07/16/20: Overwatch League laid out its plans for a championship

 

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday July 16, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
The Overwatch League traced out its 2020 postseason and Grand Finals plans, where all 20 teams will have the opportunity to qualify for the postseason. Matches will be held online and be split between two divisions, with 13 teams playing in North America, and seven in Asia. Postseason play begins on Sept. 3 with single-elimination play-in matches between the lowest seeds in the North America and Asia brackets. Double-elimination play will start that weekend on Sept. 5 between teams that win their play-in match. The remaining lower seeds will then compete with higher seeds in double-elimination tournaments in North America and Asia the following week. Champions of the winners’ and losers’ brackets in each region will advance to a final four Grand Finals tournament. In order to have all four teams compete on the same server, the two North America teams will travel to South Korea where a champion will be crowned.

COMPETITION
Meanwhile, the Call of Duty League locked in its official dates for the Call of Duty League Championship with the full double-elimination tournament set to launch on Aug. 19 at 3p. The weekend of Aug. 29-30, will see the final four teams square off for the crown. In addition, the league announced a Call of Duty League Challengers Last-Chance Qualifier that will take place Aug. 1-2, with a dedicated broadcast for the finals on Aug. 15-16. Online competitions will be held in North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe for a $500,000 prize pool.

DreamHack opens the doors to a new Fortnite tournament series this weekend. Running July 17-19, the DreamHack Open Featuring Fortnite will offer monthly, online tournaments for Europe, North America East, and North America West. With nearly 250,000 registered players from all over the world, the event will have the highest number of participants of any DreamHack tournament to date with a total of $1.75 million set to be awarded. “The response to this tournament has been tremendous, and we expect to have more than 250,000 participants this weekend for the first DreamHack Open Featuring Fortnite,” said DreamHack Chief Product Officer Michael Van Driel. “We are very excited to produce and broadcast this tournament with the highest number of participants, ever, for DreamHack to date! All of us at DreamHack wish the players luck, and we look forward to seeing what new Fortnite stars emerge from these events.”

Superweek paid off for the LEC, returning for the first time since the 2014 Summer Split Overall the first four weeks of Summer have seen 13,454,941 total hours watched, for a rise of 108% over 2019 numbers, along with the league’s highest ever peak viewership for Europe, hitting 479,784, according to Riot. Overall, this Summer the Average Minute Audience swelled 81% compared to Summer 2019.

Call of Duty League drummed up its highest viewership of the season over the weekend via the New York Subliners Home Series. The weekend saw peak viewership reaching 115,000 while the New York/Chicago battle ranked as the biggest home series final of the season at 96K AMA.

DreamHack and Psyonix signed an agreement for DreamHack to be the production partner for Rocket League Championship Series X (RLCS). The RLCS revs up this month and continues through spring 2021. As part of the partnership, DreamHack will produce the entirety of the series. Broadcasts for RLCS X start on August 1.

Get those Tempest Award submissions in ASAP! Time is running out. Click here to get them in before the July 30 deadline.

Bethesda Softworks is hosting QuakeCon At Home this year, with the event spanning Aug. 7-9. The event schedule will feature round-the clock programming with special influencer streams and community teams from around the world. On the esports front, the 2019-2020 Quake Pro League season concludes with the Quake World Championship on Aug. 9 where the top 24 players around the globe will compete to win their share of $150,000.

Allied Esports inked a licensing and sponsorship agreement with Esports Entertainment Group for the inaugural VIE.gg Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Legend Series tournament, which kicks off on Aug. 31. The VIE.gg CS:GO Legend Series will feature 12 teams from multiple European countries competing online and l be produced by Allied Esports from its HyperX Esports Studio in Hamburg, Germany and broadcast live on Twitch.tv/AlliedEsports.

