12/14/17: The NBA 2K League unveiled logos, marks and branding elements for the upcoming inaugural season

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It’s Thursday December 14, 2017 and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming briefing. Note: this will be the last edition until January. Happy holidays!!

 

The NBA 2K League moved steps closer to its 2018 not only with the reveal of its logo, which incorporates the colors and shape of the NBA logo and the font of the NBA 2K logo, but also the first monikers and images for its teams. The most recent entity – set to be announced today – will be Philadelphia’s NBA 2K League team aka the 76ers Gaming Club, with a primary logo that “reflects the number ‘76’ fused into the shape of a bell in tribute to Philadelphia’s iconic Liberty Bell and 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence.” Yesterday saw the introduction of Utah’s Jazz Gaming, the Celtics’ CLTX Gaming, along with Blazer5 Gaming, Magic Gaming, and Wizards District Gaming. Monday saw that introduction of the first five team logos/names for the NBA 2K League: Pacers Gaming, Pistons Gaming Team, Cavs Legion GC, Mavs Gaming and Kings Guard Gaming. Other orgs set to make their announcements this week include the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings and the Toronto Raptors.
 
 
COMPETITION and VENUES

ELEAGUE locked in its roster of team for the ELEAGUE Major: Boston, which will serve as the 12th Major Championship in CS:GO history and the first to use newly-unveiled competition stage names from game publisher Valve. The event kicks off with Valve’s The New Challengers stage (formerly the “Major Qualifier”) from Jan. 12-15, beginning each day at 10a with live coverage on Twitch from ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta. Additionally, select matches will be available on ELEAGUE’s Game Command, a mosaic video player that allows the user to choose from thousands of CS:GO viewing combinations. Teams include the eight Minor Champions and Runners Up – Renegades and TyLoo from Asia; Avangar and QB Fire from CIS; Space Soldiers and EnVyUs from Europe; and, Misfits and Team Liquid from the Americas – competing against the bottom eight finishers from the previous Major: Cloud9, FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Natus Vincere, Mousesports, Sprout, FlipSid3 Tactics and Vega Squadron. Coverage will then continue with Valve’s The New Legends stage (formerly the “Group Stage”), from Jan. 19-22 pitting the eight new Challenger teams against the top eight finishers from the previous Major: Gambit Esports, 100 Thieves, Astralis, Virtus.pro, North, BIG, SK Gaming and Fnatic. The eight new Legend teams to emerge will then compete at Agganis Arena in Boston, Jan. 26-28, during The New Champions stage.
 
Speaking of 2018, DreamHack booked travel plans for the New Year, announcing that the world’s largest digital festival will hit eight cities in Europe and North America next year. Cities will include: Leipzig, Germany (which opens the slate on Jan. 26); Tours, France (May 19-21); Austin, Texas (June 1-3); Valencia, Spain (July 12-14); Montreal, Canada (Sept. 7-9); Atlanta, Georgia (Nov. 16-18); Sevilla, Spain (Dec. 14-16); and Jonkoping, Sweden (June 16-19 and Nov. 30-Dec. 2). Marcus Lindmark, CEO of DreamHack AB stated: “DreamHack looks back at 2017 with great pride, but we’re even more thrilled about the upcoming year as we go stronger into current markets and continue to heavily develop our festivals.
 
Blizzard detailed plans for the Hearthstone Championship Tour 2018, which include a new Hearthstone Masters system, recognizing top players based on the consistency of their performance via three tiers, with rewards for eligible players increasing at each level. The 1-, 2-, and 3-Star Master tiers offer tournament appearance bonuses, invitations to HCT Playoffs and online Blizzard-run tournaments with cash prizes, and special commemorative memorabilia. In addition, each HCT season will now have a point target, which will be announced before that season begins. All players who earn at least that many points will qualify to play in the seasonal Playoff. The company will also launch a Hearthstone Challengers program, which will qualify eight players to Playoffs each season with online cups now known as Challenger Cups, while the Tavern Hero Tournament will become the Challenger Finals. HCT seasons in 2018 will see season 1 run from Jan.-March, season 2 span April-July and season 3 take place from Aug.-Nov. Blizzard will also increase the number of international tournaments in 2018 with HCT Tour Stops, with increased Competitive Points, prizing, and the opportunities to experience new sights and cities.
 
