06/09/22: Overwatch League’s Miller talks future

 

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday June 9, 2022

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.

Bolstered with the upcoming launch of Overwatch 2, Overwatch League hit Texas once again this season, this time for the live Dallas Fuel Kickoff Clash, with the event generating 7.3 million hours watched across 146 hours of airtime, according to Esports Charts. The league is now charged with bridging the gap between the original game and its sequel, and the season has seen a transition on the talent front as some longtime familiar faces departing while some key new talent was brought in. Taking on the role of head of Overwatch League at Activision Blizzard Esports is Sean Miller, who was promoted to the position last November. Cynopsis Esports asked Miller about pushing the league forward, diversifying its talent roster, lessons learned this season and a return to LAN.

Miller on challenges and opportunities: While any business has its challenges, OWL’s opportunities right now far outweigh the headwinds. The biggest of which right now is Overwatch 2. The beta recently broke an all-time Blizzard record on Twitch with peak viewership of 1.4 million viewers, showing the strong demand and passion from a fanbase that can’t wait for more. We’ve already seen positive feedback from both pro players and beta participants that the switch to 5v5 has made the game more fun and easier to watch.

On takeaways so far this season: There’s nothing in esports like a live event, and I can’t wait for more. We just came off an incredible tournament weekend hosted by the Dallas Fuel with thousands of fans showing their support and passion. I love sports and live events generally, but there’s really something special about OWL events. You’re able to feel the excitement for the game through the fans and witness the Overwatch players give their all by competing at the highest level, which is an experience that’s hard to forget.

On how Overwatch 2 will set up the league for long-term growth: The game team’s commitment to making the game a live service is going to set us all up for success. While we all understand that the content drought over the last couple years took a toll on many players, it’s been amazing to see the amount of fans (including myself) who have stayed with the game and League throughout. When I think about this renewed game team commitment to have frequent content updates and patches, I’m confident our fans will be more engaged than ever.

On the role are teams taking in charting the course ahead: Teams play an active role in every part of our business. From short-term fan engagement opportunities to long-term product planning, teams are with us every step of the way. We have multiple touchpoints across our organization to ensure they also get what they need across theirs. From business, competitive operations, events, and marketing, we are always collaborating with our teams.

On new voices: I’m so proud of our casters this year – we’ve had more join us from Contenders (or semi-pro program) than we’ve ever had. They’re crushing it and beloved by the community. To me, that’s what Contenders is all about – developing talent across all parts of our ecosystem (including broadcast talent), and this year it’s showing that it’s working!

On lessons learned from a return to LAN: I believe live events are the lifeblood of esports, and I think taking a two year hiatus from them has only put a magnifying glass on how important they are. The teams (Dallas and Toronto) that are hosting this year seem to recognize that as well, and that now more than ever, it’s important to make these events more than just competition. We want fans to enjoy all there is to love about the Overwatch community in one place – cosplay, gaming stations, and compelling activations, to name a few.

COMPETITION

Electronic Arts is taking the Apex Legends Global Series Year 2 Championship to the PNC Arena in Raleigh on July 7-10, welcoming a live audience to the global esports series for the first time. The ALGS Split 2 Playoffs Final on May 1 saw an average minute audience (AMA) of over 539,000 across watch parties and official ALGS broadcast channels. Viewers consumed more than 10.3 million hours of live content during the three-day tournament. “Bringing ALGS to the PNC Arena is a major milestone for the Apex brand and indicative of the title’s continued growth in the competitive scene,” said John Nelson, Sr. Director and Commissioner, Apex Legends Esports at EA. “The ALGS Championship is a true celebration of fandom, and we’re looking forward to delivering the first-ever live ALGS Championship experience for our community of players and the residents of Raleigh.”

ESL Gaming announced ESL One Malaysia 2022 powered by Intel, which will run Aug. 23-28. The tournament’s final weekend will be played out in front of a live audience at the Arena of Stars in Resorts World Genting, Malaysia. The event marks the first Dota 2 competition with a live audience in Southeast Asia since late 2019 and ESL One’s return to the region since ESL One Genting 2018. “When we hosted ESL One in Genting back in 2017 and 2018, the fans brought along an amazing atmosphere and the place has kept a special place in our hearts ever since,” said Artem Bykov, General Manager, Game Management at ESL Gaming. “Returning the fantastic world of Dota 2 to the Arena of Stars is a great opportunity and we are thrilled to invite everyone for another amazing esports experience.”

