12/15/16: MLG talks ties to YouTube/Vegas; NBA2K’s All-Star play; The 10 Rules for a top tournament


It’s Thursday, December 15, 2016, and this is your weekly early morning eSports & Gaming brief.

Major League Gaming hits Las Vegas this weekend for the appropriately named MLG Vegas, and is tapping YouTube to serve up live match broadcasts, news and analysis from the event via MLG’s YouTube channel in addition to MLG’s proprietary EVE player on MLG.tv. For more on MLG Vegas, check out our Q&A below.

We’re really looking at this as step one to compliment what we do with MLG.tv,” said Mike Sepso, MLG Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, Media Networks. ‘We have a long history with YouTube, and so many esports influencers are big YouTube stars in their own right. So when the YouTube team came to the table with a really strong promotional plan and the capability to monetize our YouTube channel at a premium level by extending our existing advertising relationships to our YouTube channels directly, that turned into something that we came to think of as an extension of our MLG.tv distribution channel, giving us broad reach as well as the chance to monetize our premium content.

MLG also announced that the 2017 season of the Call of Duty World League will see the CWL Atlanta Open held on February 10-12. The event sees 16 international teams vie for a spot in pool play based on regional CWL point totals, and the event’s Open Bracket will allow entry from any eligible teams within North America, Europe, and APAC.


With a mutually beneficial eye toward content and distribution, Campus Insiders is jumping into the esports game, announcing a deal with the Collegiate StarLeague that will make the digital sports platform its Official Media Partner for the 2016-2017 season. The partnership will also create and distribute written and video content supporting and highlighting CSL’s collegiate esports leagues and tournaments across the Campus Insiders network starting next month The content partnership will also allow Campus Insiders and CSL to collaborate on and create new live events within collegiate esports in a move to launch a unified portal for collegiate esports content coverage. “It’s exciting to see esports at the collegiate level getting the recognition it deserves,” said Duran Parsi, CEO of Collegiate Starleague. “With competitive video gaming a becoming strong spectator-sport, students and alumni need a reliable outlet like Campus Insiders that allows them to track their favorite esports teams just like they do traditional sports teams.”

2K announced that NBA 2K17, will host the second NBA 2K competitive gaming tournament in 2017 with the NBA 2K17 All-Star Tournament, culminating during NBA All-Star weekend in February. Players on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be able to form their own NBA 2K Pro-Am teams to compete in a series of in-game events to qualify for the tournament to win $250,000. “NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals proved that our fans have an appetite for competitive gaming, and we are excited to deliver another opportunity for Pro-Am teams to go head-to-head during the new All-Star Tournament,” said Alfie Brody, VP of Marketing for NBA 2K. “Thousands of teams participated in our NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals competition, and we expect this tournament to attract great talent and inspire more of the intense action we witnessed in the first.”

Finland’s Olympic Committee officially accepted the Finnish Esports Federation’s bid to become an associate member. “It’s an important acknowledgment which brings us closer to whole sports community and creates new possibilities for co-operation between e-Sports and traditional sports” said Joonas Kapiainen, VP of the Finnish Esports Federation.. “As an associate member of the Finnish Olympic Committee, we have an increasingly important responsibility to represent e-Sports as a hobby and top-level sports in Finland.”

Riot Games unveiled rule changes for the NA LCS 2017 season. Changes now include third-party arbitration for teams facing suspension for fines in addition to banning sister teams from competing in the LCS and Promotion Tournament at the same time. “Teams will now be able to present their own evidence, as well as review the evidence against them, and make arguments to a neutral, experienced arbitrator,” the company said in a statement, noting that mediation service JAMS would settle disputes unless both parties agree to an alternative.

