Mastercard opened the books to its first activation of the League of Legends World Championship, which will be anchored by The Mastercard Nexus, a League of Legends-themed experiential pop-up in the Gangnam Gu neighborhood of Seoul. Meanwhile, the 2018 World Championship Finals will kick off in Incheon with the “Finals Opening Ceremony presented by Mastercard,” which will include a performance of the 2018 Worlds anthem ‘RISE’ featuring The Glitch Mob, Mako, The Word Alive, and Bobby of iKON. There will also be a special performance debut of a new Riot produced song featuring Madison Beer, Miyeon and Soyeon of (G)I-DLE, and Jaira Burns. The Mastercard Nexus run from Nov. 1-3 and include experiences such as: “Become a Champion” through social, shareable Augmented Reality experience; the ability to play on high-performance gaming PCs and experience Riot Game’s Snowdown Showdown 1v1 game mode.
League of Legends World Championships finalist Fnatic will open a bar in Seoul to celebrate the Worlds finals this weekend. The Fnatic Bar will be run from Nov. 2-3 and will celebrate Fnatic’s clash against Invictus Gaming in the LoL Worlds final. The bar will offer fans the opportunity to compete against each other 1v1 in League of Legends, enjoy retro games and be part of a huge pre-finals party, taking place in addition to getting access to a fully stocked store packed with Fnatic GEAR and Apparel.
Gaming headset and audio accessory brand Turtle Beach is expanding its partnership with DreamHack ahead of the event’s Atlanta stop in mid-November. The festival becomes the third DreamHack event this year that Turtle Beach has sponsored and provided all gaming headsets for the Free to Play PC area, as well as the second consecutive event integrating the Elite Atlas Pro Performance PC Gaming Headset. This expanded partnership allows for the model to be used on-site in competitions that tap into the collegiate market, through the American Video Game League’s Community League of Legends and Fortnite tournaments.
Blizzard Entertainment released major details about BlizzCon 2018, running Nov. 2-3. Livestreams are available via BlizzCon.com and the BlizzCon mobile app for Android and iOS. For the first time, viewers can watch livestreams using the BlizzCon TV app and the Blizzard Battle.net desktop app. Closing out the festivities this year will be American rock band Train, violinist and performance artist Lindsey Stirling, and DJ and actor Kristian Nairn. All three concerts will be streamed live in HD to online viewers via the Virtual Ticket. Community Night also returns with the Costume Contest, Talent Contest, Movie Contest, and Art Contest. Featuring popular VO actors Darin De Paul as host and Matthew Mercer joining the judge’s panel, Blizzard’s biggest annual community stage show starts at 7p on Friday. BlizzCon 2018 sponsors this year include Cisco, Intel, and Samsung SSD, along with sponsors that include CORSAIR, Facebook, Nintendo Switch, NVIDIA, NZXT, Republic of Gamers and T-Mobile.
Blizzard also launched a new Blizzard Esports app, offering content, scores, schedules, and more for Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch (not including Overwatch League), StarCraft, StarCraft II, and World of Warcraft. The new platform means – for the first time ever – that esports content from all of Blizzard’s games will be housed in one location, on both Android and iOS devices.
TwitchCon saw Twitch announce the expansion of their esports program, Twitch Rivals. The initiative has played host to 55 gaming events featuring Partners, Affiliates, and their friends, so far, awarding over $5 million in prizing. Streamers who participated in a Twitch Rivals event saw an average of 20% more viewers and 90% more ad revenue on event days and 10% more revenue from subs nearly a month later. In 2019, Twitch Rivals will more than double in size to 128 events, with the program expanding to cover more games and genres, such as MOBAs and even single-player RPGs, with millions of dollars in prizes.
Amazon launched its newest feature for the Amazon GameOn brand in the GameOn Tournament Organizer. The Twitch extension allows creators to generate tournaments inside the Twitch experience with a click of a mouse and invite their players to join directly from within the game. The GameOn Tournament Organizer is already used by Darwin Project from Scavenger Studios, Paladins Strike from Hi-Rez, Overload from Revival Productions, Tactical Monsters Rumble Arena from Camex Games, and SCP: Secret Laboratory from Hubert. And, SCUM from Devolver Digital will come soon.
