03/01/18: OWL’s Nanzer gears up for growth

It’s Thursday March 1, 2018 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing.

With Stage Two of Season One of Overwatch League now underway, the league is now preparing to shift gears toward its post-launch plans, which include continuing to fine-tune and improve the experience for viewers, mulling expansion and bringing in more sponsors. Cynopsis Esports sat down with Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer to discuss the success of season one, expansion rumors and more.
Nanzer on season one: The goal for season one was a successful launch, operationally and from a product perspective. It has been encouraging that most of the press so far has said that what we have produced so far has been high quality. So that’s a pretty good barometer for us to measure ourselves by, so we know that people like the product. Now, it is about learning fast and continuing to iterate and make it better and there will be a ton of incremental things like that we’ll add over the course of the season. Now it is really about fine-tuning the product and working hard toward the eventual goal, which is – for example – Seoul and LA are playing and they are either in Seoul or LA. When we are not hosting matches this season, the thing that has occupied our minds has been getting our teams ready to host their own matches.
On how the viewing experience will evolve: We feel like watching Overwatch has come a long way over the past year. It was hard to watch when it first came out and there weren’t too many spectator tools. As we look forward, we want to do things like figure out how to set up camera angles where on Point B on Anubis, for example, we always use the same top-down camera views. So you start to build those sub-conscious cues with the viewer of “this is what it looks like when we watch this map.” Those are the types of changes we are going to work on, as well as being thoughtful about when we switch heroes, when do we go third-person/first-person, etc.
On developing talent: We are really lucky to have the roster we have. Now we’ve got Malik and Goldenboy as two great additions as well. We really view Contenders as a proving ground for new talent. We want to get to the point where we have dozens and dozens of quality casters and analysts and hosts. We are super fortunate to have Chris Puckett, as I don’t think people realize how difficult the role of host can be. He is a pro and that job is really hard. We really want to groom our analysts and give them more tools like telestration.
On increasing diversity: We got a bunch of flack for the diversity of the talent pool, but what people didn’t realize is that we couldn’t get some deals done in time. Diversity and being good are important in everything we do and there are names that are out there that are small names in the community now who may not have a lot of followers now, but we hope that we can start to give opportunities to folks like that to get involved in Contenders and eventually move to the big stage with Overwatch League.
On the Twitch partnership: Twitch is a great partner. We really wanted to not just have somebody give us money and distribute content, because we can distribute content. Instead, we wanted somebody who wanted to build something with us. The team at Twitch was super excited about the opportunity to create something special together. Our announcements (re: Cheering/League Tokens) with them is the start of that and there will be other stuff you will hear about soon.
On reports of expansion: None of those reports are accurate because we haven’t talked to anybody about expansion yet. I think we will be in the market soon and there are a lot of people who are interested. Frankly, we needed time to update our materials as last year we were selling a conceptual product and now we have something that is successful. I expect that we will be in the market soon and the focus, honestly, will be on expanding the market internationally in Europe and Asia.

