06/04/20: A slew of gaming companies shored up support for BLM


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday June 4, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Amid protests around the country and around the world, multiple esports publishers and organizations announced plans to support causes such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP and more, while other companies voiced support and/or promised internal changes to greater promote diversity (although some of the support received mixed reviews from the community). Among the announced moves include (but are not limited to):
· Electronic Arts announcing that it will donate $1 million to orgs that include the Equal Justice Initiative and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in a move to “fight for racial justice in the US and against discrimination around the world.” In addition, the company will match any employee donations made to those orgs via its YourCause program throughout the month of June.
· Infinity Ward, developer and the original creators of Call of Duty, stated that it would be dedicating additional rsources to monitor and ID racist content; add additional in-game reporting systems to boost bans; add filters and greater restrictions n name changes; make it easier to report offenses and increase permanent bans to repeat offenders.
· Evo revealed that it will donate $15,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and We Love Lake Street, a Last Street Council project dedicated to rebuilding the businesses damaged or destroyed during the riots.
· Riot Games vowed that the publisher would be donating to from its Social Impact Fund to fund org focused on: nationwide criminal justice reform; longer-term solutions for systemic change to address racial bias; and local communities with a focus on black-owned businesses.
· Supercell is donating to Black Lives Matter and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in addition to matching every employee donation to these causes.
· Ubisoft is donating $100,000 to the NAACP and Black Lives Matter.
· The Pokemon Company will donate $100,000 to the NAACP ad $100,000 to Black Lives Matter, noting “Where at The Pokemon Company International, we believe in friendship, inclusivity and equality. These are the values that anchor the Pokemon brand. There is no place for oppression in our community.

The Minnesota RØKKR’s Call of Duty home series this weekend will be postponed due to the death of George Floyd and ongoing protests across the country. “In light of recent and current events, this weekend’s Call of Duty League Minnesota Røkkr Home Series will be postponed one week to June 12-14,” the company told ESPN. “We will share more details soon, including how the Call of Duty League family plans to pay tribute to George Floyd and dedicate this Home Series to supporting the fight for social justice and the rights of black and minority communities, as well as organizations assisting with rebuilding efforts both in Minneapolis and nationwide.”

The Capcom Pro Tour Online has now been postponed in a move to show support for Black Lives Matter, the company stated, noting that it would delay the online tournament so “bigger, more important voices” such as Black Lives Matter could get their message across. The North America East 1 tournament will now start June 20-21. “With respect to current events, Capcom will refrain from game-related posts on our social channels for the time being,” the company said. “We will also be postponing Capcom Pro Tour Online, which was scheduled to begin this weekend.

Turner Sports’ ELEAGUE and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are teaming up to create a new esports competition series for NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 11. Live event coverage begins June 7 at noon on Twitch with players from both North America and Europe able to sign up via Battlefy and compete for cash prizes as well as the opportunity to advance to the final stage of the Showdown. This final stage will be a MMA-style “Fight Card” event held Sunday, July 5, with live coverage also distributed on Twitch. Live matches will continue weekly on Sundays, with each week devoted to a different open qualifier.

Electronic Arts, the NFL and the NFL Players Association inked a multi-year renewal to their partnership, marking the biggest and widest-reaching gaming agreement in NFL history. Under the partnership, the EA SPORTS Madden NFL franchise will exclusively create authentic football simulation games, and EA SPORTS, the NFL and the NFLPA will partner to develop games in new genres, expanded esports programs, and additional experiences for fans across more platforms. The announcement states that esports will see increased competitive programs and broadcast content to reach and entertain more fans. “Building on the most successful year ever for Madden NFL, this is a powerful time for EA SPORTS to come together with the NFL and the NFLPA in this new wide-reaching partnership,” said Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts. “Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to entertain more players through new Madden NFL experiences, games in new genres and on new platforms, esports, and new innovations that will grow fans’ love of the NFL around the world.”

