FaZe Clan Has the Green Light to Go Public, Team Liquid and Fortnite Collaborate, and More!
EWD: News for Weeks of 6/20/22-6/26/22
Topics: Partnerships, RLCS, Fortnite, FaZe Clan, Hulu, Team Liquid
Envy/OpTic Gaming x Jack Link's
Meat snacks company Jack Link’s has extended and expanded its partnership with Envy Gaming. As part of the deal, the extension will include its OpTic Gaming rosters to align with the Envy and OpTic joint-operations merger roughly 9 months ago. Jack Link’s will remain the Official Protein Snack of Dallas Fuel and Envy Gaming teams.
The company first partnered with Envy Gaming back in 2019, and is now extending and expanding the partnership following the end of the previous agreement. The well-known North American protein snack brand will be integrated into OpTic’s teams (Valorant and Call of Duty League's OpTic Texas) and content creators, as well as gain a prime jersey position on OpTic jerseys. For all other teams, Jack Link’s branding will feature on the sleeves. OpTic and Envy Gaming's Content creators, such as Optic’s founder and CEO Hector ‘Hecz’ Rodriguez, will appear in co-branded Jack Link’s content in the future.
Shay Butler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Envy Gaming, said:
Jack Link’s balance of irreverent brand fun and quality snacks has been a perfect fit the last three years. We’re excited to continue to grow and connect our community with Jack Link’s in new ways as we expand the relationship to include the OpTic brand, live events, and more.
Jack Link's, as Shay alluded to it, is a perfect fit for esports organization to partner with. Snacks are an essential part to the gaming experience, and entities such as OpTic and Envy Gaming have huge audiences to reach to. Jack Link's also has a portfolio of other esports organizations partnering with them currently, such as Fnatic and CDL franchise Toronto Ultra (of OverActive media).
Team Liquid x Fortnite
Team Liquid announced a partnership with Epic Games‘ Fortnite that will see both entities create artwork and apparel together. According to Esports Insider, Team Liquid players are also designing a part of the collection. The collaboration will also include a custom Creative Mode map and Twitch assets designed jointly by Liquid and Epic Games.
Team liquid isn't unfamiliar with working on apparel and merchandise with a notable brand. In 2o21, Team Liquid most notably partnered with anime series Naruto Shippuden. FaZe Clan is another organization that did apparel with Naruto recently. However, this is the first time ever that Team Liquid worked with Epic Games on any sort of partnership
Mike Milanov, CBDO of Team Liquid, said via a LinkedIn post:
As the innovation leader in collaborations we are the first org to explore Apparel with one of the biggest games in the world - Liquid x Fortnite is here!
Merchandise collaborations and exclusive drops are becoming commonplace and important vertical for revenue generation across a plethora of esports organizations. If teams haven't realized this yet, then execute it! I'm a chump for some limited releases and hyped up collaborations personally (esports-related or not), and I'm sure a majority of passionate fans love it too. Some may not see the alignment between premium and often pricey clothing with gamers, but the purchasing intent is certainly there.
Ninjas in Pyjamas x Razer
Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP) has expanded its partnership with gaming lifestyle and peripherals brand Razer in a 2-year deal. The expanded deal will see the NIP teams using Razer’s 'Enki' gaming chairs across all ongoing operations. The organization currently fields a roster in game titles CS:GO, VALORANT, FIFA, and Rainbow Six: Siege.
11 months has passed since they first partnered up, but now Razer is adding its signature gaming chairs to the list of products that NIP will showcase from its players. According to the NIP press release, the brand’s visual designs and narrative go hand in hand, and the implementation of peripherals and gaming desktops has been more than well-received by all NIP players.
Hicham Chahine, CEO at NIP said:
Ergonomics is a major part of our performance setup, allowing the NIP athletes and staff to maintain the right posture when competing, training, and working for long periods of time. Expanding our partnership with Razer and integrating them further into our setup was a natural decision to maximize player comfortability and performance.
Razer is absolutely killing the competition when it comes to its volume of partners. They have a combined 29 partnerships including both esports teams and players. Some could say that this amount is just too much and they're over-saturating the market, but Razer clearly has its brand strategy showcased right in front of us. They want to get as many eyes on the brand as possible, with top-level teams and players using their equipment as a nod of approval for corresponding fans to use their idols peripheral brand of choice.
