12/13/18: Overwatch League locked in initial home dates for its teams

CynopsisESPORTS
It’s Thursday December 13, 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.


 
The Overwatch League’s dip into home games is officially on the docket, with the league announcing that three teams will host home games during the 2019 season: Atlanta Reign, Dallas Fuel, and Los Angeles Valiant. The league unveiled its full 2019 season schedule. The move will kick off the weekend in North Texas as the Fuel host the Valiant on April 27, followed by the Outlaws the next day with feature competition among eight of the 20 Overwatch League teams, with four matches played each day. The weekend will conclude with the sole regular-season meeting between the Dallas Fuel and their in-state rivals the Houston Outlaws on Sunday, April 28. Overall, eight teams will compete in the venue that weekend. Similarly, Atlanta’s matches will be run July 6-7 while the Valiant will play from The Novo by Microsoft at L.A. Live from Aug. 24-25. 
 
In addition, the Overwatch League bumped up its prize pool for the 2019 season, from $3.5 million to $5 million with the Grand Champion landing $1.1 million. Meanwhile, the 2019 season will also have a revamped playoff structure and end-of-season format. For the 2019 season, the league’s top six teams will automatically qualify for the postseason, with the Atlantic and Pacific Division winners receiving top seeds. Two final playoff spots will be decided via a play-in tournament in August. The tournament will feature teams that finished seventh through twelfth in the overall standings, with the top two teams from this tournament advancing to the postseason. This play-in tournament will replace the Stage Finals at the end of the league’s fourth and final stage.
 
The Overwatch League’s 2019 season kicks off on Feb. 14 out of Blizzard Arena. The full schedule can be found at overwatchleague.com.
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES

 
 
Updating some recent esports tournament viewership numbers, Esports Charts reports that the League of Legends All-Star Las Vegas 2018 event handed Riot with 274,446,417 total hours watched, including Chinese numbers, with an average of 13.5 million viewers worldwide. Without the China numbers, the tournament delivered 6.4 million hours with an average of 316,169 viewers. Meanwhile, the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals saw just over 3 million hours watched among all viewers, with an average of 60,881, according to the site.
 
Riot Games is reporting a record-setting 99.6 million unique viewers for the Worlds 2018 – Finals to rank as the largest viewership number for any esports event in history, and topping last year’s benchmark of 80 million unique viewers tuning in to watch who would win the Summoner’s Cup. This year’s event peaked with 44 million concurrent viewers, according to the company, with an average minute audience of 19.6 million. Meanwhile, Riot is also boasting that millions of fans worldwide also watched the World Championship Opening Ceremony presented by Mastercard which debuted kDA, a music group created by Riot Games, and their song “POP/STARS,” performed on-stage by Madison Beer, (G)-IDLE, & Jaira Burns. The music video reached #1 on the Billboard music charts, #1 on Google Play Top Songs, #1 on iTunes K-Pop chart, and #2 on iTunes all Pop. The song has accumulated more than 242.8 million video and music streams.
 
DreamHack is tackling 2019 with a revised slate of events that will include visits to ten cities in Europe and North America, along with a new stop in South America. In 2019, DreamHack will host three-day, non-stop festivals in 10 major cities, including debuts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Dallas, TX, USA. Additional locations include Leipzig, Germany; Tours, France; Valencia and Sevilla, Spain; Montreal, Canada; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; and DreamHack Summer and Winter in Jönköping, Sweden. The action begins from Feb. 15-17 with DreamHack Leipzig, Germany, followed by DreamHack Rio from April 19-21. North America stops will include DreamHack Dallas from May 31-June 2, DreamHack Montreal from Sept. 6-8, and DreamHack Atlanta from Nov. 15-17.
 
Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast revealed a new esports competition for 2019 based on Magic: The Gathering. Play will dangle a prize pool of $10 million. The Magic Pro League will feature 32 of the top ranked Magic players from around the world with all competitors offered play and streaming contracts worth $75,000. The program kicks off with a $1 Million Mythic Invitational at PAX East 2019 in Boston.
 
