05/21/20: Riot eyes Friday night lights; BLAST expands radius


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday May 21, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Riot Games is turning on the Friday night lights for LCS, shifting its third day of weekly competition from Monday to Fridays with the goal of reeling in more viewers across more time zones. The Friday Night League will look to be distinct in tone and style and will be hosted by LeTigress, serving as the test kitchen for new segments and content, with preshow at 8:30p ET and competition at 9p. In addition, it edition will be rebroadcast before LEC games begin on Saturday. Meanwhile, Academy will return on Thursdays and Fridays, beginning June 11. Finally, the company announced that Bud Light League Lounge will continue to serve as its weekly sign-off, now running on Sunday nights.

Gfinity is extending its run with Formula One and will help deliver the F1 Esports Series in 2020 and 2021, as well as 2022 qualifying events. In addition, the previously announced F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix Series has been extended to take place next month. John Clarke, Chief Executive Officer, Gfinity said, “The F1 Esports Series is one of the most exciting esports tournaments in the world and we are delighted to be working with F1 for a further two years. Signing a multi-year agreement highlights our ability to leverage our unique position at the centre of the esports ecosystem to design and develop esports solutions for our clients. The Virtual Grand Prix Series has also caught the imagination of race fans as, shown by the amazing viewing numbers, and we are excited that a new, younger global audience is experiencing the F1 brand in a totally different way.”

DreamHack announced the 2020 DreamHack Showdown, extending on the success of the 2019 DreamHack Showdown featuring all female players. The summer tournament will take place online in July, featuring two regional competitions in Europe (July 17-19) and North America (July 24-26). The fall tournament dates will be announced. “Following the success of the 2019 all women’s CS:GO tournament in Valencia, we are pleased to announce the 2020 DreamHack Showdown,” said DreamHack Co-CEO Marcus Lindmark. “DreamHack is committed to supporting diversity, so this event has become particularly special to us. These are going to be tremendous competitions featuring some of the best women CS:GO players in the world — it is truly a not-to-be-missed tournament!”

Activision Blizzard is tweaking its Call of Duty League Championship Weekend format, announcing that all 12 teams will now compete at the event while viewers will be able to unlock in-game rewards. In addition, four players from each team will compete in a $10,000 Call of Duty Warzone match, titled Warzone Weekends.

Blizzard laid out details for the Arena World Championship, running exclusively on YouTube.com/Warcraft starting May 22, along with a new World of Warcraft Esports Twitter account. Play will be held entirely online with eight tournaments, four in Europe and four in North America. The lineup of casters will include Elliot “Venruki” Venczel, Sid “Supatease” Compston, Mohamed “Ziqo” Beshir, Gillian “Eiya” Long and Rich Campbell.

Riot Games announced the Mid-Season Streamathon, a global marathon live stream designed to celebrate the League of Legends community and raise funds for COVID-19 relief. The multi-day, continuous broadcast will feature a slate of content from regions around the world, including competition between leagues, exhibition matches, and more. The event begins on May 29 and will be supported by League of Legends esports partners like Mastercard, State Farm, Red Bull, and Secretlab with a broadcast that will feature over 48 hours of scheduled programming from around the world, including a continental battle of teams in Europe, an influencer battle between Yoda and Kami in Brazil, and a Mid-Season Cup showdown between the top teams in the LPL and LCK.

Today sees the beginning of PUBG Corporation’s live broadcast of the PCS NA Charity Showdown that will feature 16 of North America’s best teams facing off for their slice of the $200,000 prize pool. Broadcast talent will include: Cameron Davis; Matrym; Porosaurus; Hypoc; Toffees; Godspeed and Klov3r.

