01/21/21: The LEC renewed its deal with KitKat

 

Medias First Morning Read

 

Thursday January 21, 2021

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
With the LEC set to return for its 2021 season, Riot Games announced that KitKat renewed its partnership with the league for another year, and will serve as a Main Partner for the upcoming 2021 championship and will once again invite players to ‘have a break’ during LEC broadcast breaks, while KitKat branding will reappear in the Summoner’s Rift via in-game banners.

“After our successful partnership in 2020, we are stoked about the continuation in 2021 and everything that comes with a Main Partner level, enabling more and bigger opportunities to bring fun, entertainment, and breaks into the community,” says Georg Fischer, Marketing Manager for KitKat in Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

“We’re so happy to be signing on again with KitKat as one of our main partners for 2021. We had such a fruitful time together in 2020, with KitKat helping us to deliver some top level content for our fans,” says Alban Dechelotte, Head of Sponsorships & New Business EU Esports at Riot Games.

The LEC returns on Friday and also announced that Logitech G will sponsor the European Championship for a third-straight year, serving as its peripherals partner.

COMPETITION
Fortnite is increasing the stakes in 2021, with Epic Games announcing that this year will offer a prize pool of $20 million to competitors. Qualifiers will launch on Feb. 4, with the finals beginning March 12. The company is mapping out four FNCS seasons in 2021. “We also have plans for mid and end of year competitions where we will bring together the top performing FNCS players in each region in multiple competitive formats,” the developer added in the announcement.

Fortnite also revealed its largest sports partnership to-date, teaming up with 23 soccer clubs around the world in addition to soccer star Pelé to offer Fortnite players items such as skins, emotes as well as a way to play soccer within the game’s world. Jan. 23 will see the game open with 10 different outfit variants that can be changed out to represent any of the participating clubs, including the likes of AC Milan, Manchester City, Melbourne City and Los Angeles FC. Clubs will also host their own Fortnite tournaments with custom jerseys and rewards. In addition, Epic Games announced that the Fortnite Championship Series will boast a prize pool of $20 million in 2021.

While we are upping the tally, the Call of Duty League will serve up $5 million in prize money for its 2021 season, dangling $2.5 million for the playoffs while a half million will be awarded for each of the five major tournaments that take place during the season. In addition, TEO reports that while Las Vegas, D.C., and Charlotte are among the markets being speculated as possible expansion destinations for CDL in the near future, locales in Europe and beyond will also be considered.

Riot Games announced that the 2021 VALORANT Champions Tour will launch in North America on Jan. 27, and tapped the services of Nerd Street Gamers to serve as the official tournament operator and producer for VCT Stage 1. The stage will run through March 21, and will provide a mix of open and closed qualifiers to ensure opportunities for both amateur and established orgs to qualify into the Masters. The first stage will consist of three Challenger Weekends, which function as closed qualifiers to determine who moves on to the concluding Masters event. A weekly open qualifier will determine which teams compete in the Challenger Weekend.

Overwatch League landed its 2021 season schedule as Jon Spector, VP of Overwatch esports, laid out the roadmap for season four with play starting in April. Teams will again be split into two regional divisions with eight teams based in South Korea and China in the East division while the West division will include 12 teams based in North America and Europe. Four “standalone tournaments” will populate the season in addition to regular-season matches with teams from both the East and West divisions will be able to compete in singular tournament brackets via a new minimum latency system. The full 2021 season schedule will be released at BlizzConline.

EA SPORTS and the NFL shared more details about the new virtual 2021 Pro Bowl Presented by Verizon experience. On Sunday, January 31, EA SPORTS and the NFL will host a special presentation of Pro Bowl: The Madden NFL 21 Edition Presented by Verizon on NFL social channels and simulcast on NFL Network at 5p. During the event, Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson and Arizona Cardinals’ Kyler Murray will lead two teams of fellow NFL stars and celebrities going head-to-head in the Madden NFL 21 video game with the official AFC and NFC all-star rosters.

Capcom officially canceled the Capcom Cup 2020 announcing that the annual event will be replaced with an online tournament featuring the top veteran players. “While we strongly believe that we could have executed a great event with limited risk to players, staff and crew, we have reevaluated as the situation has evolved and the state of this global pandemic has heightened,” the company said in the announcement.

Ubisoft offered up more details about the 2021 edition of the Six Invitational, the World Championship of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege with the tournament set to take place from Feb. 9-21 in Paris. The top teams from the Rainbow Six Esports global circuit will compete in a LAN environment, following strict sanitary measures, with no audience as the world’s best 20 teams compete.

Psyonix and ESPN’s X Games teamed up to celebrate the upcoming X Games in Aspen with new Rocket League items as well as a Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) X Regional event. Rocket League will feature X Games-inspired items in the Item Shop from January 21-24 and from January 28-31. The RLCS X Games: North American Regional will take place online on January 23-24 and January 30-31. This regional is both an official part of the RLCS X circuit and an official X Games Aspen event where the top North American teams will compete against each other, with the winning team earning RLCS X Games medals.