Riot locked in locations for this year’s League of Legends lineup, announcing that the World Championship will move to South Korea. Meanwhile, the publisher also announced the locations for the Mid-Season Invitational with the play-in and group stages taking place May 3-6, 8-9 and 11-15 at the EU LCS studio in Berlin, Germany. The knockout stage will take place May 18-20 in Paris, France. In addition, five Rift Rivals events will run from July 2-8 in NA, China, Brazil, Australia and Vietnam.
Smash Masters League punched in its plans for the new season, announcing that it will be part of Esports Arena’s opening weekend at the Luxor with the Battle for Vegas from March 24-25 with a Smash 4 tournament. The league is a partnership with Esports Arena and ESA Smash Alliance members to launch the first global circuit for Smash, showcasing the best of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Melee with stops in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, China and more. Competition will come to a climax at Smash Worlds, where the best of the best will compete for chanced to be crowned the Smash Worlds Champion.
Meanwhile, this week’s $500,000 Intel Extreme Masters World Championship has its voices lined up as group play readies for launch. The commentary for those will be provided by Henry “HenryG” Greer and Matt “Sadokist” Trivett, Jason “moses” O’Toole and Lauren “Pansy” Scott (both stream A) as well as Harry “JustHarry” Russell with Hugo Byron and Alex “Snodz” Byfield with Jack “Jacky” Peters (both stream B). Meanwhile, Alex “Machine” Richardson will host, beside Janko “Ynk” Paunovic, Chad “Spunj” Burchill and Adam “friberg” Friberg.
ELEAGUE is turning its attention to TEKKEN 7 for its next title. The 3D fighting franchise from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America will be the centerpiece for the first-ever ELEAGUE | TEKKEN Team Takedown with a live tournament on March 3 at 2p on Twitch. Coverage of the event will then transition to TBS for a four-part feature series set to premiere March 16, following the network’s NCAA March Madness coverage. ELEAGUE host Richard Lewis will call the live action as well as provide studio analysis and player interviews, joining talent that includes Reepal “Rip” Parbhoo, Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott, and Stephen “Sajam” Lyon. Meanwhile, TEKKEN ambassador and analyst Mark “MarkMan” Julio and reporter Michele Morrow will both make their ELEAGUE debuts.
Meanwhile, ELEAGUE | Road to the Boston Major returns with the fourth of five episodes tomorrow night at 10p on TBS, with the newest ep, The Big Stage, focusing on players’ unique experiences as they travel to Boston for a chance at a Major victory, featuring the families of star players Tarik ‘tarik’ Celik, Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David and Epitácio ‘TACO’ de Melo as they travel to Boston’s Agganis.
Hi-Rez Studios is going all in with Mixer, announcing that the SMITE Pro League and SMITE Console Series will be broadcast exclusively on the platform.  Season five of the SPL kicks off on March 20 at 1p, while the SCS begins on March 5. SMITE Pro League broadcasts will implement Mixer’s “unique co-streaming technology” to bring fans more camera angles, perspectives and views.
Gfinity announced that it has been tapped by Microsoft Studios’s Turn 10 Studios to serve as the Global Tournament Operator for the 2018 Forza Racing Championship. Under the deal, Gfinity will oversee all league operations, including online qualifiers and local area-network-based events.
Spain’s LaLiga is getting into esports with an eye to expand the brand and reach new audiences. The league launched LaLiga Esports in a move to offer the gaming community its experience within the sports industry with the first phase rolling out nationally across Spain before expanding internationally. The league said that the decision was prompted by sponsors who had expressed a desire to invest in the esports sector.
The Eastern College Athletic Conference will showcase its esports expo on ECAC Network with livestream coverage of the day-long event today, designed to educate college sports and recreation administrators about the intercollegiate esports opportunities for their institutions. The event will feature a series of esports panel discussions followed by a four-team exhibition tournament on Riot Games’ League of Legends featuring ECAC and MAAC member schools. Teams participating in the League of Legends exhibition tournament include Canisius College, Marist College, Siena College and SUNY Canton.

The Overwatch League resumed on the esports calendar with Stage Two, and here are Stream Hatchet’s key takeaways:
  • Dallas Fuel was the most utilized emote in chat, with 4.7K uses throughout the week.
  • Viewership peaked with 211.9K views during the Dallas Fuel match against the Los Angeles Gladiators.
  • English was the most popular language streamed by OWL fans with 3 times as many new views as the Korean stream.
For a more detailed breakdown of the Overwatch League and other insights, please visit our blog at: https://medium.com/@streamHatchet
Source: Streamhatchet.com

