07/13/17: Blizzard’s OWL controls the map; Record coin in International waters; Disney’s Summer games

It’s Thursday July 13, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

Activision Blizzard made its first group of founding teams official, announcing yesterday the sale of the first seven Overwatch League teams with franchises set to be based in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai. New team owners include: Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots (Boston); Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets (New York); Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals (Los Angeles); Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming (Miami-Orlando); Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports (San Francisco); NetEase (Shanghai); and Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam (Seoul).
“Overwatch is a game about a diverse group of international heroes who fight for an optimistic vision of the future, and the Overwatch League is an extension of that spirit,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’re building this league for fans – esports fans, traditional sports fans, gaming fans – and we’re thrilled to have individuals and organizations who are as passionate about professional competition as we are, and who have extensive experience in all three fields, representing our first major international cities in the league.”
“We have been exploring the esports market for a number of years and have been waiting for the right opportunity to enter,” said Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group. “The incredible global success of Overwatch since its launch, coupled with the League’s meticulous focus on a structure and strategy that clearly represents the future of esports made this the obvious entry point for the Kraft Group.”
The Overwatch League is set to launch later this year, and detailed plans to “create value for team owners through advertising, ticketing and broadcast rights revenues, with teams receiving an equal share of all league-wide net revenues” while franchises also all local revenues generated through their home territory and venue up to a set amount each year.

It will be yet another record for The International this year, as the Dota 2 tournament will officially dangle another record prize pool of at least $20,773,957, per Mashable, topping last year’s record-setting tally, with more than a month to boost the numbers. This year’s International will run from Aug. 7-12 in Seattle. 
WESA announced that, starting with the upcoming Season 6 of Pro League, the league will now cover travel and accommodations for seven members that choose to travel with their team manager. In return, managers would then take on additional responsibilities on-site, including: coordinating and managing all aspects of player travel; signing sessions; media appearances; practice schedules; sponsor activations and other player-related activities and obligations. “Today’s announcement is an important step for the continued support of professional esports players,” said Ken Hershman, Executive Chairman and Commissioner, WESA. “Player support and development will always be a primary focus of what we do, and today’s initiative aligns with that vision. The teams came to us with this proposal and worked with WESA and Pro League to reach a solution that we believe works for all stakeholders.”
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft esports is expanding into the world of Mythic Keystone dungeons, detailing plans for the Mythic Dungeon Invitational and $100,000 at stake. Teams aspiring to battle on the global stage must first push themselves through a gauntlet of Mythic Keystone dungeons, taking on “increasingly difficult Mythic Keystones and earning the best scores on the Proving Grounds.” 32 teams will then square off, with eight from the Americas, 8 from Europe, 8 from China and 8 from Asia-Pacific, with invited contenders facing off in Sept.
ESPN2 is booking a return trip to Evo 2017 this year, offering fans televised coverage of the Street Fighter V World Championship live from Las Vegas, beginning at 10p on Sunday. The competition will also be available to stream live via the ESPN app. “It’s great to be back at the Evo Championship Series Final with Street Fighter V this year,” said Kevin Lopes, director, ESPN programming and acquisitions. “This final will provide no shortage of compelling competition, and we look forward to delivering this event to fans.”
Need to muscle up your esports chops? Think that Laser Kittens vs. Immortals is a children’s sci-fi movie? Do ask the doctor to give you a Nadeshot? Does “spamming the point” sound like an issue for IT? Then you can’t miss our Cynopsis Esports Boot Camp, in partnership with ESL, taking place at Barclays Center ahead of ESL One, where we map out the esports industry for you in our master classes! Class begins on Sept. 15 with a lineup of terrific speakers and a behind-the-scenes tour of ESL One. Save the date and don’t miss out as space is limited! Click here for more info.
DreamHack is partnering with The American Video Game League and Twitch to launch college esports grudge matches at DreamHack Atlanta this year. The partnership will mark the first of its kind to feature collegiate esports at a major gaming event, according to the release. Participating universities include: Clemson University, University of Georgia, Georgia Southern, Georgia State University, North Carolina State, and University of North Carolina at Charlotte with matches live streamed from 10:30a-5:30p on July 21 and 22.
Gears of War Esports locked in two brand-new summer tournaments, with the North American tournament – the CMG Offseason Open – running Aug. 5-6 in Corona, CA and 16 teams competing. Meanwhile, the EU equivalent will take place in Nottingham from Aug. 19-20 with 24 teams in play.