PGL announced plans to host the next CSGO Major from Oct. 23-Nov. 7 this year in Stockholm, the main event of the 16th CS:GO Major with teams competing for a $2 million prize pool, the biggest in the CS:GO history.

Ultimate Gamer announced the launch of Ultimate Gamer Worldwide Open, a free global competition to find “Best Gamer on Earth” which officially kicks off March 1. 200 of the best gamers from the Ultimate Gamer Worldwide Open will have to compete in at least six different games across five genres that could include League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege, Call Of Duty Warzone, Madden 21, Fortnite, NBA 2K21, VALORANT, Tekken, two yet to be announced titles, and one wildcard challenge. Each player’s ranking in each game will be added together and then divided by the total number of games to calculate the final score. All two hundred players will walk away with a portion of the prize pool, with the winner taking home $300,000 and the runner-up winning $150,000.

ACTIVATION
Fnatic locked in a multi-year partnership with snack brand Jack Link’s. The deal sees the Jack Link’s logo set to be featured across the right sleeve of all Fnatic team jerseys immediately, and then displayed on right sleeve of its retail jersey. Both orgs will team up for a slate of activations and content.

Twitch Rivals is teaming up with Samsung for a partnership this year that cements Samsung Galaxy as the exclusive mobile device partner of the tournament series. Through this partnership, Twitch Rivals and Samsung are launching a year-long program serving up regular, exclusive mobile gaming challenges and events, such as Twitch Rivals Mobile Challenges and Mobile Mondays presented by Samsung, along with the unveiling of the next generation of “mobile gaming heroes” later this year.

Grubhub signed on as the official food delivery partner of the LCS, in addition to presenting partner of the LCS Championships. In the announcement, Riot Game stated that LCS fans will begin to see co-branded inclusions and activations across different channels during its first-ever Lock In Tournament, which kicks off today. Starting with the Spring Split, Grubhub will help bring to life Delivering the Win, a broadcast segment highlighting game-changing moments from the week’s matchups. During each on-air piece, shoutcasters will “shout” a delivery discount code that will be available only through the following match. Once in the app, fans will have the chance to win exclusive prizes such as trips to future LCS events.

ESL Gaming and Mastercard renewed their partnership for the Northern League of Legends Championship. As part of the deal, Mastercard will continue as the Official Payment Partner of the NLC offering “Priceless Play of the Match” rewards for viewers of the NLC.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
This week, Stream Hatchet summarizes minute-level activity on Twitch across 2020. Every minute on Twitch carries a plethora of data about chat messages, viewership, subscriptions, and more. The above graphic provides a look into user behavior during a turbulent year of growth for the live streaming industry.

· Nearly 35K hours of content were watched each minute on Twitch in 2020 with a large portion coming from gaming categories. However, Twitch continued to foster non-gaming content resulting in over 5K hours watched every minute.
· With the value proposition of a free Twitch subscription via Prime Gaming, almost half of the 159 channel subscriptions every minute were Prime.
· Chatting capabilities are often differentiators to watch live streams over linear content. The Twitch audience were heavy users of the chat tool within the platform by sending over 98K messages each minute in 2020.

For more information regarding viewership and audience behavior, please visit www.streamhatchet.com/insights.

PLATFORMS

College esports search and recruitment platform Looking For Group and national esports and video game content brand CheckpointXP are launching a new partnership to provide ongoing coverage of college esports programs at colleges and universities across the country. Under the new partnership, LFGroup.gg and CheckpointXP will work together to profile individual schools, leagues & conferences, and other endemic organizations, improving access to the college ecosystem by providing visibility and resources to interested students, parents, and other stakeholders.

In addition, CheckpointXP and Blaze Fire Games announced a deal to award $500,000 in service-learning hours experience through a joint Internship Program. The initiative includes 10 opportunities for students, five men and five women selected from HBCU programs including Fisk University, Benedict College, Grambling State University, Southern University’s Law School, the 11 MEAC schools with Esports programs, and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Esports program.

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TEAMS
G2 named adidas as the team’s newest partner and official sports apparel provider. The org announced plans to also work with adidas to release a lifestyle apparel collaboration, as well as create content with players and staff. “Today is a landmark day in G2 history,” said Carlos ‘ocelote’ Rodriguez, CEO of G2 Esports. “To announce a partnership with a global sports brand like adidas is a truly special moment for all of us. To join the adidas family as one of their partners, alongside global brands such as Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich is a real game-changer for us and the wider esports industry.”

CLG is teaming with Playfull, a rewards platform for gamers, for a marketing partnership that designates Playfull as an Official Partner of CLG. The partnership includes marquee brand integration for Playfull across CLG’s digital channels and website. In addition, Playfull will have the ability to offer CLG merchandise and memorabilia to its community members as rewards for successful gameplay as well as the opportunity to work with CLG on marketing and promotional assets to support each other. “Through strategic partnerships with organizations like CLG, we continue to gain traction as the premier rewards platform for gamers,” noted Patrick Lu, CEO and co-founder of Playfull. “Reaching CLG’s phenomenal community helps us bring the intrinsically fun and fulfilling experience of earning and receiving rewards through the Playfull platform to an even broader player base.”

