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Envy Retires Its Name to OpTic, Evil Geniuses becomes the Most Data-Forward Organization, and More!

EWD: News for Week of 6/27/22-7/322

Topics: Partnerships, Nike, HPE, Evil Geniuses, RLCS


Partnerships


BLAST Premier x Nike


Global esports tournament organizer Blast collaborates with Nike to create an esports-inspired apparel line that showcases the “gaming lifestyle.” The apparel line will be launched and made available for general sale in August during the BLAST Premier Fall Groups (19-28 August). According to to the Blast press release, the collection will:


"Encapsulate gaming culture and lifestyle through spotlighting and celebrating the people and personalities behind esports – from the talent and players, all the way through to the unsung heroes behind-the-scenes."


The collaboration was initially teased during the BLAST Spring Finals in June 2022. Faye Marlborough, Head of Creative Solutions at BLAST, said:

Our ambition is to work with the most reputable brands in the world, and they don’t come much bigger than Nike. Gaming has become a lifestyle over the last few years with the rise of esports, we are excited to be able to encapsulate the passion and uniqueness associated with competitive gaming through this collection.

Kimball's Take:

  • Not a ton of details about this collaboration, but it's great to see such an iconic brand get more involved in the esports space. Nike is a partner of China’s LPL League of Legends league and some orgs, most notably SK Gaming and T1. Meanwhile, they've secured a partnership with global shipping company Maersk, as well as numerous extensions of previous deals, such as the Betway and Shikenso analytics. The tournament organizer even expanded beyond CS:GO this year by being the producer for the Fortnite Championship Series (FNCS).


Evil Geniuses x HP Enterprises


In a multi-year agreement, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) announced a new partnership with Evil Geniuses (EG) to deliver cutting-edge technology to advance EG’s journey as a leading gaming entertainment brand. This Data-driven partnership with HPE will provide EG's teams access to AI and machine-learning services to accelerate and develop its player talent pipeline, talent development, and identify winning gameplay strategies.


During this partnership, HPE will also integrate GreenLake edge-to-cloud capabilities and advisory services to advance player performance and enhance EG's competitive stance. Jim Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer of Hewlett Packard Enterprise said

In esports, deriving insights from data to act more quickly is key to winning. Our sponsorship of Evil Geniuses unlocks competitive advantage by enabling this innovative esports organization to dive deeper into their gameplay data to more easily identify and perfect winning strategies.”

Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson said this in regard to their hopes of winning the League of Legends World Championship:

This may seem unrealistic due to the fact no North American team has ever won Worlds... But through our industry-leading data and analytics, now infused with the power of HPE’s technology, we’ll be able to advance our talent development, coaching, and in-game analysis like never before, which will take our team to new heights.

Kimball's Take:

  • Evil Geniuses, one of the original and most recognizable North American professional organizations in esports, made a home-run move with this partnership. They solidify themselves as the most data-driven and analytically informed esports team that I can think of. I've always wondered why esports orgs don't use the wealth of data that can be made available to them in order to find talent and optimize in-game strategy. Compared to traditional sports, the hard part of collecting the data is comparably the easiest part in gaming. There's a chance that accessing player tracking data could be gate-kept by the game publishers, but I would assume there's a way around this. Kudos to the EG team on this, I LOVE IT!


MIBR x Socios.com


Immortals Gaming Club-owned Brazilian esports organization MIBR announced a partnership with Socios.com to launch an official Fan Token. MIBR fans will receive rewards like special content, activations alongside the players, exclusive rewards and the opportunity to attend events in person as special guests upon acquiring the $MIBR asset.


According to Esports Insider, this deal is part of a marketing campaign launched by MIBR in 2022 titled ‘Nossa história, Nosso Futuro’ (Portuguese for ‘Our Story, Our Future’), which aims to engage the organization’s fans. Also to note, this is not MIBR's first partnership with a blockchain company this year. In May 2022, the organization closed a three-year sponsorship deal with crypto exchange company Bybit.


Socios is very well known in the traditional sports market, creating Fan Tokens of soccer clubs like FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, AC Milan, Atlético Madrid, Manchester City, Inter Milan, and Arsenal. In the states, Socios is partnered with multiple teams in the NBA. NHL, and even has a landmark deal with the NFL and MLS.


Kimball's Take:

  • As you can see. Socios is a staple to many sports leagues around the world, and rightfully so. It's the platform for fans to showcase their true fandom and passion towards their favorite teams. It's a dream application for superfans who want to have a say in team decisions. With all these partnerships, Socios is positioning their brand in all the right places.

  • This is also not the 1st organization in the country to launch fan tokens. In September 2021, esports organization XIS made tokens available through the ApolloEX platform, before entering a 14-month naming rights deal with OG Life in January 2022 and transferring its assets into it.

