04/28/16: ESL talks TV, controversy and future; Nintendo plots March Madness for NX; Bud Light’s eSports game



Esports is one of the hottest and fastest growing industries. ESL is the world’s largest independent esports company. Our recent World Championship event drew over 113,000 attendees and nearly 90M live video sessions

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Good morning. It’s Thursday, April 28, 2016, and this is your first (and the very first) weekly morning eSports & Gaming brief. Our new brand will offer exclusive Q&As, expert data insights, the top business stories this week, hot trailers and coming events in order to connect the dots for the gaming industry, brands, technology, media and audiences. Of course, we will continue to run daily, breaking stories in our Sports edition.

Yesterday saw ESL enter the linear realm, announcing eSportsTV, dubbed as the world’s first 24/7 eSports TV channel. The new outlet will work beside existing ESL partnerships in Twitch, Azubu, Hitbox and Yahoo and will kick off next month via parent company MTG’s Viasat platforms. Content will include more than 2,000 hours of live gaming and eSports content including broadcasts of all of ESL’s biggest events including ESL One, Intel Extreme Masters as well as Pro League competitions. MTG will also be distributing eSportsTV content on its Nordic and Baltic satellite platforms.

Cynopsis eSports & Gaming spoke with Craig Levine, CEO of ESL North America, about how the explosion of eSports had changed the industry, recent headlines banning Team YP, and the company’s plans for the remainder of 2016.

Levine on the growth of the eSports industry: From a grassroots, fan perspective, I don’t think that much has changed. This is content that has been put out there in the last couple of years, but now events are getting bigger and grander, which adds an element of spectacle that I think is really great. There’s starting to be a little more structure, with production values going up. But the real change is starting to happen on the B-to-B side, where everyone from the big media companies are looking at this space. And there are a lot of brands that have been on the sidelines who are trying to understand what it is, and then how to get in. You see companies like Taco Bell, Coke, Red Bull, and now Bud Light. So you are starting to get that validation where it feels safe for partners to come in.

On US-based plans in 2016: Two years ago, when we formally launched our US operations, we were five people. Now we have about 100 just in the US, with four broadcast studios in LA. Last year, we did two events in the States: one was at the SAP Center in San Jose and the other at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. This year is about expanding those: we’re coming back to New York in October in a bigger way, and improving the fan experience. We’ll be adding more events next year to the lineup as well. In addition, we have a sister company, DreamHack, which is more of a gaming festival. They’ll unveil two North American events, one in Austin next weekend and the other in Montreal in August.

On upcoming challenges to the industry: We’ve tried to spearhead potential issues (cheating, narcotics, etc.) through self-regulation and thought-leadership in the industry. When you look at sports, be it cycling and tennis or the NFL and MLB, they’re faced with corruption issues one way or the other. We’ve led the conversation on a couple of fronts: one is drug testing, where we have worked with the World Anti-Doping Agency and test now for events. We have a partnership with Sportradar, where we do data analysis on legal betting around the world so we’re able to detect suspicious trends. Last week, two very famous players were arrested for a match-fixing scandal. These guys are young and impressionable. We need to educate, and so have started a behind-the-scenes support program to help them if they’re faced with this.

On the decision to ban Team YP: When we secure licenses to run events, there are certain advertising restrictions – things like porn and tobacco, that are sensitive for a younger demographic. We felt it was our responsibility to do what’s right. You don’t see Team YouPorn sponsoring the New York Knicks. We also need to make these decisions from the brand perspective and where we want to be positioned in the market. And some of it is out of respect to the IP holders, and the agreements we signed up for in exchange to use their IP.

You can hear directly from Levine and other leaders in the industry at our Cynopsis eSports Conference, set for June 23 in NY. Click here for more info.


Source: Nielsen 360 US Gaming Report


MLG unveiled plans for the MLG Anaheim Open, in collaboration with PlayStation 4 and the Call of Duty World League. The event will be held at the Anaheim Convention center from June 10-12 and will showcase up to 96 amateur teams and 12 North American CWL teams for a $100,000 Prize Pool and 10,000 CWL Pro Points. For amateur teams, the event will feature a Double Elimination Open Bracket, Pool Play, and a Double Elimination Championship Bracket.  Fans can watch line via MLG.tv, twitch.com/callofduty, and in-game (BO3 PS4) via the Live Event Viewer.