Rocket League is launching a slate of new community-driven tournaments with publisher Psyonix announcing that $300K will be dedicated for grassroots tournaments around the world, set for June and July.

Twitch, Riot, ESL, TSM, Cloud9, Battlefy, WorldGaming/CSL, Houston Outlaws, and more! If you represent a brand looking to activate in the esports sector, the Esports Upfront next week on June 11 is a MUST attend to learn not only about the unannounced opportunities for partnerships from platforms to international leagues and everything in-between, but also to learn about activation trends in this space and best practices from global brands who have been there. Chris Puckett will host this year’s presentation. Attendance is free for brands and their agencies with this year’s presentations being offered virtually. To request an invite, click here.

Evo announced that Evo Online will kick off on June 5, with free registration for all open tournaments and contribution packages starting this week. Every game will see two days of qualifiers running in July, beginning with Them’s Fightin’ Herds on July 4-5, Skullgirls 2nd Encore: July 11-12, Killer Instinct on July 18 and 19, Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath from July 25-26 and Championship Weekend taking place July 31 to Aug. 2.

With Collegiate StarLeague wrapping up its 2019-2020 collegiate season finale, the company announced that it saw a 39% spike in registered players year over year, a 40% rise in number of registered teams and a 24% increase in registered universities. Total Twitch impressions for the regular season come in at 35,750,000 and Twitch total unique viewers clock in at 2,094,000, streaming over 170 hours of CSL content on the platform.

While Riot Games has long been associated as the publisher behind League of Legends, it has committed to expanding its reach through new titles including Team Fight Tactics, Legends of Runeterra & Valorant. With the release of new titles, Riot has continued to generate significant audiences for its IP on general livestreams and esports programs. This week, Stream Hatchet investigates market share of Riot Games IP on Twitch.
· The impact of Valorant: In April 2020, Riot Games was able to obtain 28% of the total watched hours of content on Twitch. This coincides with the beta release of the new FPS title, Valorant, where beta keys were only available through Twitch view drops.
· Understanding the average: Across the past six months, Riot IP represents approximately 15% of the total Twitch market share. They have increased their share since Dec. 2019 by seven points.
For more data and analytics to optimize strategy and measurement in video game streaming, visit us online at: www.StreamHatchet.com

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Pringles signed on as an official partner all ESL National Championship tournaments in Germany and Poland. Alongside ESL, the brand is working on creative activations which fit the challenging new scenario and at the same time will guarantee an incredible fan experience. For ESL Meisterschaft in Germany as well as the National Championship in Poland, planned activities will include branding, in-game logo rotation, broadcast commercials as well as several social media exertions. “Over the years, the community feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Therefore, we are happy to continue our successful partnership with Pringles, spanning over multiple tournaments in 2020. We are proud that Pringles is expanding their partnership with us in these difficult times.”, says Stephan Schröder, SVP Global Brand Partnerships EMEA at ESL.

Visa and FACEIT are partnering with Gazprombank to launch the first esports card product for gamers actively engaged in Dota2 and CS:GO titles in Russia. As part of the global Visa and FACEIT partnership announced at the end of last year, this first program will provide the Russian esports community with a “new competitive experience through a series of online programs that will be open to all skill levels and a substantial prize pool designed to incentivize core gamers and new players alike.” Starting in June, $450,000 in prize money will be distributed among players within the first three months across several different tournament formats for CS:GO and Dota 2, both in FACEIT points and ruble cash prizes.

NACON and its development studio KT Racing, in collaboration with WRC Promoter, cemented TOYOTA GAZOO Racing as the presenting sponsor of the 2020 and 2021 eSports WRC seasons. The partnership between TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and NACON will extend into further promotions spanning WRC 8 as well as WRC 9,

BLAST is expanding its Betway partnership to add sponsorship of its online DoTa 2 tournament – BLAST Bounty Hunt. According to the announcement, the new partnership “means that Betway will take advantage of the numerous branding opportunities that will come off the back of the significant viewing numbers BLAST Bounty Hunt is expected to generate in June, across a wide range of territories and channels” and includes sponsorship of the draft.

