EWD: News for Week of 3/21/22-3/27/22
Updated: Apr 25
Topics: Partnerships, Riot Games, Collegiate Fortnite, Cloakzy, G2 Esports
Riot Games x Coca Cola
Wild Rift Esports, the first mobile esport from Riot Games, announced an unconventional, multi-year partnership with Coca-Cola. As part of the agreement, League of Legends: Wild Rift and Wild Rift Esports will give Coca-Cola the opportunity to establish connections with players and fans in meaningful ways.
Coca-Cola, now a worldwide founding partner, will create unique fan experiences for both League of Legends: Wild Rift and Wild Rift Esports. The brand will generate value for the community by giving custom rewards, a weekly content series with Wild Rift, and other experiences to uplift and entertain the games' community. Coca-Cola already executed on a video announcement that showed professional teams playing Wild Rift, fans cheering them on, and of course doing all of this while drinking Coke.
Wild Rift Esports launched its first official competitive season this year. Teams globally will compete in regional tournaments (8 regions total) to qualify for Wild Rift’s first international tournament, the Wild Rift Icons Global Championship. The finale will take place this summer and the date hasn't been announced.
Brad Ross, Global Vice President, Assets, Influencers & Partnerships, The Coca-Cola Company said:
We know that mobile gaming is a critical part of the future of gaming and we are excited to be working with the leader at the intersection of sports and entertainment, Riot Games. Coca-Cola was an early partner with League of Legends Esports and we know firsthand the power of gaming to unite people from all over the world in competition and fandom. Coca-Cola serves as an ally to gamers - uplifting and refreshing both players and fans.
Bringing on a founding partner such as Coca-Cola is really impressive from Wild Rift Esports. This isn't the first time Coca-Cola partnered with Riot Games to bring unique experiences and opportunities to fans either. Leo Faria said that from 2014 to 2016 "Coca-Cola helped launch what is now the biggest esports on the planet, League of Legends Esports."
PSG Esports x Team New Age (TNA)
Paris Saint-Germain Esports, the esports arm of the French football club Paris Saint-Germain, teamed up with TNA to create new Fortnite team called PSG.TNA. The new Fortnite team will compete on the North American East Server consisting of six Fortnite athletes from the Americas and Oceania: @MeroFN, @SlickTV_, @TheOliverOG, @MuzFN, @cam1x and @SpeedyND. The team will be based at a dedicated gaming house in Washington D.C.
Through partnerships with existing esports teams, PSG Esports has entered into several esports titles, including League of Legends, DOTA 2, Arena of Valor, and FIFA.
Paris Saint-Germain Brand Director Fabien Allègre said:
Five years on from its creation, PSG Esports has taken another step forward. This is our first move on American soil and into the world’s most popular game. TNA has already won the Champions Series five times. We’re joining up with a battle-hardened team and our goal is to work together and go even higher.
It's great to see existing properties in traditional sports have a lot of success in esports. They're aware of the reach and potential their properties could gain by expanding their portfolio of teams into esports. PSG, through partnering with Team New Age, they now have a really good roster of players with a championship pedigree. Fortnite will never go away as an esport due to its still extremely high player-base over its 5-year existence. According to the PSG press release, the game is played by 350 million people worldwide. This is just an all-around win for PSG and their esports ventures.
Epic Games x CCA, eFuse
Epic Games' Fortnite partnered with College Carball Association (CCA) and eFuse to create the Fortnite Collegiate Cup. This gives eligible college students in North America an opportunity to compete in this newly announced Collegiate Cup, earn in-game rewards, and get some cash prizes.
