01/25/18: ELEAGUE locked in a bevy of new deals as it prepares to wrap up Boston

It’s Thursday January 25, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.

As ELEAGUE prepares to crown a champion at The ELEAGUE Major: Boston, the org unveiled multiple partnerships on the sponsor and platforms fronts. First, the Turner/IMG league announced that Twitch will serve as ELEAGUE’s official streaming platform for its live event coverage in a multi-year deal that formalized Twitch as the exclusive third-party digital destination for live coverage of ELEAGUE events. “ELEAGUE and Twitch have formed an incredible partnership that has allowed ELEAGUE’s premium live event coverage to reach a highly engaged, digitally-native community of passionate fans,” said Craig Barry, Executive Vice President of Production and Chief Content Officer, Turner Sports. “The strong performance of our live event coverage on Twitch – including record-setting concurrent streams during last year’s inaugural ELEAGUE Major – speaks to why we couldn’t be more thrilled to continue this relationship.”
Meanwhile, Dell and Alienware are extending their runs with ELEAGUE, inking partnerships that will continue into 2018 to power all ELEAGUE competitions, including The ELEAGUE Major: Boston. “The partnership with ELEAGUE will evolve our shared vision to deliver the best possible viewing experience for esports fans,” said Bryan de Zayas, Director of Gaming, Dell and Alienware. “Most recently, Alienware alongside Tobii has pioneered Getting Technical, a biometric-powered analytics tool specially tuned for ELEAGUE that enables fans to track the eye movements of their favorite esports players, providing a better understanding of in-game behavior and decision-making. As we look forward, esports fans can expect even more exciting things to come from our extended partnership with Turner Sports.”
HyperX will also return as sponsor and are lining up a slate of activities planned for The ELEAGUE Major: Boston Champions stage. The company will have a booth in the exhibit area where it will be showing its newest products recently announced at CES 2018, including Cloud Flight, the first HyperX wireless headset and the Alloy Elite RGB keyboard, a full size RGB mechanical keyboard with software to customize gaming profiles.
ELEAGUE hosts the conclusion to the first CS:GO Major Championship of 2018 with live coverage from Boston’s Agganis Arena presented on Twitch starting Friday at 10a. The first day of competition will include the initial three quarterfinal matches, with the last quarterfinal and both semifinal matches set for Saturday at 10a, while live coverage of the Grand Final match runs Sunday at noon. Meanwhile, CS:GO player Sean ‘SeanGares’ Gares will serve as a guest analyst for The New Champions stage, while Alex ‘Goldenboy’ Mendez will serve as the in-arena emcee for The New Champions stage of the Major.

