10/01/20: ESL and DreamHack are merging operations

 

Medias First Morning Read
Thursday October 1, 2020

Good morning and welcome to EBS month! ! This is your weekly Esports Brief.
ESL and DreamHack are merging in a move to “accelerate their mission to shape the future of esports and gaming” where they will now be known as ESL Gaming. This new structure is effective immediately, and the combined company will be led by ESL Gaming Co-CEOs Craig Levine and Ralf Reichert, with an eye to create “the best gaming lifestyle experiences, and the most professional and legendary competitive experiences for players and fans alike, are at the heart of both ESL and DreamHack.” However, the brands will continue to keep their monikers for their events with DreamHack festivals maintaining the DreamHack name, while ESL’s esports tournaments will keep the ESL moniker.

“Through maximum cooperation and collaboration, and the melding of some of the best creative and visionary gaming minds in the industry, we will, together, continue to advance the innovation that drives this space via the most exceptional products and events”, said ESL Gaming Co-CEO Craig Levine. “For our partners, there will be more opportunities to engage with us through a wider range of activations across all levels of esports, and all aspects of gaming. And for our fans, it means we will offer one of the most expansive esports and gaming lifestyle portfolios available.”

“DreamHack has always brought communities together and created the ultimate gaming lifestyle experience for our fans all around the world. This will not change — but by combining our resources with ESL, we can continue to grow these events into something even more spectacular. Whether first-timers or long-term attendees, we have always offered something for everyone by featuring everything gaming under one roof,” said DreamHack Co-CEO Marcus Lindmark. “With ESL, we will be able to offer a more tailored approach for both our community and our partners across all regions through an array of gaming and esports opportunities, all while creating impactful and memorable experiences. The future of gaming is now, and we are excited to create the future together.”

(By the way, hear from both Craig and Marcus at EBS!)

COMPETITION
Riot saw the first stage of the LoL World Championship continue to set records, with more than five matches from Play-In topping a million viewers, according to Esports Charts, with peak viewership clocking in at 1,168,000 for the matchup between Team Liquid and MAD Lions. The Average Play-In Viewers finished at 714,000 for the stage, up 35% over Worlds 2019 with 29,664,000 hours watched, according to the company.

EA announced its new FIFA 21 Global Series, blending international football fandom and competitive gaming with the goal of expanding into entertainment to appeal to a broader, more mainstream audience by delivering new forms of media that “fuse esports, traditional sports, and pop culture” to engage a wide variety of passionate and global fanbases. FGS21 will feature a diverse lineup of hybridized content, including: Twitch Rivals Preseason Invitational; The FIFA 21 Challenge; YouTube Gaming Creators Cup:; as well as tournaments from EA SPORTS’ Official Football League Partners, including the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, MLS as well as UEFA Champions League and CONMEBOL Libertadores.

Hearthstone firmed up its championship plans, as players from around the world compete over a $500,000 prize pool from Dec. 12-13. Grandmasters will compete in a dual tournament format until four finalists are left for the 2020 Hearthstone World Championship. Running fully online, the official livestream will be showcased on the Hearthstone YouTube channel.

Tempest Award finalists are out! Congratulations to all of the contenders as well as this year’s special luminaries, including: Twitch’s Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham winning the Sentinel Award; Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere winning this year’s Ambassador Award; and our 2020 Hall of Fame class in Steve Arhancet, Co-CEO, Team Liquid; Victor Goossens, Founder and Co-CEO, Team Liquid; Marcus Lindmark, CEO & President, DreamHack. A fantastic lineup of Watch List selections were also unveiled. Be sure to check out our winners as part of the Esports Business Summit on Oct. 28. Click HERE to secure your virtual seat.

Learfield IMG College and Mainline, its esports tournament operator provider, are launching the “Mid-American Madden Challenge” designed for 10 members of the Mid-American Conference. Presented by the U.S. Marines and prize sponsor Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, the challenge will begin on October 12 and culminate with a championship format broadcast on Twitch. “We see tremendous value in esports, and we’re excited about the Mid-American Challenge presented by the U.S. Marines running next month,” said Learfield IMG College’s EVP/Managing Director – Media and Partnerships Group Rick Barakat. “Mainline’s white-labeled tournament software allows sponsors to have unique esports brand visibility while aligning with universities where they already have an affinity.”

The DOTA 2 The International prize pool continues to rise, with the International Battle pass now approaching $40 million. The amount easily tops the previous record of $34.3 million set last year.

The F1 Esports 2020 Grand Final has been pushed back a week and will shift from Dec. 9-10 to Dec. 16-17 in order to avoid a scheduling conflict with the on-track F1 season closer in Abu Dhabi.