NASCAR, Race Team Alliance and 704Games are combining their superpower to form the first-ever NASCAR esports league on consoles, titled eNASCAR Heat Pro League. The league will feature up to 16 race teams and 32 drivers, with each owned and operated by key NASCAR race teams. Fans can now play NASCAR Heat 3 to qualify for the first-ever eNASCAR Heat Pro League Draft, scheduled to take place early next year. Following the Draft, the esports league will feature a 16-race season beginning in spring 2019 and culminating during the 2019 NASCAR Playoffs. All eNASCAR Heat Pro League races will be live streamed online at NASCAR.com and Motorsport.com. Teams participating in the new esports venture include: Chip Ganassi Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske. Each of the participating teams will field two drivers, one competing on Xbox One and the other on PlayStation4.
 
Red Bull Summoning will welcome DRAGON BALL FighterZ players and fans to battle it out and wrap up the official DRAGON BALL FighterZ 2018/2019 World Tour. The event will take place from Jan. 26-27 in LA, at The Majestic Downtown and will be livestreamed on Twitch. The BANDAI NAMCO title will have hopefuls battling it out at the Last Chance Qualifier on Jan. 26, before the face off at the World Finals on Jan. 27.
 
After taking venues by storm with its golf outlets, Topgolf is now honing in on esports, announcing a partnership with TCL to launch esports venues as well with the first TCL esports Lounge set to open at Topgolf Las Vegas in early January, timed with the  2019 Consumer Electronics Show from Jan. 8-11. The deal will see lounges added to six Topgolf venues that will offer daily esports play: Austin, Charlotte, Houston-Katy, Minneapolis, and Scottsdale.
 
Formula 1 announced that the 2018 F1 New Balance Esports Series drew a record audience of 1.2 million across selected TV networks in addition to 3.2 million people through a dedicated live stream. That organization also reports more than 100 million social media impressions and 20 million online video views of F1 Esports content that were accumulated over the course of the series with 70% of viewers who watched the final below 34 years old.
 
Intel Extreme Masters announced that the debut of IEM Chicago from Nov. 10-11 drew a near capacity crowd of 6,500 fans and viewership numbers nearly doubling that of its predecessor, IEM Oakland 2017. Via distribution channels both online and on linear TV, IEM Chicago generated over 38 million sessions streamed with online viewers consuming almost 11 million hours of content throughout the event, a 110% rise over last year with over 12 million unique viewers. Chicago will remain the home of the IEM North American event for the next two years.
 
 
INSIGHTS

 
Last week, Stream Hatchet explored the different game streaming metrics and how they showcase the engagement of the audience. We noticed a debate around how chat spam can influence the engagement of a channel, and decided to update last week’s graphic to add more context to the spamminess in Twitch chat engagement. Here are our insights:
  • Viewership does not influence engagement in Twitch chat: Although Tyler1’s audience was significantly smaller than the rest of our sample, his chatting audience was nearly 2 times larger than the other streamers in our sample. 
  • Chat Permissions do not significantly influence the ratio of messages to chatters: Shroud, who locks his chat to subscriber mode, has a chatting audience that sends roughly 10 messages per chatter, 4 more messages than Tyler1’s messages to chatter ratio.
  • Looking at LUL: LUL is often the most spammed emote in Twitch chat, we took a look at the top streamers and found that chat permissions do not significantly the use of this emote. The standard deviation of LUL spam in the streamers chat was only 1 message. 
For more insights, analysis, infographics and everything related to game streaming, visit us at: blog.streamhatchet.com.
 
 
ACTIVATION

 
Call of Duty World League detailed plans to make ASTRO Gaming “the official complete audio solution” for the 2019 Call of Duty World League season via the ASTRO TR Main Stage Audio System. “Strong sponsors not only amplify the exceptional experience for players, spectators and fans across Call of Duty World League community, but also help us welcome new fans from around the world,” said Brandon Snow, Senior Vice President, Chief Revenue Officer of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. “New sponsors MTN DEW AMP and ASUS alongside returning sponsors PlayStation 4, ASTRO, and SCUF Gaming all share our vision of continued growth in esports. We look forward to working with our entire roster of sponsors starting this week at CWL Las Vegas and beyond to deliver the most exciting CWL season yet.”
 
