12/08/22: The fallout from the Smash World Tour’s cancellation continued this week


Medias First Morning Read
Thursday December 8, 2022

Good morning! It’s Thursday and this is your early morning Esports brief.

The fallout from the Smash World Tour’s cancellation continued this week as Panda Global CEO Dr. Alan Bunney was ousted from the organization. Bunney was cited by multiple Super Smash Bros. tournament organizers as having attempted to coerce organizations into placing their events within the Panda Cup, a Nintendo-backed Smash tournament circuit.

Bunney has since denied the allegations publicly on Twitter with Smash World Tour firing back after the former CEO claimed Smash World Tour mischaracterized his involvement in the event’s shutdown, but scrutiny from the community has already led to Panda Global’s implosion. Around 80% of Panda Global’s once-standard-setting fighting game roster has left the organization, and more than 30 players have also decided not to attend the Panda Cup Finale, the championship for the Panda Cup. The rejection of tournament slots and concerns about the safety of Panda Global staff and contractors at the event have led to the postponement of the Finale.

“Panda employees are working with outside advisers to form a temporary Interim Management Committee (IMC) to act as CEO to navigate this critical time,” Panda Global said in a statement Monday announcing Bunney’s ouster. “Panda is committed to do our part to move the competitive Smash community above and beyond the current situation.”


The Call of Duty League’s return to Twitch led to best-ever numbers in non-championship viewership, according to data from Esports Charts. The CDL opened its 2023 season with Stage 1 Major qualifiers, and despite in-game difficulties and delays, the weekend saw average viewership of nearly 125,000 and peak viewership of just more than 192,000. OpTic Texas’ matchup against the Florida Mutineers held the top spot in peak viewership, and another OpTic series against the Minnesota RØKKR drew the No. 2 spot with almost 171,000 PVs. A rematch of the CDL 2022 final between Atlanta FaZe and LA Thieves was the third-most-watched of the opening weekend with 165,000 PVs.

OpTic Gaming has postponed its Halo Championship Series season-opening event due to ongoing roster adjustments for participating teams. In an email to ticket holders, OpTic said the organization had “challenges with getting enough Halo teams to commit to the tournament.” With the postponement of the OpTic event, the new opener for the HCS 2023 season will be Spacestation Gaming’s tournament, the Spacestation Spartan Showdown, which will take place online on Jan. 13-14. The first major of the HCS season is scheduled for Feb. 24-26, though it’s unlikely just one event will remain on the calendar before that tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Popular streamer Ludwig “Ludwig” Ahgren will host a Smash tournament to fill in the space left by the Smash World Tour controversy and give SWT invitees a chance to compete and make some money, the Mogul Moves creator announced. The event will take place Dec. 18, with the top eight players from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee invited. Ahgren said on Twitter he will provide a $50,000 prize pool for the event and also use it to support VGBootcamp, the organizer that set up the Smash World Tour prior to receiving notice that Nintendo would not provide a license for it to operate during its 2022 world championship or going into 2023.

Layoffs hit High School Esports League owner Generation Esports earlier this week, according to a report from The Fudge Retort by James Fudge. The shakeup follows an earlier round of layoffs in September. Fudge also discovered HSEL and Generation Esports co-founder Charles Reilly has not been part of company operations since late July. HSEL, a platform for secondary school tournament organization that offers prize pools and infrastructure, still lists one of the people reportedly affected by the layoffs, Holly Gray, as a member of its board of directors.


In this episode, REV/XP Senior Vice President Chris Mann is joined by Misfits VP of Partnerships Nicole Du Cane Spenser to discuss Misfits Gaming’s recent transition to creator-focused opportunities such as launching TubNet and signing QTCinderella.


The 2022 Game Awards premiere tonight on major live streaming platforms and will award the best of the best publishers, developers, designers, and more working in the video games industry. The Game Awards will also answer one question on everyone’s mind: who will be crowned this year’s Game of the Year?

Six games are nominated for the award: Horizon Forbidden West, Elden Ring, Stray, Xenoblade Chronicles 3, A Plague Take: Requiem, and God of War: Ragnarök. While live streaming performance doesn’t always directly indicate the quality of a video game, trends across Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and other live streaming platforms can indicate popularity and help us understand whether a game will stand the test of time.

Read more on Stream Hatchet’s blog.


