09/01/16: Kings/NRG co-owner Andy Miller’s call to action; Elder Scrolls marks a first; Gran Turismo stalls


It’s Thursday, September 1, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

As the business of eSports continues to swell, Andy Miller, co-owner of NRG as well as the Sacramento Kings, is calling for unionization and collective bargaining to help the community work with publishers. In an interview with IGN eSports, Miller stated that the industry is in need of formal organizations to represent their needs. Of course, last month, following relegation from the North American League Championship Series, NRG Esports terminated the contracts with its entire League of Legends lineup.

"If you look at LCS, look at how many different teams have played in that already and it’s pretty remarkable,” he said. “So I think what we’re gonna need to see is more organization among the teams and among the players themselves where there is maybe a union and a league of teams, collective bargaining agreements would be great, where we could really understand what the players needs are, what teams needs are, and then work with those publishers.”


Bethesda and Twitch are bringing The Elder Scrolls: Legends to PAX West in an eSports play. The event marks a first for the title in the space, with the event set to include Twitch personalities as well as a free play area, allowing fans the chance to play in the Finals on Sunday to claim the title of the first PAX Champion in The Elder Scrolls: Legends.

Blizzard has its lineup for the Overwatch World Cup, with members of the title’s community voting on the players they wanted to represent their country. Over three million votes were tallied, with teams from over 50 countries taking part in a best-of-three, single-elimination online qualifiers this month before hitting BlizzCon in November with sixteen teams battling in round-robin group stages and single-elimination finals. Each country’s roster can be found here.

ELeague is set to open its second season on Sept. 7 with a tightened slate as preliminary rounds featuring the top CS:GO teams in the world compete for the title. The regular season will then run on Friday nights on TBS at 10p as well as the semifinals on Dec. 2. The Grand Final then begins on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 4p. The top eight teams that earned a spot in the playoffs during ELeague’s first season will automatically qualify for the group stage round in season two while all other teams that participated in season one will be invited to play in the preliminary round. Season two will also see the league feature a limited commercial break format including advertising branding and content from Official Marketing Partners Domino’s, Credit Karma, Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and HyperX.

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Activision tapped the services of Sky Sports’ Chris “Kammy” Kamara to try his talents to the world of Call of Duty: Black Ops III matches ahead of this weekend’s finals of the Call of Duty World League Championship. The video, found at https://youtu.be/55evopNF7BE, sees the soccer voice learning the Call of Duty language beside game staple Alan “Bricey” Brice. With $2 million up for grabs, the event runs from Sept. 2-4. Meanwhile, players will be able to experience the details on Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s Multiplayer mode as it happens tomorrow on twitch.tv/callofduty.

Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko became the latest NBA player to take on the world of eSports, with the athlete picking up ownership rights to the Renegades franchise, which currently has teams competing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty and Halo. ESPN reports that the Celtics forward signed the players, who are based out of Australia, and moved them into a house and training center in Michigan, with a coach and a manager and locked in a Call of Duty team that will now play under the Renegades banner.

Polyphony Digital is putting the brakes to Gran Turismo Sport until 2017. The game has been set to anchor a slate of eSports tournaments including the much-hyped FIA Online Championship Series. "We’ve been excited and humbled by the response each time that we’ve shared new gameplay with everyone," said Founder of GT studio Polyphony Digital Kazunori Yamauchi. "However, as we approach our planned release date in November, we realize we need more time to perfect GT Sport, which we’ve already dedicated so much effort towards since announcing the title. We do not want to compromise the experience in any way. While we cannot confirm a new release date at this time, we are more committed than ever to making GT Sport the best Gran Turismo game to date.”


gamescom reports that 730 private and trade visitors attended the conference on this month in Cologne, up over 630 visitors in 2015. “This year’s gamescom congress underlines the relevance of gamescom, as a 360-degree event, to the most important questions on the digitalization of businesses and society,” said Dr. Maximilian Schenk, Managing Director of the German Games Industry Association BIU. “Together with partners such as Aktion Mensch, the German Cultural Council, the Frankfurt Book Fair and speakers from Audi, Daimler, VfL Wolfsburg, Schalke 04, Twitch, the WHU, ZDF, and more, gamescom indicates what special role the technology and methods of the games industry play in an increasing number of industries.”

The NPD Group is picking up EEDAR, a specialist market research and data analysis firm for the video games industry. The move will now “give clients access to a full suite of services covering data, insights, and analytics and facilitate innovation to meet the rapidly changing needs of the industry.” EEDAR’s proprietary database of video game product metadata spans over 200 million facts and 150,000 titles across console, PC, mobile and online/social titles.