 
TEAMS

 
T-Wolves Gaming, the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA 2K League affiliate team, released plans for a new training center ahead of its first season in the NBA 2K League. The facility, which will be located on the second floor of Mayo Clinic Square in the space formerly known as the Experience Center and include the players’ practice and training space, as well as operations and team content. T-Wolves Gaming will join the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx inside of Mayo Clinic Square, creating a hub for all things Minnesota Basketball. 
 
The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting deeper into the esports game, announcing an initial investment into the Pittsburgh Knights. The Knights were founded by James O’Connor and Rob Lee in December 2017 with the goal of creating a premier esports team in the city, boasting a roster that includes PUBG players. Additionally, the Knights were named one of the 16 teams invited to the inaugural year of the PUBG Pro League.
 
Global esports organization Gen.G, announced the formation of a new dedicated ‘Streamer Team’ and a new sponsorship agreement with DESKER, Fursys Group’s furniture brand for designers and start-ups, who will sponsor the team for 2019. The Streamer Team features ex-Gen.G players, Yoonroot and Miro, who will focus on broadcasting engaging livestream gaming content to fans around the world.
 
The University of Missouri signed on as a member of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, and will add a university-sponsored esports program in Fall 2019. The school will be the first from the Southeastern Conference school to adopt esports and join the organization.
 
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PLATFORMS

 
FanAI is teaming up with Hi-Rez Studios and esports league operator Skillshot Media to help the companies better understand their audiences. The collaboration will breakdown audience data of the 70 million players of Hi-Rez Studios’ games, including SMITE, Paladins and Realm Royale with FanAI’s AI driven analytics in addition to integrating anonymized player data into the FanAI platform, including games played and play time. Once integrated, FanAI will be able to show not only what the audience is playing, but also what they are watching and purchasing with Hi-Rez then moving on to support new esports activations and continue grassroots community involvement in events and competitions.
 
YouTube Gaming scored its biggest year ever in 2018, according to a feature in VentureBeat, which saw YouTube global head of gaming and VR, content and partnerships Ryan Wyatt discuss the platform’s growth. “We just had our biggest year yet,” Wyatt said. “We have 200 million logged-in users watching gaming content every day. We’ve been excited with some of the products we’re rolling up. We crossed a big milestone where we hit 50 billion hours of gaming watch time in the last 12 months. We’ve been happy with everything. We’re working on more new products now that we’re excited to roll out.”
 
 
FanAI SNAPSHOT

 
This week FanAI takes a first look at the two new partnerships that Mountain Dew announced just before last weekend’s CWL Vegas 2018. The drink brand has doubled down on esports by forming new partnerships with the Call of Duty World League and popular esports team OpTic Gaming. In addition to the two new sponsorships, the brand announced plans to release a drink specifically for gamers: MTN DEW AMP: Game Fuel. In order to judge the future impact of these new partnerships, it is important to establish a baseline to measure against. And in good news for the brand, Mountain Dew already had significant crossover with both the CWL and OpTic prior to any announcements. While OpTic had a clear lead with about 33% more followers in common with the PepsiCo brand, the CWL’s crossover of 4.8% shows a strong foundation between the brand and the league. How this gap changes as the partnerships develop will be a key factor in measuring the success of these sponsorships. FanAI will provide a glimpse as to the results to Cynopsis readers once the sponsorships have had time to mature.
 
 
INDUSTRY

 
The Game Awards scored another win for its 2018 broadcast, reporting that the event more than doubled its viewership over last year to top 26.2 million global livestreams, up 128% from 2017’s record-setting performance of 11.5 million livestreams. The event ranked as one of Twitch’s biggest livestreams to date with over 1.13 million concurrent viewers watching the program on Twitch at its peak, nearly doubling last year’s Twitch viewership. In total, peak concurrency for the show is estimated to have reached over 4 million global viewers, including more than double the number of concurrent viewers on YouTube compared to the 2017 broadcast. “Five years in, it’s amazing to see The Game Awards continue to grow both domestically and internationally,” said Geoff Keighley, creator/producer/host of The Game Awards. “These results further validate our focus on an all-digital, no-friction approach of sharing this show globally across more than 45 video platforms, not to mention the growing interest and passion for video games around the world.”
 