Samsung will be the presenting sponsor for Qualcomm and ESL FACEIT Group’s Snapdragon Pro Series, the organizations announced today. The deal will put Samsung devices in SPS competitors’ hands through Snapdragon Masters in 2024 starting with the SPS’ first multi-title mobile esports finals from Dec. 9-11 at DreamHack Valencia. “We’re committed to bringing high-performance Samsung Galaxy devices powered by Snapdragon to the hands of billions of gamers around the world to promote both camaraderie and competition,” Stephanie Choi, Executive Vice President and Head of Global Marketing for Samsung, said in a statement. “This announcement deepens our existing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and is an important next step in our pursuit [of] advancing mobile technology in the esports world.”

Blitz.gg, an esports tournament platform, has partnered with finance company Mana Interactive to create incentive models for users across Blitz’s portfolio. The initiative will provide subscribers to Mana Interactive’s Mana Pro debit card program a yearlong subscription to Blitz Pro, which offers users enhanced tracking of in-game performance via API data points across League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics and VALORANT. Rewards programs including Microsoft and Sony gift cards as well as tournaments sponsored by Blitz are also on the table, according to a statement.

Astralis is leaning into its national roots through a car-sharing app partnership with :Dribe. The :Dribe app allows users vehicle access through a subscription service, and the Danish startup’s partnership with a fellow Danish esports organization might help raise awareness for an alternative to car ownership in the country. :Dribe hopes to expand beyond the Danish borders in the future as well, and Astralis will use and promote the app going forward. “We will make much more use of this in the future, both when it comes to our team and other activities,” Astralis commercial director Kasper Sindt said in a statement.

Amazon and Riot Games will partner to produce RE/LOAD, a fan-focused VALORANT event and “global celebration” of the esport. The activation will include five-on-five Pro-Am matches featuring notable VALORANT influencers, music and guest appearances and air on Twitch alongside in-person activation. “Valorant lives at the intersection of competitive gaming and up-and-coming music,” Riot Games Senior Director of Brand Marketing Nikki Lewis said in a statement. “Partnering with Amazon’s Crown Channel to throw an in-person event like RE//LOAD — both a gaming event, starring some of Valorant’s fan-favorite streamers, and a music event, featuring rising artists like Mike Dimes, Jae Park, and Dabin — was a no-brainer.”

Cynopsis First Look 2023: OTT Virtual Conference – March 15th, 2023

First Look 2023: OTT is back!

With each passing year, the media industry experiences upward trends in audiences consuming mainstream media through online streaming services. With this ever-changing and growing sector, Cynopsis is committed to staying ahead of the trends and proud to announce First Look 2023: OTT will once bring together all players in programming, CTV, and more on March 15, 2023.



The social media dilemma of US esports fans

American esports fans are way likelier than the overall population to believe that social media changes their life for the better, but they also worry about how much time they spend on it.


TSM has named former soccer executive Stephan Cieplik as its chief revenue officer as the company looks for new opportunities beyond an ill-fated partnership with cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Cieplik most recently served as the Senior Vice President of Global Partnership Sales for City Football Group, a holding company that features Manchester City, New York City FC and other franchises around the world. Cieplik told the Sports Business Journal that he hopes to leverage his previous relationships to take advantage of the growing crossover opportunities between traditional sports and esports.

Cloud9 has cut its Apex Legends team, according to statements from the players. Paris “StayNauhgty” Gouzoulis, one of three former competitors for C9 in the battle royale title, said the organization “is not able to support us anymore” due to “unforeseen circumstances” facing the company. The decision comes in the midst of the beginning of the Apex Legends Global Series Pro League’s third season, and the players said they will seek a new home to continue their ALGS hopes – one that ideally can keep the trio together.

Betting platform Rivalry will roll the dice on an esports org via a partnership with Blacklist International, the organizations announced earlier this week. Blacklist Rivalry will compete in Dota 2 and be part of the Southeast Asian region during the Dota Pro Circuit for 2023, according to a statement. The move comes a week after Rivalry announced its first-ever profitable month and a strong finish to Q3 that hinged on high esports wagering volume and the success of its online casino property.

After a disappointing 2022, Team Liquid Honda revealed their League of Legends roster for the 2023 League Championship Series season. League of Legends World Championship winner and jungler Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon highlights the new roster, with longtime South Korean standout Park “Summit” Woo-tae joining Liquid in the top lane. This will be Summit’s second stint in North America, where he played with Cloud9 in the spring of 2022. The duo, along with another former world champ in longtime Liquid support Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in, will hope to guide mid laner Harry “Haeri” Kang and AD carry Sean “Yeon” Sung, two players from Liquid’s developmental team, in their first year of Tier 1 pro play.