Betway continues to dive deeper into esports, announcing a deal to sponsor multiple ESL tournaments this year, including ESL One, seasons 7 and 8 of the CS:GO Pro League, and IEM Katowice. “We’re really excited to be sponsoring some of the biggest events on the esports calendar,” said Adam Savinson, Head of Esports, Betway, per Esports Insider. “We’ve already enjoyed an incredible amount of success over the past 12 months, becoming the first betting partner of CS:GO Pro League and ESL One Cologne, and we can’t wait to build on this further.”
Speaking of IEM Katowice, the event continues to chalk up activations, announcing that Acer is serving as an official partner of IEM World Championship Katowice. Acer is providing Predator Triton 700 laptops to the CS:GO and StarCraft II broadcast teams. The brand will also host the Predator Prime Talk live TV stream,” inviting top-tier pros from CS:GO and StarCraft II to discuss the hottest topics around IEM.”
HyperX also announced sponsorship and participation at IEM Katowice 2018 in Katowice. During the event, HyperX will exhibit and showcase a range of gaming product demos at the IEM EXPO, including its latest gaming peripherals. “We’re very happy to continue marching on with one of our best and most long-standing partners,” said Michal Blicharz, VP Pro Gaming at ESL. “By Katowice, IEM’s cooperation with HyperX will have spanned 27 events and almost five years. It’s safe to say that IEM and HyperX have almost become an inseparable duo and that speaks to the shared values that we have as well as similar ideas for esports.”
Finally, IEM announced that Vodafone would serve as a premium partner of IEM World Championship Katowice, running March 2-4. “We’ve seen esports grow from a niche gaming activity to the world’s most popular sport of this generation, and we strongly believe that the next step to grow further, is technological advancement.” said Ralf Reichert, CEO at ESL. “This partnership enables ESL to deliver better events, better experience for fans, and better facilities for the players – and it’s just the beginning. We’re incredibly excited that Vodafone are partnering with us for the event in Katowice.”
Lionsgate is partnering with Overwatch League’s Los Angeles Valiant to promote season three of the Starz Original Series Ash vs Evil Dead. The partnership will see the show become the Valiant’s sole and exclusive jersey sponsor through at least Stage 2 of the inaugural season of OWL. As part of the deal, Valiant fans will be given “unprecedented access to Ash vs Evil Dead experiences, including exclusive screenings at Lionsgate’s studios in Santa Monica, Q&A/AMAs with creative voices behind the franchise, meet-and-greets, and more.”
Electronic Arts confirmed the return of EA Play, with the three-day event taking place from June 9-11. The event will feature games and experiences, with “more hands-on stations and more entertainment than ever before.” 
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TwitchCon is locked and loaded for 2018, unveiling plans to hit San Jose this year, where the annual confab will take place at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center from October 26 to 28. Last year’s event took place in Long Beach. “TwitchCon has continued to grow year over year with our diverse and inclusive community playing a major role in defining the content through their feedback and participation in on-site activities,” TwitchCon said in a statement. “As with our previous three conventions, we are keeping things fresh with a new location. And since San Jose has a proven track record of successfully holding major events with plenty of great places to eat and stay, it’s exciting to give our attendees a new city to explore for all of the expected community meetups.”
Discord, the largest chat platform for gamers with more than 90 million users, unveiled plans for esports, partnering with a slate of teams and brands spanning multiple games, including Team Liquid, DreamHack, and almost every Overwatch League team. The program launched yesterday with official Discord Verified Servers where teams and players can share news, chat with fans, discuss upcoming match-ups and more.
Esports Battle League and WHAM Network Inc. announced a digital media partnership that will deliver EBL’s inaugural season to WHAM content platforms starting in June. Co-founded by Scott O’Leary, with former National Lacrosse League Commissioner George Daniel, and former NBA Players Association Chief Counsel Bob Lanza, the EBL expects to field eight to ten teams in the upcoming season, each competing in a traditional league format with the team that has the best two out of three scores advancing in the competition.
Millennial Esports Corp. announced that subsidiary Stream Hatchet completed the roll-out of a new offering that, for the first time, “provides sponsors of esports events and leagues with an analytics solution that utilizes image recognition technology to mine, measure, and monetize sponsor exposure.” “We developed this offering to provide valuations of traditional sports sponsorship to the world of esports where advertisers and sponsors don’t yet have clarity,” said Jake Phillips, President of Business Development at Stream Hatchet. “This tool also offers event organizers and tournament hosts, like ESL, a way to accurately price the sponsorship packages they’re creating.”
The National Association of Collegiate Esports inked a partnership with the High School Esports League, which features thirteen different games and has over 5,800 students participating. The partnership between NACE and HSEL will “create a stronger path for high school esports athletes to move into the collegiate ranks as scholarship athletes” with coaches and esports directors at NACE member colleges and universities gaining access to HSEL’s Discord server in order to communicate directly to students interested in competing in college. Additionally HSEL will promote the use of NACE’s recruitment platform for all of its users.
ReedPOP picked up Gamer Network and its portfolio of events, websites, and video channels under its umbrella, marking the company’s first expansion beyond the event production business. Gamer Network is home to leading editorial and community websites and YouTube channels that include Eurogamer, RockPaperShotgun, GamesIndustry.biz, VG247, Outside Xbox, Digital Foundry and USgamer. The company also organizes the UK’s biggest games event, EGX and indie games event, EGX Rezzed.
FanAI Inc., a platform that “unlocks the value of fan data in order to optimize sponsorship engagement within esports”, announced today the closing of a $2.5M round, for a total of $4.5M raised to date. The round is led by Courtside Ventures and CRCM Ventures, with participation from BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, BDS Capital, Catalyst Sports, Deep Space Ventures, Everblue Management, Greycroft GC Tracker Fund, M Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, and Sterling VC.

