EWD: News for Week of 3/14/22-3/20/22
Updated: Apr 25
Topics: Partnerships, 100 Thieves, ESL, OWL, Betway, Streamer Awards
ESL Gaming x Monster Energy
Tournament organizer ESL Gaming expands their portfolio partnership with Monster Energy in a multi-year deal. Previously, Monster was a global partner for ESL Gaming which included 18 tournaments and the CS:GO Hub analytics platform. Now, Monster will be involved in ESL's mobile esports efforts.
On March 8th, ESL announced their new SnapDragon Pro Series. I covered this in last weeks article if you'd like to learn more. As part of this new sponsorship deal, Monster Energy will be sponsoring ESL's new mobile tournament series.
Monster Energy CMO, Dan McHugh, said:
Our partnership with DreamHack, and now ESL Gaming, makes this one of the longest and most successful partnerships within the esports and gaming industry. Just as we have grown many of our other major partnerships, so too will we continue to foster and grow top-tier esports tournaments, mobile esports, DreamHack festivals, and even retail partners.
Monster Energy has always been an integral fit and partner with ESL Gaming tournaments and broadcasts. Monster Energy, one of the most prominent energy drink brands, rightfully targets a gaming audience that ESL helps garner in their iconic events. Monster is getting ahead of the curve in adding ESL's mobile events to its partnership. I'm sure the SnapDragon Pro Series will be very successful in terms of cultivating a wide range of viewers globally, and Monster will be front and center as a long-time ESL partner.
100 Thieves x JBL Collaboration
Longtime partner JBL unveiled a limited edition 100 Thieves Headset with the companies signature geo-print design and branding last week. The design is on the JBL Quantum ONE headset, which is advertised to have “exceptional in-game sound and performance.” The 100 Thieves x JBL headset will be dropping exclusively on StockX via DropX for a $300 price point on March 24th at 1 PM EST.
The limited-edition drop was also celebrated with an exclusive event in Los Angeles, California. The event aimed to "visually bring to life the evolution of sound in gaming to demonstrate its relevance to culture today." The private party concluded with a performance from Billboard Top 50 artist, Gunna. Matt "Nadeshot" Haag, 100 Thieves founder and CEO, said:
Collaborating with JBL has been an incredible experience and highlights how game-changing quality sound can be. We strive to work with brands that share our commitment of embracing diversity at the intersection of gaming, culture, and lifestyle in a forward-thinking way.
This is a really smart move from JBL and 100 Thieves to do this limited edition drop. Not only is the design really cool, but only a limited number of headsets will be released on StockX's innovative direct-to-consumer product platform, DropX. This high demand and low quantity model has been wildly successful for other lifestyle brands, and 100 Thieves has done this for many of their clothing drops before.
In regard to the 100 Thieves and JBL partnership since 2020, the fit between them is nothing short of perfect. Both entities push the boundaries when it comes to going outside their comfort zone and reaching beyond their brands target demographics. Together, they leverage their brands to further mingle gaming and lifestyle culture together. 100 Thieves was JBL's first gaming partner and now they have solidified themselves as a very popular gaming headset provider.
Oddin.gg x Betway
Esports odds feed and risk management provider Oddin.gg announced a strategic partnership with online betting platform Betway. As part of a multi-year deal, Oddin.gg will provide its odds feed and help facilitate Betway’s expansion into esports betting. Oddin's machine learning algorithms and data science will also be leveraged in this deal to provide B2B services.
Recently, Odin’s application was accepted by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for a gaming license. Marek Sucher, managing director of Oddin.gg, Added:
While many bookmakers still put together business cases to justify the betting potential of esports, Betway was the first global operator to see the undeniable trend and potential of esports from the outset. Betway is by far the most recognizable fully regulated brand within esports betting. I could not be more thrilled that we will be co-authoring the next chapter of Betway Esports, which focuses on an enhanced esports betting experience and user engagement.
This is a very under-the-radar deal that'll be very worthwhile in the long-run for the growth of esports betting in my opinion. Betway is already a partner with CS:GO esports series BLAST Premier. Also, Betway's online bookmaker has made its way to the US and is legal in 5 states so far. Oddin.gg appears to use data and risk management as a big innovator in the esports betting technology space. Although betting isn't legal in my state yet, I'm still very excited to see the future growth of betting within esports as that'll bring in a huge crowd of new fans.
Knicks Gaming x Razer
Gaming peripherals and hardware company Razer has partnered with NBA 2K League franchise Knicks Gaming. They're deemed the official gaming chair partner of NBA 2K Knicks Gaming. As such, they'll provide the Knicks Gaming training facility with gaming chairs for both its players and staff.
Also, Razer will receive ‘significant brand inclusion’ across Knicks Gaming digital assets such as social media and their website. Razer gaming chairs will even be integrated into Knicks Gaming-branded original digital content. For example, they plan on doing a chair unboxing and assembly video tutorial.
Nothing too crazy about this partnership. In fact, it's probably as traditional as you can get for a gaming partnership. I will say that Razer has ramped up their gaming portfolio of sponsorship in the last couple weeks. They've partnered with Envy Gaming+OpTic, Guild Esports, and now an NBA 2K League franchise.
Russia-Ukraine: Esports Charitable Initiatives
Esports organizations/companies Epic Games, WePlay, Humble, and SK Gaming have launched charitable initiatives for those affected in Ukraine. I'll go into detail about every one individually:
Epic is committing all its Fortnite proceeds from March 20, 2022 through April 3, 2022 to humanitarian relief for people affected by the war in Ukraine. XBOX is joining them in this effort as they're committing their net proceeds for Fortnite during this time. The humanitarian relief organizations they're supporting are as follows: Direct Relief, UNICEF, UNWFP, UNHCR . Feel free to click on these links and donate if you so choose.