Riot Games is giving its collegiate esports setup a facelift, rebranding its series from ULOL to the College League of Legends series, which saw 298 teams take part this year, per TEO. 2018’s six-week regular season will now feature a “Swiss format,” in which every week’s matches are reset to pair up schools with similar records. Winner of four regional conferences will advance to the national, eight-team championship tournament in June, joining the winners of a play-in tournament that will include the second-place teams from each regional conference “along with the top two teams of any NCAA conference that wants to join at the conference level,” per the report.
 
Clear your calendar!!! Cynopsis Esports is teaming with Chief Marketer and Event Marketer for the Esports Business Summit, the premier three-day industry event running Oct. 1-3, 2018 from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. We’ll feature five different tracks, unique networking opportunities, industry awards and access to the most innovative minds in the business. Sign up for info and get updates at http://www.esportsbizsummit.com/
 
The BLAST Pro Series reports that its CS:GO play scored 2.5 million unique viewers on 20 Twitch channels in 16 different languages with peak concurrent online views during the final reaching 392,000. Overall, there were 117 million minutes watched. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the event saw 540.000 Danes watch BLAST Pro Series and ESL Pro League on DR3’s flow TV channel in addition to audiences on dr.dk, Twitch, and bt.dk, which would mean that more than 1 in 10 people in Denmark watched at least some Counter-Strike over the past two weeks.
 

INSIGHTS

As the year draws to a close, here is a list of the premier events in professional esports, ranked by total views. Topping the list with 76 million total views, and a prize pool of $24 million is the Dota 2 International.
 
 
SPONSOR ACTIVATION

At $1.5B for 2017, global esports revenue will grow 26% by 2020 as it attracts an even more mainstream audience according to the latest study from Superdata. This increase will be fueled by a viewership growing 12% annually and a swelling number of third-party investments. The opportunities for revenue streams are also increasing as the market matures. In addition to receiving indirect revenue from investments, Overwatch and League of Legends are projected to grow their direct revenue by selling brand sponsorships, advertisements, ticket sales, and team merchandise.
 
Electronic Arts and Nomadic Entertainment Group are hitting Super Bowl week with the EA SPORTS Bowl on Feb. 1 at NOMADIC LIVE! at the Minneapolis Armory. Imagine Dragons will headline the event with Machine Gun Kelly and Mura Masa as the opening acts. “EA SPORTS Bowl has always been one of the hottest tickets in town, and we’re keeping that going this year with Imagine Dragons,” said Randy Chase, Senior Director of Marketing at EA SPORTS. “That’s not all, though, as fans can also expect to see additional performances by Machine Gun Kelly and Mura Masa, and there will also be numerous athletes and celebrities in attendance.”
 
Razer is teaming up with Super Evil Megacorp for a mobile esports partnership in a deal that includes serving as title sponsor of the Vainglory World Championship. Super Evil Megacorp, creators of Vainglory, stated that the strategic partnership with Razer is designed to further advance mobile esports beginning with a Vainglory competitive event at the Microsoft Store in New York City.
 
Gillette played host to a press conference last week to introduce the new 2018 TSM roster, featuring Soren ‘Bjergsen’ Bjerg, Kevin ‘Hauntzer’ Yarnell, and new additions Alfonso ‘Mithy’ Rodriguez, Jesper ‘Zven’ Svenningsen, and Mike ‘MikeYeung’ Yeun. Greg Via, Gillette Global Head of Sports, eSports and Entertainment Marketing told the gathered crowd today that bringing esports into that mix and TSM into the Gillette athlete family has been a natural and exciting next step in extending the brand’s sports heritage.
 