Spacestation Gaming x Bucked Up
Spacestation Gaming has partnered with fitness supplement company Bucked Up to launch its own energy drink brand called 'Big Game Energy.' The new energy drink will be sold online and will also be available at Walmart throughout the United States. According to the orgs partners page, both both companies are based in Utah making it a synergistic fit to launch this new energy drink together.
Per Esports Insider, Colten Hudson will lead the project as Big Game Energy’s Head of Business Development & Partnership. According to Hudson, the partnership is a result of a previous interest by Spacestation to sign an energy drink sponsor. Meanwhile, Bucked Up was also interested in entering the esports market.
Bucked Up will integrate the new product into the company’s current operations, which sees the company responsible for logistical and production tasks like formulation, fulfilment and distribution. Spacestation Gaming will take control of marketing efforts, promoting the energy drink through content creation and brand activation across its channels.
Shawn Pellerin, CEO of Spacestation Gaming, said this on the launch:
We are excited to work with Bucked Up to launch our new brand of energy drink, focused around gamers and esports. We will continue to work with our teams, players and content creators to continue to develop the best energy drink product for gamers on the market.
This is a cool partnership and the geographical-fit between the two makes production and marketing efforts much more seamless. One thing to note is that this launch comes at an interesting time in the gaming supplement space as energy drink brand, G Fuel, announced a scaling back of operations. This is due to a controversy that surfaced in which a company executive used a racial slur in a meeting. After employees reported it to HR, at least 7 of them had their contract terminated. This creates an easier path for the new brand to break in and make a dent in that gaming supplement market share.
FaZe Clan is one step closer to going public
The SEC approved the merger between FaZe and B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp. (BRPM) after failing to complete the originally planned transaction in Q1 this year. This makes FaZe Clan another step closer to going public, and getting SEC approval is significant. In their own words, they stated this via Twitter and press release:
"B. Riley Principal 150 Merger Corp, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by an affiliate of B. Riley Financial, Inc, and Faze Clan Inc, today announced that the registration statement on Form S-4 with respect to the proposed business combination between BRPM and FaZe Clan was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
FaZe will be among the first content-creation and gaming-lifestyle based organizations to become a publicly-traded company. Fans and those interested in buying stock will be able to find it rather easily on the exchange, as it's quite literally their name: FAZE.
In regard to next step, shareholders of BRPM will attend a meeting on July 15. In that meeting, they will be “asked to consider and vote upon proposals to approve the Business Combination and related matters.” If at least 36% of shares join the SPAC’s sponsor and vote in favor of the merger, the company expects to close the deal shortly after the meeting, as it must be completed by July 25.
According to Sports Business Journals Tobias Seck, FaZe and BRPM must satisfy all closing conditions for the merger to be realized, such as retaining enough funds in BRPM’s trust account after its shareholders get the option to withdraw their investment during the special meeting.
Pittsburgh Pirates-Knights Host Gaming Knight
Zenni, professional esports organization Pittsburgh Knights, and MLB's own Pittsburgh Pirates sponsored ‘Gaming Knight at PNC Park,’ The event took place on June 23rd and featured an in-person tournament for high school students, along with special ticket packages for gamers and other esports-oriented activities at the stadium on Federal Street prior to the game.
The Rocket League tournament is organized by the Knights which is Pittsburgh’s professional esports and gaming team. It took place in the stadium’s Left Field Lounge and started at 4:30 pm EST ahead of that evening’s game between the Pirates and Miami Marlins. Students interested in participating in the tournament and watching the Pirates game registered for the tournament online at: pirates.com/gamingknight.
For a $25 registration fee, it included two tickets to the baseball game and one entry into the tournament. Spectators and those interested in participating in Rocket League ‘free play’ once the tournament is over could purchase a ticket for $19.00. Co-branded Pirates and Knights baseball caps were also available for purchase.
The stadium’s Left Field Lounge is one of the stadium’s larger venues which offers views of both the playing field and the city of Pittsburgh. When the tournament is complete and the winners are determined, it will be announced on the Pirates scoreboard between innings of the game. Following the completion of the tournament, the Left Field Lounge will be open for Rocket League ‘free play’ from 7:00 to 9:00 pm EST, for those purchasing tickets with access to the area.
