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  • Matt Kimball

OTK Gains Access to Esports Arena for Mixed-Reality Content, NEW BMW x Fnatic Facility, and More!

Updated: Jun 13

EWD: News for Weeks of 6/6/22-6/12/22

Topics: Partnerships, OTK, Fnatic, BMW, Vegas, NFTs


Partnerships


Fnatic x BMW


London-based esports organization Fnatic, in partnership with BMW, unveiled a brand new Esports Performance Facility based in Berlin, Germany called the "BMW x Fnatic Esports Performance Facility." According to Fnatic's announcement, the facility will feature an array of solutions designed to cater to the needs of esports professionals competing at the highest level.


The training centre includes ultra-fast broadband with top range internal networking systems. The facility has a range of high-spec features including; an in-house gym, fully serviced kitchen, changing rooms, a relaxation and recreation area, two gaming performance rooms, a content studio, a match review room, changing rooms, BMW sim racing rig and dedicated office space.


The facility will be used by the Fnatic League of Legends team as they compete in the upcoming League of Legends European Championship (LEC) Summer Season. In the video, LoL Team Director Javier Zafra explained that the facility wasn't just built for the LEC team. For example, they will have opportunities for the Fnatic TQ academy team practice against the starting roster.


Lastly, the facility supports Fnatic’s wider esports performance strategy, which is based on 8 different performance pillars. These include health, research, technology and software, in-game performance, processes and operations, youth structure, infrastructure and education. The ambition of the unit is to consistently improve the Fnatic players by making marginal performance gains and improving in-game results. Pia Schörner, BMW Group Head of Gaming and Sponsoring, said this on the collaboration:

It will cover all aspects needed for a team to be able to compete at the highest level of Esports. The broad approach, ranging from players’ physical and mental health over content creation to in-game performance, is reflecting the philosophy of BMW when it comes to Esports. In addition, the facility provides the perfect stage to showcase BMW Group innovations that we will provide to support Fnatic and their players to further increase their performance.

Kimball's Take:

  • Fnatic is very performance and mission-driven in how they designed this new facility. They went above and beyond just having a facility for their LoL team to compete with good online connection. They really catered to the needs of their players to play at the highest level, which is something that not every esports team executes on properly. As they said in their unveiling announcement, they're setting a new standard for European esports training centers.


OTK x WePlay Esports


Gaming influencer network OTK partnered with esports media group WePlay Esports to utilize WePlay's facilities for new content. This strategic partnership allows OTK to have newfound access to WePlay's state-of-the-art production facilities such as the WePlay Esports Arena. The LA-based arena is designed specifically to integrate augmented-reality media and reach a worldwide digital audience.


The WePlay Esports Arena is 20,000 square feet and has a physical audience capacity of over 100. For OTK, this gives them a 2nd physical home designed to elevate OTK's content offerings beyond the standard Twitch.tv streaming window. According to the press release, OTK's gaming and lifestyle content will now feature virtual and augmented-reality technology to complement live audience and mixed-media streaming content.


Not only do they now have the content capabilities for augmented and virtual reality, they also have a dedicated space to host competitive events. OTK streamer and professional esports host Rich Campbell said:

We are excited to open the doors of our new home to the OTK community, with plans in store to utilize the space for esports events, live shows, and mixed-reality content.

Maksym Bilonogov, chief visionary officer and general producer at WePlay Esports, said:

We've been working for quite some time before finally launching our WePlay Esports Arena L.A. and are happy it happened with our OTK partners. Hopefully, the stream of June 7, 2022, was just the beginning of a series of our joint initiatives held in and out of our American arena.

Kimball's Take:

  • OTK is up there with some of the largest gaming organizations and content teams when it comes to creating viral content that reaches a huge audience. This is huge partnership for both parties involved. Just this week, they had their 1st annual "OTK Games Expo" at the facility, created by OTK and owner and streamer Asmongold. The stream was broadcasted on June 8th and it premiered 30 different games across a dozen different genres. They also put up $50,000 of developmental prizes towards the games the fans liked the most. In nearly 5 hours of airtime, the stream on Asmongold's channel (and co-streams) had roughly 310,000 peak viewership and averaged 271,539 viewers throughout the event (Esports Charts). If you want to take a look at some highlights of this expo, check their twitter account HERE.


Wolves Esports x AstroPay


Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club has partnered with payment solutions firm AstroPay along with the club’s European esports teams. AstroPay began working with the Wolves in August 2021, and after a successful first season of partnership, AstroPay have committed to becoming the club’s principal partner for 2022-23.


AstroPay branding will be featured on the front of all Wolves shirts next season, including the men’s and women’s first-teams, and under-23s, as well as the full range of replica kits across all ages. Furthermore, the new deal will also see AstroPay's logo placed on the club’s European esports teams' jersey's. According to the Wolves press release, Esports is a key area of growth for both AstroPay and the club, and this alignment was an important factor for both parties when agreeing this unique deal.