GNation is entering a partnership with leading eSports team DetonatioN Gaming, which will work on promoting professional gaming in Japan, as well as in other parts of the world. “In order for eSports culture to grow we need to get more people involved. We’ve worked hard to cultivate this community in Japan and that is something that’s been noticed by the rest of the eSports community. This partnership only proves that we are on the right path and that we should continue with our endeavors,” Umezaki Nobuyuki, CEO of DetonatioN Gaming, said.

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PLATFORMS

The CW Network, Electronic Arts Inc. and the National Football League announced a new one-hour primetime esports special, EA Madden NFL 18 Challenge, that will debut on Dec. 27 at 8p on The CW. The special will offer viewers an inside look at what really goes on “in the intense world of competitive gaming, as well as provide a deeper portrait of the top Madden NFL competitors, their journey to the Challenge, and a look at the other side of the competition to claim the Madden NFL Challenge belt and championship prize.” “We are thrilled to partner with EA and Madden NFL, one of the most well-known games in the world, for The CW’s final eSports event of 2017,” said Rick Haskins, EVP of Marketing and Digital Programs, The CW. “Madden NFL is an iconic franchise, with millions of dedicated fans, and we’re excited to bring our viewers behind the scenes and up close to see some of the best Madden NFL players in the country compete for the title.”
 
More good news for Skillz, which announced $25 million in Series C funding led by leading media and telecommunications companies Telstra and Liberty Global. Other participants in the round included Sacramento Kings co-owner Andy Miller, Bridge Bank, and existing investors Accomplice and Wildcat Capital. “This year, the top eSport event had more viewers than game seven of the MLB World Series,” said Bruce Dines, Vice President at Liberty Global Ventures, the world’s largest international TV and broadband company. “It is important for Liberty Global to progressively support new forms of entertainment and content. We’re excited to be a part of the eSports growth story and particularly excited to collaborate with Skillz in the creation and development of new eSports content.”
 
Vainglory is tuning in to GINX Esports TV for its World Championships telecast, which run through Dec. 17 from Singapore. The partnership will see the event carried live on the television channel which is available in over 40 countries worldwide and in over 55,000,000 homes across the globe.
 
Blizzard Entertainment is locking in a deal for esports commentator Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat for its Overwatch League, according to ESPN, with the deal kicking in just before the Jan. 10 launch of the regular season of the Overwatch League.
 
 
TEAMS

Lagardere Sports is bringing another esports franchise under its umbrella, announcing a new deal with H2K to join the likes of SK Gaming, Splyce, Team ROCCATT and Unicorns of Love. Lagardere Sports will look to help H2K acquire new sponsors and expand and optimize the team’s marketing opportunities. The agency will also be responsible for ‘creative activation promotions and secure thematic partnerships for the organisation’.
 
UK Overwatch League franchise The London Spitfire announced a partnership with Code Red Esports in a move to help the team set up shop in the UK, including providing assistance with a move into new HQ, scouting local partnerships for the brand, and spearheading a slate of local events.  
 
Meanwhile, more international sports teams continue to pick up esports squads. Bayer Leverkusen, from the Bundesliga, is adding FIFA pro Marvin ‘M4RV’ Hintz to its roster. Jochen A. Rotthaus, Director of Marketing and Communication at Bayer 04 stated that “With his skill and passion Marvin Hintz will be an excellent ambassador for us. Above all, he will make a major contribution to establishing the megatrend in our club. We are convinced of that.”
 
And Australian Football League club Essendon nabbed the rights to esports team Abyss, who will now reportedly rebrand under Essendon’s name and logo while relocating to Melbourne.
 
