EWD: News for Week of 2/21/22-2/27/22
Updated: Apr 25, 2022
Topics: Partnerships, FaZe Clan, MLS, Metaverse, EEG, Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew to Sponsor 1st CDL Major
Envy Gaming inks a deal with PepsiCo's Mountain Dew to be the presenting sponsor of the first Call of Duty League (CDL) major at Esports Stadium Arlington. Envy Gaming, now rebranded to OpTic in both Call of Duty and Valorant esports, will be hosting the event from March 3-6. Envy's sales team were able to secure the deal with MTN Dew by leveraging the prior deal that they had with OpTic Gaming. Now, the 2 teams have merged making the deal a better fit.
In terms of activating this sponsorship in the venue, there will be reserved fan section called the "MTN Dew Spark Zone." Fans can register at the event for a chance to be 1 of the 50 to cheer for their favorite players from some of the closest seats in the arena. No other details provided on this sponsorship. However, additional brand sponsors for the event include Aim Lab, Razer and SCUF Gaming.
Overall, this is a solid sponsorship for MTN Dew. By creating a reserved fan section, all of the fans will come flocking to register for a chance to be in these seats. We've seen something similar to this with SCUF Gaming at the Atlanta FaZe Home Series in 2020 except it was on-stage (2:00 minute mark of broadcast). From a data collection perspective, definitely smart to get registrants information when they sign up because these are the most diehard CDL fans you're getting access to. MTN Dew will get a ton of shine during the broadcast when it pans over to the lively crowd and that specific section. On top of all this, they're the presenting sponsor of the event.
After almost all of the sponsors backing out last year due to Activision's harassment lawsuit, the pending Microsoft acquisition of Activision may relieve potential brands decisions to partner with the league/events.
7-Eleven x Psyonix, Rocket League
Convenience Store chain 7-Eleven collaborates with Psyonix' Rocket League and is also presenting sponsor of NA RLCS esports competition. As part of the deal, 7-Eleven gets branded in-game items to customize one's car as well as a chance to win a "Model 711" car in real life through social media, delivery and in-store sweepstakes.
To get the exclusive in-game items, one has to purchase select food and beverage products at participating 7-Eleven®,Speedway® and Stripes® stores. Customers have to purchase these items with the stores corresponding reward/loyalty programs to be given a chance to unlock a code to "boost their ride." There are 6 total unique items.
To get a chance to win the "Model 711" car, their press release states that you can customize it by simply voting on social media. They said that for those who want to customize the car, keep an eye on 7-Eleven's social media channels.
Marissa Jarratt, 7-Eleven Chief Marketing Officer said this about the Rocket League collaboration:
7-Eleven’s social followers LOVE sharing their ‘carfies’ with us (AKA photos of their sweet rides in front of 7-Eleven stores) using the trending hashtag #CarsOf7Eleven and Slurpee-loving car enthusiasts have even organized unofficial car meetups in our parking lots across the country....So, it felt right to give car fans the chance to boost their ride in the Rocket League arena… While also helping us design… and potentially win… a Rocket League-inspired car IRL.
As noted earlier, 7-Eleven will also be an official sponsor of the North American Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS). The partnership includes naming rights to a North American Regional Event and the 7-Eleven Slurpee Cup, taking place on May 13-15, 2022 via Rocket League’s Twitch channel and YouTube channel.
This is an all-encompassing sponsorship for 7-Eleven and Psyonix' Rocket League. Not only is 7-Eleven going to be one of the main sponsors for the RLCS, they also have 2 different types of promotions for casual Rocket League gamers to interact with. 7-Eleven strategically made the in-game items only accessible in-store that way they could get more direct sales rather than having it on the in-game digital store. Looking at the car giveaway, they're clearly trying to generate some social media engagement on their owned social channels by having fans vote and keep an eye on what they are posting. Marissa Jarratt is aware that there's a lot of car enthusiasts that love to post their nice cars in front of 7-Eleven's iconic logo, and they believe there could be a crossover effect from this in the Rocket League player base. This is definitely an intriguing strategy and I wish I could see how many in-game items end up getting downloaded over the next 3 months of this collaboration to assess the success of it.
