01/12/17: YouTube goes Pro; DreamHack’s Astro dome; CSL talks college gaming & Campus Insiders


It’s Thursday, January 12, 2017, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

YouTube continues to roll in top esports content. A report this week stated that WESA will soon unveil its new 2017 ESL Pro League streaming partnership, locking in YouTube as its primary broadcast partner. The platform would serve as a new streaming partner for the next two years, covering Pro League Seasons 5 and 6, with exclusive rights to the English-language stream. Season 5 is slated to begin on Feb. 7 and be broadcast every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on the official YouTube channel with Season 5 LAN Finals running June 3-4 in Dallas, Texas, marking a return to North America for the first time since Season 2, according the Slingshot report. Recently, YouTube also snagged exclusive rights to MLG Vegas for their December event.


Meanwhile, ESL’s forays into Spain continue to pay dividends, as the company locked in a partnership with Movistar in that country that will see Telefonica “support and widen the access to esports across tournaments, at events as well as on television.” Movistar will also launch a Movistar esports TV channel in their network, showing not only Spanish esports events but local broadcast of a total of 13 events in 2017. “ESL has been active in developing electronic sports in Spain for over ten years and supporting national talent through a variety of competitions and events,” said Manuel Moreno, Managing Director of ESL in Spain. “This agreement is a monumental step forward for esports in our country. Both companies are world leaders in our respective industries and there is no doubt that this partnership will reinforce Spain’s position on the international stage.”

Azubu acquired Europe’s leading eSports broadcaster Hitbox, blending the efforts of Hitbox, an eSports leader in Europe/Eastern European markets with Azubu’s strong followings in South American and Asian markets. The company also announced the appointment of gaming industry veteran Mike McGarvey as Chief Executive Officer.

ELeague is putting the pedal to the metal for this year’s first CS:GO Major, releasing a new promo showcasing the best plays of previous tournament anchored by Metallica’s Moth Into Flame. The event kicks off on Jan. 22 and featured 16 teams vying for $1 million.

Blizzard lined up details and talent for the opening weekend of the Heroes Global Championship, pitting 16 top Heroes of the Storm teams with the first match set to feature Team Dignitas/Misfits on Jan. 20 at noon. All regular season games will take place live at the OGN studio and be broadcast simultaneously in English on the official Heroes of the Storm Facebook and Twitch channels. In North America, casters are set to include Gillyweed and Dreadnaught.

Four European events have been added to the competitive Call of Duty calendar, including: CWL London (Jan. 28-29) hosted by Gfinity, CWL Paris Open (Feb. 17-19) hosted by ESWC, followed by the CWL Birmingham Open (Apr. 14-16) hosted by Multiplay, and the CWL Sheffield Open (Jun. 24-25) hosted by EGL. The CWL events in London, Birmingham, and Sheffield will be dedicated to European Call of Duty competition as official stops on the road to the CWL Championship.

WorldGaming and Cineplex opened registration for the Cineplex WorldGaming Canadian Championship Series Presented by PlayStation. The tournament features teams of four from across Canada competing in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare for over $65,000 in cash and prizes as well as the Championship title.

The International eGames Committee named Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP as the Chairman of its Advisory Board. The IEGC created The eGames, an international medal only esports competition, which sees gamers compete for gold, silver and bronze medals.

Shout! Factory nabbed worldwide television format and ancillary rights to the 80s game show Starcade from JM Production Company. The company will now look to develop and produce a reboot of the show for TV, which featured gamers competing on popular video game titles for prizes. Created by James Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur, Starcade first aired in 1982 during the dawn of the video game era and is widely recognized as the first-ever video arcade game show.

Blizzard Esports locked in the location for the 2017 Hearthstone Championship Tour Winter Championship, hitting the Bahamas and feature the top four players from each region’s Winter Playoffs for a sixteen player group stage from March 23-26. Open Division Games begin for Europe on January 16 and will be played on alternate weeks with North America, where competition gets underway on January 23.