Saudi Arabia is betting big on a new Gamers* esports festival that will run in the capital Riyadh over eight weeks beginning on July 14. With $15 million on the line, the city will host competitions in six undisclosed video games, as well as a slate of music concerts and other performances. “With an estimated 23.5 million gamers across the country, almost every home in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has someone with a deep passion for gaming,” said Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation. The tournament was organized by the Saudi Esports Federation and Gamers Without Borders.

Valhallan acquired of the North American Esports League, the largest youth (under 15 years old) esports league with more than 100 total teams. Valhallan plans to build on the NAEL’s growth and introduce the league in major markets across the globe, including the launch of the United Kingdom Esports League (UKEL) in the coming months. Valhallan, the NAEL, the UKEL and future international leagues will combine to create Valhallan Holdings (VHH).

A busy week in Dallas saw, among other events, DreamHack Dallas lay claim to 33,000 in total attendance from 50 states (plus D.C.) in addition to 29 countries over the three-day festival weekend, June 3-5. “It was just a tremendous experience to finally be back with a live, in-person event. You could feel the excitement in the air all weekend,” said Shahin Zarrabi, VP of Strategy & Growth for DreamHack. “Congratulations to everyone who participated in a tournament this weekend, whether it was amateur, collegiate or professional; thank you to all of our partners and sponsors; and we have to give a special shout out to the Dallas community for welcoming us back and being a part of this festival weekend.”

Tekken announced that the Tekken World Tour is returning, with five offline Master Events this year. The first, CEO 2022, begins June 24, along with official online tournaments and 13 regional finals.

Fortnite will host the FNCS Invitational 2022 in-person on November 12 and 13 in Raleigh, North Carolina, serving as a duos invitational tournament that will feature a $1 million prize pool. The event marks Fortnite’s first major LAN event since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Invitational will be produced by BLAST.

Gfinity secured a one-year renewal and expansion of its partnership with racing brand Formula 1. The deal will see Gfinity continue to serve up the F1 Esports Series including the ‘Pro Exhibition’ from F1’s Lenovo British GP and the Pro Championship. Gfinity Arena in London will remain the main venue for live broadcasts and will host LAN racing events during the season.

STREAMHATCHET

This week we’re taking a look at the top energy drink brands mentioned in Twitch chat for May 2022.
· Last month, Red Bull secured the top spot with 135k mentions in Twitch chat. In second place was G Fuel with 111k mentions and in third place with 101k mentions was Monster Energy.
· Bang Energy and Mountain Dew Game Fuel placed 4th and 5th for top energy drink brands mentioned in Twitch chat last month with 1.5k and 1.3k mentions respectively.
· Getting Twitch chat to talk about your brand is a good way to measure engagement and potentiality to buy a product. One way brand marketers can work to increase chat mentions and brand awareness of their product is by getting streamers themselves to talk about or use the product.
· Having shorter sponsored segments where the streamer uses or talks about the product for 30 seconds at the start of the stream can get a conversation going in Twitch chat, making the sponsorship more memorable for viewers.
· While Red Bull came in first for chat mentions, it placed second in brand logo presence for energy drink brands. Overall, Red Bull had 3.7% of the total brand logo presence across all brand types on Twitch. It was second to only Monster Energy, which had just over 4% of logo presence across Twitch.

Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog.

SPONSORSHIP & ACTIVATION

Rockstar Energy Drink unveiled new multi-year partnership with NRG. On June 16, the duo will debut the Sound Series, the annual music series that will be performed live at the NRG Hot Pockets Castle in Los Angeles and broadcast to viewers on Twitch via NRG. Kicking off SOUND SERIES’ first installment, NRG Fortnite star Clix has selected music artist MILES to co-host and perform live during the event. As the exclusive energy drink of NRG, Rockstar Energy will also co-create unique fan experiences for NRG communities, including Apex Legends, Fortnite, Rocket League, Valorant, and War Zone. The brand will also build excitement for the communities via access to tailored experiences, including the second season of Rockstar Energy Raidz live streams pairing NRG pros and creators to discover up-and-coming streamers on Twitch. Additionally, Rockstar Energy will be integrated into NRG’s Pro Team Jerseys for Rocket League, Apex, and Valorant and create official warm-up gear for all NRG team members.

