11/17/16: The Game Awards hit Uncharted territory; EVO docks at the Bay; Monumental’s Liquid assets


It’s Thursday, November 17, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

It turned out to be a big year for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, with title leading the list of all contenders for The Game Awards 2016. Unveiled yesterday, the list of contenders  which span a slate of 63 games will be honored on Dec. 1 at the Microsoft Theater in LA. Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End scored the most overall nominations with eight, including Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Art Direction, Best Narrative, and three nominations in Best Performance.  Campo Santo’s Firewatch, Playdead’s Inside and Blizzard’s Overwatch each received five nomination. Other Game of the Year contenders include DOOM, Inside, Overwatch, and Titanfall 2. A full list of nominees can be found at www.thegameawards.com.

Among publishers, Sony Interactive Entertainment led the pack, garnering 13 nods, followed by Electronic Arts with 10 nominations, Blizzard with seven, and Bethesda with six. Independent developers Playdead and Campo Santo both earned five nominations.

“The Game Awards is all about celebrating the state of video game art,” said Geoff Keighley, The Game Awards producer/host.  “In just a few short weeks we will recognize the most outstanding games of 2016 in unexpected ways, and preview the most anticipated games of 2017 and beyond with the longest, most in-depth world premieres we’ve ever attempted — including surprises and new game announcements.” 

From an esports perspective, fan voting is now open for three esports Categories to recognize the Best eSports Player, Best eSports Team and Best eSports Game. Here are the finalists…

The eSports player judged to be the most outstanding performer in 2016, irrespective of game.
·       Faker  Lee Sang-hyeok (SK Telecom T1, League of Legends)
·       Coldzera  Marcelo David (SK Gaming, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
·       ByuN Hyun Woo (Starcraft 2)
·       Infiltrator  Lee Seeon-woo (Team Razer, Street Fighter V)
·       Hungrybox  Juan Debiedma (Team Liquid, Super Smash Bros.)
The eSports team or organization judged to be the most outstanding for performance in 2016, irrespective of game.
·       SK Telecom T1 (League of Legends)
·       Wings Gaming (DOTA2)
·       SK Gaming
·       ROX Tigers (League of Legends)
·       Cloud 9
The eSports game that has shown creative and technical excellence in 2016 with the best gameplay, community support and content updates.
·       Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Valve)
·       DOTA2 (Valve)
·       League of Legends (Riot)
·       Overwatch (Blizzard)
·       Street Fighter V (Capcom)




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The Evolution Championship Series unleashed its plans for 2017 via YouTube, announcing its return once again to Las Vegas. Running from July 14-16, next year’s event will run all three days at Mandalay Bay, unlike last year. Titles and tournaments were not detailed and will be announced in the near future. Click here to watch the announcement.

North American and European League Championship Series teams delivered a letter to Riot Games expressing their concerns over finances, league chartership plans, revenue sharing and relegation from the League, according to ESPN. The communication was signed by 18 of the 20 participating LCS teams spotlighting six alleged issues with the current structure and Riot-proposed structure in place. Owners stated that they believe “the compromise solution will not effectively solve the problems” resulting in “teams operating at a loss in 2017.” Subsequently, the group proposed changes that include a moratorium on relegation in 2017, auto-renewal provisions, player salary alternatives and a rev-share of 50% with respect to any items using Team IP or which are esports-themed.

EA Sports’ flipped the on switch for its new partnership with Vivendi and CANAL Group for the upcoming EA Sports FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Series Qualifier France. Serving as one of the official competitions in season of competitive gaming in EA Sports FIFA., the competition will be open to everyone and playable on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The competition will be shown on Dailymotion with the final part of the closing evening set to be broadcast live on CANAL+, rebroadcast on CSTAR and on the CANAL Group’s digital platforms.

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Capcom detailed plans for the Street Fighter 5 Capcom Cup 2016, with the event taking place at the Santa Ana, California Esports Arena on Dec. 2 and concluding the next day during PlayStation Experience at the Anaheim Convention Center. Every match will be streamed live on Twitch.

Trion World is digging in to make Atlas Reactor an eSport, announcing a partnership with ESL to host a tournament for the title. Teams will battle for an $8,000 prize purse with competition set to begin tomorrow. To celebrate the partnership, Trion is staging an all-access weekend during which Atlas Reactor will be entirely free to all players today and running through Sunday.

MLG formalized the eight North American Overwatch teams that will be hitting Las Vegas to battle for a share of $100,000. Teams are set to include Team EnVyUs, NRG eSports, Cloud9, Fnatic, CompLexity Gaming, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid and Rise Nation between Dec. 16-18. MLG Las Vegas will also feature a $100,000 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare competition that will serve as the first major LAN event of the 2017 Call of Duty World League.

