09/24/20: Riot detailed its esports plans for VALORANT

 

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday September 24, 2020

Good morning! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
Riot Games continues to bolster esports plans for VALORANT, mapping out First Strike, the first set of VALORANT regional tournaments that will be hosted, produced, and broadcast by Riot. Play runs Dec. December 3-6 and will be composed of multiple regional finals taking place across North America, Europe, CIS, Turkey, Asia, Oceania, Brazil, and the Middle East. Each region will host a series of merit-based qualifiers, resulting in multiple Riot-produced, top eight First Strike Finals. The winners will earn the right to call themselves the first official regional VALORANT champions.

“VALORANT is a deeply competitive title with global appeal and the necessary elements to become the next premier esport,” said Whalen Rozelle, Senior Director of Esports at Riot Games. “First Strike will provide our thriving competitive ecosystem with the platform to showcase their greatness, build regional legacy, and a foundation that will support the esport for years to come.”

COMPETITION
ESL and DreamHack revealed “a new vision” for ESL Pro Tour Counter Strike: Global Offensive for 2021, which will feature a restructure of the global competition and feature a minimum of 16 teams featured in ESL Pro Tour competitions with group stages and finals spanning over the course of two back-to-back weekends. The second weekend would take place in some of the most prestigious arenas across the world. Intel Extreme Masters Katowice in February will be the debut competition of ESL Pro Tour CS:GO 2021, with plans to hold the tournament as an in-person competition. The new format will see ESL and DreamHack host eight Masters CS:GO tournaments throughout the year.

The Halo Championship Series is powering up its Pro Series. The Halo 5 Pro Series, will span North America, Latin America, EMEA, and Australia/New Zealand with online play spanning Sept. 26-Dec. 12. The slate will host open and professional tournaments weekly with four Season Championships. Meanwhile, HCS will continue operating its MCC Pro Series.

Playfly Sports, a sports marketing company, announced the acquisition
of Collegiate StarLeague (CSL) and WorldGaming Network (WGN). Playfly Sports will concentrate on enhancing the amateur esports-athlete experience and increasing opportunities for participation on high school and college campuses nationwide. Both Collegiate StarLeague and WorldGaming Network will continue to operate under their brands and will be powered by Playfly Sports. Additionally, Playfly Sports’ new esports entity will continue to be supported by industry veteran Wim Stocks who will serve as Chairman.

In addition, the HBCU Esports Alliance and CSL College confirmed plans to partner this Fall to bring esports participation and other academic opportunities to HBCU schools. The partnership includes full support for both the administrations as well as the students attending the involved institutions. Initiatives include competitive participation offerings through tournament events, invitationals, leagues, and intramurals. The HBCU Esports Alliance and Collegiate StarLeague partnership also provides advisory support for administrations as they build curriculum and academic programming, career development, recruiting strategies and more to help HBCU students learn about the job opportunities that exist in gaming and esports.

Riot Games saw the League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split hand the publisher with its highest numbers since 2016, according to the company which reported that play saw a rise of 72% in viewership hours watched over 2019, clocking in at 34.67 million total hours. The summer finals drew an average minute audience of nearly 485,000 viewers, up 27% over 2019.

Meanwhile, Allied Esports reports that 1.7 million unique viewers tuned in for the VIE.gg CS:GO Legend Series tournament, which ended Sept. 13. The two-week competition, which also generated over 1 million hours watched and reached 98,000 peak viewers, is the company’s most-watched Legend Series event since the tournament series was created in 2017.

Pringles, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jack in the Box, Nathan’s & Mountain Dew. A feast of brands will delight your senses are this year’s virtual Esports Business Summit, running Oct. 27-29. Hear from these brands and more as the lay out their strategies in esports, what they look for in a partnership and how they are measuring results. Click here to register now!

Overwatch League laid out plans for its 2020 All-Stars events ahead of Grand Finals weekend, with All-Stars Asia this Saturday while All-Stars North America take place on Oct. 2. Both events will feature the T-Mobile Talent Takedown, in which Overwatch League broadcast talent play a 6v6 match in a 3-map set; the Widowmaker 1v1 Tournament, presented by State Farm; as well as the All-Star Game, while the Asian event will serve up addition showmatch formats.

Registration has opened for the all-female NBA2K20 tournament bringing WNBA players and women NBA2K players together in a unique format, being hosted by Aerial Powers (star forward for the Washington Mystics of the WNBA) and Levels Unlocked Enterprises, presented by Starburst, and powered by WorldGaming Network. The tournament will culminate with four WNBA players and NBA2K League pro women players serving as ‘player/captains for the women players making it through the qualifying brackets, then playing the final four Championship matches as teams of 3.

