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  • Matt Kimball

EWD: News for Week of 1/31/22-2/6/22

Updated: Apr 25

Topics: Partnerships, NHL, BLAST, Activision Blizzard, Boston Scott

Partnerships


Misfits Gaming group x Hyperx


Esports company Misfits Gaming Group (MGG) has announced a partnership with gaming peripherals brand HyperX. HyperX will become the "official headset and microphone provider" for the Florida Mutineers Call of Duty League (CDL) franchise for the 2022 season that started this past weekend. This designation applies to influencers/content creators for the organization as well. The brand’s logo will also be featured on the franchise’s player jerseys.


Besides just supplying equipment for players and content creators, they plan on having a role in Floria Mutineers' social media and content strategy. The brand’s logo will feature on the franchise’s player jerseys. Above all, HyperX will be a "key partner" in supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives at MGG. There's a soon to be announced Women of MGG project that will be instituted as well. Justin Stefanovic, Senior Vice President of Partnerships at MGG, said they are “looking forward to working with them to amplify our initiatives that help women and non-binary groups in esports and gaming.”


Stephanie Walker, director of Marketing at HyperX, said this regarding the deal:

We’re excited to support pro teams and streamers at Misfits Gaming Group, as well as highlighting initiatives for women in esports and gaming. We strive to give every gamer, regardless of gender, religion, and/or background the opportunity to perform at their finest; with the best gaming peripherals on the market.

I like how MGG and HyperX are going above and beyond just a standard sponsorship deal. Emphasizing DEI in the workplace is something that should be a necessity across every company, so it's nice to see that this partnership will bring these initiatives to the forefront. I'm excited to see what MGG has in store for the Women of MGG project.


OverActive Media Group x Nobis


Ahead of the 2022 Call of Duty League (CDL) season, OverActive Media has agreed to a partnership with Canadian luxury apparel brand Nobis. Nobis will become the 'Official Outerwear Partner" for both the Toronto Ultra CDL franchise and Toronto Defiant OWL franchise. They will work on content with players, product placement/integration, and digital-focused activations.


Kevin Au-Yeung and Robin Yates, founders of Nobis added this:

This unique partnership with OverActive Media stems from a shared passion and desire to strive for excellence which is heavily rooted in our brand DNA. e couldn’t help but think of the authentic synergy between the two partners that would not only support our communities but redefine the future of fashion, sports, and entertainment.

Although some may not see the fit, fashion and esports is slowly becoming an emerging sponsorship category for esports and gaming companies. Not only are esports blending with independent clothing brands, but luxury ones such as Gucci (w/100T) and now Nobis are as well in the western side of the world. They put out a video announcement with the Toronto Ultra roster featured in it, and they've already done a Nobis jacket giveaway on Twitter for Canadien residents. Toronto Ultra will host 1 of the 5 LAN Events this 2022 CDL season (June 2-5), so I'm sure Nobis will have some kind of in-person activations this Summer.


Cloud9 x Blockchain.com


Cloud9 is partnering with Blockchain.com and becomes the first official global cryptocurrency partner of the organization. As the "Official Cryptocurrency Exchange and Wallet Partner," Cloud9 and Blockchain.com aim to create "a dialogue around financial literacy and cryptocurrency within the esports community."


Jack Etienne, Co-Founder and CEO of Cloud9 said:

Blockchain.com is the perfect partner for the Cloud9 team. Our team takes great pride in working closely with the most noteworthy leaders across industries and the time was ripe to broaden our network to the cryptocurrency world. Blockchain.com’s support will ensure consumers have greater access to, and understanding of, the future of finance through cryptocurrency.

As part of the multi-year deal, Blockchain.com also receives logo placement on all team jerseys and across Cloud9’s digital channels. This is just one of the many esports and gaming organizations that have added a prominent cryptocurrency exchange to their sponsorship portfolio (e.g. TSM, Fnatic, Team Liquid, etc). Still an emerging concept that many don't understand, some esports fans disagree with the decision from Cloud9 to partner with Blockchain.com (see C9's Twitter video announcement and replies).


At the end of the day, every one of these cryptocurrency partnerships strive to educate fans on financial literacy and come in as authentically as possible. Cryptocurrency, digital wallets, and gaming/esports all live online, target similar age demographics, and are relatively niche. Organization will continue to partner with them if the money adds up as sponsorship is one of the biggest drivers for revenue generation.


Professional Gamers League (PGL) x IMG


Esports tournament organizer and production company PGL has extended and renewed its partnership with agency IMG. IMG will become the exclusive sponsorship agency for PGL as they are tasked with distributing PGL’s media rights globally for its 2022 events portfolio. The first event that IMG will work on is the upcoming CS:GO Major in Antwerp Belgium.


The 2 entities will also work alongside with talent management and brand consulting firm RTS. Together, they should be able to use their high-level expertise to find new sponsors and distribute PGL's media rights. Joe Jenkins, Commercial Manager at IMG, commented:

We were excited to work with the PGL on last year’s CS:GO Major which saw a record peak audience of 2.74m viewers, 120 hours of broadcast airtime and the tournament being distributed in 27 languages. Stockholm 2021 was the most successful CS:GO event of all time and we are looking forward to working with PGL again and continuing this success in 2022.