Madden hits the Pro Bowl this weekend as the 32-player field for the Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Series kicks off, spanning two weekends with a $403,000 prize pool up for grabs. The action gets underway on Friday when players representing NFC teams square off at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando amid the Pro Bowl festivities, with AFC players competing the next day while the Semi-Finals and Finals on Feb. 1 ahead of the Super Bowl in Minneapolis.  Programming will run across Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Mixer for this week’s contests. The event marks the third EA Major Series event of the $1 million Madden NFL 18 Championship Series.
Ubisoft laid out a new road for the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Pro League as well as for all Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege worldwide competitions, for the 2018 – 2020 period. The Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Pro League will now be composed of two Seasons, six months each, from June to November and December to May. Each Season will be concluded by Season Finales, where the eight best teams of the Season – two per region: Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America – will compete for a prize pool of $275,000, starting June 2018. Meanwhile, the Challenger League will have two, three-month seasons per year, starting in September and March. Meanwhile, two Majors will now take place. In addition to the Six Invitational each February, a “Six Major” tournament will take place in Paris in August. The Six Paris Major and the Six Invitational will grant $350,000 and $500,000 respective prize pools. Both events will feature 16 teams from all over the world.
Hi-Rez unveiled tweaks for season five of the SMITE Pro League, with changes that will include:  partner orgs required to provide a $30,000 minimum salary for the 5 starting players on their team; no relegations for the entirety of Season 5; a new double round robin format with best-of-three matches and changes to broadcast times. The Spring Split will run for a six-week span, beginning March 6 and serving as the portal for team to qualify for the SMITE Masters event in May. NA Action will take place Wednesdays and Fridays at 5p, with EU action at 1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
ESL and Mountain Dew announced the renewal of the third year of the Mountain Dew League, the initiative designed to open the doors for up-and-coming teams, giving them a shot at glory to participate in CS:GO Pro League. This year’s seasons will have feature new ways for fans to get participate, including “Next Big Caster” as well as an All-Star Match. Year three will be divided into three seasons and is now underway at Twitch.tv/ESEA. “From fueling gamers to providing exclusive content, training and experiences, DEW has been part of the gaming world for over a decade,” said Stephanie Danzi, Senior Brand Manager, Mountain Dew. “With our partners at ESL we are excited to launch a third season of Mountain Dew League, featuring even more opportunities for amateur gamers to go pro.”
Clear your calendar!!! Cynopsis Esports is teaming with Chief Marketer and Event Marketer for the Esports Business Summit, the premier three-day industry event running Oct. 1-3, 2018 from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. We’ll feature five different tracks, killer networking opportunities, industry awards and access to the most innovative minds in the business. Sign up for info and get updates at http://www.esportsbizsummit.com/
Stage One of the CWL Pro League is underway, as the 16 best Call of Duty teams in the world seek out $700,000 in prizes over the next two months from the MLG Arena in Columbus. Matches run every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday on MLG.com and Twitch.tv from Jan. 23-Mar. 15. Handling microphone duties will be Tom ‘Chance’ Ashworth, Ben ‘Benson’ Bowe, Richard ‘Rich’ Campbell, Jack ‘Courage’ Dunlop, Clint ‘Maven’ Evans and Phillip ‘Momo’ Whitfield.
Blizzard and Tespa also revealed the rest of their collegiate plans as well, awarding more than $1 million in scholarships and prized by the end of the 2017–18 academic year. In addition to Heroes of the Dorm on Twitch and MLG for more than $500,000, the Hearthstone Collegiate Championship will offer $150,000 in scholarship prizing with matches set to start on Feb. 19. Meanwhile, the first ever Tespa Collegiate Series – StarCraft will award $35,000 in total scholarship prizing to the top performers in the 16-team league with play beginning Feb. 17.
Rivalcade is cementing plans for its Esports Battle League, locking in three franchise spots, each at a $1 million buy-in price, according to ESPN. Host cities will include Elevate in Denver, Circa in Miami and Simplicity out of Las Vegas. The report states that the league hopes to obtain three to five more buyers for its league by its targeted launch in summer of 2018.” The league will reportedly host three titles.

With the start of the LCS, Stream Hatchet has analyzed opening weekends from the EULCS, the NALCS, and the OWL. Although OWL started off with a strong start, generating 2 million more views than both LCS, by day 2 all leagues had generated similar audience sizes. Focusing on the LCS, despite being smaller than the EU audience, the NA audience displayed positive viewership trends, with a higher crest than all leagues in day two.

Overwatch League picked up a heavyweight non-endemic, announcing a deal with Toyota to serve as a North American Launch Partner for the league. The automaker plans to have additional broadcast integrations, as well as a vehicle presence at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles. “Toyota is excited to be a launch partner of the Overwatch League,” said Steven Curtis, vice president, media & engagement marketing for Toyota Motor North America. “We love the passion of esports fans, and the goal of our partnership is to help take the Overwatch League and the fan experience to the next level.”
ESL announced that international payment provider paysafecard signed on as a strategic brand partner and global payment partner for all ESL events in the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and CS:GO Pro League circuits, as well as several National Championships and ESL Arenas. paysafecard will now be integrated as a payment method to the ESL Shop, ESEA, and ESL Play, with full category exclusivity. The new “paysafecard Hall of Fame” will honor well-known, accomplished personalities for their achievements during their esports career, as well as individuals with significant contributions to the growth of the industry, while “paysafecard Beat the Legends” will give fans an opportunity to try their skills against pro gamers and influencers.
The League of Legends North American League Championship Series inked State Farm as a new sponsoring partner for this year’s season as well as a North American sponsor of the 2018 League of Legends World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event. Ed Gold, Advertising Director at State Farm, said, “At State Farm, we have a long and proud history of partnering with sports leagues, teams, and their passionate fans. We’re so excited to become a part of largest esports community in the US with this NA LCS sponsorship and look forward to supporting LoL fans each week from the State Farm Analyst Desk.”
Speaking of LoL, Team SoloMid had its own pickup, locking in Dr Pepper to a new partnership deal. The agreement marks Dr Pepper’s first major esports team sponsorship. “We are thrilled to be partnering within esports in a way that allows Dr Pepper to engage across multiple platforms with the gaming community. From playing games alone, with friends, watching streams or championship spectating – Dr Pepper wants to share in the fun of gaming!” said Blaise D’Sylva, VP Media & Entertainment, Dr Pepper.
Continuing the theme, Rocket Mortgage announced a sponsorship agreement with 100 Thieves in a deal that includes naming rights to a luxury gamer training house in California, with the 6,000-square-foot site now known as the “Rocket Mortgage Team House.” “The house enables 100 Thieves’ athletes to focus on developing their skills, while providing direct access to any resource necessary to ensure the team’s success, including sports psychologists, analysts, nutritionists and personal trainers,” Rocket Mortgage said in a statement.
NISSIN Foods Holdings is on deck to serve as the presenting sponsor of EVO Japan 2018, running Jan. 26-28, through its NISSIN Cup Noodle brand. “Under the ‘HUNGRY TO WIN; slogan, NISSIN strives to develop sports marketing programs that inspire a challenging spirit through its support of pro athletes and world-class competitive tournaments,” said Koki Ando, President & CEO, NISSIN. “Esports are a new form of competition that transcends age, gender, language and nationality. No matter what one’s background is, we are on a level playing field.”
Cynopsis Sports is celebrating the work of the most talented producers, hosts, sponsors and executives in the sports industry, saluting the initiatives that drove audiences and turned sports viewers into fans. Crossing the spectrum of television, radio, and online platforms, our list covers all the corners of the industry including best series and savvy marketing tactics as well as top digital content. Click here to view last year’s finalists .


