06/22/17: NBC Sports fuels Rocket engine; Blizzard blankets Twitch’s terrain; Psyonix talks grassroots growth

It’s Thursday June 22, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

NBC Sports detailed plans for its debut into the world of esports, launching a deal with Psyonix and FACEIT for a new Rocket League series. With coverage spanning multiple NBCUniversal and FACEIT assets, including NBC’s RSNs, Telemundo Deportes, NBCUniversal International Networks and more, the 2v2 Rocket League tournament will dangle a $100,000 prize pool for contenders, with the tournament beginning on the FACEIT platform with regional online qualifiers, which will be divided into competitions for all eight NBC Sports Regional Networks, as well as additional American and European open qualifying regions. Competitors in the RSN regions will then move on to in-studio regional final competitions at select RSNs, and the tournament will culminate in a two-day Grand Finals with coverage of the Regional and Grand Finals across a variety of NBCUniversal and Comcast national and international platforms. In total, more than 40 hours of event coverage will be presented across live-streaming, video-on-demand, and linear platforms.
“We felt that working with the two of them with this model that we’ve come up with, would open up esports to a broad, wide community group of people, both with existing gamers as well as bringing new viewers to the table. We really wanted to bring this to everyone to have a chance to be a player and not just a spectator. We like that this is one of the things that make esports unique, and we can now open it up to both the players who you may have already heard of, as well as some who you haven’t heard of,” said Rob Simmelkjaer, Senior Vice President, NBC Sports Ventures.
The Grand Finals will feature 16 total teams competing on August 26-27 for the inaugural title and the $100,000 prize pool, which will be televised live in the U.S. on NBCSN. The Grand Finals will also be broadcast on Syfy in the UK, Germany, Australia and multiple countries across Latin America, in addition to all previously listed streaming outlets.
“We’ve been speaking with a number of publishers over the past couple of years, and have explored many different opportunities and ideas as we were trying to find our way into this space. We think that this particular platform is one that is flexible and can be repeated year-in, year-out, and potentially multiple times year. We can see ourselves fitting lots of different game genres and titles into this format. We are still looking at other opportunities in esports,” said Simmelkjaer.

Super Evil Megacorp booked its summer plans, announcing that ESL will produce regularly scheduled broadcasts of Vainglory’s professional league for the remainder of Vainglory’s 2017 calendar with the Vainglory8 showcasing top performing teams from across Europe and North America beginning this weekend from June 24-25.
Riot announced that the NA vs. EU Rift Rivals tournament is getting a facelift, with the format now featuring “more individual games and a longer series (Bo3 or Bo5)” between the top teams. The event is now being expanded to include a double-round robin Bo1 Group Stage with a Bo5 final between the top team from each region based on Group Stage results. This means that Rift Rivals will now be a 4 day event, with the Group Stage spanning 3 days and Finals on the last day. The tournament will now run July 5-8.
Overwatch Contenders’ Group stages for North America and Europe continue into this weekend (June 24-25) to determine which teams will advance to the playoffs on July 1-2. The top two teams per group will move on and fight for a $50,000 prize pool. Team Liquid, LG Evil, Immortals and 5-Hour Energy Detroit Renegades lead their respective groups in North America while Team Expert, Laser Kittenz, Singularity Ninjas and Movistar Riders lead their groups in Europe.
DreamHack detailed plans for its voyage to Atlanta with a three-day run lined up at the Georgia World Congress Center July 21-23. The event will serve as a 24-hour-a-day LAN party with a lineup of esports tournaments offering a prize pool of more than $800,000, along with live music, a cosplay competition, virtual reality demos, family events and more. “DreamHack Atlanta offers a global meeting place for casual, competitive and professional gamers,” DreamHack CEO Marcus Lindmark said.
Next week! Following a year that saw a slew of deals between sports and esports entities, how are these new partnerships actually benefitting the brands? What have these sports powerhouses learnt about esports fans? How is competitive gaming being leveraged? Hear from some of the innovators from the sports world, including the NFL, Big Ten Network, the 76ers and Mindshare, who took on esports and learn from their experiences at our latest webinarHow Sports Brands Can Leverage the Esports Explosion,” taking place on June 27. Book your spot now by clicking here.
Tencent detailed a $14.6 billion esports investment in which the world’s largest mobile gaming developer would create new leagues, tournaments, associations and eSports-themed industrial parks in China over the next five years, according to TEO. Chinese sports authorities would work closely with Tencent to establish unified standards for eSports in the country.
Valve announced the six teams that have received direct invites to August’s The International 7 tournament, which currently has a prize pool of $16 million. Four-time Major champions OG are joined by Team Liquid, Invictus Gaming, Newbee, Virtus.pro and Evil Geniuses. Another 12 teams will join the field through regional qualifiers.
IMG this summer is introducing a “one-of-a-kind” esports boot camp that will be held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The camp, which runs from July 30 through August 5, is open to kids age 12 to 18 and will center on Valve’s popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CG:GO). Professional CG:GO player Spencer “Hiko” Martin will be among the game instructors who will work at the camp alongside IMG Academy’s performance experts, focusing on communication, leadership, nutrition, fitness and reaction times. Martin says the camp is the perfect opportunity for kids to experience professional esports from an inside point of view. “Having something like this when I was younger would have really kick started my professional career,” he said.