Source: Superdata

Nintendo Switch is poised to land its first video streaming service today, although the outlet will be Japanese video platform Niconico. Users will be able to upload their own videos, as well as add special effects, polls, etc.
Bluehole is teaming up with Facebook to livestream exclusive content for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Facebook Live. Content will run four times a month with each live video showcasing different elements, starting with games hosted by one of Bluehole’s community managers. The weekly livestreams will then alternate hosts between content creators from the PUBG community and Bluehole’s community managers.
Beyond Entertainment and UMG Media Corp. locked in a Halo esports media partnership. “We are excited at Beyond to partner with UMG as they continue to expand their support into the Halo eSports scene – and very much look forward to working with UMG as both companies strive to provide additional stability for the Halo eSports community at large,” said Joseph Bentley, Founder, Beyond Entertainment. Dates on UMG Gaming will launch tomorrow with Halo 5: Guardians FFA at 5p.

Big news in tech, as Logitech announced plans to acquire ASTRO Gaming in a deal worth $85 million. Combined, according to the announcement, the merged entities rank as the number one maker of headsets, mice, keyboards and streaming webcams for both PC and console gamers. “ASTRO is the leading player for premium console headsets and is the preferred headset for console esports athletes,” said Ujesh Desai, vice president and general manager of Logitech G. “It’s a perfect complement to Logitech G’s focus on PC gaming and we couldn’t be more excited; we love the team, the brand and the products. Together, we want to make game play even more fun for gamers everywhere.”
Riot Games is suing Chinese mobile game developer Shanghai Moonton Technology for allegedly reproducing copyrighted material from League of Legends. The lawsuit was filed in California, focusing on mobile titles that include Magic Rush: Heroes, Mobile Legends: 5v5 MOBA, and Mobile Legends: Bang bang. Esports Insider writes that Riot noted copies of elements that included “LoL’s characters, artwork, map designs, and unit and monster designs.”
Denial Esports CEO Robby Ringnalda is teaming up with Scott Kelly, Founder and CEO of Black Dog Venture Partners, to launch esports and egaming consultancy dubbed Black Dog Gaming. The new org will over services that include: business development sales and training; branding, publicity and social media marketing; corporate strategy and management development; and venture capital and funding consulting.
Games for Change announced the finalists for the 2017 Games for Change Awards, which celebrate the year’s best games for social impact. The 14th Annual Games for Change Festival will feature keynote speakers that include Megan Smith (former White House Chief Technology Officer), Gabo Arora (Founder and Creative Director of LightShed), Luke Crane (Head of Games at Kickstarter) and Anjali Bhimani (Actress/voice of Symmetra in “Overwatch” and Nisha in “Fallout: 4”). The winners will be announced on the evening of July 31. Gameplay contenders this year include Minecraft, Sea Hero Quest and Tracking Ida.
The Walt Disney Company unveiled its eleven 2017 Disney Accelerator companies that will be connected with the “creativity, imagination, and expertise of The Walt Disney Company,” with companies this year that include esports heavyweight aXiomatic, along with Epic Games, creators of Unreal Engine technology.

HyperX detailed plans to host an esports tournament at its headquarters in Orange County, anchored by titles that include Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros. Melee and ARMS. D’Ron ‘D1’ Maingrette, Stephen “Sajam” Lyon, Terrence“TKBreezy” Kershaw, and Steve “Tasty_Steve” Scott will handle microphone duties, with the action starting on July 18 at 2p.
Ahead of EVO, Toshiba signed on to partner with Panda Global in a deal that will see the team’s players use Toshiba tech in tournaments and during streams. “Panda Global is proud to bring Toshiba into the esports space,” said Panda Global CEO Alan Bunney. “The Toshiba-OCZ Series SSDs is a perfect fit for the esports enthusiast so it’s a natural fit for us.”
PanzerGlass locked in a one-year partnership deal with Astralis. The deal was brokered by Lagardere Sports, will include team-branded screen protectors as well as a PanzerGlass CS:GO trading card.
POWER PLAYERS – Marc Buhaj, Disney XD Worldwide