Gen.G Extends Partnership with McDonald's


Centered around the "McDonald's Crew League" created last year, this 1-year extension will include an expansion into the Pacific Northwest region to allow additional esports leagues to engage McDonald's employees and gaming enthusiasts. Designed to recruit and retain its employees through gaming, the McDonald's Crew League was established in the Southern California, Southern Plains (Kansas, Oklahoma) and DMV (Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia) regions and will continue to have leagues in these respective regions.


According to the press release, the Pacific Northwest region league kicked off and will have their playoffs on August 13th. Southern California, Southern Plains, and DMV region Crew Leagues will kick off their seasons on July 5, July 26 and August 23, with play-off to follow respectively. Employees will vote on a game of their choice and compete to qualify for a live playoff broadcast on Twitch.tv/GenGesports, hosted by local casters in each region.


Employees get to vote on a game of their choice and compete to qualify for the live playoff broadcast on Twitch. Prizes include a PS5, Xbox Series, over $1,000 in Amazon gift cards for each region, Crew League T-shirts, and an exclusive belt for the winner and plaque for their franchise location.


Patricia Chambers, Ad Agency Partner for the participating regions said this on the partnership and initiative:

Owner/Operators in the active co-ops are proud to offer their employees a unique experience that lets restaurant employees know they are valued members of a larger community. We are excited to continue our partnership with an organization as prestigious as Gen.G and look forward to once again crafting a great competitive experience for our valued crew members and managers.

Kimball's Take:

  • This is such a creative way for McDonald's and its employees to have an opportunity to compete and earn prizes, especially through this medium. For Gen.G, they're finding ways to be a leading organization in not only Asia, but also in the United States. Cool partnership all around.


Other News


Team Envy Is Officially Retiring Its Name


Longtime gaming organization, Team Envy, is retiring its name (for now) and will fully commit its resources to OpTic's name across all of its esports teams. Envy Gaming Owner Mike "HastrO" announces on The Eavesdrop Podcast that he decided to, in his own words, "sunset Envy and put all of our resources into OpTic." HastrO said this was his decision, but everyone one their board was behind it. As a result, all existing Envy teams will compete under the OpTic name going forward, apart from its Overwatch team, which will stay as Dallas Fuel.


For context, Envy Gaming and OpTic merged in November 2021 that saw both entities operate under a joint brand up to this point. To start off this merger, Texas-based Call of Duty League franchise Dallas Empire was rebranded to OpTic Texas. As time went on, more Team Envy branded teams switched to the OpTic Gaming name. Envy’s Rocket League roster was the first team to be officially rebranded as OpTic Gaming since this latest announcement.


Founded in 2007, Envy Gaming (formerly Team EnVyUs) is one of the longest-running brands in esports history. The team originally competed in Call of Duty, but throughout its history they've competed in CS:GO, FIFA, Fortnite, PUBG, StarCraft, Street Fighter, Halo, League of Legends and more recently VALORANT, Overwatch and Rocket League. Surprisingly enough, OpTic Gaming is an even older brand than Envy Gaming, having been founded in 2006.


Kimball's Take:

  • In a move surprising to some, this was something since the merger I foresaw happening. However, wouldn't be shocked in the slightest if the Envy brand comes back to fruition in the future. So many fans identify with this iconic brand and I can't see HastrO give up on it entirely. As he said on OpTic’s President Hector ‘Hecz’ Rodriguez podcast, he's putting “Envy to the side," but not forever. Although the right business decision to put all their resources towards the OpTic brand, I'm sure HastrO had to think long and hard about this.

Enthusiast staff asks for CEO’s resignation


Publicly-traded esports/gaming media company Enthusiast Gaming board asked CEO Adrian Montgomery to resign due to multiple leadership failures. Four vice president level executives at the gaming media company authored a letter to Enthusiast’s board of directors in their request of his resignation. In the letter viewed by The Washington Post, the group cites failures around strategic planning and equity distribution, as well as issues relating to staffing the company’s human resources department, as threats to Enthusiast’s long-term well-being.


This news followed a contentious private call held June 23, during which a larger group of executives at Enthusiast asked Montgomery to resign, according to The Washington Post. The confrontation took place during a scheduled weekly meeting for executive leadership and was attended by the company’s c-suite, as well as several vice presidents at the company.


The internal call for the CEO’s resignation follows a month of bad news. On May 24, the investment firm Greywood Investments, Enthusiast’s largest shareholder, announced a campaign to replace the CEO and the board of directors with its own slate of nominees, citing “grave concerns” over the Toronto-based company’s direction. However, Eric Bernofsky, Enthusiast’s chief corporate officer said in a statement to The Post that suggested Greywood’s campaign was at odds with the best interests of other shareholders.