Today’s Nintendo Direct presentation is set to offer a focus on its 3DS lineup, with the stream set to start at 10a. No news about its upcoming console is expected, according to multiple reports.

Speaking of Nintendo, a report by Let’s Play Video Games states that Nintendo’s next gaming system, aka the NX, could put a halt to region-locking, allowing owners to buy and play games from any country. Nintendo has not confirmed details about the system.

Take-Two Interactive announced plans to enter the VR space, announcing the return of Carnival Games in VR form. The title, which has shipped over 9 million copies worldwide over the years, will target HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift and will now offer a dozen different VR-tailored activities for players ranging from a climbing wall to a shooting gallery. "Virtual reality is an exciting new emerging platform that has the potential to enhance the way that interactive entertainment is created and experienced," said 2K SVP of Marketing Sarah Anderson. "As our first foray into this space, we wanted to deliver a highly accessible entertainment experience that would allow players to immerse themselves in the familiar, classic fun of our Carnival Games series. With its stylized interactive environments and all-new features, Carnival Games VR will deliver the magic of the midway like never before."

The first Esports & Casino Resorts Conference, set at the SLS Las Vegas Casino and Resort from Oct. 25-26, is offering eSports startups a shot to win$50,000 worth of services from Manatt Digital and Naruscope, who will judge the entries and announce a winner. Details for the Esports Startup Launchpad are available here. “At its core, the eSports industry has been propelled by ongoing technology disruption and devoted community engagement, and we are excited to help showcase the opportunities in the space to not only the casino industry, but also to investors and brands at the inaugural Naruscope event,” said Eunice Shin, Managing Director of Manatt Digital.

It’s the end of the line for Renegade Kid, whose cofounders Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove announced plans to split with each launching their own companies. Both will continue to develop videogames under the umbrellas of new companies Atooi and Infitizmo. The company’s 2D games, including the Mutant Mudds series will now become the property of Atooi while its 3D game will head to Infitizmo.

GameCo, which is launching the world’s first video game gambling machine, unveiled plans for this year’s Global Gaming Expo from Sept. 27-29 in Las Vegas, offering attendees the exclusive opportunity to play the VGM, which is set to hit casino floors in Atlantic City this year. Carousel at the Integrated Resort Experience will be staffed by professional esports athletes and GameCo executives to demo the game with attendees. GameCo’s VGM will also be on display in the booth of international engineering and manufacturing giant, Suzo-Happ, designer and developer of the VGM’s game controller.


Call for Entries:
3rd Annual Cynopsis Sports Leaderboard

Open to all individuals + teams worldwide including: all networks, MSOs, leagues, teams, universities, production companies, studios, producers, developers, marketing and PR firms, + ad agencies who have
 utilized social media platforms to promote a product to sports fans throughout 2016.

Deadline to Enter: October 21st
– – Start your Entries – –


Blizzard’s Battle.net is now allowing players to showcase their gameplay via Facebook, following the company’s recent alliance announcement. The public beta of the feature, aka Blizzard Streaming, is now up and running, allowing players to stream their assaults live on the social platform with a few clicks. Beta is operational throughout the American continents, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia.

Yahoo Esports locked in a two-year partnership with ESL for distribution across Yahoo’s properties as well as development of new tournaments and integrated sponsorship opportunities for advertisers. The two companies will align to live stream ESL produced tournaments in HD quality across Yahoo properties while Yahoo will now look to open the door for brands to take part in the action, offering advertisers integrated content sponsorship opportunities within both its eSports coverage and new tournament offerings.

GenVid Technologies announced funding of $1.5 million to enable “a new kind of eSports livestream broadcast,” with investors that include March Capital Partners and OCA Ventures, according to VentureBeat. The company is looking to allow developers to control the camera angles of eSports broadcasts “as if they were sitting in the broadcast editing booth of a major sports event” in a move to help companies earn better storytelling capability.