Our awards are now open! Get in your nominees to determine who dominated esports in 2016 for the following categories: eSports Event of the Year; eSports Sponsor Activation; eSports Production of the Year; Ambassador Award for Personality of the Year. Who will walk away the champ? Don’t miss your opportunity to shine in front of our readers on April 12 at the Cynopsis World eSports Summit by entering here.

Competitive gaming network ESports Entertainment Association became the victim of a hack that compromised a database that included 1.5 million user accounts that were subsequently released to the public, according to multiple reports. The hack took place on Dec. 30, with the company refusing to pay a reported $100,000 in cyber-ransom demands. ESEA says the compromised information associated with those accounts includes "usernames, emails, private messages, IPs, mobile phone numbers (for SMS messages), forum posts, hashed passwords, and hashed secret question answers."

The World Electronic Sports Games locked in its talent lineup for this weekend’s World Finals, spanning Jan. 12-15 in the Changzhou Olympic Sports Center in China. Faces are set to include Tonya Predko as host, Janko ‘YNk’ Paunovic, Joona ‘natu’ Leppanen and Halvor ‘vENdetta’ Gulestol as analysts, with Tom ‘Tombizz14’ Bissmire and Mohan ‘Launders’ Govindasamy on commentary.

The Professional Esports Association announced that it is calling off plans to run a CS:GO league after all. The decision was made after a majority vote by its teams’ players, stating “there isn’t sufficient financial support in the ecosystem, either from broadcast/streaming partners, sponsors, or others, to profitably operate a third prominent online league, due to the oversaturation of the marketplace and the recent upward spiral in operating costs.” December saw a slew of team protest plans to block players from participating in the ESL Pro League tournaments for the game.

Electronic Arts unveiled plans for the inaugural EA SPORTS Bowl. Partnering with Nomadic Entertainment Group, the event will take place at Club Nomadic in Houston on Feb. 2 and feature pro athlete tournaments in both EA Sports Madden NFL 17 and FIFA 17. After the tournament fans will see musical performances by Sam Hunt, The Chainsmokers and others. “The EA SPORTS party is always one of the hottest tickets in town during Super Bowl week and this year is one of our best shows ever,” said Randy Chase, Senior Marketing Director at EA SPORTS. This year has an amazing lineup of athletes and musical talent, and Club Nomadic is going to be one of the greatest venues we’ve ever had. We can’t wait to see everyone in Houston.”

ESL locked in its competitive rules for its first Destiny tournament, according to Gamerant. The move makes ESL the first official major gaming league to put the regulations in place. Tournament play with ESL will rotate game modes including Clash, Zone Control, and Supremecy in a single elimination bracket with a traditional 4v4 team setup

Get ready for vSports. VirZOOM, maker of VirZOOM Arcade virtual reality games, held the first ever live vSports competition at a private CES event sponsored by AMD, Fitbit, HTC and Life Fitness. The physical competition takes place in multiplayer VR games as users compete in vSports games on VirZOOM VR Bikes playing a suite of evolving VirZOOM Arcade games. The company announced they will cllaborate with vSports Centers around the United States to host a public nationwide vSports tournament in early 2017 where players can compete for prizes.


Big new partners for esports teams. The NBA’s Miami Heat announced a partnership with Misfits, picking up a stake in the team and assisting the organization with the team’s marketing, branding, promotion, retail, digital, and sponsorship activation responsibilities in addition to cross-promotion. “The Miami Heat pride ourselves on being innovative in all aspects of sports and business,” said Heat Chief Executive Officer Nick Arison in the announcement. “For us, it made perfect sense to partner with Misfits, a young and ambitious franchise in a sport that is blazing a trail in terms of 21st century recreational competition amongst Millennials.”