Next Generation Esports is partnering with Stunlock Studios to launch BattleRekt, described as an ongoing competitive Battlerite tournament. NGE will produce, direct, and broadcast the BattleRekt tournament on Twitch from its studios in Burbank with players getting the chance to compete in weekly PvP brawls for over $10,000 in cash prizes. BattleRekt will feature 256 North American and European teams competing weekly in 2v2 and 3v3 formats. "Arena brawlers have exploded in popularity, and Battlerite is leading the charge in shaping this genre for esports,” said Rickard Frisegard, CEO of Stunlock Studios. “Partnering with NGE on BattleRekt will allow our growing community to compete in a definitive Battlerite competition."  

What’s on deck…


Source: Nielsen
Nielsen recently released new eSports research, unveiling data that shows that fans of the gaming genre are highly engaged, spending four hours a week watching or participating in contests. Overall, eSports fans skew 77% male, with 61% between 18-34. Meanwhile, research found that a company getting involved with eSports will see opinion of that brand grow by 12% compared to traditional sports. Research also finds that fans of both eSports and traditional sports, direct involvement in eSports can especially elevate fans’ opinion of a brand on top of its gains via traditional sports involvement (+12%). eSports integrations also offer the prospect of growing purchase intent (+7%) and brand loyalty (+8%) beyond what sports activations generate.


With Intel Extreme Masters Oakland set to kick off this weekend, ESL is beefing up coverage touchpoints. The league will partner with SLIVER.tv to launch the first-ever live-stream of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends using augmented live stats integrated into the Virtual Reality stream. The deal sees real-time stats implemented including player KDAs (Kill-deaths-assists), event timeline with bomb plants, defuses, kills with various weapons and “key moment” stats such as 2k, 3k and multi-kill streaks by player in round. "SLIVER.tv is helping us raise the bar for VR live streaming with VRLiveStats,” said Stuart Ewen, Product Manager ESL. “Having a real-time in depth look at everything that happens in a CS:GO match is something unique to a VR broadcast. Now, viewers not only have a bird’s eye view of all the action and a first person feed, but also all of the statistics to put together a high level view of how a round or match unfolds. All of this is only possible in a VR environment.”

Computer manufacturer Maingear now has esports wagering platform Unikrn as a partner with executives from the two companies telling PCMag that Unikrn has acquired "a significant stake" in the company. "Eventually we see the companies doing a lot more together," said Unikrn CEO Rahul Sood. "Right now, we’re completely separate companies, but I see a ton of potential with Maingear and where it’s going to go, especially over the next year. The audience for gaming continues to expand both in age and demographic, and in the next five to 10 years, everybody on the planet in the developed world is basically a gamer. So how do we turn Maingear into this truly global brand? I think we’re at a stage where we can do that.”

Top ten streamed game titles for the week ending Nov. 13, per Gamoloco…


Fnatic is launching what is described by team founder Sam Mathews as an “esports concept store” that will serve as a physical storefront for the team in Shoreditch, London. The store, called Bunkr, will be open for four weeks ahead of the holidays starting Nov. 24, offering Fnatic apparel and gear as well as a VR room.

Rick Fox’s eSports franchise Echo Fox unlocked a new deal with eNgage for a sponsorship agreement. Activation will include a contest that will offer fans a chance to win a one-on-one, one-hour play and coaching session with an Echo Fox athlete. “A good product requires strong partnerships,” said Sasha Resch, founder of eNgage. “We at eNgage are confident that we did find a strong partner in Echo Fox. We have been monitoring the scene for quite a while now, and the professional attitude alongside the impressive continued presence on top of the performance chain is imperative and aligns well with the idea of our all natural drinks eNgage and diseNgage. We do hope that with the support of our products Echo Fox can achieve even more in the upcoming months.”

Team Liquid announced a new partnership with Monster Energy. The team unveiled the new deal on its site, with Matt Simpson, Senior Marketing Manager for Monster Energy Gaming and Esports stating that “This isn’t about us at Monster Energy, it is about the cool s*** that Team Liquid is doing in esports. They are an amazing organization and we just want to be a part of it. I mean, if Ice-T and Magic Johnson are talking about an esports team, you have to pay attention!

Luminosity Gaming and Team NP both pinned down sponsorship deals with GG.Bet, according to SBC News. The company is powered byUltraPlay and was designed to serve as a convenient platform for betting on all major esports eventsworldwide.


