Hershey’s continues to dive into esports, this time announcing a partnership with the Los Angeles Valiant in a deal that will see Kit Kat serve as the new official candy of the Overwatch League squad, as well as the entitlement partner for the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend. Working with parent company Immortals, the Kit Kat Rivalry Weekend, will run from August 24-25 at LA Live and feature branded activations and events alongside competitive Overwatch League matches. Inside the arena, fans will receive exclusive seating in the Kit Kat Team Lounges separated by team affiliation. The brand will now also collaborate with LA Valiant on original digital and social content for fans to experience, and to highlight the partnership.
Super League Gaming inked a network services agreement with NetLevel, a nationwide fiber network for out-of-home entertainment. The deal now opens the door for Super League to provide esports competitions and live viewing events in more than triple its current number of movie theater locations throughout the country. As part of the agreement, NetLevel will absorb Super League Gaming’s theater network connections into NetLevel’s network, which consists of more than 400 sites. With this deal, Super League Gaming will assign its network infrastructure at Cinemark and other theaters to NetLevel, adding to the 4,000-plus theater auditoriums that NetLevel already has under contract.
Wizards of the Coast launched a new Twitch series on Day9tv titled “What the Deck.” Sean “Day9” Plott hosts with the program spotlighting fans submitting their unique pre-constructed decks through MTG Arena to determine the gurus of Magic: The Gathering. The series will run biweekly with five episodes overall.
Complexity Gaming is getting a facelift, announcing an organization-wide shift designed to reflect “its continued commitment to the advancement of the esports industry and its push towards ‘Esports 3.0,’ where esports athletes are treated like professional sports athletes.” The move creates a new logo, color scheme, and website aligned with their sister team, the Dallas Cowboys. According to the team, As represented by Complexity’s new logo design, the five points of the star are used purposefully to articulate the company’s five C’s brand pillars, Competition, Community, Culture, Cause and Convergence.
In an investor call to announce first quarter 2019 results, Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, announced that the company had sold the first five city-based franchise slots for the Call of Duty World League, locking in Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Paris and Toronto “to owners who recognize the scale of the opportunity from their partnerships with us on the Overwatch League.”
Around 150 Riot Games employees staged a walkout this week to protest the company trying to block a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit claiming some of the women involved previously agreed to arbitration clauses in their employment contracts. Riot subsequently released a statement stating that employees participating in the walkout would not experience retaliation and noting that “While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution.”
QuakeCon is doubling down, announcing a second QuakeCon running in London and will take place at the same time as the one in Dallas. Revealed on the QuakeCon website, the events will span July 26-27 from the Printworks in London and at the Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center, from July 25-28.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) announced a bill designed to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in “games played by minors.” He said he would introduce the bill, “The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act,” to the U.S. Senate shortly. The Entertainment Software Association responded: “Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls.”
Respawn Entertainment announced that season two of Apex Legends would be unveiled at E3 2019. “We’re now very focused on delivering for this massive global community with a long-term live service, including new seasons with more robust Battle Pass content, new legends, and exciting evolutions to the in-game environment,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said in the earnings call.
POWER PLAYER – Robbie Douek
After making its first-ever stop stateside in Miami, BLAST Pro Series now has eyes on LA, locking in partnerships and teams for July 13 at the USC Galen Centre in Downtown Los Angeles. The company, owned by RFRSH Entertainment which also owns Astralis, now has eyes to go deeper in the years ahead for the global CS:GO tournament circuit that this year saw a new tournament format – one global series with seven of the best teams in the world, seven live tournaments in seven international venues with a total prize pool of $2.25 million. Cynopsis Esports asked Robbie Douek, President & CCO at RFRSH Entertainment, about the companies experiences and plans moving forward.
Douek on the US market: US is the biggest entertainment market in the world and also a main market for esports and CS:GO specifically. Being a cross over between world-class live arena entertainment and esports of the highest caliber combined with our ambition to become the most entertaining and the most watched live esports tournament in the world, the US market is a natural next step for us. Presenting this kind of show and tournament to the US audience is something we’ve been looking much forward to, and the way we were welcomed in Miami tells us, we’re on the right track. It was an amazing show in Florida last month!
On takeaways from Miami: We were reminded that US is a different and very quality aware market. The audience and partners are used to big shows, which keeps us on our feet, but we were also reaffirmed that what we do is on par with the very best of live entertainment out there. The Miami show was broadcast online to millions on Twitch and the tournament was broadcasted on TV channels in more than 130 countries worldwide. Even if the time zones can be a challenge, we actually secured a record audience online, and a main takeaway is definitely that the concept of world class live entertainment combined with the very best esports has to offer is a winning one.
On hitting LA: What you can always expect from BLAST Pro Series is some of the best esports has to offer and a live event second to none in regards to entertainment, massive digital and audio stage set-up for a riveting competition format, fans who love to show their love for the players and teams and an audience engagement that is really something special. On top of this we have entered our first Music Partnership with a major rock band; Asking Alexandria. This alone will give a new dimension to the show and live experience.
On challenges: Velocity and going Global. We have scaled fast, with strong offices in Copenhagen and London and this year tournament operations in different continents. Our teams are constantly on the move competing around the world and we have already hosted tournaments in Sao Paulo, Miami and Madrid with LA just around the corner. it’s certainly been a great test for our operations in 2019 and as we scale into 2020. We have hired accomplished and seasoned professionals from the world of Sports and Entertainment that take these challenges in their stride. I can’t praise the team enough for their amazing hard work and dedication. It’s the making of our amazing company.
On growth: BLAST is well known in certain geographies and our teams have footprint in others, we want that Global presence for all our IP. We want to make sure that fans around the world can experience the pure adrenaline and premium nature of BLAST Pro as well as get the chance to meet and learn from Astralis or Origen. I am personally very interested in how eSports continues to become more mainstream and how brands and consumers are embracing it around the world. It’s so exciting to watch that.