Meanwhile, Lionsgate announced an investment in eSports franchise the Immortals, joining fellow investors that include Michael Milken and previous investors Steve Kaplan, co-founder of Oaktree Capital and co-owner of The Memphis Grizzlies and the Premier League’s Swansea City, investor Gregory Milken, Third Wave entrepreneur Allen DeBevoise and CrossCut Ventures, among others. "We’re delighted to be an early mover in a market that has the potential to transform the face of sports entertainment," said Lionsgate President of Interactive Ventures & Games Peter Levin. "Our involvement in eSports creates tremendous opportunities to develop new content and utilize our suite of distribution platforms for a coveted consumer demographic with compelling engagement metrics. Collaborating with an elite group of partners, the combination of the Lionsgate and Immortals brands will be formidable."

Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens made his eSports team official, confirming the launch of FlyQuest. The League of Legends team, formerly known as Cloud Challenger, was sold due to a rule preventing a single organization from owning two pro-level outfits. The venture marks Edens’ first foray into esports.

Reunited’s team is ceasing operations and allowing its players to pursue other opportunities. In a statement, the organization stated that “the main reason, however, is the timing of the Overwatch League conflicting with our internal financial model, as we are running out of money. Earlier this fall, the news surfaced that we were in talks with several large sports entities, however, none of these were successful due to the uncertainty surrounding the acquisition of league spots.”


DreamHack inked a deal with ASTRO Gaming to make the company a title sponsor for a slate of nine events and $900,000 in prize money. The events, now called the DreamHack Astro Open, are set to include the new festivals in Denver and Atlanta this year, and begins with this weekend’s DreamHack Leipzig in Germany.
Adidas became the latest non-endemic sponsor to jump into esports, according t DOT eSports, locking in a deal with France’s Team Vitality. The deal sees Adidas branding appearing on the team’s merchandise and jerseys along with collaboration on events and other social activities.

A pair of other non-endemics are deepening ties with the esports wave as Visa unveiled a sponsorship with SK Gaming. The deal sees the Visa logo appear on SK Gaming jerseys, while players will attend Visa events and Visa tech will be integrated into the team’s online store. The deal spans a year with options to extend. “Pro gaming has changed the way we see sport in recent years, opening access to people the world over and creating a surge in its popularity,” said Visa’s Executive Director of Marketing, Gary Twelvetree in the announcement. “We see huge potential for the industry and this deal sees Visa ideally placed to harness and drive that. We’re looking forward to a successful season supporting the next-genathletes at SK Gaming to do what they do best – win.”

Meanwhile, energy beverage brand 5-hour Energy made its first foray into esports, locking in a deal with the Detroit Renegades. Dealpoints include the esports organization’s Overwatch team includeing the 5-hour Energy name in its team name. “This sponsorship by the makers of 5-hour Energy shots epitomizes our shared values of hard work, innovative marketing, and efficient operations,” Renegades owner Jonas Jerebko said. “As our first non-endemic sponsor, being headquartered in Michigan encourages a beneficial relationship to support our organization and players directly.”

ASUS Republic of Gamers inked its first official eSports franchise sponsorship in a multi-year deal with Echo Fox. The ASUS ROG brand will now serve as the organization’s exclusive provider of premium PC hardware including desktops, laptops, monitors, mice, and more. "The ASUS ROG team shares our commitment to building community and empowering gaming enthusiasts with the tools they need to achieve peak performance," said Rick Fox, owner of Echo Fox. "This partnership provides exciting new opportunities for engaging with fans and dominating in competition."

Twitch announced that TwitchCon 2017 will take place in Long Beach this year. The event will span Oct. 20-22 from the Long Beach Convention Center. “It was through the passion of our creators, exhibitors, and fans that TwitchCon doubled in size in its first two years,” said Krystal Herring, Event Director, TwitchCon. “Our goal this year is to continue celebrating all things Twitch, including the newer broader scope of content on our platform. With our IRL category for vlogging and our upcoming mobile streaming app, even people who can’t attend will be able to connect with their favorite broadcasters and friends who can.”


You need to be in it, to WIN it… Enter Today

Entry Deadline: January 31, 2017
Late Submission Deadline: February 7, 2017
Awards Event: April 13, 2017 (NYC)


Today brings all eyes on Nintendo, as the company prepared to stream a presentation detailing the upcoming Nintendo Switch console. The event will be streamed live at 11p with an eye toward launching in March. Early leaks suggest that the console will sell for around $250.