ELeague launches its ELeague Major Qualifier today at 10a, with live coverage via Twitch. Multi-angle production of select matches will also be available via ELeague’s Game Command player at live.eleague.com. Richard Lewis returns to anchor the desk, joined by analysts Jason ‘Moses’ O’Toole and Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields for pregame, halftime and postgame coverage. Three pairs of casters Anders Blume & Auguste ‘Semmler’ Massonat; James Bardolph & Daniel ‘DDK’ Kapadia; and Henry Greer & Matthew ‘Sadokist’ Trivett – will take viewers through each Counter-Strike: Global Offensive play in real-time. Host Sue ‘Smix’ Lee will provide player interviews and reports on site.

Electronic Arts locked in a new partnership between Real Racing 3 and the FIA Formula E Championship, in a move to bring the season-opening Hong Kong ePrix to life in the game. The deal sees Real Racing 3 adding the Formula E street circuit in Hong Kong’s Central District as a new track in the game, in addition to an in-game version of an official Formula E car, and exclusive behind-the-scenes videos from the real-world event, which took place this October 9, 2016.

Blizzard Entertainment detailed plans for the 2017 StarCraft II World Championship Series, unveiling changes to the format and new events for the season. Partnerships will include AfreecaTV’s Global StarCraft II League for WCS South Korea, Dreamhack in the non-South Korean WCS Circuit and ESL for WCS South Korea and the major global event. The company also announced that a portion of the proceeds earned from an in-game purchasable "War Chest" would increase the prize pool, currently set at $2 million.

Think you’re ready for the 2017 advertising upfronts? Think again and join us on April 12 in NYC for the Cynopsis World eSports Summit and Spring Owner’s Meetings for some very special presentations, exclusive research, meetings and networking you won’t find anywhere else. Details coming in January!

More NBA ties to esports. Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens, is purchasing Cloud9 Challenger’s League Championship Series spot as well as the contracts of four of the team’s players for roughly $2.5 million, according to ESPN. Once the deal is cleared, Edens and his group will obtain the contract rights Cloud9 players An "BalIs" Van Le, Hai "Hai" Lam, Johnny "Altec" Ru, and Daerek "LemonNation" Hart. The spot in the League Championship Series originally went up for sale in August following the 2017 Spring Promotion Tournament.


Source: Superdata


Boom.tv unveiled the beta launch of the world’s first 3D livestreaming platform for eSports along with a $3.5M seed round. The platform, according to the company, offers “a true 3D experience from a player’s game stream in real time, enabling fans to experience gameplay of popular eSports titles from any perspective.” "Improved broadcast technology was the tentpole around which professional sports mushroomed," said Sumit Gupta, Boom.tv CEO. "Our mission is to put 3D technology in the hands of millions of gamers and revolutionize the way eSports content is produced and consumed."

Twitch is launching a new moderation tool, AutoMod, designed to stem racist, sexist and homophobic abuse in chat. Currently, Twitch streamers can ban links, words, and individuals from their chat streams. Steamers can level filtering and opt in to flag anything they see as inappropriate where it will be held in a publishing queue, awaiting moderator approval.

Microsoft officially announced that bitstream audio pass-through, including Dolby Atmos, will be available via Xbox One (as wlel as Windows 10 PCs) starting next year. "You can hear where your allies and enemies are in three-dimensional space, Dolby gaming director Spencer Hooks said in a post on the Xbox Wire. "Snipers on the roof? You’ll hear them over your left shoulder and know where to aim to take them out. The same goes for an attacker with a jet pack hovering behind you."


With all eyes on Las Vegas this weekend as esports tournaments return to Sin City, Ultimate Media Ventures will host the third Battle on the Strip on Sunday at SLS Las Vegas, this time with Gears of War as the centerpiece of the action. Competitors will be able to face off against esports pillars such as OpTic Gaming, EnVyUs, eUnited, and Echo Fox with $10,000 on the line. (Tickets and info available at BattleontheStrip.com and you can use promo code “BattleCode” for holiday discount.) Nate Eckman, Co-Founder & Chief Brand Officer at Ultimate Media Ventures laid out the ten rules for organizing a great tournament for Cynopsis.