In regard to The Fortnite Collegiate Cup, the tournament is a Solo competition with two Qualifiers, a Semi Finals, and a Finals. It will consist of two regions: North American East and North American West. Within the 2 regions, college students will have two opportunities to qualify for a spot in the Fortnite Collegiate Cup Semi-Finals. You’ll have 3 hours to play a maximum of 10 games and earn as many points as you can to make the top 200 to advance onward. The top 300 players from the Semi-Finals will move on to the Fortnite Collegiate Cup Finals, where they will be split up across 3 Divisions based on their prior performance. Each Division will have its own unique prizing and Divisional champion. Here's the top 3 prizes from Division 1 in each region:
NA EAST NA WEST
Rank Prize Rank Prize 1st $1,100 1st $1,000 2nd $1,000 2nd $800 3rd $900 3rd $700
This is a huge step from Fortnite to provide a collegiate esports offering in partnership with CCA and eFuse. We're seeing more and more esports titles get involved, and this is yet another one to enter the fold. eFuse, from my understanding, has provided collegiate esports opportunities with Call of Duty's College Cod League (CCL) as well as Rocket League's College Rocket League (CRL). The College Carball Association works with the CRL as well.
Houston Outlaws x Kovaak's
Beasley Esports, the parent company of OWL franchise Houston Outlaws, partnered with the FPS aim training platform KovaaK’s. As part of the deal, KovaaK's gets the Houston Outlaws’ official training platform designation for the 2022 season. They will also be hosting multiple aiming events throughout the season.
One of these aiming event is called the "Dead Eye Showdown", which will allow fans to compete against Houston Outlaws players. Another experiential concept KovaaK's will be doing is called the "Line of Site," which spotlights match highlights on Houston Outlaws’s social media.
For those who don't know, KovaaK’s 2.0 is an FPS aim software that offers a variety of FPS training tools such as its FPS Aim Trainer, Sensitivity Matcher, and Mouse Acceleration programs. It's not only advertised on Steam to make players "become the human aimbot," but it also emphasizes their skill ladder and leaderboard, weekly competitions, and customizable features (creating maps, customize audio, guns, etc.).
We're continuing to see aim trainer platforms partner with esports organizations and leagues. This is the 1st time I've seen KovaaK's partner with a big-name organization such as the Houston Outlaws. Aim trainers have fulfilled a whole new sponsorship category for leagues, teams, and players to partner with as it is an endemic part of esports nowadays.
G2 Esports sues NFT Platform Bondly
G2 Esports has filed a lawsuit with former NFT partner Bondly alleging they misled the organization. Blockchain technology company Bondly partnered with G2 back in June last year to create several NFT drops for the esports brand. According to their former 2-year exclusive partnership arrangement, the contracts states that G2 granted Bondly access to its intellectual property (images, video and audio relating to the company) and planned to promote the company as an “Official Partner of G2 Esports."
According to G2 and their filing in the LA County Superior Court, they accused Bondly of misleading leadership about its capabilities and failed to meet deadlines for deliverables — including payments to G2 — resulting in damages of over $5,250,000.
G2 also alleged that shortly after the first rights fee invoice was sent, a representative for Bondly wrote to G2 that the company was “past the point of being able to successfully deliver an NFT program.” In subsequent talks, G2 alleged the two parties could not come to an agreement over who was in charge of responsibilities outlined in the contract, and that Bondly sought to pause the agreement; G2 rejected this. According to some of G2's filings provided by Washington Post, it reads:
Bondly and its agents knew that their representations were false when they made them, or made the representations recklessly and without regard to their truth, They knew they could not perform, but cunningly waited until G2 had publicly announced its partnership with Bondly to its millions of fans to reap the benefits of publicity through the highly valuable G2 brand.”
This appears to be a complete mess between 2 parties that needs to be settled in court. In my opinion, it looks like Bondly had promises set out in the contract agreement that they couldn't execute on and ultimately wanted the contract mutually terminated. G2 should deservedly fight this in court if they did not receive payments from them after publicly announcing the partnership.
NFT's involvement in esports so far has been taken very negative by the gaming community and this situation does not help at all. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on this unique situation as more details come out.
Cloakzy Joins Complexity as Co-Owner
Dennis “Cloakzy” Lepore, a former Fortnite pro and current content creator, joined Complexity as a content creator and part owner. Lepore will now host events, produce branded content, create limited-edition merchandise and collaborate on experiences with Complexity athletes and streamers. According to Complexity's press release, the addition of Cloakzy strengthens the teams portfolio of talent and expands the organization’s fandom to new audiences.