Generation Esports formally announced the first key activities for the newly launched Middle School Esports League, designed to “harness middle school students’ passion for video games through organized competition and provide beneficial academic opportunities. “The MSEL officially kicks off in the fall semester with the MSEL Fall Major esports tournament for an eight-week long esports competition where North American middle school esports clubs can compete against their peers in six multiplayer online video games. The full list of esports titles featured in the MSEL Fall Major includes Minecraft, Rocket League, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Just Dance 2020, and Mario Kart 8 DX.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Last week, Sony Corporation agreed to make an investment of $250M USD in Epic Games. While the publisher has been a model of explosive growth since the launch of Fortnite Battle Royale, it has continued to gain interest in streaming even two years after launch. This week, Stream Hatchet investigates the six months growth in viewership for Epic Games during the first half of 2020.
· Epic Games remains a model in streaming: The publishers viewership has increased 127% across the major north american distributor platforms (Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Mixer).
· Explaining the June Dip: Despite holding “The Device” In-Game event in June, monthly hours watched dipped for Fortnite by 5%.
For more information regarding publisher viewership trends visit www.streamhatchet.com.

ACTIVATION

The LEC named Erste Bank Group as its new Summer Finals Main Partner. The Vienna-headquartered banking group will produce various activations including social media content and videos that bring Erste’s #believeinyourself slogan to life for LEC fans. “With Erste Group as the most innovative banking group in Austria and the CEE region, we have brought a great partner on board who wants to strengthen and anchor esports in the region together with us – not only through advertising, but also as a strong infrastructure partner,” said Alban Dechelotte, Head of Partnerships and Business Development EMEA for Riot Games.

ESL named GG.Bet as an official global betting partner for select Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 tournaments. The partnership will cover all ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters tournaments through the rest of the year, in addition to the ESL Pro League Seasons 11 and 12.

PLATFORMS
Upcoming gaming channel VENN released “Part One” of its lineup of creative programming and broadcast talent for its launch on Aug. 5. Programming is set to come from 50,000 sq. ft. Vista Studios in Playa Vista, with a flagship studio at New York’s Three World Trade Center to join in 2021. VENN’s Studio One at Vista will be outfitted with over 1000 sq. ft. and 30M pixels of LED walls and floors. Content is set to include: Venn Arcade Live w/ host James ‘Dash’ Patterson; Dare Package with host @AustinOnTwitter; Guest House, featuring performing artist and gamer @ChrissyConstanza; The Sushidragon Show; and Looking for Gains, hosted by NBA2K Pro @CashNasty.

Getty Images and Riot Games entered into a multi-year agreement that designates Getty Images as the official photo image and distribution partner for League of Legends Global Esports Events: The World Championship, Mid-Season Invitational, and All-Star Event. Getty Images will manage editorial photo and licensing requests for League of Legends Global Esports events through at least 2024. In addition to coverage of future global events, thousands of images from the past decade of League of Legends global esports tournaments, such as the first World Championship (Worlds) in 2011, the sold-out Madison Square Garden from Worlds 2016, and the packed Beijing National Stadium from Worlds 2017, also will be made available for license as part of the League of Legends Global Esports Collection.

Esports technology company Blink partnered with FACEIT for instantly created AI-based game highlight clips. Blink’s proprietary content engine “combines advanced machine vision and learning algorithms to segment, detect and compile defining events in each game and weave them into compelling personalized stories that drive greater social engagement and higher retention.

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TEAMS
Toronto Defiant and Toronto Ultra will soon have a long-term home. ESPN reports that OverActive Media CEO Chris Overholt sent a memo to Canadian government officials stating that the company will build a 7,000 to 10,000-seat esports arena at Exhibition Place in Toronto, next to BMO Field and Hotel X Toronto. “OverActive Media has hired former Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment vice president Bob Hunter to coordinate with government officials on the venue. Hunter has been involved in the development and expansion of several other Canadian sports venues, including B.C. Place Stadium, Rogers Centre, Scotiabank Arena and BMO Field,” the report says.

Envy Gaming named Adam Rymer as its new CEO, starting July 13. He will oversee all business operations for the company and report to the Envy Gaming Board of Directors, which is led by Chairman Ken Hersh. Owner and former CEO, Mike Rufail transitions to the newly created full-time position of Chief Gaming Officer and will put his 15 years of esports industry experience to work scouting, recruiting and working with the organization’s competitive players and coaches, as well as oversee team operations staff. Rufail also retains his board representation.