CS:GO Majors, especially in Europe, regularly are the most-watches esports events on a year-to-year basis. IMG has worked with PGL since 2018 and I expect this event in Belgium, with the help from RTS, to be better than ever from a brand partnerships and overall reach perspective.

Other News


Philadelphia Eagles Running Back Boston Scott joins Dignitas RL team


Dignitas, the esports vertical of New Meta Entertainment, Inc. (NME), announced this past week that Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott joined their Rocket League team. He becomes the first two-sport athlete playing professionally in both the NFL and Rocket League. Scott will be the Dignitas' Rocket League's 4th member (substitute) and will also be a content creator for the team. The Rocket League team is led by Jack “ApparentlyJack” Benton, Joris “Joreuz” Robben, and Kyle “Scrub Killa” Robertson.


The announcement was made after Scott made an appearance at a Phildelphia 76ers game wearing a Dignitas jersey. Scott said this in regard to joining Dignitas Rocket League:

Gaming has always been a big part of my life. It has had an impact on me since I was young that has made it bigger than just a hobby that I enjoy....So the fact that I'm able to join Dignitas is a dream come true. I’m so excited to work with this organization and I'm extremely grateful they have given me the chance to be a part of them. Pro football has made me fall in love with competition, learning, and shown me the importance of teamwork. No matter what is in front of me I’ve learned how to adapt and overcome. I’m excited to see what that leads to with Dignitas and the best Rocket League team in the world.

Michael Prindiville, CEO of New Meta Entertainment, Inc. said they will also have an "exciting new content series" in which the community will see Scott's "grind to the top" in his gaming journey. He will also meet fellow "Rocket Leaguers" during an upcoming activation at an RLCS North America event. Dignitas is recognized as the most successful organization in Rocket League’s history with 6 Championships in the last 3 years.


We've seen many professional athletes rep an esports brand and claim to be a part of the team, but never actually be a starting or substitute player for an organization. This is also not just your simple collaboration to cross-pollinate fans from football to esports and grow each others brands. Scott is currently "Grand Champion" in Rocket League competitive which places him in the top .52% of over 6 million players competing competitively globally. He's more than capable of competing professionally. I'm excited to see what content he and the organization will put out, especially the content series Prindiville was hinting at.


Blast Entertainment signs 35 media deals


BLAST Premier, a global CS:GO esports circuit, is now going to be shown in over 25 languages and more than 130 TV territories after securing a record 35 media rights deals, according to their press release.


BLAST Premier’s broadcast will cover all major esports regions around the world, including North America, LATAM, Asia, the Nordics and CIS among others. The circuit's broadcast portfolio represents a combination of renewals with existing global partners and signing an array of new media rights deals with multiple leading media outlets in specified regions. Media partners include: Danish public broadcaster TV2, Asian TV network Astro, African OTT service StarTimes, Brazilian streamer Alexandre ‘Gaules’ Borba and Ukraine online streaming service WePlay.


Based on this information alone, I wouldn't be surprised if they amass the highest viewed esports tournament in CS:GO history. BLAST Premier has become a very prominent esports circuit since being founded in 2020. More details on their 2022 Spring Season is provided here (Video here as well).


Blizzard Entertainment Plans to Launch a Warcraft Title on Mobile Devices


Blizzard Entertainment plans to launch a Warcraft title on mobile devices sometime in 2022, according to a 4th-quarter and 2021 financial results news release by Activision. In just a single bullet point, they stated:

Blizzard is planning substantial new content for the Warcraft franchise in 2022, including new experiences in World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, and getting all-new mobile Warcraft content into players’ hands for the first time.

To this date, the only mobile game Warcraft has had is Hearthstone, which launched back in 2014. Although I'm not very familiar with the Warcraft franchise, apparently they've long tried to adopt a mobile action-RPG franchise. In 2018, they announced Diablo Immortal to become that mobile game, but it was delayed until 2022. There's no further details on the release of Diablo Immortal, but one could assume that Warcraft Mobile is its replacement.


100 Thieves and Polygon create Free NFT


Esports organization and lifestyle brand 100 Thieves has re-entered the NFT space with a 'digital collectible' commemorating the team's first LCS Championship in August 2021. At the time, the organization awarded players a diamond 100 Thieves necklace. The organization is continuing that celebration in their latest NFT release. The NFT included a card with each of the players' signatures who are on the 100 Thieves League of Legends roster.


100 Thieves did this in collaboration with Polygon Technology, a decentralized Ethereum scaling platform that enables developers to build scalable user-friendly dApp with low transaction fees without ever sacrificing on security. Ryan Wyatt, CEO of Polygon Studios, said the "carbon impact of claiming this NFT is equivalent to sending ~2.5 emails." The NFT drop was 100% free and not intended for resale.


Chris Lamb, Sr. Director of Partnerships at 100 Thieves stated their approach on this NFT launch, "not only created a positive impact with our community but also helped educate them on how to create their own wallets and own a piece of 100T history." Within 24 hours, over 300,000 of the 100 Thieves 'digital collectible' (AKA NFT) had been claimed.


I thought this was a great idea from the 100 Thieves team. The NFT's not only a free piece of digital art that fans can claim to show off their fandom towards 100 Thieves, it also builds a sense of trust with their fans towards the debated topics surrounding NFTs. You can even tell within their social media announcement that they didn't mention the term “NFT" or anything crypto related.



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