03/04/21: Maestro landed $15 million in funding


Medias First Morning Read


Thursday March 4, 2021

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
A big day for interactive livestreaming platform Maestro, which landed $15 million in Series B financing with new investment that included Sony Music Entertainment, NetEase and Acronym Venture Capital and bringing the company’s total funding tally to $22 million, according to multiple reports. According to the announcement, funding also included Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and Moonwell Capital, as well as several existing investors.

After 2020 saw IEM Katowice top seven figure audiences, 2021 was unable to deliver quite the same volume as its predecessor. This year’s event delivered 9,555,244 hours watches, according to Esports Charts, which did top last year’s numbers, although peak viewership was off-pace by 41%, according to the company, hitting 596.585, for the NAVI/Liquid matchup. The event also averaged 224,126 viewers for its online outing.

EA announced that Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, will be joining the company’s FIFA Global Series Face-Off, running March 19 and 26. There he will join competitors such as Donovan “Tekkz” Hunt, Lisa “NFG_Lisa” Manley and Olle “Ollelito” Arbin. The FIFA Face-Off event is part of the FIFA Global Series.

Epic announced that the final leg of Rocket League Championship Series X will take place starting March 11 with the RLCS X Spring Split, featuring a 20-team format playing in a blend of Round-Robin Group Play, a double-elimination bracket where some teams are seeded directly into the Lower Bracket, and a single-elimination bracket. Fans can watch on the official Rocket League Twitch and YouTube channels beginning with the first EU Regional of the Spring Split.

The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series is giving an overhaul to its format for the 2021 season, announcing the eNASCAR Road to Pro ladder with three competitive divisions for players looking to work their way into pro play. The eNASCAR Road to Pro Qualifying Series: Round 1 will serve as an eight-race series on Thursday nights, starting today at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. eNASCAR Road to Pro Qualifying Series: Round 2 sees the top 70 point scorers in Round 1 split off in a snake format starting July 8 at Knoxville Raceway and wraps up on September 30 at Phoenix Raceway. Finally, the eNASCAR Road to Pro Contender Series sees the top 20 from the eNASCAR Road to Pro Qualifying Series compete on Tuesdays through the fall and early winter with the NASCAR Xfinity Series cars, the top 20 drivers in this series make their way into the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series for the following season.

Riot announced that the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will kick off competition between the top 12 teams from the regional leagues on May 6 and culminate with the final on May 23 out of Reykjavík, Iceland. The VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Reykjavík, beginning the next day on Monday, May 24, will be the first VALORANT esports event to feature live international competition, bringing together the top 10 teams from around the world to fight for a spot at VALORANT Champions later this year.

This month, the EBS team is producing the Esports Business Summit University: 2-day virtual conference focused on the business of collegiate esports. We’ll go inside topics such as sponsorships, scholarships, recruitment, funding, and so much more. Hear from the Activision Blizzard, the West Coast Conference, CSL Esports, EGF, Learfield IMG, Skillshot Media, WWSEF/NASEF, Mountain West Conference, BoomTV/AVGL, NIRSA, NACE, FACEIT, Nerd Street Gamers, Twitch and a keynote from former NFL Pro Bowler Ahman Green from Lakeland University Esports Program. It’s going to be an incredible learning opportunity and we hope you’ll join us. Register now!

The North America Scholastic Esports Federation is partnering with the National Association of Collegiate Esports to provide opportunities to high school and college students through esports. The two orgs will work together on recruitment initiatives, scholarships, championship events, educating students, teachers, coaches, and families as well as initiatives and joint educational programming. “The connection between high school players and college recruiters is vital. This partnership is an important step in connecting the two,” said Michael Brooks, executive director of NACE. “Esports encompasses far more than the players themselves as colleges look for shoutcasters, team managers, audio and video engineers, marketers and more. The partnership between NACE and NASEF will also help students identify educational opportunities to prepare them for their careers of choice in the esports industry, which Newzoo predicts will hit $1.8 billion by 2022. We’re helping students prepare to participate in that enormous and growing market.”

Generation Esports is debuting the HSEL Roadshow, a cross-country tour visiting the North American high and the Army National Guard. The tour will see HSEL representatives visit each of the 25 selected schools to set up state-of-the-art esports labs, complete with top-spec PCs, monitors, and accessories from brands ASUS and Intel. Additionally, HSEL will offer a new hands-on enhanced league benefit in the form of a STEM learning curriculum to educate students on how to build and maintain their lab as well as offer career and college advice.

February was a record-breaking month for video game creators across Twitch, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming. Dream, a YouTuber, reached a peak audience of over 870,000 concurrent viewers during his Minecraft stream on February 5th, placing him on par with major television audiences. Here are the cliff notes:
· Dream shattered last month’s peak by 17,000 concurrent viewers. In January, Technoblade reached a peak audience of 855k concurrent viewers.
· While YouTube Gaming holds the top spot by a significant margin, eight of the top ten live streams were broadcast on Twitch. This is up from last month (January), where six of the top ten streams were broadcast on Twitch.

To keep up with the latest trends of live streaming genres, please visit www.streamhatchet.com/insights.

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Oakley is diving deeper into the industry, locking in pillar Call of Duty player Seth “Scump” Abner as the brand’s first professional esports athlete. Global talent and entertainment company UTA brokered the landmark deal on Scump’s behalf. With the agreement, Oakley will become Scump’s exclusive eyewear partner during all competitive matches and streams.

