With BlizzCon around the corner, Overwatch League teams are moving quickly with brand announcements. The latest is the Boston franchise, owned by Robert and Jonathan Kraft, which will be known as the Boston Uprising. The team name was selected to “represent the resilience of the region’s revolutionary forefathers, whose indomitable legacy laid the foundation for the great city of Boston.” The Boston Uprising colors will be blue, yellow and black, with the blue and yellow tones representing the colors of Boston’s official flag. The team logo is a protective shield encompassing an emboldened letter B, which has become synonymous with the city. “We are excited to unveil our team name, logo and colors for our newest sports property,” said Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group. “Esports already has a large global audience, with Overwatch being among the most popular games with more than 35 million players worldwide. We look forward to introducing sports fans in Boston to the new Overwatch League with a local team they can support.”
Meanwhile, one of the teams representing Los Angeles in the upcoming Overwatch League also locked in its moniker, with the team – owned by the Immortals – becoming known as the Los Angeles Valiant. The logo sports a gold-winged helmet representing “both aggressiveness and protectiveness, values which resonate for Overwatch players working together in-game and Valiant parent organization Immortals as it starts a new adventure in the league.”
Cloud9 raised $25 million in Series A financing from some familiar faces, announcing new investment from companies that include the WWE, Monumental Sports & Entertainment co-owner Raul Fernandez, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, venture capital firm Founders Fund and a joint investment from tech investors David Sacks and Bill Lee. “We just looked around the space, looked at all the players and did our own evaluation of who we thought would be successful in the long term,” WWE chief strategy and financial officer George Barrios told ESPN.
Meanwhile, the League of Legends NA LCS appears of have its ten teams locked in. With three slots still unknown in last week’s issue, multiple reports revealed that the final franchises would be owned by the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers along with endemic team FlyQuest. The teams would now join franchises owned by the Warriors’ Joe Lacob, Cloud9, CLG, Team Liquid, Echo Fox, Team SoloMid and OpTic Gaming with franchises in the league.
The New York Yankees made a big move into esports, announcing an investment partnership with Vision Esports. The two organizations will create and manage an “ecosystem” of esports properties under the Vision umbrella that include Echo Fox, Twin Galaxies, and Vision Entertainment. The New York Yankees and Vision Esports will seek to accelerate the growth and increase the global brand awareness of the three companies. “The New York Yankees are thrilled to partner with Vision Esports and its diverse portfolio of esports companies,” said Hal Steinbrenner, Managing General Partner and Co-Chairperson, New York Yankees. “Guided by an impressively skilled and sports-savvy leadership team, Vision Esports is transcending the industry with a bold, innovative approach to their business, and we are excited to enter into this dynamic arena as their partner.”
Twitch is opening the doors to new features, revealing plans at TwitchCon for upcoming offerings. Developments include: a stream summary; premieres; easier raids; rooms and rituals, which makes it easier for a streamer to celebrate special moments that bring their community together. Say a viewer is checking out a new channel for the first time. In addition, Twitch is opening the doors for achievements – built to give streamers a fun roadmap to achieving greater success on Twitch – as well as subscription gifting.
France’s AB Group locked in an exclusive deal with Activision Blizzard to lay claim to TV rights for French-speaking Europe to the likes of Call of Duty, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. The deal will also enable AB Group to launch its own eSports channel with Activision Blizzard content at a later date, according to Digital TV Europe. The company will initially create two three-hour programming blocks on one of its channels, beginning in December, that will be dedicated to esports tournaments based on Activision Blizzard franchises.
QYOU Media is launching a new daily series featuring curated esports content and titled Heads Up Daily. The program lined up Super Channel’s GINX Esports TV Canada as a licensing partner. “As the home of the best esports entertainment in Canada, we are excited to be the first partner to carry QYOU’s Heads Up Daily format,” said Super Channel President/CEO, Don McDonald. “Esports has seen huge momentum in the last couple of years, now reaching mass audiences the world over, and Canada is a leading market for monetizing this new entertainment medium.”
Street Fighter is taking on Red Bull, with Capcom lining up plans to celebrate the game’s 30th Anniversary with the Capcom Pro Tour North American Finals at Red Bull Battle Grounds in Boston from Nov. 18-19. Plans will include the Street Fighter II Bonus Stage Virtual Reality experience during both days of the competition, allowing attendees to dive into the virtual streets of Street Fighter II and the ability to destroy a car using fists. Meanwhile, local Boston artist Merk Those will be creating a 5-piece mural showcasing the creative evolution of the characters since their first introduction in 1987. The piece will be unveiled during the weekend kickoff event at the newly opened Balance Patch gaming cafe.