Nintendo is taking activation for its Legend of Zelda franchise to the next level, announcing an escape room experience based on the franchise called Defenders of the Triforce. The event will travel the country with Nintendo partnering with SCRAP, the 2016 winner of USA Today’s “Best Escape Room” in the US, to create a unique multi-city Puzzle Tour that will see participants work in teams of six to solve a mystery within a set time limit, interacting with classic items and characters seen in The Legend of Zelda series. The experience kicks off in San Francisco Jan. 31, and wontinues to LA, San Diego, Seattle, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago and NY.

PlayStation will now see two College Football Playoff teams play on its turf, locking in a deal with the Fiesta Bowl to become the new title sponsor of the game. Set to take place on Dec. 31 this year, the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. As part of the agreement with ESPN, the category exclusive multiyear deal also makes PlayStation the official gaming and virtual reality sponsor of the CFP. ESPN will collaborate with the brand on multimedia content integrations across ESPN programming, featuring the PlayStation brand messaging, “Greatness Awaits,” to drive excitement and anticipation for the CFP. “As leaders in entertainment and technology, ESPN and PlayStation share some of the most passionate fans in the world,” said Ed Erhardt, President, ESPN Global Sales and Marketing. “The demographic drawn to PlayStation also consumes ESPN content, and the Fiesta Bowl is an excellent vehicle to reach those passionate college football fans.”

Never shy to take advantage of a good marketing opportunity, Ubisoft injected a trailer for an upcoming game within the new release of Watch Dogs 2. The trailer comes as part of a side mission that sees the player infiltrate a mock version of Ubisoft San Francisco to steal the game trailer and then turn around and sell it to a game website. The uncovered trailer is reportedly for a sci-fi game called Pioneer

Gfinity inked a partnership with AVerMedia, which will now serve as a sponsor for the company’s upcoming FIFA 17 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare online competitions. The FIFA event begins Nov. 20 and runs through Jan. 22, while the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare tournaments span Dec. 4-Feb. 5. “As a designer and manufacturer of capture and streaming products for gamers, we’re absolutely delighted to start a collaboration with Gfinity from this month,” said Philippe Serreua, AVerMedia’s Sales and Marketing Manager to MCVUK. “There’s no doubt that Gfinity has played a central role in the development of the eSports community in Europe in recent years. And the company is clearly committed, more than ever, to take it to the next level, one tournament and stream at a time.”

2K is pushing fitness through NBA 2K17, announcing a partnership with Fitbit to reward healthy activity with in-game rewards. Gamers who achieve 10,000 steps in a day tracked with their Fitbit device will receive a temporary attribute boost to their MyPLAYER in the game to enhance their MyPLAYER’s performance on the court. “Any athlete will tell you a healthy lifestyle is a major key to success, and by rewarding gamers for healthy lifestyle habits we hope to help motivate them to achieve their goals in life and in-game,” said Alfie Brody, VP of Marketing for NBA 2K. ”Our brand has never shied away from breaking down boundaries of what a game can achieve, and we are thrilled to continue that tradition through this Fitbit integration.”


SAG-AFTRA announced that its continuing strike against video game companies will continue today, with its third picket set to take place at Insomniac Games in Burbank. Over 700 members and supporters attended the first two pickets, which took place on Oct. 24 at Electronic Arts and Nov. 3 at Warner Bros.

Annapurna Pictures has been stocking up on game executives, according to THR, with four of Sony’s top brass  including designer Nathan Gary  jumping ship to the outfit. The report states that the production company is now looking to move “aggressively” into the mobile game and VR space, leveraging relationships with Hollywood auteurs to create content.
Ubisoft executives are being accused of selling stock just before the company announced game delays for two primary properties. Kotaku
writes that CEO Yannis Mallat and other executives dropped shares before the 2013 announcement that both Watch Dogs and The Crew were being delayed which subsequently saw the company’s stock price drop by 25%. Ubisoft confirmed that proceedings investigating the moves are continuing at the Commission des Sanctions in Paris.

Nintendo confirmed that Super Mario Run would be out of the gates on Dec. 15 on iOS. The title will be available to try for free with the full game running $9.99 to mark the iconic character’s first foray into mobile.

EA was apparently hacked by an organization named RANE Developments, which tapped into FIFA coin funds, according to the FBI, via Kotaku. The report estimates that the alleged scammers took in between $15-$18 million between 2013 and late 2015. The scam involved leveraging a tool that tricked EA’s servers into thinking a game had been played, after which an amount of the virtual coin currency was awarded.

POWER PLAYERS  Monumental’s Zach Leonsis

Last month’s news that esports heavyweight Team Liquid sold the controlling interest in their team to an ownership group led by sports pillars Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis shook up media that had been shy about the industry’s growth. The group, called aXiomatic, sees Bruce Stein serving as CEO and is backed by Monumental Sports & Entertainment, one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in the country. Other investors include range from the likes of Magic Johnson and Steve Case to NextVR and Tony Robbins. 