ESL Australia announced plans for the ESL ANZ Championship, which will be determined across two seasons. The event will feature Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft and Halo 5: Guardians and utilize ESEA’s anti-cheat platform for the CS:GO competition.

Studio Wildcard unveiled today the first-ever ARK: Survival of the Fittest international competition spanning May 1-10, dangling $40,000 in cash at the offline Season One Summer Cup Tournament in Beijing during the China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference. The 42 highest-Scoring registered Tournament Mode players during May and June (84 players total) will be invited to an online Semi-Final match on July 1 with the top five North American and European teams then moving on to the official Summer Cup to play against qualified local Chinese teams from July 29-31.

Street Fighter V has topped 4,000 registered competitors for Evo 2016, according to the company’s Twitter account. This bests last year’s record of 2,227 entrants in Ultra Street Fighter IV with two months remaining to register, and the company will now run qualifying pools on two days instead of one. “Every year we’ve seen record growth for all of our games, and it’s no surprise Evo is the place where they want to compete,” Evo co-founder Joey Cuellar told Yahoo eSports. “Competition will be fierce this year and I can’t wait to see who emerges as World Champions.”

Gfinity is opening up eSports tournaments to more Xbox One players, courtesy of a new app allowing users to build their own tournaments, marking the first time in console history that players can “create and manage their own cups, leagues, ladders and competitions” directly from the console. In addition, the company unveiled a $2,000 Rocket League Tournament for Europe and North America on the console.

Last weekend’s indictment of renowned Global Starcraft League champion Lee "Life" Seung Hyun along with Bung “Bbyong” Woo Yong – with charges of throwing matches in exchange for money – reopened vulnerabilities in the eSports realm. A Korean police report claims that Seung Hyun threw two matches during the KeSPA Cup in exchange for $60,000 from a gambling syndicate. Meanwhile, Woo Yong was charged with throwing one match, in January, for around $26,000. “The crimes were perpetrated with clear division of roles: Financial backers to put up the compensation for match-fixing, brokers to solicit the match-fixing and transfer the funds, and an employee in charge of receiving gambling funds and placing bets on gambling sites,” according to the BBC.


Nintendo’s upcoming game system, dubbed NX, is now slated to launch in March 2017 and will be unveiled later this year. The newest installment of franchise The Legend of Zelda will begin simultaneously for both Wii U and NX, with both versions of the game developed in tandem. Meanwhile, Miitomo, the brand’s first app for smartphones and tablets, has now crossed 10 million unique users worldwide, and the company will present a special 10-day “Celebrating 10 Million Users!” promotion starting tomorrow. Next up: apps based on the Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing franchises this fall.

Speaking of Nintendo, NY federal Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that the Nintendo 3DS does not infringe a patent on 3D display technology as claimed by plaintiffs Tomita Technologies USA, and Tomita Technologies International in 2011, according to reports. Judge Rakoff’s ruling follows Nintendo’s successful appeal of an earlier verdict, stating that the Nintendo 3DS performs in a significantly different way and does more than was contemplated by the Tomita patent.

It was a good week for Blizzard, which announced that Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft topped the 50 million registered player threshold. Meanwhile, the company will introduce Whispers of the Old Gods, the third expansion for Blizzard Entertainment’s online strategy card game. Whispers of the Old Gods is available now for Windows and MacPCs, iOS and Android tablets, and mobile phones.

Motherboard writes that Lifeboat Network, the private server service for Minecraft Pocket Edition, was hacked months ago, resulting in the theft of more than 7 million users’ names, email contact and passwords. Customers were not informed, according to the report, with a Lifeboat representative telling the site, "When this happened [in] early January we figured the best thing for our players was to quietly force a password reset without letting the hackers know they had limited time to act. We did this over a period of some weeks. We retain no personal information (name, address, age) about our players, so none was leaked."



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Traditional sports sponsor Bud Light is now making waves in the world of eSports, announcing The Bud Light All-Stars to celebrate the best players in the space. The brand will unveil a list of top eSports athletes from across North America on May 7 at DreamHack Austin, representing the likes of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm. After fans vote for their favorite eSports athlete, the company will be named as the first-ever Bud Light All-Stars live as Twitch on June 14 in Los Angeles. "Bud Light has always been the beer that sports fans  regardless of what they’re watching  reach for and enjoy together," said Bud Light vice president Alex Lambrecht. "Esports is a new and exciting frontier for us and we’re looking forward to providing another opportunity to bring fans around the country together to cheer for their favorite athlete."