ESL announced that the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, CS:GO Pro League will now run exclusively to Facebook in 2018. In partnership with WESA, the deal kicks off with the upcoming Season Seven starting Feb. 13 and run for four seasons of Pro League, through December 2019. ESL will also broadcast one of its flagship circuits, ESL One on Facebook, featuring Dota 2 and CS:GO with the first event being ESL One Genting 2018. ESL will also produce and broadcast a weekly five-minute show celebrating the Dota community on Facebook Watch, while competitions will be streamed exclusively via Facebook Live in English and Portuguese, with other languages available as well.
Raycom Sports is getting into esports courtesy of a partnership with Tespa, Blizzard Entertainment’s college esports network, for “Heroes of the Dorm.” The broadcast partnership will get a dedicated national-syndication run during a five-week period of competition from Feb. 17-March 15. Raycom will produce the weekly, one-hour Heroes of the Dorm programs, featuring schools competing in the tournament’s Atlantic Coast Region. The original series, which will cover competition as well as spotlight player and team stories, and be broadcast across Raycom Sports’ syndicated network of affiliates. Distribution has already been secured to over 50 markets nationwide.
Cloud9 and London Spitfire owner Jack Etienne hit Reddit this week to state that Overwatch League is already out-performing expectations. “I would have been thrilled with 50K-70K concurrent viewers and I was blown away by what I’ve seen in the first two weeks of OWL,” he wrote, referring to the 400,000 concurrent viewers the league hooked on Twitch in its first week.
Real-time data and analytics company Esports One unlocked the close of a $3 million seed round. The funding was co-led by XSeed Capital and Eniac Ventures, with participation from Crest Capital. “2018 has already been a shaping up to be a big year. The close of our $3MM seed round is just the beginning. We’re continuing to make key hires, expanding operations and offices along with the upcoming launch of our esports podcast,” said Matthew Gunnin, Co-founder and CEO, Esports One. “We couldn’t be more excited to have the backing of our investors. Their support will be pivotal as we get ready to expand games and execute on our biggest launches yet.”
Psyonix is kicking off the year with a new website dedicated to Rocket League Esports at rlesports.gg. The site will serve as the main hub for RL Esports news from the company as it gears up for RLCS Season 5, which will see teams from NA, EU, and OCE compete for a $500,000 total prize pool for RLCS, which is our largest prize pool to date. North American qualifiers begin on Feb. 17.
FanDuel founder and former CEO Nigel Eccles is launching a new esports-driven company called Flick, focusing on sharing esports and gaming experiences. On the site, the platform is described as giving fans “an entirely new way of sharing their gaming experience with their friends” and that initially they will be “moving quickly on concepts and working with gamers to refine ideas that work for them.”
Unikrn announced plans to begin distributing their weekly broadcasts to listeners of Dash Radio. The channel, “Unikrn Radio,” will focus on cryptocurrency and esports content directly from Unikrn, with the show airing weekly with 60-minute segments starting Jan. 29. The first series will be hosted by Rahul Sood, CEO of Unikrn, and Kingsley Edwards, VP of Business Development at Unikrn. They will be joined by special guests and experts, and will offer Q&A sessions for members of Unikrn’s growing Discord community.
The National Association of Collegiate Esports is teaming up with BeRecruited, a college recruiting platform, to improve the recruiting process for prospective collegiate esport gamers and college coaches. BeRecruited has now added esports as part of its college recruiting network, allowing gamers to create a free recruiting profile with all of their game stats, academics and video.