Cynopsis eSports & Gaming spoke with one key player that made the deal happen, Zachary Leonsis – VP and General Manager of Monumental Sports Network  about the company’s investment in the space, aXiomatic’s recent acquisition of Super League Gaming, and how the company’s OTT platform was launched with an eye on competitive gaming.

On Monumental’s interest in esports: We have been patiently waiting and studying esports for the past two-plus years and there were a couple of things that struck us. The first is that there were a lot of moving pieces in esports that were very organic. The way publishers interact with tournament organizers, the way tournament organizers interact with franchises, etc. It takes a while to understand each of the layers, and you learn that credibility is an incredibly important aspect to getting involved with the industry. These gamers, players and athletes deserve respect for their craft and skillset. Everyone reads about these big championships in New York or LA, and  frankly  we want to host some of them as well. But it isn’t that easy, you have to earn your stripes and build trust.

On traditional sports: There are definitely advantages that NBA or NHL owners can provide to the esports world that include infrastructure, a localized approach, partnership sales, introductions to world-class brands, venue management, ticket sales for events, media properties, etc. So there is no doubt that one of the reasons we are so excited to be launching an OTT platform is because we do think eSports is a big deal and it will only become more important as time goes on. Clearly the preferred method of content consumption around esports is via OTT distribution through apps, Twitch, YouTube, etc. so that’s where the brands are. We would love to put together esports-dedicated programming for our platform. There are a lot of pieces in play, but we are looking forward to working with Team Liquid to see what we can do and how we can be helpful to the team.

On the prospect of tying esports teams to cities: I find the approach of the Overwatch League to be really interesting and there probably will be more leagues that follow that model. But it may not be the best approach for all leagues or teams. So much of the popularity of esports is organically grown and they have a really great thing going so some of these competitions and competitors may better off sticking to the structure they currently have.

On future investment: They made an investment in Super League Gaming, which is like the Little League of esports so there are a lot of possibilities there. I think that that aXiomatic sees a lot of value surrounding business with business such as merchandising, media, and a lot of other places where we can help add some value. We think it is really a worthwhile space to be a part of and we are thrilled.

TRAILER OF THE WEEK  ELeague: Mannequin Challenge

Leveraging the expansive assets of its Atlanta-based studio, ELeague’s entry into the viral mannequin challenge, offers a peak behind the scenes of Turner’s production facilities to capture a moment featuring over 40 people and teams such as SK Gaming and Na’Vi. Click here to watch…

ON THIS DAY in 2006 – Sony releases the PlayStation 3 video game system in North America.
Trivia: What was the name of the ship commanded by Morpheus in the Matrix movies? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last eSports Trivia Question: Which Lord of the Rings star voiced Spyro in The Legend of Spyro? Answer: Elijah Wood. Kudos: Bob Eckert-gamerunner/Sydney; Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Glen Ross/DC; Joey Olsen-Loe’s/Arlington; Jason Morrow-Toyota/Houston; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; Greg Dudsic-Ck Unlimited/Venice; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank.

Later — Chris
Chris Pursell for Cynopsis | eSports @VegasandVine

Roberta Caploe: Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group

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Connect consumers with their top partners in mobile gaming,
DevOps Engineer
Use your Python and C# skills to write web services, public facing applications and optimize internal tools.
Senior Python Developer
Burlington MA
Searching for a talented and multi-faceted UI developer who is able to create top level UI to support our rapidly growing/changing project management software.
Web UI Developer
Xtreme Consulting Group Inc.
Scottsdale AZ
Work in an Agile Scrum environment to support quality engineering activities in the payments and fraud space.
Senior Software QA Engineer
Seattle WA
Exceptional portfolio that demonstrates a grasp of visual design principles and vibrant creativity.
Senior Product Manager­Visual
Seattle WA
May assist with the creation of conceptual art work. Some scripting or coding experience highly beneficial.
3D Artist (Gaming)
Xtreme Consulting Group, Inc.
Seattle WA
Develop and implement resource plans to support product, project needs for
his/her portfolio of clients and partners.
Senior Manager, Partner Manager
Turtle Entertainment
Burbank CA
Operating the network and IT infrastructure at our Burbank studio and supporting offsite events as needed.
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Turtle Entertainment
Burbank CA
Work closely with product managers, game designers, artists, and engineers on high-scope design challenges and feature sets.
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Riot Games
Santa Monica CA
Communicate requirements to game team by creating and maintaining design documents.
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Work closely with product managers and analysts to understand key business questions that need answering.
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Work with other discipline leads on establishing design standards and patterns.
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Riot Games
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Jam City
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Jam City
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