Ubisoft is taking on E3 once again with its Ubisoft Lounge, a pop-up event being held in a location near the Los Angeles Convention Center, according to the company, allowing fans to get time with games from Ubisoft’s E3 lineup, chat with Ubisoft’s teams, attend master classes, compete against other fans and win prizes. In addition, fifty creative and dedicated fans from around the world, aka Star Players, will be chosen to join Ubisoft in LA for this year’s show.

Electronic Arts, the NHL and the NHLPA announced that fans will determine the next face of the EA Sports NHL 17 franchise through a cover vote. Eight hockey stars – one from each of the eight teams competing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016  will be competing for the honor with voting now underway at NHL.com and via Twitter. Cover competitors include Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Jakub Voracek, Aleksander Barkov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Victor Hedman, Anze Kopitar and Connor McDavid.

Pizza Hut is coming back to serve as title sponsor of RTX, according to Fortune. The annual gaming event is expected to draw around 60,000 attendees and the brand will partner with the event organizer and Web video production studio Rooster Teeth to host tournaments, booths and other activities throughout the weekend.

Rockstar Energy Drink signed on as the "Official Drinks Partner" for Team Infused. "We’ve been supporting the eSports scene since back in 2010 and I’m excited to step up our involvement in this awesome arena by welcoming Team Infused to the Rockstar Energy Drink family,” said Gordon Donald, UK Brand Manager for Rockstar Energy. “Meeting various members of the Infused team at events throughout the years and seeing their attitude and performance during action-packed finals made this partnership a perfect fit for us. This isn’t just about a logo on a jersey; we have a long list of collaborative projects lined up with the Team Infused roster over the coming years."


Former Warner Bros. exec and Monolith Productions founder Jace Hall was named the new CEO of eSports outfit Echo Fox. “I feel very fortunate to welcome Jace to the Echo Fox family,” Rick Fox, owner of Echo Fox said in a statement. “He is an industry leader whose experience, vision and knowledge of the eSports [sic] industry make him an incredible addition to our franchise.”

Platinum Games President and CEO Tatsuya Minami left his role at the company, with Kenichi Sato named as his successor for both titles. In addition, the company appointed Seigo Tabira and Atsushi Inama to directors.


Northwest Majors starts tomorrow and features Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat X and more.

ON THIS DAY in 2007: Nintendo acquires Monolith Soft from Namco.


What are the names of the original Ghosts from Pac-Man? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)



Join Cynopsis on Tuesday, May 24 for an Out-of-Home Marketing webinar to learn how to craft cross-platform marketing campaigns that combine OOH and digital to drive awareness, tune-in, and social amplification.

Featured speakers include Dawn Callahan, CMO for Boingo Wireless; Alison Hoffman, EVP of Marketing for Starz Entertainment; David Krupp, CEO of Kinetic North America; and Rick Robinson, COO for Billups.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

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Drive revenue and community base through consumer acquisition, onboarding, engagement, retention and loyalty programs
Director of Consumer Retention
505 Games
Calabasas, California

ultimate responsibility for all aspects of that Brand’s success
Senior Global Brand Manager
505 Games
Calabasas, California

Manage product P&Ls within given portfolio
Product Manager – Free to Play
505 Games
Calabasas, California

Providing day-to-day operational support of network infrastructure
Network Engineer
Vancouver, British Columbia
will be responsible for supporting the Global Sourcing team
Strategic Sourcing Analyst
Santa Monica, California

Manage a portfolio of projects in a cross functional organization
Sr. Project Manager – Central Studios
Santa Monica, California

defining new entertainment experiences through both hardware and software
Industrial Designer
Bellevue, WA

pursuing hardware design, software development, prototyping, testing, and production as we invent, design, and deliver new experiences
Virtual Reality – Engineers
Bellevue, WA

Provide relevant insight into human behavior in order to shape gameplay and customer experience
Psychologist (Research/Experimental)
Bellevue, WA

Design and implement new and exciting content for Guild Wars 2
Game Designer (Content)
Bellevue, Washington

Work closely with designers to visualize gameplay VFX for players, creatures and events
FX Artist (Contract)
Bellevue, Washington

Work closely across multiple disciplines to create creative user experience solutions in an agile, dynamic environment
Mobile UI/UX Designer
Bellevue, Washington

Understand marketing initiatives, strategic positioning and target audience
Art Director (12583)
Irvine, CA

Assesses ASICS most significant risks and ensuring that our compliance program addresses them
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