Team Dignitas, owned by Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, is hungry for Rocket League, announced the signing of the internationally-ranked Rocket League team comprised of Reed “Chicago” Wilen, Zoli “zol” Digness and Isaac “Turtle” App. The new team will be the youngest squad in Team Dignitas franchise history and will now join the Team Dignitas Counter Strike Global Offensive women’s team, Heroes of the Storm team, SMITE team, PUBG team and Super Smash Bros. Melee team. The Team Dignitas Rocket League team will participate in its first tournament at DreamHack this weekend. .
It is the end of the line for Lunatic-Hai’s Overwatch team. The South Korean Overwatch organization announced its departure from the game on the team’s official website, citing “radical changes” in the game’s competitive play.
Russian internet staple Mail.Ru is adding esports company ESforce to its locker courtesy of a deal valued at over $100 million. ESforce owns two teams in Virtus Pro and SK, in addition to running tournaments.


Courtesy: Esports One & Esportspedia: Revolutionizing Esports Data

The worldwide digital video games market grew 17% year-over-year in December, according to new numbers from Superdata. While social and pay-to-play segments shrank 4% and 10%, respectively, the market saw the premium PC segment ignite the greatest growth this month, up 28% with the console market up 15% year-over-year due to the large triple-A release slate this holiday season. Among titles, Call of Duty WW2 marked a new record for digital unit sales for a console title in a quarter, while GTA V Online broke its previous revenue record back in June 2017, making it the title’s best month to date for its multiplayer segment. Fortnite Battle Royale earned $89 million in December.  
A new report from the Entertainment Software Association stated that US games revenue hit a record total of $36.4 billion in 2017. The study, jointly released by market research firm The NPD Group, sees an 18% spike in revenue over 2016 numbers with the figure blending hardware revenue, including peripherals, and software revenue from physical and digital sales, including in-game purchases and subscriptions. Specifically, hardware revenue was up 19% to $6.9 billion, while software revenue grew 18% to $29.1 billion. “The spectacular growth of our industry in 2017 proves video game developers, artists, and storytellers are the brightest lights in the US economy, finding more ways to delight the world’s 2.6 billion gamers each year,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA.
Microsoft announced that new release first-party Xbox titles will now be incorporated into its Xbox Game Pass subscription service on the day-and-date with their retail debut. In a post, the company stated that “This means that when Sea of Thieves  launches on March 20, it will be included in Xbox Game Pass to all members,” and adding that “We’ve only scratched the surface of the opportunity this new model brings to the industry and what we can deliver to our fans. We firmly believe Xbox Game Pass will be a catalyst to create new opportunities for game developers and publishers to innovate in the way games are developed and delivered, leading to entirely new ways to play.”
Siri and Alexa will now need to make room for Sam. Ubisoft announced Sam, the company’s first personal gaming assistant designed to enhance players’ gaming experience, leveraging players’ profile information, game library, friends list, community and Ubisoft services to deliver tailored tips and information. “With Sam, our ambition is to create an innovative and helpful service for players, one that knows them and helps push them get more out of their gaming experience. Sam provides a more personalized experience for our fans and delivers them what they need faster, so they can spend less time searching and more time playing,” said Stephanie Perotti, VP of Online Services at Ubisoft. “Incorporating Google Cloud’s Dialogflow Enterprise Edition has helped us work dynamically and iterate faster so we can better service our fans.”