ACTIVATION
Spacestation Gaming landed a partnership with SteelSeries and will use the brand’s lineup of peripherals for the organization’s players and staff. “I personally have always been a fan of SteelSeries,” said Shaun McBride, Founder of Spacestation Gaming. “Our players have often requested SteelSeries products, so when this partnership came together, it felt completely perfect. The collaboration will support our entire staff and optimize all of our teams moving forward.”

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings partnered with two international advocacy organizations, Global Citizen and HeadCount to promote the “importance of voter registration and inspire action, across the Generation Z and Millennial cohorts.” This non-partisan campaign will run across Enthusiast Gaming’s key media properties and YouTube channels, through October 5, with participants engaging in the campaign by using the hashtags #JustVote and #GamersVote.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation is jumping into a month-long of virtual gaming throughout October, kicking off Game Pink, a video game focused fundraising initiative that aims to activate the gaming community to raise awareness and help women and families impacted by breast cancer. Launching Oct. 3, the event will be hosted by Geoff Keighley and feature interviews and gameplay from PrestonPlayz, KelseyDangerous, Bugha, JD Witherspoon, CouRage,QuarterJade, dasMEHDI, and more.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association announced MDA Let’s Play For A Cure, a multi-week streaming event to drive awareness and fundraising for MDA. The events will culminate in the final marathon stream on October 24, running simultaneously with The MDA Kevin Hart Kids Telethon at 8p. Each week will feature top talent and gaming influencers, including Zedd, 5x Counter Strike World Champion missharvey, Voyboy, Trick2g, JonSandman, and members of Counter Logic Gaming, among others, and showcase the most popular game titles, including League of Legends, Rocket League, Fortnite, Fall Guys and Call of Duty.

STREAM HATCHET TRENDS
Stream Hatchet will be releasing its Q3 2020 Streaming Insights report covering key trends in gaming and esports. Q3 has continued to show strong signs of growth on streaming platforms, with an increase of 100 million hours watched from Q2. Other key takeaways from the report include:
· Facebook Gaming Eclipses 1B quarterly hours watched
· Among Us and Fall Guys bring a Party Games to streaming
· Top Gaming Influencers on Twitch, YouTube and Facebook

Keep an eye on Stream Hatchet’s social channels for the full report to release this week.

PLATFORMS

Super League Gaming is reporting a strong period of audience growth so far this year. To date in 2020, the company delivered 191 episodes of original content across Snapchat and Instagram, which is three times the content produced in all of 2019. Having become a fully-operational remote studio within weeks of the pandemic lockdown in the U.S., Super League’s video team was able to ramp up monthly production, doubling output compared to the beginning of the year. The expanded activity reflects a material increase in consumer demand for Super League content. Overall, the league has seen more than 40 million hours of total gameplay, across all platforms, which is approaching three times the amount seen in all of 2019; a quadrupling of Super League’s social media audience, which now stands at 1.7 million across Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch; as well as more than 2.3 million registered users, which surpasses the goal of 2 million the company set for all of 2020.

The Detroit Pistons partnered with platform provider Rival to establish a new esports gaming community for Pistons fans tabbed “Motor City Rivals.” The organization becomes the first U.S. professional sports organization to partner with Rival in launching a gaming community for its fans with the Motor City Rivals esports community serving as a destination for Pistons fans to communicate, compete and earn rewards points that can be used to redeem exclusive team merchandise and partner prizes. Motor City Rivals will launch with an inaugural NBA 2K21 Tournament presented by Gamestar on Oct. 14.

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TEAMS
Activision Blizzard is reportedly offering ownership groups for teams in Overwatch League and Call of Duty League the ability to defer multimillion-dollar franchise fees that would have been due this year, per to The Washington Post after plans for both leagues had to be dramatically changed due to the pandemic.

Guild Esports, the esports organization co-owned by soccer legend David Beckham, announced this week that raised over $25 million ahead of its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, set for tomorrow. The company announced earlier this month it plans to make 40 percent of its shares available through the IPO, and it was looking to raise $26 million in the IPO.

100 Thieves unveiled a roster of team-themed character skins in Rogue Company, the tactical shooter game that entered open beta this week. The DLC includes 100 Thieves-themed skins for Dima, Ronin, Saint, and Phantom, as well as weapon wraps for both weapons, the wingsuit, and a spray.

READYUP SPOTLIGHT
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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.

ROSTER MOVES

Paul Brewer is departing ESL after a five and a half year run at the company to take on a new role as Executive Vice President of Global Business Development and Revenue at Rival.

Former Activision Blizzard exec Eugene Wu joined talent agency UTA in its esports brand partnerships department, where he will work with UTA’s roster of esports athletes, content creators and streamers.

Dignitas is restructuring its executive ranks and named Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson as Vice President of Esports for its operations. Meanwhile, James “Bakery” Baker was upped to Director of Esports.

Sports marketing agency rEvolution landed Chris Mann as the company’s SVP of REV/XP, its gaming and esports division and will be responsible for developing the marketing strategies and partnerships for the division’s current and future clients.

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