Epic is launching a slate of services designed to help developers implement cross-platform play into their games. The initiative launched with a SDK that covers Epic’s online services and can be integrated both Unreal Engine and Unity. 2019 will see Over Epic will roll out cross-platform log-in support, friends lists, management for free and paid items, cross-platform voice communications, parties, and matchmaking, cloud saves, achievements, and more.
 
The International Olympic Committee is pumping the brakes on incorporating esports into the competitive mix. IOC officials announced that a number of “uncertainties” remain over the introduction of competitive gaming into the slate, with certain titles not compatible with Olympic values. Related organizations are now recommended to “continue to engage with this community, whilst at the same time acknowledging that uncertainties remain.”
 
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE
Save the Date!
March 6, 2019 | SVA Theatre | New York City
 
Screen the winning videos chosen by our expert panel of jurors, and enjoy thought-provoking and idea-rich panel discussions with producers, directors, marketers, and more. Panels will address topics including: Finding the right platforms for premium short form video and what advertisers ant from short-form.
 

ON THIS DAY in 2004: EA lands the exclusive license for the NFL and its players/teams.
 
 
Trivia: What is the name of the game pictured above? (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: What is the name of the primary character in the God of War series of games? Answer: Kratos. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Julie Schell/NY; Gabrielle Fredrick-National Geographic/DC; Joey Olson/DC; Will James-Midan Marketing/Mooresville; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; Daniel Hanson/Vail; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
For more news and coverage, check out: http://cynopsisesports.com (updated daily).

Later — Chris

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OTHER JOBS OF INTEREST
 
Design and implement gameplay-oriented distributed backend architectures in C++/Python.
Server Engineer
Wargaming
Chicago IL
 
Collaborate with product and development teams to define and implement innovative solutions for product direction, visuals, and experience.
Designer
Curse
Huntsville AL
 
Managing the iterative improvement of the internal studio’s engine and tools by maintaining foundational continuity.
Senior Staff Graphics Programmer
Playstation
Bend OR
 
Will include a broad range of tasks such as creating environmental effects, destruction, character based effects such as combat/blood/mud as well as missions and cutscenes.
Senior Visual Effects (VFX Artist)
Sucker Punch Productions
Bellevue WA
 
Work with the Art Director to ensure visual quality and continuity across the game..
Lead Lighting Artist
Sucker Punch Productions
Bellevue WA
 
Have experience contributing to a wide variety of gameplay systems, such as player controls, game rules, scripting, weapons, and AI.
Gameplay Programmer
Ready at Dawn Studios
Irvine CA
 
Ability to create fun and exciting gameplay using a complex array of mechanics.
Senior Level Designer
Ready at Dawn Studios
Irvine CA
 
Make products consumed by other programmers – design, architect, and own features, from inception into production, that you yourself would love to use.
Senior Software Engineer (C++), Shared Game Engineer
Blizzard
Irvine CA
 
Partner with our technical director to contribute to the technical direction for the gameplay team across all platforms.
Lead Software Engineer, Gameplay
Blizzard
Irvine CA
 
Work with the content team to meet project requirements within performance and memory budgets.
Senior Audio Software Engineer
High Moon Studios
Carlsbad CA
 
Create visually appealing, realistic 3D models of natural and architectural environments based on concept art and photo reference.
Senior Environment Artist
High Moon Studios
Carlsbad CA
 
Plan and model simplified geometry environmental layouts, place game objects, and script level progression.
Level/Environment Designer
Naughty Dog
Santa Monica CA
 
Create models and assemble scenes for both architectural and organic environments.
Environment Artist
Naughty Dog
Santa Monica CA
 
Work with design teams to create solutions that are compelling, easy to use and realistic to implement.
Senior Product Manager, Social Experiment
Playstation
San Francisco CA
 
Design, build, and maintain performant, responsive, and delightful experiences.
Frontend Engineer
Curse
San Francisco CA
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