Wisdom Gaming Partners with Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins MLB team becomes the official spring 2022 sponsor of Wisdom Gaming's Minnesota Varsity League (MNVL), an esports league open to high schools in the state. The Twins will sponsor 32 total live streams and 6 additional broadcasts throughout the season and MNVL State Finals. This deal marks the first sponsorship in the realm of esports for the Minnesota Twins.
Since the league was founded in 2019, MNVL has expanded to over 50 schools with over 800 players expected to compete in the Spring season. The Spring season starts on March 21st and the State finals takes place in June. The league now has 4 total partners, including LeagueSpot, Gwoop, and the Minnesotaa Røkkr CDL franchise.
Nicole Du Cane, Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Wisdom Gaming, said this on the deal:
The growth and scale that MNVL has shown in the past few years have been nothing short of incredible. The prestige in bringing on a sponsor like the Minnesota Twins not only allows for MNVL’s continued growth but also sets an example for students and parents of the level of support there is for the next generation of esports professionals.
Nicole has made a fantastic point here. Beside getting more money from a sponsorship perspective, they get one of the 5 professional league teams based in Minnesota on their sponsorship portfolio. Having a traditional sports team attached to the MNVL validates the professionalism and support they're getting within the state. Now, parents shouldn't be questioning their kids for deciding to achieve their life-long dreams of becoming an esports professional by joining this high school league.
FaZe Clan x LA Kings
FaZe Clan teams up with the LA Kings NHL team for their 2nd limited-edition merchandise collaboration. This limited edition drop will include red and black lace up hoodies with the retro Kings logo and FaZe Clan logo on the upper left torso. These will only be for sale in person at the LA Kings vs San Jose Sharks game on March 10th at Crypto.com Arena. As part of the collaboration, FaZe Clan and the LA Kings will also offer ticket bundles and ticket giveaways
Once again, FaZe Clan shows why they're the biggest gaming and lifestyle platform by consistently bridging the gap between gaming culture, and traditional sports. By only selling the merchandise at Crypto.com arena, the LA Kings will probably get a boost in ticket sales on that March 10th game.
North Carolina State to Build College Esports Arena and Mobile Gaming Truck
North Carolina State (NC State) received a $16 million grant last week from the state government to build an on-campus esports facility and 'mobile arena' truck. The funding comes from a state initiative to cultivate esports in North Carolina. The NC General Assembly passed fiscal acts to foster esports in North Carolina, including the Esports Industry Grant Fund.
According to Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology and leading the esport initiative at NC State. believes they will have the largest collegiate esport facility in the country. Additionally, he said that many believe The Triangle has potential to be an esport hub. The Triangle is the metropolitan area of 3 cities and universities in North Carolina: Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and research universities NC State, Duke, and UNC.
In regard to student involvement, the arena will offer hands-on learning experiences to students involved in computer science and game design, as well as students outside the esports community. For example, hospitality management students will have the opportunity to plan esports events while social science students can do research on the effects of esports as professional athletes.
Just a few months ago, the Raleigh Convention Center hosted the 2021 Halo Championship Series (HCS) Raleigh Open event. 200 teams participated for a piece of the $350,000 total cash prize. Roughly 267,000 watched the event on Twitch and YouTube as Cloud9 came home the champs. From my understanding, the event had great attendance as well.
I'm excited to see more details about this esports facility. It's great to see state-wide initiatives to build up esports programs in North Carolina. I'm sure we'll see other states begin to do this.
Esports Entertainment Group Records Net Loss of $34.5M
NASDAQ-listed gambling company Esports Entertainment Group (EEG) revealed its financial performance for Q2 of its current fiscal year. They missed their revenue consensus by $6.51M. EEG recorded a net loss of $34.5M – or $1.53 per share – compared to a net loss of $7.3M year-over-year.