Mashable picked up eSports content thanks to a deal with Endemol Shine Beyond USA that will see the brand distribute five digital series across Endemol Shine Beyond and Mashable properties, including websites, social and OTT channels. Each series will run across Mashable and its various social channels, beginning with the third season of Legends of Gaming, which will begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Most streamed categories for the week ending Aug. 28, per Gamoloco
1.      League of Legends  21,023,104 hours watched
2.      Hearthstone  9,097,423
3.      Counterstrike  7,624,703
4.      Dota 2 5,317,908
5.      World of Warcraft  3,821,347
6.      Overwatch  3,597,159
7.      Deus Ex: Mankind Divided  2,291,801
8.      Dead by Daylight  2,264,499
9.      Gaming talk shows  1,683,154
10.     Call of Duty Black Ops III- 1,565,739


Quest Nutrition is taking its eSports sponsorships to Robert Morris University in a move to “encourage top-level collegiate athletes to live a healthier lifestyle through nutrition” and encompass all RMU eSports teams including League of Legends, Counter Strike, DOTA 2, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm for all 75 of their competitive gaming students. “Quest Nutrition is honored to be part of Robert Morris University’s revolutionary eSports program. In a sport where milliseconds mean the difference between winning and losing, what you eat is vitally important. Quest Nutrition will provide RMU’s eSports athletes with nutritional guidance and Quest products to help them perform at their best,” said Quest Nutrition’s CMO Nick Robinson.

HTC eSports stepped into the festering debate between Riot co-founder Marc Merrill and team owners in the League Championship Series, noting that it was mulling getting out of the LCS due to restrictions. The company posted on Facebook that “With less avenues for advertisement in League of Legends, stemming from the restrictions on the teams and players, restrictions on the subreddit, and the lack of available marketing opportunities at competitions, it is becoming difficult to justify our investments into the scene.” Amid calls for sponsor guidelines stemming from the controversy, Stuart Lipson, Executive Director of the eSports Ad Bureau, noted that “There are many tried and true tools and techniques that others have used that could be replicated or adapted. Examples include: sponsorship levels and entitlements based on those commitments, windows of different types either in terms of geography, ad or sponsorship type or other consideration.”

UK-based online retailer Ebuyer.com announced a sponsorship with FMESPORTS. “We’re extremely happy to be partnering up with Ebuyer, one of the biggest names in UK online retail,” said FMESPORTS owner Darren Ball. “It was clear from the get go that both parties shared the same passion for progressing in the esports and gaming sectors and after meeting with many of Ebuyer’s staff, we knew that it would be a perfect match.”

The Ad Council is partnering with the gaming industry to launch Game for Good, looking to “harness the power of games and the gaming community to drive awareness, engagement and impact on the critical social issues addressed by Ad Council campaigns.” Partners now include Penny Arcade, Twitch, Polaris/Maker Studios, Rooster Teeth, YouTube, 3BLACKDOT, PlayQ, Zynga and Games for Change. Kicking off the initiative, the Ad Council is bringing its Love Has No Labels campaign to PAX West to integrate its messages of diversity and inclusion throughout the event including: two PAX panel discussions. Meanwhile, a dedicated Game for Good advisory group will work on opportunities for collaboration across many different Ad Council campaigns over the course of the next 12 months.

Scuf Gaming locked in a sponsorship and partnership with Luminosity Gaming that will soon see the launch of a custom LG controller for Xbox One & PC. “A global leader in custom controllers, Scuf Gaming has been a staple in the console eSports scene for years. With the recent signing of our Halo team along with our existing world class Call of Duty team, it only made sense to partner with the market leader, SCUF Gaming,” said Steve Maida Owner of Luminosity Gaming.


GREE named Andrew Sheppard as the company’s new CEO of GREE International Entertainment. The company also announced Ryotaro Shima has been appointed COO while Naoki Aoyagi will serve as advisor. GIE will continue to manage current games Modern War and Knights & Dragons and will focus on building new IP gaming experiences.

Game Trailer of the Week: World of Warcraft Legion

Promising a storm of fel fire and demonic armies, Blizzard unleashed the sixth expansion to it WoW with World of Warcraft: Legion. The new offering features a new hero class, artifact weapons and a new continent, but, according to Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime, “We’re excited to return to one of Warcraft’s core conflictsthe ongoing war against the Burning Legionand send players on their most epic adventure yet.” Click here to watch.

ON THIS DAY in 1992 – Nintendo releases Super Mario Kart for the Super NES in the US.
Trivia: Speaking of Mario Kart, here’s an easy one…. Name the course 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: What was the name the party-happy character pictured last week? Answer: Conker. Kudos: Julie Moran/Australia; Chris Davies-Virgin Media/London; Rob Casalaina-ITN/NY; Danny Araque/NY; Ted Dresdner-Nickelodeon/NY; Brian Dean-Cartoon Network/Atlanta; Glen Ross/DC; Amanda Thornton-Red Arrow Industries/Knoxville; Kurt Melcher-Intersport/Chicago; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Riley Eckert-DWMS/Las Vegas; Joey Olson/Manhattan Beach.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
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