Tampax and Always are partnering with Gen.G and Galorants to launch the Astral Clash tournament series with some of the best female-identifying VALORANT players in North America. Two online qualifiers (running June 17-19, July 15-17). Astral Clash will be hosted by Lucy Mae and will feature Tampax and Always ambassador teams consisting of Krystalogy, Blisskai, Nicki Taylor, Jessica Kim, Raeyei, and Shannon Williams. “Gen.G is excited to continue our partnership with Galorants and empower women gamers with the iconic brands of Tampax and Always,” said Gina Chung Lee, Chief Marketing Officer of Gen.G. “Our aim with this campaign is to continue to highlight and create opportunities for women gaming communities, by providing a forum for this community to connect online and in real life.”

SteelSeries announced the SteelSeries Prime Bounty program. For any professional player that wins an offline tournament in a nominated game and tier, while using a SteelSeries mouse, the company will provide that player with a bounty of $20,000. The bounty can be won multiple times and is eligible in full for all team members. To kick things off, the program will focus on tournaments for Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO), Valorant, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Player Unknown Battlegrounds. SteelSeries will also be announcing an exclusive amateur Prime Bounty program in the near future.

To celebrate the launching of Blizzard Entertainment’s new MMO-ARPG, Diablo Immortal, G FUEL announced its brand-new flavor, Health Potion and created six new Collector’s Boxes inspired by the six main Diablo Immortal character “When we approach an epic flavor collaboration like Diablo Immortal Health Potion, there’s always one question we ask ourselves first: How do we make this special?” said G FUEL Founder and CEO Cliff Morgan. “Working closely with our partners at Blizzard Entertainment, we’ve created one of our biggest launches yet, featuring six unique Collector’s Boxes and an exciting new flavor that will power your demon slaying!”

FaZe Clan and Totino’s Pizza Rolls brand pizza snacks announced a product launch for one of their fans’ top requested Totino’s Pizza Roll flavors: FaZe Clan Buffalo Chicken. The new snack is the latest iteration of the multi-year partnership between FaZe Clan and Totino’s Pizza Rolls. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with FaZe Clan and be able to deliver a snack for gaming and beyond,” said Taylor Roseberry, Brand Experience Manager for Totino’s. “This new snack was developed based on fan-demand and we’re eager to get it in their hands to share the amazing buffalo chicken flavor of this perfect snack.”

Beijing-based esports organization Jing Dong Gaming (JDG), signed two strategic partnerships with Samsung and hardware brand Republic of Gamers (ROG) for its League of Legends Pro League (LPL) team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and no agencies were involved.

Hewlett Packard’s gaming laptop brand Omen signed a sponsorship deal with Chinese game publisher NetEase for the Naraka Bladepoint Pro League (NBPL), becoming the league’s official partner.

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IT’S ALIVE: YouGov Living Data Insights

BMW steps on the gas!

BMW is a sponsor of several prominent esports teams like Cloud9 and T1. It is the 7th most considered car brand among American esports fans but only 18th among all US adults.

PLATFORMS/METAVERSE

Riot Games is opening up high school esports, announcing in a community update Wednesday that any high school esports league can now host season-long, school-versus-school competitions for League of Legends. The move appears to end an exclusive partnership between the publisher and PlayVS, which saw educators in other scholastic esports leagues criticize their alliance. The publisher’s update to the community guidelines for high school competitions, lifted restrictions on the duration, size and structure of the competitions schools can host. Any organizer can run a competition in “League of Legends” as long as the schools are from the same state or province and the competition “does not claim to crown a national champion.”

ONE Esports was named Official Media Partner for League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK). ONE Esports will now manage the production of localized content related to the LCK Summer Split 2022, including short-form videos and written coverage. All video content, including tournament highlights, player interviews, fan interactions, and more, will be distributed across ONE Esports’ digital channels. ONE Esports will also publish a series of articles covering the LCK in localized languages to be distributed exclusively on the ONE Esports website.

Vanta partnered with the Association for Middle Level Education to become the new official esports platform and partner of AMLE. With this partnership, AMLE’s membership of 35,000 educators will now be able to bring esports to their students via “a safe, COPPA compliant platform. “Starting this fall, schools can compete for free in AMLE’s esports league and access expert esports coaching and development programming.

Star Atlas, a metaverse with triple-A game design and Unreal Engine 5 graphics built on the Solana blockchain, announced its partnership with iBUYPOWER. To celebrate this partnership, iBUYPOWER will be sponsoring the inaugural COPA, the first Star Atlas community event, by giving away a customized Star Atlas PC for the main competition. More details regarding the competition can be found in Star Atlas’ official social media channels.