Courtesy: Esports One & Esportspedia: Revolutionizing Esports Data

Vision Esports closed a $38 million capital raise led by Evolution Media, the investment firm backed by CAA and private equity fund TPG Growth, as well as a slew of sports organizations and athletes. Vision Esports is now the largest shareholder in Echo Fox, Twin Galaxies and Vision Entertainment. This new group of investors join the New York Yankees in committing to the Vision Esports platform. Additional investors in the round include Shamrock Holdings, the private investment arm of the Disney family; Seth Bernstein Capital Management; Simon Tikhman of First Access Entertainment and several other high-profile professional athletes and entertainers.
Just ahead of winning the Intel Challenge Katowice 2018 over the weekend, Team Dignitas’ women’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team resigned with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. Team Dignitas’ squad includes Team Captain and AWPer Emmalee “EMUHLEET” Garrido; entry fraggers Amanda “rain” Smith and Mounira “Goosebreeder” Dobie; lurker Carolyn “artStar”  Noquez and Kiara “Milk” Makua.
In year two of their partnership, Events DC and NRG Esports are opening a new training home in Washington, DC that will house NRG’s developmental Overwatch Roster for the Contenders Series. “We are beyond thrilled that NRG has chosen the District of Columbia to locate a house for their Overwatch Contenders team. One of our priorities at Events DC over the last 18 months has been to create and execute an esports strategy to position Washington, DC as a leader in this important economic development and tourism space,” said Max Brown, Chairman, Board of Directors at Events DC.
It appears to be the end of the road for Circa Esports, which has reportedly shut its doors despite recent news that they would take part in the Esports Battle League. Circa’s laid claim to Miami as its home market as part of the first three teams to be announced for the league, joining Elevate in Denver and Simplicity in Las Vegas.

Worldwide digital spending grew 11% in January year over year, according to Superdata, which reports that gamers spent $8.9 billion digitally on games across all platforms in January. Highlights from the month include Dragonball FighterZ debuting as the most successful fighting game digital console launch of all time, while battle royale stalwarts PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite drew over $200 million in digital revenue from console and PC that month.
Congrats to the winners of the 21st DICE Awards, which saw Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild garner the most awards with four including Game of the Year. That was just ahead of Cuphead, which earned three. Horizon Zero Dawn, Lone Echo/Echo Arena, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS and Snipperclips each earned two. Other top honorees were Fire Emblem Heroes for Mobile Game of the Year, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Racing Game of the Year, Injustice 2 for Fighting Game of the Year, FIFA 18 for Sports Game of the Year, Snipperclips for the Sprite Award, and PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS for Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay.

Psyonix and Monstercat, an independent record label in the Dance music scene, are again teaming up to offer four new music playlists in Rocket League in 2018. Following the success of last year’s Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 1 playlist, Psyonix and Monstercat will launch the Rocket League x Monstercat Vol. 2 playlist in the Spring Feature Update, followed by three additional playlists throughout the year. All of the playlists will be shorter, EP length releases, to provide new, diverse music all year long.
POWER PLAYERS – Anna Rozwandowicz