After giving an overhaul to its North American League in recent weeks, Ubisoft mapped out details for the Rainbow Six Siege European League with play beginning June 22. The European League is split into three stages with the top four teams of each stage qualifying for the Six Major, where they’ll face off against the top teams from other regions.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association is launching the NHLPA Open, featuring Fortnite, today via a live charity tournament created by J.T. Compher and Zach Hyman. Over 60 NHL players will represent their cities as they compete as Trios in Fortnite. The three-hour live Fortnite tournament will be streamed on Twitch.tv/espnesports starting at 2p. The NHLPA Open featuring Fortnite will be highlighted by a $200,000 charity prize pool, which will be directed to player-chosen charities.

EVO’s switch to online play this year will be spanning five consecutive weekends, from July 4-5 through July 31-Aug 2. In a video posting, organizers also stated that “special exhibitions and content for EVO 2020’s original lineup” while titles will include Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, TEKKEN 7, Samurai Shodown, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], Granblue Fantasy Versus, Soulcalibur VI and DRAGON BALL FighterZ. Four open online tournaments in Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, Killer Instinct, Them’s Fightin’ Herds and Skullgirls 2nd Encore are also on the docket.

While most marketers are familiar with the concept of “what an esports is”, understanding trends related to specific video game genres are less accessible. For example, while Battle Royale may be the most popular game genre to watch on platforms like Twitch, BR esports audiences are dwarfed by more popular game genres. This week, Stream Hatchet investigates the year to date esports market share of the top video game genres:
· This year, 55% of the total esports hours watched came from MOBA Games: It’s no surprise that the MOBA genre continues to dominate the esports market. Games like League of Legends have consistently drawn audiences across multiple streaming platforms.
· Battle-Royale represents less than 3% of the total esports market share: While Fortnite continues to attract massive audiences around in-game events like the Travis Scott concert, its esports audiences have lagged. As a result, the genre has failed to gain significant market share compared to the broader FPS category.
For more insights and market analysis, visit our website: StreamHatchet.com


Enthusiast Gaming announced that the Vancouver Titans entered into a new partnership agreement with Pizza Hut Canada designating Pizza Hut as the Official Pizza of the team and their fans. Pizza Hut and the Titans will be celebrating fans throughout the season by offering promotions on Titans gamedays including a Titans-focused in-store promotion later this summer.“We live in a digital culture and appreciate how important gaming is to this younger generation – we are excited to serve the gaming community,” said Bryce Hollweg, VP & Managing Director at Pizza Hut Restaurants. “Pizza Hut Canada is now offering contact-less delivery options, so stay safe, keep gaming and let Pizza Hut come to you.”

G2 Esports released the #G2ARMY-themed, non-medical face mask with all proceeds going to support Charité, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals. G2 will donate all of the proceeds to the Berlin-based hospital’s emergency aid fund in the fight against COVID-19 to assist the front line medical workers working to prevent the spread of coronavirus and provide life-saving healthcare to those affected by the virus. Mastercard (G2’s partner) will be covering all production and shipping costs of the masks, as well as match all profits from the face masks to support The Charité.

The Cynopsis Adtech Awards
Entries Due ONE WEEK From Today – May 28th

In the face of surprising acquisitions, privacy concerns, and drops in ad spend, we at Cynopsis are blown away by the incredible work we see you and your ad tech team producing – and we want everyone to hear about it. The submission process is simple; but if you’re unsure about which categories would be the best fit, reach out to Marketing Manager Cathy Pearson for some assistance.

Get Started

Overwatch League is bringing back token drops for the remainder of the Overwatch League 2020 season starting with the May Melee tournaments in Asia and North America this weekend, for fans watching on the Overwatch League website, mobile site, and app. Fans with linked accounts will receive five League Tokens every hour for viewing live matches with viewing time tracked continuously. All 20 Overwatch League teams are in action this week for the May tournaments, which feature six-figure prize pools and standings stakes in both the Asia and North America brackets. Play begins Friday.