EEG’s CEO Grant Johnson said these declines in 2Q22 were outside of their control for the most part. He noted that the Netherlands regulatory environment changes led them to exit the sports betting market in that country. He also mentioned the company’s online sportsbook business in Europe had a "historically low hold,” resulting in a material decline in sportsbook revenue. Lastly, the pandemic caused the company to delay the launch of its peer-to-peer betting platform LANDuel to March 18thh. Johnson said:
Despite these challenges and the collective impact they are having on our business, we remain extremely bullish about the year ahead and in our ability to reach annualized revenue of $100 million from our current portfolio of offerings.
EEG expects net revenue growth to be between $70M - $75M for FY22. Considering all of the moves EEG has done over the year, I think it could be possible. They've landed several commercial partnerships with NFL teams and received a transactional waiver to accept sports bets in New Jersey. EEG has also launched its esports betting platform VIE.gg, allowing New Jersey sports bettors to wager on prominent esports titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota 2.
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FACEIT Launches Advertising Platform
Esports platform FACEIT launches FACEIT Ads, an advertising vertical aimed at helping brands reach engaged gaming audiences. FACEIT will act as a consultant to brands looking to understand the gaming audience.
Esports Insider stated that FACEIT's reported goal of this is to leverage the high number of users on its competitive matchmaking platform to provide market insights the company has generated over the years.
Michele Attisani, Co-Founder & CBO of FACEIT, said:
With close to 24 million users on our platform, we’ve built up an amazingly brand loyal and engaged audience. That’s why we’re extremely excited to unveil this new offering, allowing brands of all shapes and sizes to engage with an extremely important but often overlooked demographic. By working with brands to craft bespoke campaigns, while maintaining respect for our community and their data, FACEIT will be able to grow our business and the competitive gaming sector as a whole.
This is very smart for FACEIT to create essentially a consulting sector of their business entity. They have so much valuable insights and data to provide brands who are bullish and hesitant to enter the esports marketplace. FACEIT mentioned they're audience is highly engaged and primarily Gen Z and Y. These are some of the most intriguing demographics that brands strive to target. FACEIT Ads will also be headed by a veteran in the advertising space, Moritz Natalini. He formerly worked at Bidstack, Sky and Expedia.
MLS Enters Metaverse with GreenPark Sports
GreenPark Sports, a social gaming company, secured a multi-year partnership with MLS and MLSPA to bring sports fandom to the metaverse. GreenPark Sports is hopeful that they can change how fans interact with their favorite teams and each other. The MLS, which has the youngest fan demographics of any American league, is eyeing the future of virtual experiences.
Together, fans will have the opportunity to join GreenPark's virtual environment, where they can "connect with each other, compete in contests, and win prizes." When you enter this virtual world, you start as a green avatar and can customize your character with micro-transaction (MTX) purchases of officially licensed MLS gear. There is dedicated worlds for corresponding MLS matches. For example, the D.C. United vs. Charlotte FC match this past Saturday had its own virtual area. There's even areas where you can enter prediction contests and see fan leaderboards.
This is a fascinating partnership that I need to see for myself. So far, there's only a mobile version of GreenPark, but these kind of metaverse experiences is what nascent leagues are trying to tap into. It creates opportunities for fans to engage in a new environment that's personalized to fans likings. It also gives MLS a way for them to get revenue via MTX.
Lastly, Social media platforms gives fans the ability to communicate with other fans of their favorite teams as a forum of discussion. For example, case studies on what is known as "Twitter Networks" shows that fans find their own niche communities that they follow and engage with based on fan interests, behavior, and attitude. Leagues want to garner these organic communities to drive engagement on social media. However, these kind of social communities could go to a whole new level through the metaverse. It's still detached from the real world, but it's as close as you can get to meeting new people who have similar interests and fandom as you. Virtual fan experiences is the future of sports.