1.      Be like Santa Claus and check everything twice (at least)
2.      There isn’t a master calendar for esports events around the world so take a look at your tournament date and know what’s going on with every other event too
3.      Embrace the regionality and local community you are activating in and get them involved with compelling cross promotional opportunities
4.      Don’t assume prize pool alone will get your tournament attention
5.      Craft a compelling narrative around how you announce your tournament and utilize as much social media as possible
6.      Don’t assume pro players alone will get your tournament attention
7.      Plan out your programming schedule to keep it entertaining throughout since it can be brutal for even hard core esports fans to watch 10+ hours of content
8.      Give your tournament as much lead time as possible when it comes to marketing and promotional lead time
9.      The publisher is your friend
10.     Remember this is about video games so have FUN!


GamesBeat partnered with iSpot.tv for a monthly report detailing how gaming brands are spending for advertising. November results saw gaming brands spend an estimated $101.8 million on TV ads. PlayStation spent an estimated $30.5 million on 13 commercials that ran 3,353 times, generating 833.2 million TV ad impressions. Xbox forked over $29.9 million on 16 spots that ran 3,651 times for 733.6 million impressions. Among publishers, Bethesda Softworks took the top spot, with around $9.4 million on 4 commercials that ran 2,997 times and scored 631.6 million impressions. The full report can be found here

Sony launched an official PlayStation Giphy account that will be populated by a slate of YouTubers, designed to beef up the company’s social presence. The hub hands audiences access to exclusive GIFs dedicated to curated moments of gaming highs and lows, launching with around 20 gif games. 
Nintendo will be involved in Free Comic Book Day in 2017, which will see Viz Media offer free copies of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess during the anjual event, showcasing excerpts from the manga adaptations of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, according to Nintendo Wire.
Meanwhile, the partnership between EA and sports car manufacturer Porsche appears to be on the outs. GT Planet reports that Porsche branded entertainment manager Sebastian Hornung said that the relationship has expired and both companies will move forward with other brands.

Team SoloMid announced a new partnership with fragrance brand Axe. The team noted that “We’re excited to bring Axe into the world of Esports and welcome them to the TSM family.”

The White House turned to esports as part of a push to get Millennials to sign up for health care this week. The event took place on Dec. 12 and was promoted by Shaq. “Gamers, like everyone, deserve high-quality health care coverage. Engaging the expanding gamer community is part of the Administration’s effort to meet people where they are to help them find a health care plan that’s best for them,” said Erik Martin, policy advisor for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “That’s why last year, many from the eSports industry, including ESL, Twitch.tv and GEER, helped launch an initiative to encourage more gamers to sign up for health care at HealthCare.gov.”

Blizzard Entertainment is launching a book-publishing label, Blizzard Publishing, dedicated to “developing and releasing new Blizzard publications and reissuing out-of-print titles in the company’s Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo settings, directly and through ongoing global partnerships.” Several of Blizzard Publishing’s upcoming releases will be available in multiple formats, such as print, audiobook, and e-book. “Great stories and inspiring artwork have always been at the heart of everything we do,” said Lydia Bottegoni, senior vice president of story and franchise development at Blizzard Entertainment. “The creation of Blizzard Publishing gives us new opportunities to celebrate the art and stories of our games with Blizzard gamers as well as fantasy and sci-fi fans around the world.”


The Nintendo/Universal Studios partnership has a name, with Nintendo of America tweeting that the immersive theme part attraction will be called Super Nintendo World. The park will feature “attractions based on many Nintendo titles,” according to Nintendo with a goal of opening ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “The attraction area will also feature a variety of other globally popular Nintendo characters,” the companies said. “Nintendo characters and the worlds they inhabit will be re-created at the highest level of quality through the strong partnership between Mr. Shigeru Miyamoto, Creative Fellow at Nintendo, and Mark Woodbury, President of Universal Creative, renowned for creative and technical excellence.”