Meanwhile, Sony announced a new color options for its PlayStation 4 Slim dubbed Glacier White. The new offering will launch in Europe, Japan and Asia starting later this month.

Square Enix announced that shipment and digital sales for Final Fantasy XV have topped six million units. The company previously scored five million units sold on day one.

Meanwhile, Psyonix’ Rocket League has topped the 25 million player mark, with over a billion games played since first launching in 2015.

POWER PLAYERS  Collegiate StarLeague

This week, the Collegiate StarLeague launched its eighth season as North America’s largest independent collegiate esports league where teams from 700+ schools participate in tournaments featuring the world’s most popular titles, including League of Legends, DotA2, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Vain Glory, Starcraft 2 and Madden. It also marks the launch of CSL’s media partnership with Campus Insiders, in which the digital network will share CSL’s written and video content across its organic platforms as well as with digital and OTT partners, such as Apple TV, SlingTV, Verizon Go90, Twitter and Facebook. CSL’s VP of Business Development, Neil Duffy, discusses the impact of the partnership and CSL’s goals to grow and market collegiate esports:

On the deal with Campus Insiders: CSL has been producing hundreds of great pieces each year of written and video content, from feature articles, to game previews and recaps, to player and team profiles. But they only lived on cstarleague.com, so unless you played in our tournaments, you probably didn’t see them. We started looking for content partners, and while we spoke with many other linear and digital networks, Campus Insiders seemed to be the right partner to collaborate and grow with out of the gate, given their distribution platform and commitment to covering all things college sports.

On goals: We want to be the hub for all things college esports! Initially, it was just about taking our content mainstream, but it’s evolved now to include creating live events on campuses and beyond, and working closely with universities and conferences to educate them about the rapid growth of our ecosystem and continue to build that out.

On the role of the NCAA: We don’t have a relationship with the NCAA. There are a few schools participating in CSL tournaments that are creating varsity scholarship programs, but most of our teams are club-based and organized by student leaders passionate about esports. We do have certain eligibility mandates– all of our collegiate gamers must be registered, full-time students and in good academic standing to compete. But our players are allowed to participate in college and pro events, and we give prize money to our tournament winners. Neither of those things would obviously fly with the NCAA right now. The monetary component isn’t something we’d ever want to forego, because it’s a huge benefit to, and nice reward for, our players. The winner pools will only continue to increase as the popularity of collegiate gaming grows and we want to work with any university in North America interested in building an esports program.

On brands: A lot of companies and media buyers are still feeling their way through the esports space, so part of our job entails educating brands about what we’re doing and how they can create an authentic footprint here. I’ve heard a lot of agencies say gamers are hard to market to; that couldn’t be further from the truth! The majority of esports players and fans fit the exact profiles of Millennials and GenZs brands covet. And again, because esports lives outside the NCAA’s purview, gamers are allowed to be brand ambassadors, allowed to get paid, brands can reap the benefits of our players’ success and public profiles. Additionally, while esports is starting to see more visibility on TV, it gained its notoriety online, so we know as well (if not better) than anyone how to create powerful, customized activations that engage people on their second and third screens.

ON THIS DAY in 1998: IGN64.IGN.com officially becomes a branded website.  
Trivia: Name the game pictured above. (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: Name the character pictured last week. Answer: Lakitu. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Angel Torres-Make Believe Stuff/Jersey City; Joey Olson-Lowe’s/Arlington; Matt Fumagalli-NBC Sports/Chicago; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Annelle Despaignes-FOX Sports/LA

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

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JOB OPENING: DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER/CSI Sports/NYC: Manage digital asset distribution. Be integrally involved with expansion of digital products and social media initiatives on global scale. Passion for sports. Strong writing skills. 7+ yrs exp req’d. APP and CMS skills required. cvr/res to Rose: [email protected] (1/14)

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