PlayVS, the startup bringing the infrastructure for esports leagues to high schools across the country, announced a deal with Champion athletic apparel as the primary jersey provider for the 2018-2019 school year. Jerseys are available for order on the Champion website in time for PlayVS’ Season Zero, the early-access season open to high schools in Connecticut, Kentucky, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island starting this October.
Mobile esports company Skillz saw the US Patent and Trademark Office issue the company two new patents, giving the org exclusive rights to a total of 13 esports-related patents. The first covers the management of video data in streams, improving the process of storing and reading video metadata, allowing the platform to automatically generate video clips and highlights. The second patent builds upon the company’s core software by enabling team-based competitions for future titles.
Amid a week of high-profile investments that included Michael Jordan and Drake, Fortnite creator Epic Games announced its own round an investment of approximately $1.25 billion from companies that include KKR, ICONIQ Capital, Smash Ventures, aXiomatic, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. This investment “creates powerful partnerships with highly strategic investment firms and individuals at the forefront of technology, entertainment, professional sports, esports, and live events.” New investors join Tencent, Disney and Endeavor as minority shareholders in Epic.
Esports ownership group aXiomatic locked in Michael Jordan and Declaration Capital as new investors into the company. Declaration Capital, the family office of David M. Rubenstein, focuses on venture, growth and family-owned investments. Rubenstein is the co-founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group. Meanwhile, the deal marks Jordan’s first step into the digital sports realm with an esports investment. Curtis Polk, the Managing Partner and Alternate Governor of Hornets Sports & Entertainment, and manager of the financial and business affairs of Michael Jordan and his related companies is also joining as an investor.
Red Dead Redemption 2 handed Take-Two with another huge launch, reeling in $725 million in its first three days on the market. That marks the second biggest opening for a product in entertainment history, bested only by Grand Theft Auto V.
Electronic Arts is looking for game developers to participate in a new “cloud-native gaming future” titled Project Atlas. In a Medium post from CTO Ken Moss, the company unveiled the initiative, remaining vague about the details but noting that, “At EA, we envision a future in which games go even further beyond the immersive experiences players enjoy today. I’m talking about games that offer living, breathing worlds that constantly evolve. You’ll play them one day, and when you come back the next, things have changed based on inputs from other players, AI, and even the real world. These new experiences will lead to deep, meaningful social interactions. The games you play, the characters you create, and the experiences you have together will create shared ground for friendships that span the globe.”
The Trade Group partnered with Emerson College to create an esports mentorship program designed to offer students real-life opportunities to gain experience at esports and gaming events in their chosen field. Experience will include key esports and gaming events like E3, Pokemon World Championships, PAX West, and OP Live Dallas.
Tubular Labs released a new report via its Insights blog detailing “How Fortnite Changed the YouTube Game.” The report states that the game has seen over 50 billion views on the platform since launch a year ago, with influencers driving 49B of the 50B views. In fact, the game “single-handedly lifted “gaming brands” social video views up 30%,” according to the study. Among sponsors for the videos were Blue Apron, Dollar Shave Club, Casper, and 1-800-Flowers with Dollar Shave Club conducting nine video integrations, garnering 9.8mm views. The full report can be found at https://tubularlabs.com/research-guides/fortnite-changed-youtube-game/.
Immortals announced the hiring of Brian Millman as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. Millman will oversee partnership sales and activation for Immortals, and brings significant expertise in developing and fulfilling creative, solutions-based partnerships for premier brands. Prior to joining Immortals, Millman served as a Director at Mindshare Spotlight, the sports, and entertainment consultancy division of Mindshare, within GroupM, the world’s largest media agency.
Dignitas named former Women’s World Champion Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player Heather Garozzo and esports executive Maurice Eisenmann as Vice President of Marketing and Vice President of Business Development, respectively.