Elsewhere, Ubisoft announced plans to bring some of its game franchises to the IMG Worlds of Legends theme park in Dubai. Experiences will include Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, and Rabbids at the upcoming park. Previously announced attractions include brands such as Pokemon, Power Rangers, Dragon Ball Z, Mattel, and Cartoon Network.

Nintendo locked in a date and time for its next Nintendo Switch presentation, with expected announcements set to include when in March the console will be released, along with its cost and lineup of games. The presentation takes place Thursday, Jan. 12, at 11.

Vivendi once again upped its stake in Ubisoft and has now topped the 25% legal threshold of the company’s share capital. In addition, the media behemoth upped its voting rights to 22.92%, although Vivendi maintains that isn’t interested in buying Ubisoft, or acquiring control of the company.


Las Vegas once again serves as the centerpiece of esports this weekend, with events set to include MLG Vegas, described as a festival and fan experience taking place at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino starting on Friday. The three-day event plays host to the first North American Regional of the Call of Duty World League featuring Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, as well as an Overwatch invitational and the launch of End Game, described as a special lifestyle event celebrating digital culture. Cynopsis eSports & Gaming asked MLG Co-Founder and Senior Vice President, Media Networks Mike Sepso about the company’s plans for the entertainment capital of the world.

Sepso on returning to Las Vegas: MLG has a long history of great, successful events in Vegas. The hotel and casino operators are extremely interested in esports and we’ve had a lot of interesting discussions with them over the past year at the strategic level about how to bring more event programming to the Vegas market. The city is now clearly the live event capital of the country, if not the world, and we want to make sure we are on that stage.

On introducing End Game: eSports is a focal point for what is happening in the gaming culture. We know from experience that our fans are also really interested in other things. They are tech-savvy. They are early-adopters. They love music, especially dance music and DJ culture. They are also content creators in their own right whether that involves streaming on Twitch, making videos for YouTube or posting on Instagram. We wanted to celebrate that and to establish a mainstream entry point into esports competitions. It is really about establishing a two-directional thing for us having both an established event for hard-core fans as well as an entry point for new fans. You can think of it as a giant, on-going party that celebrates the digital lifestyle with everything from VR experiences to some big headline DJs.

On changes since Activision Blizzard bought the company: I think that we have had some time to invest in some key infrastructure projects that we were never able to get to. We’ve increased the head count by about 50% so it’s a bigger organization now. Obviously, the key to whole thing is that we have a much closer relationships with the studio teams that are developing the IPs. So we are engaged with the studios at the development level and able to provide our expertise, background and experience form the esports world right into the developers who are creating the games themselves.


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Catalyst Sports & Media announced the hire of Avi Bhuiyan as Executive Vice President of Esports. Bhuiyan will help lead the esports division with Bryce Blum, Executive Vice President of Esports, to further build out the company’s esports practice and joins from Riot Games, where he was an esports official for Riot’s League of Legends Championship.

TRAILER OF THE WEEK  Resident Evil 7

Check out the first official TV spot for Resident Evil 7 biohazard, first aired alongside The Walking Dead! Set to hit shelves on Jan. 24 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, the game will look to define the next era in horror entertainment be returning “to the series roots, signature gameplay features including exploration, puzzles and a realistic tense atmosphere awaits players.” Click here to watch.

ON THIS DAY in 1990: 2000: Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine released for the Nintendo 64.  
Trivia: In what game would you find Evil Otto? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city.)

Answer to Our Last eSports Trivia Question: What videogame franchise dedicated an expansion pack to Katy Perry? Answer: The Sims 3. Kudos: Chris Davies-Virgin/London; Danny Araque/NY; Glen Ross/DC; Joey Olson-Lowe’s/Arlington; Daniel Hanson/Vail; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA; 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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