Members of the Knights professional Rocket League team, along with several Knights influencers, were in attendance during the evening. Landon “McLando” Mellor, the head coach of the Knights professional Rocket League team, will attend the tournament at PNC Park. “In all my time coaching esports, this marks the first time I can ever remember a gaming tournament taking place during a major league baseball game."
Stephen Perkins, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Fan Engagement said this on the experience:
We’re excited to join together with another one of Pittsburgh’s professional teams, the Knights, along with their partners at Zenni to host our inaugural Gaming Knight. This will give local gamers a unique first-time major league experience at PNC Park with the Pirates, and provides us with an introduction to the world of esports and gaming.
I wasn't able to see any posts about the experience on social media after the event took place, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity and one of the many perks of having a city attached to an esports organization. I don't know how many participated or spectated, but the price point doesn't seem to bad and would certainly generate some good revenue for the team. Zenni is pretty involved in the gaming space, with a portfolio of partners including the Knights, Boston Breach (w/Red Sox), and the Call of Duty League (CDL).
Fortnite's New 'Solar Opposites FaZe Elite Cup'
FaZe Clan has partnered with Hulu’s animated TV show Solar Opposites to host a $50,000 Fortnite tournament in early July 2022. Called the 'Solar Opposites FaZe Elite Cup,' the $50,000 (~£40,600) tournament will gather amateur and professional Fortnite players from North America.
The tournament will have an open qualifier for players from the North American region. The best-qualified players will get the chance to participate in the grand finals. There will be both solo and duo tournaments taking place, with $10,000 (~£8,400) and $40,000 (~£32,500) prize pools. Throughout the tournament,
FaZe Clan will also host a number of activations and giveaways for viewers. No details as to how FaZe Clan will activate. FaZe Clan also partnered with Practice Server, a tournament production company, for this event. The 'Solar Opposites FaZe Elite Cup' will be streamed through the Practice Server Twitch channel, as well as FaZe Clan channels.
Very unique partnership in this space that's never been seen before. Using esports, specifically in a tournament format for a way to promote the new Solar Opposites season in July is a niche way to generate awareness for it. On top of that, they decided to work with FaZe Clan to launch the tournament which I feel like they didn't need to do. At the same time, I can understand their thought process of attaching a notable name like that to generate even more buzz around the cup.
Psyonix-RLCS Adds In-Game Goal Explosions for RLCS Teams in Esports Shop
Rocket League developer Psyonix added an esports team-themed in-game goal explosions item this past week. With the RLCS Spring Major just around the corner, fans can now show off their fandom on the pitch with the final Esports Shop update of the RLCS 2021-22 Season in the form of a goal explosion animation. This animation occurs after someone scores a goal, and the animation will look something like this for each individual team:
19 teams across 4 regions (Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America) in the RLCS are getting these in-game celebrations added to the Esports Shop: Dignitas, Endpoint, Evil Geniuses, Karmine Corp, Misfits Gaming, SMPR Esports, Team BDS, Team Vitality, Complexity, Envy, FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Ghost Gaming, NRG, Spacestation Gaming, Version1, Ground Zero Gaming, Renegades, and FURIA.
The RLCS Spring Major is the final Major of the RLCS 2021-22 season before the Rocket League World Championship, taking place from June 29 - July 3. Spectators will be in-person for the final two days of the event at the Copper Box Arena in London, England! Fans from home can tune in on Twitch or YouTube for all the Spring Major action.
One may ask, what's the significance of this story? Well, I got an answer for you. Psyonix introduced this Esports Shop on Rocket League back in mid 2019, Not only does Psyonix get revenue for these in-game esports-themed cosmetics, the corresponding esports teams do too. This is a part of a whole revenue-generating system in the RLCS, and they're on year 3 now. With a cut of the proceeds going directly to teams, this creates another pillar and incentive for esports orgs to enter into the Rocket League scene. Although I don't know the revenue-share splits between organization and developer, I believe these organizations are getting a good chunk of change from this in-game store considering the passionate esports audience that Rocket League has. This is an amazing system put in by Psyonix, and something that every esports league should have. Some leagues have something like this, but some don't have a revenue-generating system like this at all.