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  • Writer's pictureMatt Kimball

The First Ever Gaming-Inspired WNBA Court, ATL FaZe Wins CDL Championships (EARNS $1.2M!), and More!

EWD: News for Week of 8/1/22-8/7/22

Topics: Partnerships, 100 Thieves, OpTic Gaming, EA Sports, NY Liberty


OpTic Gaming x Belong Gaming Arenas

Belong Gaming Arena has partnered with esports organization OpTic Gaming to celebrate ‘OpTic Day’ in six of Belong’s US-based arenas. OpTic Day, set to take place on August 14th, is a one-day event that celebrates the storied history of one of the most storied esports organizations. Belong Gaming Arenas will remodel its six United States stores into the ultimate clubhouses for OpTic Gaming bringing an immersive experience for fans.

The partnership will give the fans the opportunity to meet some of OpTic’s influencers, players and staff in major cities across the US. Along with meet and greets, the 6 Belong Gaming Arenas will host a Call of Duty: Warzone tournaments and offer access to exclusive merchandise drops to celebrate the collaboration between the two organizations.

Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, owner and founder of OpTic Gaming said:

OpTic Day is an opportunity to not only recognize our organization’s journey and success over the past two decades, but to celebrate and reward the passionate community that has supported us every step of the way. Our collaboration with Belong Gaming Arenas allows us to offer a unique and intimate experience for The GREENWALL and any future OpTic fans.

Here's the event details and Belong Gaming Arena location: Time 1-6 PM EST

  • Schaumburg, IL w/ H3CZ, MBoZe & Sebas

  • Grapevine, TX w/ surprise OpTic members

  • King of Prussia, PA

  • Franklin, TN

  • Columbus, OH

  • Pearland, TX

Kimball's Take:

  • OpTic and H3Cz has always marked "OpTic Day" on their August 14th calendar, but there was never a large-scale celebration around the country like this. For context, the Optic Gaming fanbase is very passionate and loyal, calling themselves the GREENWALL. This partnership is a great way to host a tournament and have fans celebrate one of the longest-standing organizations in already built out arenas around the country. H3Cz's relationship with Sundance DiGiovanni, who is the Co-founder of Vindex (which owns Belong Gaming Arena) and formerly was an integral figure for Major League Gaming surely helped make this partnership come to fruition.

Version1 x Bush's Beans

Bush’s Beans has announced a partnership with Minnesota-based organization Version1 and GENYOUth to host an invitational collegiate Rocket League Tournament during Hunger Action Month this September. GENYOUth is a national non-profit organization that works toward healthier school communities and battles youth food insecurity

Version1 will produce and host the Rocket League tournament via Twitch and is looking for top collegiate esports teams to enter and compete. While the Rocket League teams and players will compete online, all the action will be live-streamed in real-time with event hosts and casters. Leading up to and during the one-day tournament, the 3 parties will cultivate meaningful experiences to inform, engage and connect with audiences about student hunger issues. This includes a variety of unique content offerings featuring Version1's content creators and professional players.

According to Bush's Beans, this new partnership and upcoming tournament with Version1 and GENYOUth, Bush's Foodservice Team will look to raise awareness of the student hunger issue among Gen Z, a generation which is passionate about expressing themselves, global causes and doing well by doing good.

Brett Diamond, chief operating officer at Version1 commented on the partnership initiative:

Rocket League is a high-energy game that attracts all types of fans, but it's hard to find a more engaged audience in esports than students and college-age fans. We anticipate this tournament will help Bush's and GENYOUth realize a new, authentic way to engage with its Gen Z audiences.

Ann Marie Krautheim, registered dietitian and CEO of GENYOUth said:

We are proud to be a part of this purpose-driven partnership with Bush's and Version1 to engage the Gen Z and esports communities to end student hunger.

Kimball's Take:

  • When I first saw the headline of Bush's Beans and Version1 working together, I thought it was a pretty odd partnership to say the least. However, reading further and seeing all the details about it, this is a great initiative the 2 parties are doing alongside GENYOUth. Recognizing an often overlooked topic of food insecurities, especially surrounding the youth in schools, is truly a great thing. Hosting a Collegiate Rocket League tournament and including Version1 content creators within this initiative will not only reach its Gen Z target audience, but will also resonate with them.

EVO x Bud Light NEXT

Bud Light NEXT will sponsor the the International fighting game community (FGC) Evolution Championship Series (EVO). As part of this partnership, Bud Light NEXT will host a lounge for attendees to try samples of the zero-calorie carbon neutral beer.

According to Esports Insider, EVO is the largest and longest-running fighting game tournament in the world. Sponsorship of North America’s largest beer brand is another step towards pushing the FGC into the mainstream. AB InBev's Bud Light brand previously had partnerships with esports organizations Fnatic (in 2020) Team Liquid (in 2021). Bud Light Next also recently partnered with League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) in Houston, Texas a few months ago.

Kimball's Take:

  • It's clear that Bud Light is attempting to increase brand perception and appeal for its new Bud Light Next beer to a young male demographic who are both health-and-environmentally conscious. Although I'm not very familiar with the FGC very much, I always hear about how passionate the community is . Maybe that passion can carry over to one of its newest marquee sponsors.

Williams Racing x Resolve

UK-based F1 team Williams Racing has extended and expanded its partnership with UK esports organization Resolve. As a result of this new deal, will compete in Fortnite esports for the first time. The two parties first collaborated in July 2021, in which they fielded a competitive Rocket League team. Across the Fall and Winter splits of the 2021/22 season, the team secured top ten finishes. In addition, the team scored the highest viewing figures of a single European RLCS match, with over 125,000 viewers tuning into its match against Karmine Corp (per Esports Insider).