Last month saw esports communications stalwarts Anna Rozwandowicz, Kalie Moore and Nicola Piggott open the doors to The Story Mob, described as an international consultancy offering strategic communications counsel to brands, teams, on-air talent, startups and investors in the esports space. Rozwandowicz joined from ESL, while Piggott came from Riot Games and Moore served at BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. Clients will include the likes of Team Liquid, Fnatic, Red Bull, DOJO Madness, Split Media Labs and BITKRAFT Esports Ventures. Cynopsis Esports asked Rozwandowicz about the move and the state of PR in esports.
Rozwandowicz on the marketplace: Through my position at ESL, I was very fortunate to be able to sit front row and watch esports explode right in front of me. The two key takeaways from my experience with the industry, are: in this fan-driven economy, esports communications should be a top priority, not an afterthought, and that you can count on one hand the number of people who specialize in it. I knew the first one had to change, and over the past few months I’ve learned that The Story Mob can drive that change. 
On fans: Everything we do comes from a very deep belief that esports fans are the most valuable community in the world – and that at the same time, they won’t buy your spin and will call you out on poor delivery or lack of transparency. They’re passionate, zealous and very vocal. The only way to reach them is through authentic and credible communications – which can only be done well if you have first-hand knowledge of what they’re made of. That specific knowledge, plus over 10 years of first-hand experience working with the biggest esports communities in the world, is the unique mix we bring to the table. 
On services: The Story Mob is designed to be a one-stop-shop for all esports communications needs and to work in lockstep with brands as their PR partners. From high level strategic planning for brands strategizing their entry into the space,to crisis communication management and ongoing issues management for brands already fully embedded in the ecosystem, we believe that we can help improve the public face of multiple players in the space. Unlike most agencies, we understand that esports is its own beast and that esports fans are immune to tried and tested tactics.
On their mission: The Story Mob is on a mission to help brands understand that to really successfully enter our industry, they need to ask themselves: How can I add real value to the esports ecosystem? I see brands mostly not taking their time to get to know the community and explore the right strategies to reach the esports fans. The commitment often ends at a logo placement on the lower third, or an ad rotation on the stream. Whilst those are good tactics, on their own they will have no impact on ROI. It’s sometimes been frustrating to see great brands being genuinely interested in esports and wanting to invest, but underestimating what’s going to move the needle with fans and assuming a corporate press release will suffice. As a result, they don’t get the ROI they anticipated, and their confidence in re-investing diminishes, which means the whole ecosystem suffers.

ESL made a pair of executive moves, naming Yvette Martinez-Rea as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of ESL North America while Craig Levine, previously CEO of North America, gets boosted to a new global role as Global Chief Strategy Officer. “ESL is continually working to reshape and refine our organization, products, and solutions to best meet the needs of players, fans, teams and publishers,” said Ralf Reichert, Global CEO and President, ESL. “In our commitment to the U.S. market, we are excited for our executive team in North America to further the company’s creative development and innovate within the growing landscape of the esports industry.”
The Overwatch League announced the appointment of veteran global sports/entertainment licensing executive Daniel Siegel to the newly created position of Head of Esports Licensing. Siegel will help drive extended investment in the entire Overwatch esports ecosystem. Most recently, Siegel served as Vice President of Licensing at WME-IMG for ten years, where he was responsible for developing and implementing licensing strategies for IMG’s clients, securing worldwide rights to represent a number of automotive brands, including JEEP, Chrysler, Dodge, and RAM.
Everett Coleman has been tapped as the GM of the H1Z1 Pro League. After the announcement, Coleman, who is also owner of esports team Str8 Rippin, posted that “After spending time at the offices this week, I can very confidently say that this will be a league you won’t want to miss. I look forward to working with all of the new teams, players, and staff to achieve the common goal of building something tremendously special and unique.”
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ON THIS DAY in 2000: Nintendo releases Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64.
Trivia: “Prepare for trouble! And make it double!” Which franchise features the villainy of Team Rocket? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: In the world of Harry Potter books/movies/games, what is the name of the shop founded by Fred and George Weasley? Answer: Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Lauren Weeks-Viacom/NYC; Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick – National Geographic/DC; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
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Cynopsis 07/18/24: Shogun rakes in Emmy nods

"Shogun" rakes in Emmy nods

Thursday July 18, 2024 Today’s Premieres ABC: Press Your Luck at 8p; Lucky 13 at 9p BET+: Bruh Hulu: How I Caught My Killer Max: Kite Man: Hell Yeah! MTV: The West Coast Hustle Netflix: Cobra Kai; Master of the House Peacock: Those About to Die Prime Video: Top Class Tennis IN THE NEWS Hulu’s […]

07/17/24: Cynopsis Jobs


ASSOCIATE, GLOBAL LICENSING & DISTRIBUTION HEARST MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP CHARLOTTE, NC Coordinate and execute asset delivery to content distribution partners and assist with ideation and execution of marketing campaigns with channel partners as well as capture, analyze, and report viewership data. You will also follow and report on industry trends and create weekly programming schedules […]

Cynopsis 07/17/24: Apple TV+ renews “Loot” for season three

Apple TV+ renews "Loot" for season three

Wednesday July 17, 2024 Today’s Premieres BritBox: 24 Hours in Police Custody CBS: Big Brother at 8p Hulu: UnPrisoned Netflix: Simone Biles: Rising; The Green Gang; T P Bon Syfy: The Ark at 10p IN THE NEWS Global entertainment & media industry revenues rose 5% to $2.8 trillion in 2023, and are projected to hit […]