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.
TEAM SPOTLIGHT – G2 Esports
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.”