Mikael Lijtenstein, AstroPay CEO, said:

We have built a great relationship with the club over the year and are pleased to be very much part of the Wolves family, one of the most successful clubs in domestic English history with 13 major trophy wins.

Kimball's Take:

  • Despite being primarily a football club, Wolves entered the esports industry in 2018. Since then, Wolves Esports has created rosters in FIFA, Rocket League, and sim-racing, Additionally, Wolves is partnered with Evil Geniuses and a minority investor with the organization. They've even collaborated with Epic Games' Fortnite to create a Wolves Outfit available for Fortnite players to purchase.


Nerd Street Adds 4 New Partners


Nerd Street, a network of esports facilities and events, announced 3 new strategic partners with BenQ MOBIUZ, Digital Ocean, and Metafy. These new partners will promote and support several Nerd Street Champs competitive esports circuits. Additionally, CS.MONEY will be sponsoring the FTX US presents Fragadelphia event. Lets go through each partner one-by-one:

  1. BenQ will promote its MOBIUZ product in support of all upcoming Nerd Street Champs Apex Legends tournaments. The event kicks off with five online qualifiers, four in-person LAN tournaments, and wraps up with a Final Tournament on August 25th in Philadelphia with a prize pot of $10,000.

  2. Digital Ocean, a cloud infrastructure provider, will sponsor all VALORANT tournaments in the Nerd Street Champs circuit.

  3. Metafy, which provides one-on-one coaching sessions with players in gaming, will also sponsor all VALORANT tournaments in the Nerd Street Champs circuit.

  4. CS.MONEY, a platform to buy, sell, and trade CS:GO skins, will join the presenting sponsor, FTX US, in sponsoring CS:GO tournament called Fragadelphia. This tournament is taking place now through August, welcoming amateur to professional CS:GO players to compete in-person every month for a chance to win $100,000.

Stephen Csikos Head of Programming at Nerd Street, said:

Through these new partnerships, we will be able to grow our Nerd Street Champs and Fragadelphia circuits while expanding our reach to new gamers who want to compete at the highest level. Additionally, gamers will know the spectacular services and products of BenQ Mobiuz, DigitalOcean, Metafy, and CS.MONEY through inclusion in our tournament events and broadcasts.


Other News


Saudi Esports Federation Launches $15m Festival


The Saudi Esports Federation launched the Gamers8 Festival, an eight week event taking place in Riyadh this summer with a $15M prize pool. The festival goes from July 14th to September 8th and the $15M prize pool will be split over six international esports events. According to the festival's website, Gamers8 will be the ultimate destination for gamers, Esports enthusiasts, and families of all ages, offering competitive tournaments, entertainment, activities/attractions, incredible music concerts and shows, and more. The event will be held in a purpose-built arena located at Boulevard Riyadh City, a major tourist attraction for the Saudi Arabian capital.

The events focus will go beyond just gaming and esports ass it will include a two day summit for industry professionals, concerts from international artists, as well as comedy and magic shows. They also say there will be "futuristic experiences that bring the virtual world of gaming out into the physical realm." In all, they claim there will be more than 1,000 activities and attractions.


Esports titles for the event have not been confirmed. Participating teams have not yet been confirmed either. However, the event’s announcement video features players from Team Falcons, YaLLa Esports and Nigma Galaxy. All of these teams are located in the Middle East.

Kimball's Take:

  • Saudi Arabia and multiple investment groups have been more and more involved in both the traditional sports (i.e. LIV Golf) and esports (i.e. ESL merger) space recently. No one knows where these investment dollars are coming from, nor do these sports leagues probably care, but it's clear that this is the latest move the Saudi government is taking towards 'sportswashing' or 'esportswashing.' In essence, I believe this is yet another move from Saudi Arabia to deflect away from their country's awful human rights record by throwing money towards popular sports entities/events. Nonetheless, the Gamers8 festival looks to be a good opportunity for the Saudi government to highlight the synergy between its investments, both in esports and in tourism.


Paris CDL/OWL Franchises Relocate to Las Vegas


Call of Duty League and Overwatch League franchises Paris Legion and Paris Eternal are going to relocate to Las Vegas ahead of their 2023 seasons. The two Activision Blizzard franchise teams are owned by Drew McCourt’s DM Esports, who recently filed trademarks for “Vegas Legion” and “Vegas Eternal” branding.

The 2 relocation announcements comes amid rocky starts to the 2022 season for both Parisian squads. In the Overwatch League, the Eternal just failed to qualify for the 2022 OWL Kickoff Clash playoffs after finishing 0–6 in qualifiers, while the Legion⁠ are in last place in the CDL.