DreamHack is buddying up with audio solutions brand DTS for a new partnership focused on DreamHack’s CS:GO tournaments DreamHack Masters and DreamHack Open. The partnership, which began during DreamHack Anaheim in February 2020, will run through the rest of the year, including the upcoming DreamHack Atlanta and DreamHack Winter festivals.

Online optical company Zenni locked in a partnership with the Nets Gaming Crew of the NBA 2K League. Zenni will provide athletes with its Blokz technology, which reduces eye strain by blocking blue light emitted by digital screens. Additionally, NetsGC general manager and coach Ivan Curtiss, will be teaming up with Zenni to host the “The #OG2CENTS Podcast.”

Scuf Gaming was named the official controller sponsor of Monumental Sports & Entertainment’s Wizard District Gaming and Caps Gaming. The brand also revealed two custom PlayStation 4 controllers, each bearing patterns in red, white, and blue colors and the logo of the two teams.

BLAST locked in a deal with China’s DouYu to broadcast its BLAST Premier 2020 Counter Strike tournament with the platform receiving exclusive streaming rights in the Manadarin language for China. “Our partnership with streaming giant DouYu is further testament to the rapidly growing popularity of BLAST Premier in China,” said Alexander Lewin, VP Distribution and Programming. “The Chinese market continues to play an integral role in the global esports world, and we are delighted to team up with DouYu to entertain millions of BLAST fans in China”.


Dozens of teams showed their support for protests against racism, posting messages of support for the cause. FaZe Clan pledged its support for Black Lives Matter, and will host a charity drive, offering its 10 Year ILLCAMS collection on our store. In honor of George Floyd, all profits from this sale will be donated to the Memorial Fund in his name. the team noted that, ““Over the course of our 10 years leading youth culture, we have not done enough to combat discrimination or racism in our community & among the generation of young adults following our influence… Today, and every day moving forward, we are pledging our voice to take an active role in ending racism and discrimination in our community.” 100 Thieves announced that the team made donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Minnesota Freedom fund, noting that “100 Thieves stands for diversity and inclusivity, and is against racism in any form. We have the responsibility to ourselves and humanity to stand up for the change we want to see.”

Auronplay, through playing a garbage collector on a roleplay server in Grand Theft Auto V, sweeps the leaderboard again this week. This week’s stats appear to indicate that role play is still a popular form of entertainment in the Twitch universe, which makes sense, given the lack of live events and limited new entertainment content for viewers during the pandemic.

As civil unrest continues, a number of announcements and business events were delayed in response to continued protests after the death of George Floyd. Activision delayed the launch of its Call of Duty: Warzone Season 4 and Call of Duty: Mobile Season 7 launches as a result of ongoing events. Meanwhile, Sony opted to delay its PlayStation 5 games showcase, which was slated to take place today, noting that “for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.” Fortnite, meanwhile, stated that it would delay its live event The Device to June 15, and the Season 3 launch would be pushed to June 17. The company stated that “Recent events are a heavy reminder of ongoing injustices in society, from the denial of basic human rights to the impact of racism both overt and subtle against people of color. We’re acutely aware of the pain our friends, families, team members, players, and communities are experiencing.”

The Global Esports Federation is reportedly launching a brand, marketing, commercial and communication commission as part of its “international commercial focus” in a move to produce opportunities within the community and push esports into the global spotlight. Chris Chan, President, Global Esports Federation, said, “Esports has emerged into the mainstream in recent years, evolving to hit the mainstage of entertainment globally. The whole of the Global Esports Federation and the global esports community are optimistic about its continued growth and expansion. We are excited to share our progress and new developments in esports.”

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