Evil Geniuses unveiled the completion of the final phase of its rebranding, showcasing a new crest, player jersey redesigns, as well as the announcement of LG Electronics USA as an official marketing partner. As part of the initiative, the newly debuted crest and LG UltraGear partnership logo are incorporated into the complete overhaul of player jersey designs, which “celebrate individuality by incorporating details unique to each player, while standing out from the competition with bold design and intricate details.” “Today represents a culmination of over a year of incredibly hard work and dedication by our entire organization,” said Nicole LaPointe Jameson, chief executive officer of Evil Geniuses. “Fueled by the passion of our unshakable community, we’ve finally given a face to our vision that’s not only representative and respectful of our past, but also dictates EG’s place in the future of esports.”

Multiple reports have North American teams FaZe Clan, NRG Esports, and Pittsburgh Knights looking to tap into Riot Games’ Korean League of Legends outfit, LCK with all three teams submitting a letter of intent to apply for admission. According to Fomos, 25 teams overall made submissions for a franchise.

Gen.G tied up a partnership with Eastern Michigan University to initiate a multi-year esports program to support fall 2020 academic enrollment goals and differentiate the university in the region. The program includes a Futures Program, High School Invitational and Women in Gaming Summer Camp designed to attract new students, as well as connect enrolled students, faculty and alumni, to build a community on campus for gamers to compete and share their passion. “We’re proud to be the first in Michigan to truly integrate esports and gaming into our campus life and offer our students a platform to find a community here,” said Calvin Phillips, associate vice president for Student Affairs at Eastern Michigan University. “We know how important selecting a college or university is for a student, and we want to differentiate ourselves with a meaningful opportunity and educational platform at EMU.”

Astralis Group inked a deal with sportswear brand hummel to serve as the first commercial partner on a group level within Astralis Group and become the clothing partner for all of the organization’s teams. “We have been working on finding the ideal partner across all teams for a while, and hummel was actually the first brand we considered when the possibility of entering a group sponsorship presented itself,” the company said in the announcement. “In many ways, we have similar visions and like to exceed limitations. At the same time, hummel has a history and a legacy within sportswear, which is an ideal fit for our ambitions to professionalize esports even more.”

Team Rival saw its SMITE team roster and SMITE Pro League franchise slot picked up by Ghost Gaming. The team will now compete in the 2020 SMITE Pro League season under the Ghost Gaming label, with Rival stating that the move will allow it to “bring more people on board, and provide resources for current players and staff.”

Twitter’s gaming lead Rishi Chadha revealed the company’s latest gaming + esports insights for April 2020. Included with lists that included the most talked-about games and personalities is the monthly list of most talked-about esports teams. Leading the list that month was FaZe Clan, with MiBR in second and G2 Esports in third. Rounding out the top ten were Fnatic, T1, paiN Gaming, GenG, Team Griffin, Cloud9 and 100 Thieves.

Top Twitch Streamers

Last week, Twitch viewers threw it back to 2010 with Na’Vi’s CSGo’s gold roster competing against famous Twitch streamers. The hype around an old team getting back together and the draw for many newer viewers from currently popular streamers drove this stream to the top of the charts last week. They say, “the best things in life are free”—the same can be said for Grand Theft Auto V, which was released last week in Epic game store for $0.00. The new price drove players and fans to the game—so many players, that there are reports of problems accessing the game. Still, an uptick in players for GTA only serves to help the game’s brand, which has been around for over two decades.

This week saw BLAST not only unveil full line ups for BLAST Premier Spring Showdown Europe and Americas (competition begins June 1), but also reveals a new investment round of $13.5 million led by Johan Gedda, global technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Rocket Software, and Vækstfonden, a financing and investment vehicle. In 2019, BLAST delivered 7 events across 5 continents with 1 billion minutes of broadcast in 19 different languages. In 2020, BLAST has expanded into DOTA 2 alongside its Counter-Strike: GO tournament series. Cynopsis asked CEO Robbie Douek about the company’s strategy.