The release states that with the addition of Cloakzy, Complexity’s portfolio of talent reaches over 60 million followers across social channels. The addition of Cloakzy followed Complexity’s addition of YouTube star Tim “TimTheTatman” Betar and Warzone’s Baka bros content team in 2021. Cloakzy’s will make his in-person debut as an official Complexity creator at TimTheTatman’s Tailgate, taking place July 16-17 at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Dennis said in a news release:
Joining Complexity and GameSquare unlocks new opportunities for me to push the limits of what’s possible in content creation and build a deeper connection to my audience. I’m looking forward to working with TimTheTatman and Complexity’s diverse roster of talent in an environment that encourages creativity and supports professional development.”
This is a great move by Complexity to add Cloakzy to their portfolio of content creators. He's an extremely popular creator with 1 million+ followers on all social channels. He's also great friends with Tim, so making authentic team-based content should be seamless. Dennis joins a plethora of big-name creators who have become minority/co-owners of their respective esport organizations while also being a content creator.
AndBox Rebranded to NYXL
Andbox officially rebranded to NYXL as the company looks to develop the New York City gaming community with a high 7-figure investment. NYXL will serve as the umbrella brand for the company’s various esports teams, including the N.Y. Subliners (NYSL) of the Call of Duty League, the N.Y. Excelsior (NYXL) of the Overwatch League, and the Andbox Valorant team, which will now go by N.Y. Fury (NYFU).
NYXL also plans to build a portfolio of content creators around the NYXL brand. Leading their efforts to build a premium brand in gaming and esports is recently hired Chief Content Officer Mitchell Smith. He said to SBJ, "Traditionally, [Andbox has been] a house of brands. What I've been brought on to spearhead is turning them into a branded house." What he means by this is creating a cohesive brand strategy and establishing a N.Y. presence in gaming as an umbrella brand is NYXL's focus going forward.
NYXL will also establish an HQ in Manhattan dubbed XLHQ, and a $500,000 young creator fund as part of their 7-figure investment. The company intends to be strategic in signing content creators that amplify the brand and N.Y. voice in gaming and esports. NYXL is the latest in a series of esports companies looking push deeper into the broader entertainment industry.
Mitchell Smith is one of many esports organizations to generate other verticals to their business entities. This may seem obvious when it comes to becoming multi-dimensional and having multiple revenue drivers, but it wasn't until recently that organizations really repositioned themselves. For example, FaZe Clan over the years transformed from a "trickshot" team in Call of Duty to an entity that's gone public and has pushed the industry forward as they coincide gaming, traditional sports, and lifestyle culture. 100 Thieves has positioned itself as a lifestyle brand as well with their own premium clothing line and partnering with Gucci to create a backpack. Smith believes that NYXL's rebrand will take the organization to another level within entertainment and N.Y.C culture.
Motorsport Games partners with Romain Grosjean
Current INDYCAR star and former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean has joined Motorsport Games as a technical advisor on its racing games and esports events. Grosjean will bring his racing experience — both real-life and sim — to help develop the company’s industry-leading rFactor 2 racing simulation.
Motorsport Games is a leading racing game developer, publisher, and esports ecosystem provider of official motorsport racing series throughout the world. They're partnered with NASCAR, INDYCAR, and 24 Hours of Le Mans to name a few.
Throughout the year, Grosjean will participate in four technical test sessions for rFactor 2. He will provide feedback and recommendations to implement to further enhance the platform. He will also provide advise on Motorsport Games’ catalog of esports events, such as the Le Mans Virtual Series and the brand new INDYCAR-Motorsport Games Pro Challenge.
Romain Grosjean said this about working with Motorsport Games:
The link between real-life racing and sim racing continues to get closer and it has become an increasingly important tool for companies, teams and championships throughout motorsport....The company has shown through its esports events such as the Le Mans Virtual Series and the recent INDYCAR-Motorsport Games Pro Challenge that it is perfectly placed to provide top esports through its products and events.
Motorsport Games benefits tremendously by having a veteran motorsport athlete who has competed in both Formula One and INDYCAR. He'll be able to provide necessary feedback on its sim racing games and esports events as it positions itself as the go-to company for the motorsports gaming events, game development, and everything in-between. It's only other competitor in this part of the esports/gaming industry currently is the Formula One Esports Series.