, check out: http://cynopsisesports.com (updated daily).

Later — Chris

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Work with Gameplay, Cinematic, and Enterprise teams to help define, understand, and support video playback needs.
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