04/15/21: Overwatch League reloads for new season

Medias First Morning Read

 

Thursday April 15, 2021

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Overwatch League returns to action this week, boasting new faces, new toys and a confirmed return to live competition this season. With play set to kick off tomorrow, the league confirmed the return to LAN events, lining up three that will take place in China later this year. The first is the June Joust, running June 4-6 and hosted by the Hangzhou Spark. That will be followed with the Summer Showdown from July 9-11, hosted by the Shanghai Dragons, and the Countdown Cup from Aug. 7-8 via that Guangzhou Charge.

Handling microphone duties this season will be Desk Hosts Soe, Custa, Reinforce and Danny, while caster pairs will see some new talent enter into the mix, joining some longtime duos. This season’s pairings will include Bren and Sideshow, along with Jaws/VikkiKitty, Achilios/AVRL; ZP/DOA; and Uber/Mr X.

Overwatch League also launched Power Ranking with IBM Watson for the 2021 season. The platform was developed by a team of data scientists at IBM alongside Overwatch League experts and uses AI algorithms to analyze every player and team’s performance in every Overwatch League match. Trained on data from previous seasons, Watson’s algorithm correlates those statistics and assigns a weight to each, determining how each factor tips the balance toward a win or a loss. Every week, the league will provide a comprehensive list of the top performers in the league on the Power Rankings with IBM Watson page on its website.

COMPETITION
The Call of Duty League is also bracing for a return to live events, confirming plans to host series later this year and stating on Twitter that that league was already working with teams for LANs to return for “select events” this season. The last offline CDL LAN event took place in March 2020 during week four in LA.

Speaking of COD, the Call of Duty: Mobile World Championship laid out its roadmap to return this year, boasting a $2 million prize pool with competition starting June 3 and set to be presented by Sony, conducted regionally in multiple stages. Sony’s newest flagship smartphone, Xperia 1 III, will be the official mobile device of the World Championship. “The momentum worldwide for Call of Duty: Mobile is incredible as our players continue to have a great time playing,” said Matt Lewis, vice president, mobile at Activision. “Picking up from last year’s competition, we’ve increased the prize money up for grabs and number of teams that can qualify, so there are even more reasons for fans to prove they’ve got what it takes to be the best.”

Esports tournament organizer BLAST Premier secured eight new media rights deals for the rest of the 2021 season. TV channels SportsMax, Nordic Entertainment Group and BOLT+, among other new deals, will take the Counter-Strike tournament series to a number of new regions around the world, including: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Iceland, Canada, Kosovo, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India and the Caribbean. The new rights partnerships will extend the esports media network’s portfolio of media rights to over 35 partners, meaning BLAST Premier will be shown in 18 different languages and across 157 territories.

F1 Esports is hunting for speed queens, introducing the F1 Esports Series Women’s Wildcard, a female-only qualification route into the Pro Exhibition. Racers will compete from May 3-9, setting flying lap times on F1 2020 to determine who’s fastest. The fastest qualifier will go through to the Pro Exhibition in May, a special event where the 10 F1 Esports teams will have the opportunity to select from a pool of some of the fastest sim racers in the world. The org stated that with the introduction of the Women’s Wildcard, it’s hoped that more female racers will be encouraged to take on F1 Esports from a grassroots level, with a view to being the first female driver to be selected by an official F1 Esports team.

WePlay Esports revealed that it was joining pro boxers Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomechenko to launch a company that will hold WePlay Ultimate Fighting League tournaments, develop products and operate worldwide. WUFL will use resources from WePlay Esports and the assets of its partners to fulfil these goals. “The WePlay Ultimate Fighting League has a great capacity to create new and riginal products at the intersection of esports and sports,” said Yura Lazebnikov, managing partner at WePlay Esports. “Partner companies’ insights and physical venues such as the WePlay Esports Arena Kyiv will help WUFL draw in fighting game fans from across the world and scale up the global fighting game community.”