Team Liquid is hosting its biggest community event yet in the Brawl Stars Arena community tournament in North America and Europe. Competition will feature 4,500 teams of 3 players who will battle through one of the largest community tournaments in mobile gaming history, competing for the right to be crowned as Team Liquid’s first-ever Brawl Stars Arena Champion. The Brawl Stars Arena will be broadcast in three languages to reflect the game’s massive popularity across the globe.

LIFESTYLE & LICENSING
Speaking of which, Team Liquid’s Liquid Apparel launched an exclusive collection of customizable Marvel-themed jerseys, hoodies and zip jackets featuring new designs and characters from X-Men and The Avengers. The capsule will commemorate Team Liquid’s ongoing partnership with Marvel Entertainment and the collection will be priced between $84 (jerseys) and $99 (hoodies) and available in the Team Liquid Store.

Riot Games dropped new clothing items for fans of the League of Legends music group True Damage, with products that include two T-shirts, an orange Akali-themed hoodie, and a black long-sleeve shirt.

100 Thieves continues to release merchandise and bolster branding, with its latest release titled No Camping. The collection will debut on July 18 with products that include hoodies, t-shirts, a mask and more.

INDUSTRY
Tim Betar, aka “TimtheTatman,” signed with WME for representation in all areas. THR broke the news, with the popular stream boasting more than 5 million followers on Amazon’s live video gameplay platform and 193 million total stream views on Twitch. In addition, Betar has over 2 million subscribers and 310 million total views on his YouTube channel.

VaynerSports co-founders Gary and AJ Vaynerchuk announced the launch of VaynerGaming, a new division dedicated to esports athletes and gaming personalities. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf signed on as VaynerGaming’s first client. The team has also brokered a long-term, exclusive streaming partnership with Twitch and renegotiated Bugha’s existing team deal with the Sentinels. Darren Glover will serve as the division lead and work closely alongside Neligan and VaynerSports co-CEO AJ Vaynerchuk.

Global esports talent agency and gaming consulting company Rumble Gaming announced the creation of its new strategic advisory board. Newly-appointed Rumble Gaming Advisory Board members include: Chris Chaney; Tim Fleiszer; Rachel David; Ari Nassim; Brandon Jackson; Darnell Jones; and Samuel Banks.

Continuing the agency theme, following accusations of sexual misconduct by Online Performers Group CEO Omeed Dariani, the agency I closing its doors. Rod “Slasher” Breslau broke word that OPG laid off all of its employees and was releasing its creators from their contracts.

A California judge dismissed Turner “Tfue” Tenney’s original complaint against his former team FaZe Clan, per THR. The complaint claimed that the organization had operated as an unlicensed agency in violation of California’s Talent Agencies Act in addition to blocking potential business opportunities, and collecting as much as 80 percent of Tenney’s earnings. FaZe filed its own countersuit in New York, claiming that Tenney breached his contract in addition to unjust enrichment.

Sony is investing $250 million for a minority piece of game developer Epic Games, best known for creating Fortnite. “Epic’s powerful technology in areas such as graphics places them at the forefront of game engine development with Unreal Engine and other innovations,” Sony chairman Kenichiro Yoshida said. “There’s no better example of this than the revolutionary entertainment experience, Fortnite. Through our investment, we will explore opportunities for further collaboration with Epic to delight and bring value to consumers and the industry at large, not only in games, but also across the rapidly evolving digital entertainment landscape.”

Electronic Arts revealed EA SPORTS UFC 4 will see UFC middleweight champion Israel “The Last Stylebender” Adesanya and UFC welterweight contender Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal serve as the game’s official cover athlete duo. The next game in the game franchise features an all-new unified progression system, overhauled takedown and ground mechanics, more fluid clinch-to-strike combinations and the chance to experience the origins of combat sports in all-new environments, UFC 4 delivers the most polished mixed martial arts experience to date.

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