On Saturday, the US Air Force is launching Command Clash, a six-part esports series that will run on Twitch that pits 29 airmen, male and female, across multiple bases in competition playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The series will also feature celebrities competing that include the NFL’s Clay Matthews and Ahman Green. Jeff Leach, the voice actor for the Call of Duty character Ghost, commentates on each match. In the final episode, one base will be declared the champion.

ACTIVATION
The EA SPORTS Madden NFL 21 Championship Series unveiled new and returning sponsors joining the 2020-21 competitive season, marking the most sponsors in Madden NFL Championship Series history and nearly double the number of sponsors seen for the Madden NFL 20 Championship Series. Joining Pizza Hut as sponsors of MCS21 are fellow NFL official marketing partners SNICKERS, Oakley, Gillette and Campbell’s Chunky. “Coming off the biggest product year in the history of the franchise and the star-studded, entertainment-driven evolution of MCS programming, Madden NFL 21 has stepped onto an elevated platform of opportunity for brand partnerships in the world of competitive gaming,” said Vida Mylson, Sr. Director of Commercial Brand Partnerships at EA SPORTS. “Alongside this world-class roster of sponsors, all connected by our affiliation to the NFL, we’ll deliver new and authentic brand experiences that fuel football culture and resonate with the next generation of fans.”

Mercedes-Benz gassed up a deal with Riot Games for the League of Legends World Championship and will now serve as a partner for Worlds 2020 as well as other future League tournaments, including the Mid-Season Invitational and All-Star Weekend. In addition, Mercedes-Benz will be featured as the first-ever presenting partner of the Trophy Ceremony at each of the three international events,” according to Riot, and also develop additional branded content along with dedicated commercials, ad artworks, social media and more.

Meanwhile, eNASCAR and ASUS entered a new partnership for the remainder of the season for NASCAR’s premier sim racing esports series, the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series. As part of the agreement, ASUS becomes the circuit. Through the agreement, ASUS will market its Republic of Gamers (ROG) product line during in-race broadcasts and on social media. “We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with eNASCAR to bring an unrivaled motorsports esports experience to racing professionals and their fans, both on the track and as a spectator,” said Yen Hoang, senior manager of brand marketing, ASUS North America. “As the new Official Gaming Hardware of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, we’re excited to share our most innovative products to aspiring sim racers and fans so they can compete at their best!”

BLAST entered a partnership with Hdac Technology AG that will see the blockchain company sponsor the esports tournament organizer’s Counter Strike Fall season. As part of the partnership Hdac’s branding will feature across BLAST’s world class CS:GO competitions during the Fall Series, Showdown and Finals, including branded content opportunities and a number of giveaways on offer. Hdac will also sponsor a unique broadcast integration called ‘The Economy Play’, which will feature analyst discussions on economy rounds in between key matches.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Stream Hatchet focuses this week’s insights on the top content across gaming platforms. Among Us continues to dominate the live streaming landscape as the game climbed in both total hours watched and peak concurrency last week. Additionally, the “Just Chatting” category is still riding one of the largest trends over the past year and saw a large spike in peak viewership.
· Among Us grew about 13% up to 52M hours watched while hitting a peak of 934K viewers! The casual party game doesn’t seem to be slowing down as streamers continue to join together to create content in-game.
· League of Legends was hit with another decrease in hours watched – this time over 12%. However, once Worlds 2020 begins, expect LoL to jump to the top.
· PUBG Mobile declined about 9% after coming off a high growth week. Though the mobile game market is primed for larger shares of live streaming viewership moving forward. PUBG Mobile is also facing adversity after being banned in India where a large portion of the game’s player base and viewership stemmed from.

For more insights on the top games and viewership data, visit www.streamhatchet.com/insights.

PLATFORMS

Complexity Gaming confirmed a partnership renewal with Twitch in an exclusive global agreement (excluding China) will see the Dallas-based esports organization deliver live esports and gaming content to the live interactive streaming service. As part of the partnership, Complexity will continue to produce live-streamed content and competitions, such as Race to World First with Complexity-Limit, the organization’s championship-winning World of Warcraft guild, as well as the Complexity Club Championship, as part of the FIFA20 PlayStation4 Tournaments: Pro For a Day. Additionally, Complexity players and streamers will stream regularly on Twitch, growing their individual brands and creating more live content for fans.