According to Dot Esports, The Eternal has fared a little better since it arrived in 2019. The Eternal were in 14th place in their opening regular season and missed the playoffs. In 2020, they were in 4th place, but their postseason run that year ended in a 7th-8th finish via a 0–3 sweep from the Washington Justice. The team reshuffled through 2021 but slipped back to 12th to end their third year.


For both leagues, this leaves only 1 European team left. In the CDL, there's 10 teams in the US, 1 in Canada, and 1 in London. In the OWL, the London Spitfire are the sole European team alongside 14 franchises from North America and five from China, Korea, and Hong Kong.

Kimball's Take:

  • I don't follow the OWL nearly as much as the CDL, but the Paris Legion are the definition of a laughing stock in the league. Every season so far the Legion's roster-building strategy has been to wait until every team acquires their players, and then proceeds to acquire the best leftover talent available. On top of that, they only give the minimum contract out to prospective players. We've seen some free agents contemplate whether they should sign onto the Paris pro roster or just compete in the amateur circuit (called Call of Duty Challengers) and build their stock up to join another pro team.

  • This season, the Legion have a 2-16 series record and a big reason for this horrid record is because they have to play online qualifiers at their own homes rather than at a team facility. Having a good connection/ping is really important, especially in COD, to be able to compete at the professional level. The Legion ownership this year decided not to provide them with a team facility. With the 4-man roster playing around the country, one player in "Jimbo" has been competing occasionally at 100+ ping during pro matches. In conclusion, Legion ownership are providing the bare minimum for the CDL roster to compete at the highest level. Not sure if this is the same case for the OWL franchise.


Chipotle Removed Ads from Twitch Slots Category


Chipotle removed its advertisements from the “slots” and “poker” categories on Twitch. This comes after Erin Jordan, a creator of an online change.org petition, urged advertisers to use their leverage to end casino gambling content from Twitch's live-streaming platform. Erin Wolford, Senior director of external communications at Chipotle said in an email chain to Jordan this news.


The petition made by Erin Jordan outlined a long list of companies who advertise on Twitch and explained the ongoing problem of Twitch allowing streamers to broadcast unregulated online casinos to a very large and younger age demographic. This has been a debated topic on social media as of recently. With big-name streamers such as Trainwreckstv, xQc and Roshtein gambling on unregulated crypto casinos the tune of millions of dollars in front of anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 live viewers, this is becoming a huge problem. Some of these streamers are even given sponsorship deals with these gambling sites. For example, Trainwreckstv said he's making "much more" than $1 million a month off his deal with Stake.


She also mentioned that These unregulated crypto casinos allow minors to sign up with no requirement for ID verification. On Twitch, 21% of users are between 13 and 17-years-old and 41% of Twitch users are between the ages of 16-24. This puts young viewers at risk of being influenced heavily by these streamers promoting and betting on these sites.

Kimball's Take:

  • This is pretty big step as it certainly puts other advertisers and especially Twitch on notice. Up to this point, Twitch has done little to acknowledge the concerns associated with streaming casino content on the platform. According to Twitch Tracker, Slots is the 9th most popular category on Twitch, with a little less than 10M hours watched in the last week. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see more brands like Chipotle pull their advertisements from the "slots" and "poker" categories, nor would it be surprising if Twitch does nothing to restrict these streams from happening.


Mastercard to Allow NFTs Purchases with Card


Mastercard announced they're working with NFT marketplace platforms such as Immutable X, Candy Digital, The Sandbox, Mintable, Spring, Nifty Gateway, and Web3 infrastructure provider MoonPay to allow people to use their Mastercard cards for NFT purchases. They headlined this announcement with "We believe the process of buying an NFT needs to be easier and safer."


Whether on one of the companies marketplaces they're working with above or using their crypto services, they believe that allowing people to use their Mastercard cards (with 2.9 billion Mastercard cards worldwide) could have a big impact on the NFT ecosystem. With no need to buy crypto first, this certainly should have a big impact.


All of these integrations from Mastercard are designed to make crypto more accessible and help the NFT ecosystem keep growing, innovating and bringing in more fans. According to a new Mastercard survey, more than 35,000 people in 40 countries found that 45% had purchased an NFT or would consider doing so, and roughly half sought more flexibility — being able to pay with crypto for everyday purchases or using a credit or debit card to buy an NFT.


Mastercard is also looking to reinforce customer safety, giving people similar protections to transactions in a store or online with a Mastercard card. They're using their cybersecurity tools to boost safety and protect user data for purchases people make using a Mastercard card.

Kimball's Take:

  • My biggest takeaway from this is the overall movement away from people saying cryptocurrency and NFTs synonymously. Although they're both new digital phenomenons and buzz words in the web3 space, the ability to soon be able to purchase NFTs with fiat currency and without ethereum or another digital currency is pretty significant in my opinion.

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