Last chance to lay claim to your slot at the Esports Newfronts, as companies such as Riot Games, ESL, The Game Awards, Twitch, 100 Thieves, Dexerto, Super League Gaming, RekTGlobal, Belong/Vindex, Subnation, and GCN showcase the newest opportunities for partnerships. Brands and media buyers are invited to attend this is a can’t miss event to reach the elusive demo! Request an exclusive invite to the Cynopsis Sports & Esports Newfront now.

CheckpointXP is teaming with Blaze Fire Games to launch the #MyHBCUGotEsportsGameTour. The educational and competitive college esports experience features 25 participating Historically Black Colleges and Universities and will officially launch this year via two-day virtual events, including an esports panel discussion, a student-hosted show with guest appearances from student and professional athletes, and esports competitions. One hundred Esports curriculum scholarships will be awarded to each of the 25 participating schools.

CSL Esports secured a partnership with the Singleton Foundation for Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship to expand its scholastic curriculum. During a new virtual esports summer camp program that CSL Esports is hosting in partnership with Learn2Esport, CSL Esports and the Singleton Foundation will debut Venture Valley, the Foundation’s new multiplayer business-building game where players pit their business savvy against friends and competitors. As part of the relationship with The Singleton Foundation, CSL will also incorporate Venture Valley into CSL Esports leagues, tournaments and original broadcast content.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Gaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube and Facebook might just be the perfect place for meal delivery services to advertise. It’s far more convenient for gamers to swipe through an app, then run down to the kitchen and prepare a full meal. These brands recognize the opportunity and have activated with influencer marketing and esports sponsorship to increase brand affinity, and drive revenue. In March 2021, DoorDash led conversations across the category. Here’s why:
* DoorDash dominates the conversation for meal delivery services in March: DoorDash generated over 50,000 chat mentions in March, that’s over 2 times the category average.
* Aa9skillz drives major spike on March 25th: Messages for DoorDash spiked on 3/25 with over 2,000 messages sent in a single day. 15% of that day’s messages were generated on Aa9skillz’s channel during a sponsored stream.
For more information on how brands can leverage streaming data to enhance sponsorship visit us online at: www.StreamHatchet.com.

ACTIVATION
Excedrin is teaming up with 100 Thieves Founder & CEO Nadeshot in a move to educate the gaming community about the prevalence of headaches and the unintended consequence of the “no quit” mentality in esports. Excedrin’s research found that headaches are getting in the way of gameplay – 83% of gamers who have experienced headaches while gaming reported there are times they’ve had to stop playing due to their headaches. As a result, Excedrin has developed a “simple mindfulness routine featuring tips and tricks for gamers to integrate into gameplay.”

Gen.G and ROCCAT and pairing up, with the PC brand now serving as the official PC gaming accessories partner for keyboards, mice, and other PC peripherals of Gen.G’s Overwatch, League of Legends, and PUBG teams as well as their affiliated streamers. Additionally, ROCCAT will work directly with Gen.G’s players and streamers to create a slate of content for fans, as well as working with them to build their insights and competitive knowledge into future products. “We’re extremely excited to be extending our esports partnerships to Korea with Gen.G Esports – one of the most well-respected esports organizations in the world,” said Juergen Stark, Chairman & CEO, Turtle Beach Corporation. “We’re growing our business in Korea and can’t wait for the teams, their fans, and gamers in the region to see why ROCCAT is fast becoming one of the most sought-after PC gaming accessory brands.”

Tampax announced plans to host the first-ever Tampax Gaming Fest live on Friday at 8p on Twitch via KittyPlays’ channel and across VENN streaming channels. The event will host a virtual panel featuring gamers, Katherine Gunn and Rumay Wang along with Erin Ashley Simon, with Kristen Michaela (aka KittyPlays) as moderator. In addition to the panel discussion, all-female identifying Valorant teams TSM, CLG, and Dignitas will participate in a live tournament on Twitch alongside a fourth team of skilled amateurs brought together by Tampax. “We [Tampax] were happy to learn so many talented female gamers are fueling the growth of esports, but concerned that many in this community still consider period conversations taboo,” says Camille Zahniser, Brand Director of North America Tampax. “We’re excited to support these extraordinary players and help break down period stigmas through an event that will unite them, foster their continued success, and inspire future gamers.”