In the recent executive leadership meeting, the CEO told attendees that in 2022, approximately 80% of restricted stock units, which are traditionally granted as incentives for employees, were distributed to the board and c-suite. In the letter to Enthusiast’s board, that 80% figure is mentioned as a factor in the group’s decision to seek Montgomery’s resignation.


For context, Enthusiast owns a number of video game focused publications and brands, such as Upcomer and Addicting Games, as well as the esports organization Luminosity Gaming. In March, Enthusiast abruptly laid off a significant portion of the editorial staff at its esports and gaming news website, Upcomer. Similarly, on June 2, Luminosity Gaming, a subsidiary of Enthusiast, unexpectedly announced it would be leaving competitive Valorant in the wake of a newly formatted international league franchise format.


For additional details on this matter, read the Washington Post article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/esports/2022/06/29/enthusiast-gaming-ceo-resignation-greywood-upcomer/


Atlanta to Host LoL Worlds Semi-Finals


League of Legends (LoL) publisher Riot Games announced that Atlanta will host the Worlds 2022 semifinals at the State Farm Arena. Home of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, State Farm Arena resides in the heart of Downtown Atlanta and is surrounded by an array of world-class attractions, restaurants, parks, hotels and lounges. According to the State Farm Arena release, the semifinals originally were set to take place at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, but due to COVID-19 impacting the viability of securing multi-entry visas to the U.S. within necessary timelines. Riot made the decision to move the location to provide a clear path for teams to complete in all stages of Worlds.


State Farm is a sponsor of League of Legends Esports Global Events, the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and State Farm Arena itself. However, this is the first time State Farm Arena will host an esports event in its history. Alyson Griffin, VP, Marketing at State Farm said this on the new news:

Our relationship with Riot and the gaming community has continued to evolve and LoL was even featured in our recent State Farm Gamerhood Challenge. We’re looking forward to seeing the top teams and fans come together this Fall.”

Naz Aletaha, Global Head of LoL Esports, Riot Games said they want to uphold their tradition of a multi-city Worlds tour despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. The new city schedule for Worlds 2022 is as follows (Dates TBD):

  • Play-Ins: Mexico City, Mexico

  • Groups & Quarterfinals: New York, New York

  • Semifinals: Atlanta, Georgia

  • Finals: San Francisco, California


Kimball's Take:

  • It's surprising that State Farm Arena never hosted an LCS event, and even an entire esports event for that matter. As a sponsor of LCS, State Farm arena, the market it's in, and everything surrounding it makes this a great move for Riot Games to make due to the visa/COVID-19 related issues surrounding Canada.


Moist Esports Wins RLCS Spring Split Major


Moist Esports, owned by popular streamer "MoistCr1TiKaL", has been crowned champions after defeating Team Falcons in the Grand Final. This was the rosters first major tournament under new ownership and branding. The roster formerly known as Team Queso was acquired by Moist Esports in May. Queso lost the grand final of the Winter Split Major to G2 Esports.


Sixteen teams competed in a double-elimination bracket tournament. In the upper bracket, the first round and quarterfinals were best-of-five matches while the semifinals and finals were best-of-seven. In the lower bracket, the first three rounds were best-of-five and the quarters, semis and finals were best-of-seven. The grand final was best-of-seven with a bracket reset. Moist, as the lower-bracket champion, needed to win two best-of-sevens while Falcons needed to win just one.


For Falcons Esports, this was an insane run for them. In the first season in which Middle Eastern teams competed in the RLCS, the roster formerly playing for Sandrock Gaming stole the show at the Fall Major when they reached the top eight. The team qualified for the Winter Major but were unable to travel to the United States. After being dropped and then picked up by Falcons Esports, they continued to dominate the competition in their region throughout the spring. Playing in front of a crowd in London, Falcons dominated the upper bracket, beating Europe’s Team Liquid and North American titans FaZe Clan, Spacestation and Version1. They became the first team outside NA and EU to reach the grand final of an RLCS LAN event. They were definitely the cinderella story and the crowd began to rally behind them.


For Moist, the roster of Finlay "rise." Ferguson, Joe "Joyo" Young and Axel "vatira" Touret are considered the lower bracket kings as of recently. During the winter split, they went on a lower bracket run all the way to the Winter Major grand final in Los Angeles. They forced a bracket reset against G2 Esports, but they couldn’t complete the comeback. On home ground during the Spring Major at the Copper Box Arena in London, the roster now playing for Moist Esports once again went on a lower bracket run and forced a bracket reset against Falcons Esports. This time, they finished the job. With the crowd chanting the names of the mostly English team behind them, Moist rallied and won five matches in a row in the lower bracket and then two best-of-sevens in the final.


Moist came home with $90,000, while Team Falcons won $60,000


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