Douek on BLAST’s primary focus: We want to entertain the world with esports by creating world class experiences and creating emotional moments for fans and viewers, globally. Whether it be intimate broadcast studio shows, online tournaments, huge arena events, through our digital platforms or top-class multi-platform content, we’re focused on creating the most exciting, exhilarating and euphoric moments in the industry.
We’re focused on doing that via technology which enhances and creates our euphoric moments and scales our broadcast experience; by creating new IP and content across our owned platforms; and by scaling this with a superb energetic team and a flat structure.

On opportunities: The immediate opportunity is to feed the insatiable appetite broadcasters have for live competitive action. With very little live sport, esports has been an important part of their scheduling moving the industry more into the mainstream. At the same time, across streaming platforms people are watching a considerable amount of content with even more being produced. The opportunity is producing a quality product that stands out and stands for premium action. Across May and June, we have and are producing over 300 hours of live action building trust with the audience and fulfilling our high-quality promise.
All that said, the market is still nascent, revenue per hour watched is low compared to traditional sports, and sponsorship dollars are still a fraction in comparison. But we have been fielding more calls from potential commercial partners than ever before and we are working hard to create bespoke solutions that shifts esports to being both a marketing tool and a key partnership product for them.

On investors: Our new investors join an already supportive and diverse group of existing investors and they’re aligned on our plan to continue to entertain people through premium output and quality. The backbone to all of this is simple: more entertainment, content and fun for fans and partners. The funding enables us to deliver this via accelerating our plans around technology and entering new markets. It’ll drive forward the diversifying of our esports offering, such as moving into new titles and building partnerships with other sporting organizations.

On BLAST Rising: We wanted to complement our BLAST Premier product and provide the fans with more – more content, entertainment, opportunities for the next generation of teams and to bring the fans even closer to the BLAST universe. BLAST Rising is a platform to showcase those up and coming teams pushing to get into the top twenty/twenty-five in the world. Not only a competitive tournament with global reach, we hope it becomes a springboard for new teams to get to the next level. We launched BLAST Sessions as a trial to help fill those long days at home right at the start of the global Covid situation, and alongside our streamers and casters we have produced great entertainment content, learning what our audience loves the most.

On lessons from COVID-19: Our biggest lesson was that we can pivot quickly; both to working effectively remotely and in adapting our products quickly to online formats. It’s enabled us to continue to deliver on our commitments and even expand our content offerings and enter into new titles. Moreover, being flexible and pivoting at speed, has allowed us to plan top class online products that will still have the quality that people expect from BLAST. Underpinning that transition, and most importantly, has been the phenomenal bunch of people we have at BLAST that have worked very hard to make it all work.


The International Esports Federation signed an MOU with WESCO (World Esports Consortium) in a move to create more opportunities for collaboration within the esports ecosystem and setting a framework for collaboration between the two organizations. “This MOU marks an important moment in the unification of Esports,” says IESF President, Mr. Vlad Marinescu. “Our target at the IESF is unification, collaboration, and recognition. This agreement achieves the three objectives, all at the same time. I’d like to congratulate and thank Mr. Cossi for his contribution to Esports thus far. WESCO and the IESF will work together on various programs around the world that’ll achieve positive benefits for all stakeholders. We are looking forward to collaborating with more entities that have the same objectives as IESF which are to protect Esports athletes, ensure mental health and promote physical health as well, and also the recognition of Esports as a sport globally via the international federation and nationally via the national associations through a partnership with each country’s sports authority.”



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This Marvel alumni, pictured last week, once anchored a campaign for Super Nintendo. Who is he? Answer: Paul Rudd. Kudos: Julie Reuther/Sydney; Fernando Sotomayor-Columbia University/NY; Rick Dascher-WarnerMedia Studios/Atlanta; Matt Laramee-Southern New Hampshire University/Manchester; Matt Sautter-WideOrbit/Harrisburg; Kyle Ary-Esports Futuri/Dallas; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; Julie Schell/Chicago; Vincent Leon-UTEP/El Paso; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Greg Dudsic/Venice; Alec Eckert/Las Vegas; Scott Lang- X-Con Security/San Francisco

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