Source: Superdata

Big moves for the Twitch/Blizzard relationship, which saw the social video platform and game developer/publisher announce plans for a two-year worldwide collaboration that includes third-party live streaming rights to select Blizzard esports content, as well as special game content for Twitch Prime subscribers through 2018. Blizzard is licensing third-party streaming-platform rights to Twitch for a slate of Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Overwatch sports content comprising more than 20 major individual events. Meanwhile, Twitch Prime members in over 200 countries and territories will get special in-game loot and deals for Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm.
Esports-only bookmaker Unikrn is launching its own cryptocurrency called UnikoinGold that will be the exclusive token used on a new skill-based betting platform. Meanwhile, Unikrn also unveiled a deal with Betgenius that will see the company provide Unikrn with an in-play betting product, featuring fully automated prices for thousands of live events, including all major League of Legends, DotA 2, CS:GO, Call of Duty and Overwatch tournaments. “There is no doubt that legal, regulated wagering is a blossoming frontier in esports and we are proud to offer our customers with not only the most engaging product on the market but also the most secure,” said Rahul Sood, CEO of Unikrn. “This could only be achieved by partnering with a leading supplier with the utmost integrity. Betgenius was the clear choice.”

AEG further expanded its reach into esports with a strategic investment into the Immortals franchise, joining an ownership group that includes Lionsgate, former financier Michael Milken and Memphis Grizzlies co-owner Steve Kaplan. As part of the investment, Immortals will host their Los Angeles-based tournaments and events at AEG’s sports and entertainment district: L.A. LIVE. The latest move by AEG comes nine months after the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company entered a long-term partnership with ESL, the world’s largest esports company, in a move that enables ESL to use AEG’s global network of clubs, theaters, arenas and stadiums for qualifying events, tournaments and world championships.

E3 drew more than 68,000 people to the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, according to the ESA, with millions more watching online worldwide. More than 2,000 products were showcased by 293 exhibitors and the show generated 15 million E3-related posts across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Facebook released internal data on what companies and products moved consumers at E3 with more than 17 million people via 41 million posts, likes and comments.
Meanwhile, E3 organizers are reportedly mulling a move away from the LA Convention Center, according to GameSpot, with ESA CEO Mike Gallagher stating that the organization might relocated if the venue does not upgrade its facilities. E3 2018 is already booked in for June 12-14 next year, with the earliest possible move taking place in 2020.
Sega has mobile on the mind, initiating a new plan to release classic games for free on iOS and Android under the moniker Sega Forever. The plan will include titles from all of its past consoles starting today with five games being offered: Sonic The Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Phantasy Star II, Kid Chameleon and Altered Beast. The company will then release another two to three titles per month moving forward.
The Modern Times Group announced plans to pick up mobile and social games publisher Kongregate in a deal worth $55 million. MTG noted that that Kongregate is expected to generate $50m in sales this year, leveraging 14 million monthly active users, with over 100,000 games on its browser platform and an additional 45 titles on the app stores.
Play Labs @ MIT revealed its first batch of startups admitted to the program with the first batch consisting of two startups in the VR pets & games category, two in VR business applications, to in AR/MR applications/tools, a trio in VR/VRWeb/360 development tech, a pair in esports, two in machine vision and deep learning and two in online games. In the world of esports, featured companies include: Esports One, comprised of esportspedia, one of the largest esports information resources in the world, and providing an advanced computer vision and real-time data analysis platform for esports; and Hidden Switch, a digital card battler. Demo Day will be on August 15 at MIT and open to investors, members of the MIT community, and the general public.
Enthusiast Gaming acquired Destructoid.com, which draws 5 million monthly visitors. “Destructoid has been a major gaming news brand for over 10 years and we are big fans! Enthusiast Gaming and Destructoid share similar cultures and a passion for delivering great content to gamers. We are very excited to complete this major milestone in our consolidation growth strategy. Welcome Niero and the Destructoid team to Enthusiast”, said Menashe Kestenbaum, Founder & CEO of Enthusiast Gaming.