After signing on to sponsor Team Dignitas, Buffalo Wild Wings is extending its plans in the gaming sector, announcing a partnership with Activision ahead of the release of Call of Duty: WWII on Nov. 3. Running through Nov. 30, Buffalo Wild Wings’ Blazin’ Rewards members can obtain and redeem codes for double Multiplayer experience points. “We’re excited to give our Blazin’ Rewards loyalty members a virtual boost as they play Call of Duty: WWII this November,” said Bob Ruhland, VP of Marketing for Buffalo Wild Wings. “Our international partnership with Activision reinforces our commitment to rewarding our loyal and passionate Fans with more opportunities to enhance their everyday experiences.” Check out our interview below for more about the brand’s esports ventures…
Gaming supplier HyperX locked in its first NBA team sponsorship and will become the official headset partner of the Philadelphia 76ers in addition to the team’s esports franchise Team Dignitas. During the 2017-2018 NBA season, HyperX will participate with the 76ers in a range of in-game activation elements, including courtside and in-arena LED ring signage and branding, exposure on scoreboard, concourse activations and HyperX giveaway nights. Both the 76ers and Team Dignitas will work with HyperX to create co-branded video content, including crossover team activities and featured video vignettes, along with banner advertisements on the Philadelphia 76ers and Team Dignitas websites.
Pringles is making a sponsorship play with ESL ahead of ESL One Hamburg. The deal sees the brand activate at the Barclaycard Arena, Hamburg where eight Dota teams will square off and see Pringles engage via an interactive area, among other activations.
SteelSeries announced its new sponsorship of Sander “Vo0” Kaasjager, who ranks as one most successful Painkiller players in the game’s history and one of the world’s elite Quake Champions duellers. SteelSeries and Kaasjager will work alongside each other on the professional esports circuit and as partners in innovative product design and development.
A new report from Superdata shows that digital games revenue grew 15% worldwide in September with p layers spending $8.3 billion across console, mobile and PC in September, up from $7.2 billion in the same month in 2016. Numbers saw PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds enter the top four on PC, with League of Legends at the top, followed by Fantasy Westward Journey Online II and Dungeon Fighter Online. On the console chart, Destiny 2 led the way, with FIFA 18, NBA 2k18, Grand Theft Auto V and FIFA 17 rounding out the top five.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Psyonix, locked in a worldwide retail distribution agreement for Rocket League. “Rocket League has such wide appeal across all audiences, it’s no wonder the game is such a huge success,” said Kevin Kebodeaux, Senior Vice President, Sales, Americas, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. “We’re very excited to be working with Psyonix to bring the game to retailers across the globe.”
Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal is investing in The Esports Observer, announcing a strategic partnership. The strategic partnership encompasses an investment by ACBJ into The Esports Observer, as well as editorial, commercial and events collaboration.
It is the end of the line for the Kinect. Microsoft confirmed in an interview with Co.Design that the Xbox product had been discontinued. The Kinect launched for the Xbox 360 in 2010, reportedly selling around 35 million units in that span.
POWER PLAYERS – Bob Ruhland of Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings continues to blaze trails in the esports and gaming industries, serving as one of the first partners for ELEAGUE and recently adding partnerships with Team Dignitas and Activision in recent weeks. As an early non-endemic brand entrenching itself into the space with consumers, Cynopsis asked Bob Ruhland , VP of Marketing at Buffalo Wild Wings, about the lessons the company has learned along the way.
Ruland on lessons learned: Our sponsorship of ELEAGUE was our first entry into esports and it taught us a lot. Fans’ passion is something that really stood out, from their constant digital engagement with games to the lengths they were willing to go to watch their favorite teams and tournaments in person. We also learned there was big appetite in the industry to have a physical location where gamers could come together to enjoy streams and meet with other fans.
On challenges: When we first entered the gaming space it was new territory for us and required education across our network of restaurants to ensure we were providing a positive experience for gamers when they came in to watch live streams. Since then, we have been listening to the gaming community to improve our activations and in-restaurant experience as well as continuing to educate our staff about the world of esports – all in an effort to provide an experience that sports fans have come to expect from Buffalo Wild Wings.
On the deal with Dignitas: A partnership with an esports team came from the continued desire to connect with the rapidly growing esports community through new and exciting experiences. After initial research, it was clear that Team Dignitas would be the perfect partner. Not only are we both internationally recognized brands but we both support and encourage fans’ passion for competition and have a desire to provide them with the best viewing experience.
On the CoD promotion: We have worked with various gaming companies for a few years now, conducting special promotions for highly-anticipated releases. Last year, for example, we offered our fans the opportunity to redeem exclusive content and game modes for Titanfall 2. The opportunity with Activision came about through continued partnership discussion with multiple publishers and was attractive to us as the game and Activision have a strong following and track record year over year. Our new Call of Duty: WWII promotion allows Blazin’ Rewards loyalty program members to redeem points for 2XP during multiplayer modes, now through November 30.