The Federal Trade Commission’s stance on Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard might be more complex than initially expected, according to a report from the New York Post. Following reports of the FTC exploring an antitrust lawsuit to block the deal, the Post reported that there’s at least one dissenting voice in the four-person panel that would decide whether to oppose the merger.

Streamer Tyler “Trainwrecks” Faraz Nikham’s newly endorsed streaming platform, Kick, got off to a rough start earlier this week as users struggled to set up authentication and discovered a user interface startlingly similar to that of Twitch. Several streams on Kick also appeared to be embeds of Twitch streams rather than people participating on the new platform, which Trainwrecks said he launched because of unfair payment practices by Twitch for lower-tier creators. His decision, however, might also be motivated by Twitch’s ban on gambling content that included platforms not licensed in the U.S., one of which had proved lucrative for Trainwrecks prior to its removal from the streaming platform. Trainwrecks told The Washington Post that the owner of Stake, the crypto gambling company Trainwrecks uses on his gambling streams, also invested in Kick.

Esports media organization Jaxon has shuttered its application and website services after losing funding from its main backers. Axel Springer SE, a German company that co-founded Jaxon alongside Samsung Electronics and Upday, cut funding for Jaxon earlier this year, according to Esports Insider. After that decision, Samsung pulled its funds as well. The closure of Jaxon adds to a tough year in esports and games media, which has seen brands such as Inven Global, G4 TV, Upcomer, Fanbyte and others cut costs or shutter entirely.

Getting back to Microsoft, the Xbox creator will raise prices on first-party games made for the current-gen Xbox Series X or Series S to $70 this coming year, according to a report from IGN. The $10 bump in price for Microsoft-created titles matches similar pricing from rival Sony, which made the move to $70 titles with the PlayStation 5, and other developers including Ubisoft and Take-Two. Microsoft will hope to leverage its Game Pass subscription service to ease the new price point, as subscribed players get access to games in the first-party portfolio for free. “This price reflects the content, scale, and technical complexity of these titles,” Microsoft said in a statement to IGN. “As with all games developed by our teams at Xbox, they will also be available with Game Pass the same day they launch.”



Mark your calendars for 2023!

Are you in the process of planning out your calendar for next year? Be sure to keep an eye out for Cynopsis 2023 events, and mark your calendars for our next event: Best of the Best/Rising Star Awards on February 15th, 2023.

To learn more about our upcoming awards and events, visit the link below.


It’s December, so it’s time for some holiday trivia! What is the name of Bill Murray’s character in his classic holiday riff on A Christmas Carol? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Trivia Question
The latest game in the Pokémon franchise releases on Friday; when did the first two titles in the series release in the U.S., and what platform did they release on? Answer: 1998 on Nintendo Game Boy. Kudos: David Westberg/SAG•AFTRA Federal Credit Union, Burbank CA

Cynopsis Team


Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Robbie Caploe
VP/Group Publisher

Executive Director of Sales
Albert Nassour
Cynopsis Job Listings Sales
John Cox

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Operate and analyze ad tech stack, optimizing on the partner level as well as overall enterprise level. Onboard and manage new programmatic (SSP and Ad Network) partners and assist in any troubleshooting around SSP setups, partner integrations and ad delivery. 7-10+ years of ad operations experience in the programmatic ad tech ecosystem. Full info HERE (12/22)

Frequently liaise with senior level internal & external contacts, screening & prioritizing all forms of incoming communications, dealing with routine issues & coordinating more complex responses ensuring these are delivered in a timely and effective manner. 3+ yrs of exp. providing administrative assistance at Executive level in the Media industry. Full info HERE (12/21)


Latitude is searching for an experienced research analyst. This position will focus on client communications and managing projects across their entire lifecycles – from design/proposal through reporting and presentation. Ideal candidates will be experienced in media, and comfortable both analyzing research data and communicating with clients. Full info HERE (12/21)

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VEVO/NYC: Develop and position Vevo’s B2B brand among the advertising and buying community. Responsible for planning and executing strategic marketing initiatives that drive sales and further Vevo’s brand objectives. Full info HERE (12/21)


Lead strategic design and user-experience vision for the current website, INSP.com. Make front-end and back-end design recommendations and evaluate the potential for a reimagined user-experience for the site. Manage multiple project timelines and executions simultaneously for maximum efficiency. 5+ yrs exp. leading management of a website property. Full info HERE (12/20)


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