Detailing the Fortnite news above, FaZe Clan and Manchester City laid out a collaboration to celebrate soccer in Fortnite with new in-game outfits, emotes and tournaments. To celebrate the launch, Manchester City and FaZe Clan will hold the FaZe City Cup featuring Fortnite today. The tournament will be the first Fortnite tournament held by Manchester City and FaZe Clan and will see the top 50 duos pairings (top 100 players) earn early access to the Manchester City skin and special in-game emote.

The MAD Lions inked a new exclusive partnership with ESPAT for representation and distribution of its photo and video assets. Moving forward, the MAD Lions will syndicate their League of Legends and CS:GO franchise digital media assets onto the ESPAT licensing platform, providing worldwide exposure for its players and marketing partners.

POWER PLAYERS – NEIL DUFFY
eFuse is growing its team, including the hire of Neil Duffy, where he will serve as Chief Revenue Officer for the platform, looking to accelerate event production and partnership capabilities. The Columbus, Ohio startup is considered as the top discovery hub for creators and gamers to meet, compete and find opportunities in esports. Duffy was previously the Chief Commercial Officer at CSL Esports and WorldGaming Network which was acquired in September 2020 by Playfly Sports. In addition, the company announced that Herb May would join Neil as Director of Partnership to further accelerate content and deal development. Cynopsis asked Duffy about his new role.

Duffy on his move to eFuse: “Esports has two major problems: discovery and revenue. I think this move to eFuse allows me to work with the best discovery platform for scholastic and amateur talent. What eFuse has been able to achieve in just over a year in business is impressive, we have over 500,000 members on our platform that have created more than 23,000 unique opportunities including scholarships, jobs, internships and more.

On what he is most excited about: “The company culture is ELITE. It’s a young and hungry staff who are doers and dreamers. The combination of speed, agility and passion is going to catch a lot of people by surprise. We’re going to make some pretty bold moves in the short term. We have some really great partnerships in place already with brands like Barstool Sports, ESPN and Epic Games. With the amount of events eFuse already hosts including Women of the eRena, The Proving Grounds, weekly High School combines and special events with influencers, I will have the most diverse inventory catalogue to sell against in the industry.

On the start-up life: “I’m still young (37) and in the business building part of my career, I want to be able to build something that becomes a staple in the future of gaming. I feel like we accomplished that in scholastic esports in my six years there, we helped pioneer that space and it’s more structured now than ever before. The startup life is the kind of pace that I enjoy, I would rather work on a new campaign concept than sit and watch a movie, it’s a work life harmony more than a work life balance.

On a measuring success in 2021: We’re laser focused on growing the platform, opportunities and events. My opinion is that if we create experiences that people want to participate in and watch, the eyeballs and partnerships will follow. We are the frontrunners to become the biggest social network in gaming by focusing on the community, building our tech stack around their needs and either building, borrowing or buying to reach critical mass and scale.

On which deal he is most proud of and the deal he would you love to do: Great question and tough question! I think the 2020 TikTok Cup we were able to do mid-pandemic was my favorite deal – it went from concept to execution in probably 10 days, but tremendous teamwork on our side and the TikTok side to bring to life. My dream deal would be to get Bumble involved as a sponsor for Women of the eRena, it’s the perfect fit! The WOTE series is all about raising the profile of women in gaming. Mark my words, I’ll get that deal done in 2021!

READYUP GAMES OF THE WEEK
 

INDUSTRY
Game sales in the US shattered records in 2020, with total spending hitting about $56.9 billion, according to a report from NPD. That marks a rise of 27% increase year-on-year, with software representing 86% of the tally. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War ranked as the best-selling game of 2020, followed by fellow CoD title Modern Warfare. Animal Crossing: New Horizons took third for the year.

Allied Esports Entertainment announced the sale of World Poker Tour and other poker assets to Element Partners. Element will acquire World Poker Tour for a total of $78,250,000, consisting of a $68,250,000 upfront payment and a fully guaranteed revenue share of 5% of WPT-branded tournament entry fees on Element-owned or licensed gaming platforms, up to a maximum of $10 million, payable over three years after closing. In addition, Allied Esports, and the Company’s Board agreed to explore strategic options for the esports business, including a possible sale. The company has engaged Lake Street Capital Markets to assist with the process.

ROSTER MOVES

Learfield IMG College named Eric Hartness as vice president, esports. This marks the first position of its kind for the company, where Hartness will focus on developing and expanding the company’s esports strategy and related inventory offerings. He is the former vice president, marketing for Bandai Namco and the former head of marketing for Amazon Game Studios.

DreamHack Sports Games appointed Scott Steedman as the company’s new Chief Commercial Officer. He joins after more than 15 years in the sports industry with stops at Southampton FC, TEAM Marketing and Rangers Football Club.

Save the Date!
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Join us on Thursday, February 25 for our virtual celebration of the industry’s Best of the Best.

Finalists will be announced later next week!

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