Riot Games expanded its partnership with Verizon as the official 5G partner of both League of Legends Esports Global Events as well as VALORANT Esports. Verizon’s multi-year agreement as the Official 5G Partner also extends to the titles’ biggest global events including the League of Legends World Championship, which makes its return to North America in 2022; LoL Esports All-Star Event; three VALORANT Champions Tour Masters events; and VALORANT Champions. The partnership also includes the VALORANT North America Challengers. “

Riot also revealed that the LCS is partnering with Blood Centers of America (BCA) and join in the non-profit’s quest to combat COVID-19. March 5 kicks off the ‘First Blood Saves’ campaign with BCA as the league’s official First Blood partner. Throughout the month, the LCS will call upon members of the League of Legends community who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate convalescent plasma at one of BCA’s 60+ independent community blood centers in the United States.

Twitch Rivals Europe landed Doritos in a new sponsorship that will see the snack brand launch the Doritos Disruptor Series EMEA, where Twitch creators host a slate of local market tournaments with selected groups of up and coming streamers.

Virtus.pro renewed ties with HyperX with the company continuing to work with the team and have its logo appear on the chest of Virtus.pro’s player jerseys.

Complexity Gaming is teaming with Dairy MAX to “optimize esports player performance and extend career longevity through proper nutrition.” The multifaceted partnership, which designates Dairy MAX as the Official Nutrition Partner of Complexity, also aims to educate the esports community on the importance of building healthy habits, explore the impact of nutrition on cognitive and physical performance, and promote overall well-being.

CLG and Logitech G locked in a multi-year partnership that names Logitech G the Official Peripherals Partner for CLG Red, which includes CLG’s CS:GO Team, and female players and content creators in Valorant and Chess. Logitech G will play a key role in marketing elements for CLG Red and be featured on all CLG Red jerseys, throughout broadcasts of competitions and across all of the team digital channels. As a part of this partnership, Logitech G will receive brand integration throughout each CLG Red broadcast, play an active role in broadcast marketing materials and have the opportunity to conduct in-broadcast sweepstakes and additional promotions. In addition, Logitech G and CLG will partner on an original content series around the CLG Red Team during competitions, league play and highlight the players and coaching staff.

GIANTS Software inked a marketing partnership with global sports business agency SPORTFIVE related to its game Farming Simulator, as well as esports league Farming Simulator League. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Blizzard is giving Battle.net a facelift as the platform prepares to hit the big 25. Ginx.tv reports that after months of beta testing, the updated Battle.net will be released in March, which notes that the revised version will play host to more games, with a new layout, dedicated pages for each game.

Enthusiast Gaming has launched Upcomer, an online publication dedicated to the growing needs of today’s esports fan. The platform will combine leading editorial with betting odds, fantasy, scores, videos and more.

Global esports organization Gen.G unveiled plans to International Women’s Day on March 8 with a slate of activities throughout the month aimed at “empowering and investing in women in gaming.” Bumble, the dating and networking app, will continue to highlight women within the gaming community through charity live streams and virtual events centered around Team Bumble, Gen.G’s first-ever all-women esports team. U.S. Bank will shine a spotlight on the professional career paths in gaming, while rewarding and bringing together community members. Urban Outfitters will partner on the launch of Gen.G’s “Work From Home,” a series of livestreamed workshops focused on the intersection of gaming and culture.

North American esports squad XSET is plugging in with Quality Control Media Holdings, which oversees hip-hop label Quality Control Music, Quality Films, and QC Sports. The alliance will see both companies partner for content creation, music production, merchandise collaborations, talent recruitment and management, in addition to licensing deals with gaming publishers. QG Media Holdings also becomes an investor into XSET.

Subnation Media announced a partnership with Green Bay Packers star wide-receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling to build an esports team to compete across various titles, spearheading strategy, brand partnerships, merchandising, content programming and experiences for Trench Made Gaming. TMG will be assembled by hosting a Combine, where gamers can showcase their physical and mental skills.

Zoomph entered into a strategic partnership with Immortals Gaming Club in a deal that will allow the team analyze engagements for all of its social media posts for all of the org’s teams, including MIBR, Overwatch League franchise Los Angeles Valiant, and its Immortals brand. The data will be used to create meaningful and actionable insights, and off an “amplified entertainment experience” for its fans.


Big news on the gaming front as Epic Games revealed that it was buying Tonic Games Group, parent company of Mediatonic, maker of Fall Guys. The title debuted last summer and sold more than 7 million copies. The game is heading to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox this summer.

Multiple reports now state that E3 will go purely digital for this year’s June event, with physical plans now again canceled due to the pandemic. The reports, first broken by VGC, state that Entertainment Software Association is now exploring alternatives with a production team and the LA Convention, including broadcast options that will run from the Los Angeles Convention Center and LA Live complex.

Johnson, Kendall & Johnson and SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory have partnered to create education and provide consulting and customized insurance solutions to organizations in the esports industry. “Over the past few years, we have had a front row seat to the explosive growth of esports and gaming, and in 2021 we see the potential for it to further expand,” said Dan Bravato, president of SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory. “We believe the industry is at a tipping point regarding the number of organizations in this space, and the size of them. As esports businesses multiply and evolve, they will require sophisticated solutions, and Johnson, Kendall & Johnson is the strategic insurance provider for this need.”


ESL Gaming Australia announced that Josh Inman was appointed General Manager of ESL Australia as part of a leadership restructure. Tomas Rossel will continue with duties as Director, Asia-Pacific Japan, focusing on supporting management across Australia and Asia.

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