Ahead of the NBA Draft, HyperX locked in draft prospect and gamer De’Aaron Fox as an ambassador for its headset line, where he will now join Echofox eSports team owner Rick Fox, NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward, and Boston Celtic and Detroit Renegades owner Jonas Jerebko. The former Kentucky Wildcat will now exclusively use HyperX gaming headsets while he streams his favorite games, Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Clash Royale on Twitch.
Splyce has partnered with Turtle Beach Corporation to outfit its teams – across several console eSports including Call of Duty, Gears of War and Halo – with Turtle Beach audio gear from the “Elite Pro” series. “We’re thrilled that prominent esports organizations continue choosing the Elite Pro – not just in the United States but around the world,” said Juergen Stark, CEO, Turtle Beach Corporation. “Splyce is a proven force in the competitive console space and now with the Elite Pro in their arsenal we can’t wait to help them achieve even more success in the competitions ahead.”
Following its E3 activation, T-Mobile is going even deeper into Overwatch, announcing not only the roster for the US National Team team, but also that the brand would be sponsoring the team for the tournament. The US will be part of Group G in the group stages, facing off against Chinese Taipei, Brazil, and New Zealand.
POWER PLAYERS – Josh Watson, Psyonix

From its new deal with NBC Sports to a partnership with WWE to the launch of Collegiate Rocket League, Psyonix continues to cement its role as a heavyweight in the esports industry. In recent weeks, the company saw season three of the Rocket League Championship Series score viewership spikes, nabbing 2.29 million viewers. In addition, the game will serve as a centerpiece for DreamHack Summer in Sweden and DreamHack Atlanta with a combined prize fund of $100,000 this year, courtesy of a new deal.
Cynopsis spoke with Josh Watson, head of esports at Psyonix, about the company’s approach to competitive gaming.
Watson on the rise of Rocket League as an esport: We released the game in July of 2015, and tournament organizers quickly picked up the game and started to run with it, so we really feel that the success of the game was born from the community with true grassroots support. Our fanbase is passionate and that led us to the RLCS, which is now 20+ teams across three regions with roughly three-month seasons twice a year, and while that continues to grow, it has also spawned other events around Rocket League as well. We now have pledged more than $2.5 million into the competitive scene overall.
On the collegiate launch: It is a soft introduction for players in a collegiate atmosphere to start competing in competitive Rocket League. We’ll feature tournaments that run over five weeks and we’ll be including alternative game modes into the mix. We think it will be a cool, casual way to get introduced into the competitive atmosphere for a lot of the students who may not be familiar. We’ll have full details soon.
On changes for season four of RLCS: In season three, we were really focused on growth. But with season four, we are trying to focus on the sustainability of our current structure given that our tournaments are open. Previously, we’ve seen some hesitation in some of the high-profile teams in investing in a Rocket League team if they haven’t qualified yet. So we wanted to create an environment where these players can play in a high-level but they now also have the security for team investors where they won’t have to worry about them falling out because of one bad season.
On organic growth: One of our main focuses has always been community first. When we were developing Rocket League, being that it is a competitive game, we thought it might have potential as an esport. But for us, it is really important that the community decide if it would work because if you try to force it, it feels disingenuous. The community needs to feel invested in it and that has always been our strategy in this space. 

Riot Games announced that Hal Biagas, a former general counsel at the National Basketball Players Association, will head the organization’s new players’ union for the North American League of Legends Championship Series, according to ESPN.
A recent report from App Annie found that, on any given day, more than 35% of Snapchat users can’t be reached by brands or advertisers on any other social platform. And Instagram Stories boasts more than 200 million daily active users. Both platforms are clearly essential tools, the question is – when to use which ?
Join us for, “ Snapchat and Instagram Stories: A How & When Guide ,” on June 29 as social media industry execs show us how to navigate our way to the most impactful content strategy.