The Ukrainian tournament platform launched a series of online esports tournaments to support the Ukrainian army. Called Play for Ukraine, it will include online Dota 2 and League of Legends tournaments. All prize money earned by players during the events will be donated to organizations supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Humble, a digital storefront that sells bundles of games and content to benefit charity, launched a Stand With Ukraine bundle made up of over 120 games and additional content. They've teamed up with game creators, book publishers, and software makers around the world for a bundle 100% dedicated to supporting the victims and refugees from Ukraine during this crisis. 100% of the proceeds will go to Razom for Ukraine, International Rescue Committee, International Medical Corps, and Direct Relief.
Esports organization SK Gaming did a Ukraine charity relief stream that raised 3,000€ to aid those affected by the war in Ukraine. Content creators from SK Gaming helped get behind the project and was involved in the stream.
Overwatch League Kicks off May 6th
The Overwatch League (OWL) will start its 5th season at Tech Port Arena in San Antonio Texas. They will be showcasing the new Overwatch 2 game for the 1st time at an esports event. The Houston Outlaws, specifically Beasley Esports, will host what is billed as the "Battle of Texas." There will be fans in attendance as the Outlaws take on the Dallas Fuel.
Overwatch 2 is set to be released sometime in 2023, but Activision Blizzard said via a community update that the game is going to be divided into two parts, A player-versus-player closed beta released in late April (PC only), and a noncompetitive mode coming out at a later date. So, this event will really be a sneak peak of what's to come from the game.
Tech Port Arena is part of the 130,000-square-foot Tech Port Center/Arena property and can hold roughly 3,300 guests. Although the arena is in San Antonio, the league considers San Antonio as part of the Houston Outlaws territory. With Envy+OpTic and Complexity residing in Texas as well, the state is becoming THE home for esports. Lori Burgess, COO for Beasley Esports added (from Sports Business Journal):
Texas is one of few states that has several major esports organizations residing here, including Beasley Esports, Envy and Complexity, and is home to several tech companies such as Alienware, HP/Omen, Dell, Nvidia and GameStop. Texas also offers some of the best esports venues in the country with the new Tech Port Center and Esports Stadium Arlington that only complements the notion that sports is the No. 1 source of entertainment here. We are built for hosting esports fans from around the world, and this state loves to celebrate its rivalries.
I'm excited to watch this event and see if the community is a fan of OW2. I personally never played Overwatch, but the game was always fascinating to me. Lori made a good point, Texas is really starting to be the epicenter of esports in the US.
QTCinderella Launches streamer Awards
Streamer QTCindarella hosted the inaugural Streamer Awards in Los Angeles last Sunday. Viewership peaked at 381,000 as they gave awards out to the best streamers in their respective categories in 20201. QTCindarella and her co-host Maya Higa gave out a total of 27 awards that night.
Additionally, the broadcast had 900,000 unique viewers with 3.5 million total live views. This is the second top-50 broadcast by a woman, second only to U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The event also broke top 5 trending on Twitter, according to Mark Cai. Evolved talent agent Kelsey Remige told Sports Business Journal "This was an event put on by streamers for streamers." Twitch also had little to no involvement on the back-end for this awards show. Remige said "It wasn't a Twitch production; it was a QT production.”
Regardless, production for the show was great. The streamers were well-dressed, had red carpet interviews, and there was a teleprompter running the broadcast. It costs a total of $200,000 in production. QTCinderella also worked with Evolved to secure many brand partners for the event, many of which had naming rights to specific awards:
Aimlab (Best FPS Streamer)
Karat (Best Smash Bros. Streamer)
Coinbase (League of their Own, Streamer of the Year)
Paid content platform Fansly (Best ASMR Streamer, Best Just Chatting Streamer)
Website creation platform FourthWall (Rising Star Award)
VPN brand Surfshark (Best Strategy Game Streamer)
Livestreaming software brand Streamlabs (Gamer of the Year)
The Northman (Legacy Award)
Overall, the Streamer Awards was extremely successful. It was a win-win for the streamers, fans, and brands involved. The event smashed viewership expectations as all of these streamers' diehard fans watched the awards show to see their favorite streamer win. This is also the 1st time we've seen a strictly dedicated industry awards show for streamers only.
NBA 2k League 2022 Prize Pool Boost
The 5th season of the NBA 2K League sees the highest prize pool in history totalling $2,500,000. According to Kevin Hitt, the increase in prize money will go towards the "Banner Chain" Powered by AT&T, the "Coinbase NBA 2KL 3v3 Blacktop Series" tournaments, and the majority of prize money goes towards the 5v5 NBA2KL Finals championship team.
This year, amateur teams will be getting more involved with opportunities to win money. Amateur teams from all over the globe are being invited to play in 3v3 tournaments, starting with the Coinbase NBA 2KL 3v3 $150,000 Slam Open, which runs from March 23 – May 14. There will also be player bonuses this year for those who win awards this year. Here's the breakdown of everything:
Most Valuable Player — $15,000.
Defensive Player of the Year — $7,500.
Rookie of the Year — $7,500.
Coach of the Year — $5,000.
Most Improved Player — $5,000.
The Tipoff (April 5 to April 23) — $250,000 total prize pool.
The Turn (May 24 — June 11) — $250,000 total prize pool.
The Ticket (Aug. 12 — 13) — $50,000 total prize pool.
NBA 2K League Playoffs and Finals — $1,000,000 total prize pool.