CLG and Samsung Electronics America cemented a partnership in which Samsung will be the Official Computer Memory Hardware Devices Partner for all CLG teams with the partnership boasting an editorial-style digital content series and premier brand integration throughout CLG’s team and player digital channels. Samsung also serves as the Presenting Partner for CLG’s Amateur Competition Platform “Samsung Open Tournament Series,” where Samsung will be involved in all marketing assets and throughout the livestreams of Samsung Open Tournament Series events on the CLG Twitch Channel. The first Samsung Open Tournament Series will take place on April 24, with Amateur players competing in League of Legends.

Logitech inked a deal to become the Official Hardware Provider of Twitch Rivals. The partnership will unlock exclusive gear and power fun community moments throughout the rest of the year. Examples include a Chat Sweepstakes; Logitech Partner Hype; and Custom Twitch Rivals and ASTRO Gaming A40 Headset Tags.

DarkZero Esports forged ties with gaming furniture manufacturer RESPAWN, which will now outfit DarkZero’s Las Vegas gaming home. The deal will also see the duo pair up on creating content, unveiling new products and hosting giveaways.

The LCS named Turtle Beach’s peripherals brand ROCCAT to become its first official mouse and keyboard partner with the company delivering the equipment for the LCS Arena. ROCCAT‘s participation begins with the 2021 Mid-Season Showdown Finals Weekend broadcast on April 10-11, 2021, and then continues into the summer split in June 2021. “We are excited to welcome ROCCAT to the LCS family,” said Matt Archambault, Head of Partnerships for NA & OCE Esports at Riot Games. “Being able to work with a brand that exhibits the same level of passion and focus toward their customers as we do with our players and fans is something special. We’ve seen firsthand the quality of ROCCAT’s lineup and know their products are designed for serious PC gamers. We can’t wait to get started creating and delivering rich experiences together for years to come.”

BLAST Premier agreed a long-term partnership with L33T Gaming to become Official Chair Partner of the Counter-Strike tournament series. As part of the deal, L33T will provide players and talent with high-end gaming chairs across the season with the partnership also set to include product giveaways, collaborative content opportunities and branding across the global CS:GO tournament’s digital and physical assets.

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Our virtual event for brand & agency execs will have exciting presentations from the following industry leaders in sports and esports: Riot Games, Roku, AEG, Twitch, 100 Thieves, Dexerto, ESL, Belong Gaming Arenas, Subnation, Super League Gaming, USTA, Professional Fighters League, Pac-12, ReKt Global, Gaming Community Network and The Game Awards.

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PLATFORMS

G4 continues to bolster its talent, announcing that Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez would be joining the NBCUniversal gaming channel. There, he now joins the likes of hosts Kevin Pereira and Adam Sessler, among others.

GRID secured a $10 million Series A funding round, with investment that includes NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster, as well as Alinea Capital, Bumble Ventures, and Tar Heel Capital Pathfinder for the data platform. Th funding will be used to strengthen its US expansion plans.

TEAMS

OverActive Media Corp. announced a second closing on their previously announced private placement, bringing the aggregate gross proceeds of their brokered and non-brokered financings to over $40 million. OverActive also announced that the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens joined the ownership group as part of the funding. This strategic investment in OverActive is the Canadiens’ first move into the esports industry. OverActive also saw Phil Kessel of the Arizona Coyotes and Carl Hagelin of the Washington Capitals join OverActive’s list of celebrity and athlete owners.

Enthusiast Gaming file to be listed on the Nasdaq. According to multiple reports, the company filed their registration statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on April 13. Enthusiast is the parent company to esports brands that include Luminosity Gaming, Call of Duty franchise Seattle Surge, and Overwatch franchise Vancouver Titans, in addition to owning more than 100 gaming websites and 1,000 YouTube channels since launching in 2014.