TEAMS

Video game developer Nimble Neuron announced the launch of Cobalt Protocol, a new game mode to be included in Season 6 of Eternal Return. In partnership with Gen.G, the company also unveiled plans for 32 content creators to participate in the Cobalt Protocol Streamer Invitational on June 19 to engage their fans and have the opportunity to win prizes for the community. “As we continue to help foster communities of new and returning players to Eternal Return, we want to make sure that as these players come in, they are immediately engaged and have a reason to stay,” said Martin Kim, CRO of Gen.G. “This invitational will serve as a catalyst for things to come within our partnership with Nimble Neuron and we hope fans enjoy the latest update and new game mode.”

Call of Duty League’s Paris League and Overwatch League’ Paris Eternal are off to the desert, announcing relocation plans to settle in Las Vegas beginning in 2023.

VENUES

Belong Gaming Arenas is partnering with the Coalition of Parents in Esports (COPE) to raise awareness of the social and educational values of esports and gaming for parents. The partnership will see Belong collaborate with COPE on programs and resources to educate parents on the evolving world of esports and gaming, including “how to support their children’s love of gaming and become advocates for esports in schools and communities.” “Esports is proven to inspire interest in STEAM education and career paths while building invaluable communication and critical thinking skills,” said Shae Williams, Co-founder, COPE. “Belong Gaming Arenas provides a safe place for people to explore these opportunities in gaming and get the most from their gaming experiences – we’re excited to call them a partner to make a meaningful impact at a hyperlocal level.

INDUSTRY

Capcom revealed plans for Street Fighter 6, launching worldwide in 2023 and represents the next chapter of the Street Fighter series which has sold more than 47 million units since its debut 35 years ago. Powered by Capcom’s proprietary RE Engine, Street Fighter 6 spans three distinct game modes, including Fighting Ground, World Tour and Battle Hub. The experience also includes new gameplay features, plus enhanced visuals for every aspect of the game. On new feature includes In-Game Commentating, which incorporates the voices of popular Fighting Game Community (FGC) commentators like Jeremy “Vicious” Lopez and Ryutaro “Aru” Noda directly into the game.

Electronic Arts revealed brand-new gameplay features landing in Madden NFL 23 when the game launches on Aug. 19, headlined by the FieldSENSE Gameplay System – described as a new foundation for consistent, ultra-realistic gameplay. FieldSENSE leverages animation branching technology to enable Hit Everything, which redefines the physical interactions during the play allowing players to fight for every inch and change the outcome of tackles – whether mid-air or on the ground. It also provides new mechanics such as 360 Cuts, giving players the ability to change direction on a dime while controlling ball-carriers, and Skill Based Passing, a new way to pass that offers players the ultimate control to place the ball exactly where they want, with the power they want.

Entertainment Software Association president and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis stated plans to bring E3 back in 2023, telling the Washington Post that next year’s event will have elements of a traditional E3 show, live and in-person, alongside an online show. “

ROSTER MOVES

Wisdom Gaming announced that former Minnesota Vikings EVP & CMO Steve LaCroix joins the company’s leadership team as President of Wisdom Gaming. LaCroix will leverage his 30-plus years of leadership in the professional sports industry to drive the company’s efforts around strategic planning, organizational growth and structure, revenue generation, corporate partnership integration, new business opportunities, brand expansions, and community engagement within his new role.

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https://www.tiltingpoint.com/careers/

Working alongside other team leads, you are a clear communicator, and a standout colleague.
Lead Engineer
Private Division
Seattle WA

https://www.privatedivision.com/jobs/

Collaborate with leadership, improve tools and processes, collaborate with QA, and deliver software that drives us to shipping a game that our players will love.
Software Engineer III
Private Division
Seattle WA

https://www.privatedivision.com/jobs/

You will have complete freedom in how you implement product features and carry a ton of responsibility.
Engineering Manager
Astro Gaming
Newark CA

https://jobs.jobvite.com/logitech/jobs/brand?s=Astro

Convert and cleanup of design CADs for rendering and animation purposes.
CG Rendering Artist
Astro Gaming
Newark CA

https://jobs.jobvite.com/logitech/jobs/brand?s=Astro

Refine our art production pipeline to help execute our artistic and game vision.
3D Tech Artist
Paradox Interactive
Berkeley CA

https://career.paradoxplaza.com/jobs

Developing games from early prototype to final production.
Senior 3D Animator
GungHo Online
Redondo Beach CA

http://careers.gunghoonline.com/

Work with artists and programmers to ensure that the art direction can be achieved.
Art Director
GungHo Online
Redondo Beach CA

http://careers.gunghoonline.com/

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