ON THIS DAY in 1996: id Software releases Quake for PCs in the US.

Trivia: What is the name of Sonic’s nemesis, pictured above? (Either one will do…)(Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: This racer (pictured above) was not only the most popular racing game of the classic era, but also the most popular coin-operated arcade game of 1983, what is its name? Answer: Pole Position. Kudos: Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Brad Stern-POM Technologies/NY; Brian Traynor-WME/IMG/NY; Douglas Jerum-Ferrara Jerum International/NY; Patrick McOwen-Comcast Spotlight/North Wales; Ryan Masterson-ICON International, Inc./Stamford; David Stellmack-Capital University/Columbus; Marc Mugnos-Stadium/Chicago; Adam Leston-Weigel Broadcasting/Milwaukee; Steven Darancette-2-Car Garage Productions/LA; Michael Kricfalusi-Pilgrim/LA; Chris Grove-Narus Advisors/Las Vegas; Hal Isaacson –Charity Network/LA

Later — Chris
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JOB OPENING: SUPERVISING PRODUCER/PRODUCERS/NYC: Exp producing live video in high-pressure environment, searching for trending topics in real time, scripting, booking, overseeing mult segments in hour-long show.   News/current events focused role. Short-term in NYC kicking off early July. Email resumes HERE (6/29) 
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JOB OPENING: COOR., CONS MKTG & ADV/Showtime/NYC: Assist team in development and execution of mktg campaigns for SHO Series/Docs/Events. 1-2 yrs con mktg and/or ad agency exp req. Passion for TV & digital a must. Apply HERE (6/24)

JOB OPENING: MGR, PROGRAMMING RESEARCH/IFC TV/NY: 5+ yrs TV rsrch exp. Prod in-depth aud analyses to help IFC create the most compelling scheduling & promo strategy. Identify effective platforms/prgrms for promo placement (incl cross-ntwrk barter), leveraging ratings, demographic, etc. Full info/apply HERE (6/24) 

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JOB OPENING: RESEARCH ANALYST/MUSIC CHOICE/NYC: Resp for day-to-day ad sales research support, generate and distribute audience usage data via Nielsen/ComScore as well as custom ad-hoc audience reports and ad effectiveness studies. BA degree, minimum 3 yrs applicable experience. Direct Job Post: HERE (6/23)
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Design, document, build and write code to ensure product performance and rock-solid reliability.
Senior Backend Software Engineer
Work closely with art team to implement visual style based on design documents.
Senior Unity Programmer
Wayforward Technologies Inc.
Valencia CA
Write and maintain robust, high-quality code which meets performance goals given the challenging technical constraints of the target platforms.
Senior Rendering Engineer
Woodland Hills CA
Working with rendering systems to add features and fix bugs.
Senior Graphics Engineer
Trion World Inc.
Redwood City CA
Create marketing plans that highlight the best our games have to offer, showcasing a game’s differentiation and unique benefits in a crowded marketplace.
Senior Brand Manager
Trion World Inc.
Redwood City CA
Write dialogue and cinematic scenes that are compelling and on tone with the established style of the studio.
Game Writer
Crystal Dynamics
Redwood City CA
Work with Executive Producer, Senior Producers and discipline Leads to determine resources necessary to complete projects.
Cinematic Producer
Crystal Dynamics
Redwood City CA
Work closely with product management and design teams to create innovative applications on the Android platform.
Senior Android Engineer
Razer Inc.
San Francisco CA
Work with the team to architect, design, and then implement microservices from scratch.
Senior Backend Engineer
Razer Inc.
San Francisco CA
Design, implement, and test multiplayer gameplay, including abilities, player to player interactions, balance, and skillsets.
Senior Multiplayer Game Designer
San Francisco CA
Establish the visual priorities in collaboration with the CP_Graphic.
Art Director
San Francisco CA
Design and implement well-engineered, reliable, maintainable, and bug-free code.
Gameplay Engineer, Service & Backend
Cloud Imperium Games
Los Angeles CA
Creating efficient UV layouts that work well within the engine/platform constrains.
Character Artist
Cloud Imperium Games
Los Angeles CA
Has strong experience designing 3D levels in support of an interactive narrative.
Senior Level Designer
Los Angeles CA
Surface deformation and feedback.
Senior Gameplay Engineer
Los Angeles CA

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