TEAMS

Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, founder of independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, became the latest investor in ReKTGlobal, owner of teams that include Rogue and Call of Duty League franchise London Royal Ravens as well as companies such as Fearless Media, TalentX Gaming, Greenlit, and Fullcube. “Anthony is a trailblazer in the music industry and an incredible addition to the ReKTGlobal ownership team,” said Amish Shah, Co-founder of ReKTGlobal. “He has a strong business acumen, a propensity for finding and grooming hip-hop’s biggest artists, and an understanding of how to balance artistic integrity, all while achieving massive commercial success.”

After a yearlong partnership, Nick “FaZe NICKMERCS” Kolocheff inked a three-year extension to stay with FaZe Clan, with the deal set to “apply even more resources to support NICKMERCS’ audience growth with new content formats, unique FaZe-exclusive talent collaborations, and considering the brand’s global media empire, strategic integrations across various sports, music, and traditional entertainment initiatives.”

Rainbow Six Siege revealed its R6 Share skins, as 42 Rainbow Six organizations across the globe receive team-branded skins in the game as part of Ubisoft’s new revenue-sharing program. The “Tier-1” teams will be the only ones to receive full Operator Bundles in-game, along with weapon skins. The “Tier 2” teams will receive a weapon skin and charm, while “Tier 3” will only receive a weapon skin.

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LIFESTYLE
PUMA and Gen.G unveiled new limited-edition jerseys for the 2020 League of Legends World Championship, with fashion designer Heron Preston creating the artwork featured on the merch. The jerseys will be worn by Gen.G’s League of Legends Champions Korea team and mark the first major collaboration between the two companies who announced in June they would “bring new merchandise, collaborations and experiences” to the organization’s fans. “Worlds 2020 is shaping up to be the biggest ever in terms of competition and viewership globally,” said Arnold Hur, Chief Operating Officer of Gen.G. “As we continue to tell our PUMA partnership journey, this is a really important moment for Gen.G on every front. We also wanted to use this opportunity to tell our team’s unique story for 2020 and what it took to get this far in this difficult year, and we hope they feel inspired and energized the moment they put on the jerseys.”

SPONSORED CONTENT

On a recent episode of Ross Video’s “Living Live” podcast, Esports Business Development Manager Cameron Reed discussed the evolution of Esports arena productions and how they have elevated to a level where they are now on par with that of other professional sports. Click here to hear how end-to-end workflows and custom DashBoard panels, allow for the condensing of key production elements into a single button push.

INDUSTRY
Microsoft unveiled a megadeal this week, acquiring ZeniMax Media, the parent company of popular video game publisher Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 billion, and picking up franchises that include The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Quake, Starfield and DOOM. Series will be added to the Xbox Game Pass, with the deal expected to be finalized in the second half of fiscal year 2021.

Former Blizzard CEO and cofounder Mike Morhaime is joining a slate of industry vets, including Amy Morhaime, to launch Dreamhaven, a new game company that will be based in Irvine in order to create and publish original games for players around the world. The company will sport two studios at launch – Moonshot and Secret Door. “I’m excited to team up with such talented people who care deeply about games and their communities,” said Dreamhaven CEO Mike Morhaime. “I’ve always believed in the power of games to bring people together regardless of backgrounds or boundaries. With Dreamhaven, we look forward to creating and sharing new experiences with players everywhere.”

Speaking of Blizzard, the company laid out details for BlizzConline, the purely virtual event that replaces the now-cancelled BlizzCon 2020 that was scrapped as a result of the pandemic. BlizzConline will run Feb. 19-20, 2021. Activities include an online cosplay exhibition for fans, a digital storytelling contest, art contest, and general talent show as well as a virtual March of the Murlocs.

The Global Esports Federation entered a strategic partnership with the Arab Esports Federation. The partnership will focus on boosting the growth of esports in the Arab region and Africa. “The Arab region presents truly dynamic development opportunities for esports to thrive. We are optimistic about the future of esports,” said HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, President, Arab Esports Federation. “Esports in this region has been on the rise. This latest collaboration between the Arab Esports Federation and the Global Esports Federation allows us to create an inclusive expansion strategy that serves our communities and delivers holistic growth opportunities for esports to continue to develop; as well as giving our youth access to unparalleled global opportunities.”

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Responsible for the production of live news & talk show, and recorded video segments for television, and digital platforms. 3+ yrs in TV news and/or talk production. Full info HERE (9/25)

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