Envy Gaming launched the Envy Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) created with an eye to “bring people together through initiatives and programming that leverage the universal culture of gaming.” The initiative will focus on four areas: the development of STEAM initiatives at the middle school and high school level, improving cognitive, mental and physical health, delivering joy to children receiving medical care, and improving lives of those in North Texas.

LIFESTYLE
NBA 2K League Champion Athleticwear is announcing an extension of its multi-year partnership with the NBA 2K League to continue as its official outfitter through the 2023 season. Champion now supplies all 23 teams with seasonal, custom team lines, including game jerseys, practice wear, travel gear, leisure items and a curated signature hoodie. Additionally, Champion provided 2021 draft prospects with gear, and will continue participating in the NBA 2K League influencer program during the league’s fourth season.

H4X, a lifestyle fashion brand worn by a number of professional esports athletes and gaming personalities, announced an exclusive collection with Nick Kolcheff, aka, Nickmercs. The capsule collection consists of a t-shirt, hoodie, and hat packed in a custom frosted poly bag with a personalized note from Nick and shipped in custom MFAM branded boxes. The apparel will be available on Saturday, at1p at MFAM.gg.

In addition, H4X announced a new multiyear partnership with Overactive Media to become the Lead Apparel Partner of the Toronto Ultra and Toronto Defiant. “This is a really exciting time for our organization and our franchises. Building these unique collections with a Canadian lifestyle brand and offering fans high quality apparel is important,” said Tyler Keenan, VP of Global Partnerships at OverActive.

INDUSTRY
Epic Games unveiled a $1 billion funding round, giving the “Fortnite” creator a $28.7 billion valuation. The round includes a $200 million investment from Sony. Additional investors include Luxor Capital, Franklin Templeton, and Fidelity Investments Inc. “Their investment will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in ‘Fortnite,’ ‘Rocket League,’ and ‘Fall Guys’ while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services, and the Epic Games Store,” said Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney in a statement.

The Entertainment Software Association is teaming with multiple media companies in a move to content for this year’s E3, running June 12-15. The first batch of media partners will feature IGN, Future Games, GameSpot, Polygon, IGN China, and Game Bonfire. “We are focused on ensuring that E3 continues to be the most innovative and collaborative event in the video game industry, so enlisting some of the industry’s biggest media partners to help deliver the highly-anticipated news, reveals and more is crucial to a successful showcase,” ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said. “Each media partner will be instrumental in driving E3’s reach to more fans than ever before. With this year’s digital format, we’re looking to provide our audiences with exciting and unique ways to experience the magic of E3.”

Generation Esports announced the successful closing of its $10.8 Million Series A Round, which was led by Bay Area-based early-stage investor Altos Ventures with participation from FJ Labs and other investors. The Series A investment will directly support GenE’s multiple community and student esports initiatives, including the High School Esports League as well as the Middle School Esports League, and all associated tournaments and activations.

MADMONQ, a company that created the a health and performance gaming supplement targeting gamers’ needs, announced a near $600,000 seed round with participation from poker star, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier; Twitch streamer, Lex Veldhuis; content creator, entrepreneur, and author Radek “sterakdary” Starý; manager Lukáš “lastgameblitz” Křítek, AdRock Ventures; and entrepreneur Vojta Roček. The funding will be used to raise awareness around the need to prioritize health in gaming, new product development, scaling the team, and paving the way for Series A round, planned for late 2021.

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05/12/21: Cynopsis Jobs

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  PRODUCTION ATTORNEY (TEMPORARY) A+E NETWORKS NYC Provide legal counsel to internal production groups on day-to-day production related matters. Pre-Broadcast and Production Counseling, Agreement Negotiation and Clearance Review, general Legal advice and Clearance review. 4-6+ years of legal practice required with preferred 2 years min of production firm legal experience. Full info

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