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:
- Cloud9 — $310 million
- Team SoloMid — $250 million
- Team Liquid — $200 million
- Echo Fox — $150 million
- OpTic Gaming — $130 million
- Fnatic — $120 million
- G Gaming — $110 million
- G2 Esports — $105 million
- Immortals — $100 million
- Envy Gaming — $95 million
- 100 Thieves — $90 million
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.