 
TEAM SPOTLIGHT-OpTic Gaming
 

Courtesy: Esports One & Esportspedia: Revolutionizing Esports Data
 
 
INDUSTRY

The Game Awards proved OP for founder Geoff Keighley, as the honors tripled its viewership last Thursday to over 11.5 million global livestreams, up 202% from 2016’s record-setting performance of 3.8 million livestreams. On social platforms, The Game Awards posted double and triple digit gains in engagement – including on Twitter, where the number of people tweeting about Game Awards related-content doubled year over year, with #TheGameAwards hashtag usage up 2.7x compared to 2016. “We are thrilled by the viewership, engagement and reaction to The Game Awards this year,” said Geoff Keighley, executive producer. “With triple-digit viewership gains across the board, plus record setting social media metrics, one thing is clear: video games and gamers continue to grow in importance and prominence on the pop culture landscape.”
 
Speaking of the Game Awards, honorees included The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild winning Game of the Year, pioneering female game designer Carol Shaw receiving the Industry Icon Award. On the esports front, Overwatch took home to trophy for Best eSports Game, Cloud9 was a winner for Best eSports Team and Lee Sang-hyeok/Faker was named Best eSports Player.
 
Lifestyle and marketing agency Engine Shop acquired The Gamer Agency, an esports strategy, event production, and development company. TGA had been a part of GameCo Inc.. “By acquiring TGA, we are adding a team with profound expertise and connections in esports to our existing consumer engagement business model,” said Brian Gordon, Engine Shop, CEO. “It will enable us to create and activate esports solutions for brands looking to tap in to this passionate community of fans and endemics seeking to broaden their offering and expand their fan base.”
 
The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences announced that Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President, Gaming at Microsoft, will deliver the Opening Keynote at the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit. The event runs Feb. 20-22 with Spencer, delivering a talk entitled “Building a Living and Learning Company Culture.” Additional speakers confirmed for the 2018 D.I.C.E. Summit event include Chet Faliszek – Creative Director at Bossa Studios and Lidwine Sauer – Director of Insights and Trends for Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab.
 
After being released in the spring, Nintendo reports that the Switch has sold more than 10 million units globally in the nine month span with the company projecting that around 14 million units will be sold by the end of the fiscal year in March.  
 
Capcom is celebrating 30 years of Street Fighter with an anniversary collection, an anthology series that will include 12 games from the long-running series including: Street Fighter; Street Fighter II; Street Fighter II Champion Edition; Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting; Street Fighter II The New Challengers; Street Fighter II Turbo; Street Fighter Alpha; Street Fighter Alpha 2; Street Fighter Alpha 3; Street Fighter III; Street Fighter III: Second Impact; and Street Fighter III: Third Strike.
 
 
ROSTER MOVES

Roblox announced the addition of three Silicon Valley veterans to its senior staff, naming Jennifer Hedding as Chief People Officer, Daniel Williams as VP of Corporate and Production Engineering, and Matt Kaufman as VP of Product for Platform at Roblox. Hedding most recently served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Williams held various senior leadership positions managing technology infrastructures at Dropbox, the San Francisco 49ers, and Facebook. Kaufman was previously at Crunchbase.
 
 
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The more millennials turn away from traditional advertising, the smarter it is for marketers to create experiential events that create powerful connections with consumers. Our panel will focus on how to use social most effectively, the latest metrics for measuring success, and more. Among the speakers are Scott Lachut, President, Research & Strategy for PSFK and Damon Haley, Head of Sports Marketing for Troika.
 
 

ON THIS DAY in 1999: Sega of America and Excite@Home announce a partnership to build Sega’s Dreamcast Network, an Internet gaming portal.
 
Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question: The Power Glove was originally released as an accessory for what console brand? Answer: Nintendo (NES). Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Luke Watson-Essential TV/NY; Scott Jenkins-Gracenote/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Carly Dasso-Saatchi & Saatchi/Oakbrook Terrace; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Daniel Hanson/Vail; David Westberg-SAG-AFTRA Federal Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA
 
We’ll be back with new trivia in January!
 
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