POWER PLAYERS – Turner’s Craig Barry

Amid the action of the ELEAGUE Major: Boston, Cynopsis Esports spoke with Turner Sports EVP and Chief Content Officer Craig Barry about the league’s new deals, playing the field, and the future of the esports outfit.
Barry on Boston: Boston provides our biggest stage yet for ELEAGUE and an opportunity to further evolve the fan experience.  We’ve had strong support from the esports community for our events in Atlanta, including the Fox Theatre last year, and expanding the footprint into a full arena will further enhance our live event coverage.
On Twitch: We value all of our partnerships and ELEAGUE will continue to distribute its premium content across a number of digital platforms. Twitch is now our official partner for ELEAGUE’s live event coverage.  When it came to the live streaming platform, we evaluated what was going to be best for fan consumption.  We also wanted to remain authentic to the esports community and, ultimately, be where the fans are gathering to consume this content.  Twitch has been a great partner since the origin of ELEAGUE and we’re thrilled to continue working very closely with them.
On challenges: Esports is still in its infancy, but it also continues to grow at a rapid rate.  Everything shifts quickly and we’re pivoting, while maintaining an ability to achieve our goals.  Over the last year, we significantly bolstered our ELEAGUE portfolio – including events featuring CS:GO, Street Fighter V, Injustice 2, Rocket League and Formula E – as well as expanding into the amateur ranks. The byproduct was over six billion minutes of content consumed and tripling our number of sponsors.  In 2018, we’re going to remain focused on delivering best-in-class content and continue to be additive to the community and network of publishers.  We’re also going to further push the envelope with innovation and creativity around content and products that drive engagement with our fans.
On talk with sponsors: It’s interesting because it’s gone from curious to engaged.  As time goes on, and esports continues to scale, everyone is getting more educated and realizing that esports is legitimate and the opportunities surrounding it are real.  There’s less browsing and more buying.


Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg is stepping down from his position at the end of his contract in March. VentureBeat broke the news “Eric leaves the company in a strong position for growth, with the franchises, pipeline of future products, and leadership team all in a great place,” the company said in a statement. “We are grateful for Eric’s strong leadership during his tenure. He is departing with our utmost respect and gratitude for his contributions to the company.”
Meanwhile, former Sony and Xbox pillar Phil Harrison is on his way to Google where he will serve as a VP and GM, where he is expected to drive the company’s gaming strategy, among other projects.
PlayStation head of third-party developer relations Florian Hunziker is leaving Sony Interactive Entertainment, according to GamesBeat. Hunziker joined SIE in January 2017 afgter serving as COO of Harmonix.
Glory Sports International named Marshall Zelaznik as Chief Executive Officer of the organization where he will lead the company’s global operations. Zelaznik most recently served as Global Head of Business Development and Content at MLG and previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer for UFC.
Millennial Esports Corp. announced that Stephen Shoemaker, an accomplished senior executive with more than thirty years of financial and operations management experience, wll lead worldwide financial operations and the finance team at Millennial Esports. Shoemaker previously served as CEO/Chairman of the Board of Ho Tram Project Company.

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In addition to our talented TV Awards finalists and Buyers & Planners honorees, we’re proud to announce that one of the insurance industry’s most distinguished executives, Rand Harbert, EVP and Chief Agency, Sales & Marketing Officer of State Farm, will be receiving the prestigious Luminary Award. Don’t miss this gathering of television’s best and brightest! Be sure to register by Jan 30th before ticket prices increase!

ON THIS DAY in 2005: Take Two Interactive acquires Visual Concepts Entertainment and Kush Games for US$24 million.
Trivia: Star Trek’s Captain James T. Kirk was born in which state? (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: In Game of Thrones, what is the name of Arya Stark’s preferred sword?  Answer: Needle. Kudos: Julie Roither/Sydney; Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Luke Watson-Essential TV/NY; Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick-National Geographic/DC; Glen Ross/DC; Jonny Codalata-CSM Sport & Entertainment/Zionsville; Kristie Wakefield-Go To Team/Mt. Pleasant; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Peter Steckelman-Tennis Channel/Santa Monica; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice
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Work in an agile team on Golang/Python/Perl API and microservices architecture to build a market module in MediaMath’s TerminalOne platform.
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Take Two Interactive
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Scientific Games
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Illustrate design ideas using storyboards, process flows and sitemaps.
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Cyber Coders
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San Diego CA
Overseeing the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) with a focus on our community and its players.
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Establish and promote best practices for game art creation, integration, and optimization.
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Santa Monica CA
Work within a small team to design, develop, and maintain our latest project.
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Work with external team to create high-end showcases for Unity.
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