Saturday will see Disney dive deep into the world of gaming and esports with the debut of D|XP, a daily summer programming block dedicated to the industry that runs from 9p-3a on Disney XD, showcasing a diverse lineup of games, publishers, events and personalities across the landscape of both entertainment gaming and esports, courtesy of content produced in collaboration with ESPN, Disney Digital Network and its Maker creators, IGN, Attack Media, Warner Bros. Television Group’s Blue Ribbon Content, Banger Films, ESL and VICE’s Waypoint. Series are set to include: Polaris Primetime, a weekly one-hour playthrough gaming and variety show hosted by Jimmy Wong and Strawburry17; Parker Plays hosted by Parker Coppins; and Polaris: Player Select, a “greatest hits” compilation series featuring top videos from YouTube stars from Disney Digital Network’s bench of Maker creators, including Jacksepticeye, Luzugames, Strawburry17, LordMinion777 and LDShadowLady.
Cynopsis spoke with Marc Buhaj, SVP, Programming / General Manager, Disney XD Worldwide, about reasons behind the move, the big picture for the test run, and what we can expect from the lineup.
Buhaj on launching D|XP: We are very excited about this as it represents an opportunity for us to reach beyond our target demo while still staying on brand. Everybody plays games. So we are looking at this as a test and I can’t wait to see what sticks as we embrace the gaming scene. The challenge for us, in this case, has been to lock in rights to use the IP, music, etc., which is something some other outlets don’t have to do. That said, we have been successful and I think gaming and esports fans will be extremely happy with the results and we’ll have more news to announce over the next couple of weeks that will make them even happier.
On programming: We’ve got some really interesting formats in the mix, from the relatively unknown to rising stars. Parker Plays, for example, is one that I am looking forward to seeing how our audiences react to, while another show, The Attack – from the folks who used to work on Attack of the Show over at G4 –  will offer a live, streamed feel. I’m also curious to see how some of our leagues and teams do, as we’ve got some interesting IP there. Over the next 24-48 hours, we’ll be able to reveal some of the details about who we are linking up with, but we’ve got some of the leaders in their categories.
On goals: The goal for me is to continue to expand the genre. I want to make sure we’ve got some diverse storytelling coming out. I want to make sure that people understand that games aren’t straight-ahead first-person shooter games. That is important to me. This all evolved because of us picking up one or two pilots but we very quickly realized that you’d be on an island if we just had a single show here or there. Gaming isn’t an island, so it was important for us to create a destination for viewers instead.

Gfinity announced the appointment of Mark Brittain as the company’s new CCO. Brittain joins from SYCO Entertainment where he was Global Head of Commercial overseeing all commercial and revenue generating activity for company’s core brands, formats and represented talent.
Twitch named Kate Jhaveri as its new SVP of Marketing where she will be charged with overseeing global marketing and communications for the company. She joins from Twitter.

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ON THIS DAY in 2010: EA Sports releases NCAA Football 11 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the US.

Trivia: Name the game pictured above. (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: This celebrity scored two of the five best-selling videogames in 2000 with Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 ranking second and third on sales charts for the year. Who was he? Answer: Tony Hawk. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Luke Watson-Essential TV/NY; Lindsey Bradley-THREE/NY; Will Cutrone-Weber Shandwick/NY; Brian Traynor-WME/IMG/NY; Rachel Donlin-THREE/Raleigh; Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick-National Geographic/DC; Heather Allen-WWE/Stamford; Jorge Tatto-Wasserman/Toronto; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Carly Dasso-Saatchi & Saatchi/Oakbrook Terrace; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Tony Reyes-Stoopid Buddy Stoodios/Burbank; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica

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Ziff Davis
Apply technical knowledge to adapt and update templates and forms effectively and efficiently as needed to meet creative vision for product within defined forms.
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Buffalo Games
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Responsible for creating complex data processing and presentation tools that integrate tightly with some of the largest franchises in the games industry.
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Agora Games
Troy NY
Design, implement, and support tools and process to automate and improve infrastructure visibility and supportability.
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Agora Games
Troy NY
Create inspiring and highly detailed, realistic production friendly concept art that stays on style with the aesthetics already established in our game.
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Zenimax Online Studios
Hunt Valley MD
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Electronic Arts
Austin TX
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Electronic Arts
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