In May, Epic Games unveiled details on the FNCS Invitational 2022 Fortnite tournament, the first LAN event for the battle royale since 2019. Recently, in-game activations allow Fortnite players to watch RLCS events from within the game enabling both communities to interact.

Alongside Fortnite and Rocket League, Williams fields numerous sim racing rosters across a range of titles including iRacing, Gran Turismo and Assetto Corsa Competizione. Steven English, Director of Williams Esports, reflected on the Resolve partnership and new expansion:

We were enthused by our first steps in Rocket League this season. The response from taking Williams into a totally new arena was super positive, and we saw great potential for future success with the top 5 finish in our first Major. So now we’re encouraged to work with Resolve across Fortnite as well as Rocket League. Fortnite has continued to grow in recent years and engages a huge number of gamers, so it’s a natural step for us.

Other News

EA Sports Inks Sky Premier League Sponsorship

EA Sports has signed a three-year deal with Sky Sports, which will see the gaming firm sponsor the UK pay-TV network’s Premier League coverage. The deal will run until the end of the 2024/25 season. This news comes after EA decided to not extend its close to 30-year partnership naming rights contract with the FIFA global governing body. Following the release of most recent title FIFA 23, EA will instead use the moniker EA Sports FC on the IP.

This year, EA will be committed to promoting FIFA 23 across Sky Sports’ live coverage of the top-flight soccer tournament. From kickoff on Aug. 5, fans tuning in will be shown unique creative as part of their pre-and post-game viewing experience. The creative angle they're taking will attempt to draw parallels between real-life and game-play footage, which will be echoed across display and video campaigns on Sky Sports’ website as well as on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels.

EA Sports marketing director James Salmon said to Adweek:

The timing is perfect as we evolve as a brand and we’re excited to start this multiyear partnership, providing a unique opportunity to connect with Premier League fans through broadcast, social and interactive experiences.”

This multi-year deal means that EA Sports will be flexible on how it reach millions of soccer fans worldwide in the publishers post-FIFA game title era. Salmon said their priority is to engage with soccer fans and embedding the business into the fabric of Premier League Football. EA Sports will work with media agency mSix—which brokered the deal—and Sky to conduct brand research after this season that would offer up learnings for the years ahead.

Kimball's Take:

  • Smart move by EA Sports to work with the Sky Sports broadcast and its corresponding Premier League coverage. It'll give the opportunity for them to creatively be engrained into the broadcasts and social media channels with a clear reach goal in-mind: reach. I'm sure it'll be weird at first for fans to no longer see the iconic FIFA title across its video games, but partnering with such marquee properties will make the transition seamless in my opinion.

  • EA Sports has a number of other deals in place surrounding European soccer. One of which is a multi-year partnership with Spain's LaLiga, as well as going all in on women's soccer in its gameplay. For the first time ever, FIFA 23 will include women’s club teams from the top leagues in England and France.

Xbox, NY Liberty Gaming-Inspired Court Design

Xbox and NY Liberty Partner for WNBA’s First Gaming-inspired Basketball Court. The new court design showcased on August 2 and August 3 home games versus the Los Angeles Sparks at Barclays Center. The Xbox-inspired court is also the WNBA’s first secondary court among current teams.

Along with Roblox and Xbox branding in the IRL court design, fans can also experience the Xbox-branded Liberty court within the Infinite Canvas’ Dunking Simulator, a leading basketball experience in Roblox. According to Xbox, Players will be teleported to the special Liberty court within the experience to dunk in style and enjoy special, metaverse-only features like pyrotechnics, fireworks, fan chants, and more, all guided by New York native and 11-year-old sports journalist, Pepper Persley.

Additionally, Xbox invites fans who love basketball and gaming to share their dreams via its Power Her Dreams website. For every submission made on the site from now through September 30, Microsoft will donate $10 to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation or Girls Who Code, with up to a maximum donation of $50,000 per nonprofit.

Kimball's Take:

  • This is awesome on so many levels. The design is aesthetically-pleasing and clearly gives a video game feel to it. Not only that, Xbox added a metaverse layer to the partnership by having a dunking simulator in Roblox. Last, but certainly not least, they call out basketball and gaming fans to share their dreams. They're both amazing nonprofit organizations that aim to empower women in achieving their dreams.

Evil Geniuses Signs Women’s Valorant Squad

North American Esports organization Evil Geniuses announced today that they have signed its first all-women competitive team. The team will compete in Riot Games’ Valorant and expand on the organization’s commitment “to create an esports industry that is welcoming to all and truly represents the breadth of the esports community,” (per Esports Observer).

The new team will be led by captain Emmalee “EMUHLEET” Garrido, who will debut alongside her teammates under the Evil Geniuses banner on Saturday at the Astral Clash Grand Finals in Los Angeles. The full roster is as follows:

  • Emmalee “EMUHLEET” Garrido, Team Captain and AWPer

  • Amanda “rain” Smith, Rifler

  • Juliana “Showliana” Maransaldi, Rifler

  • Melisa “theia” Mundorff, Rifler

  • Stefanie “Stefanie” Jones, Duelist

According to Evil Geniuses, this signing presents an opportunity for the team to compete while offering the leadership and resources to break down the “long-standing barriers in the industry.”

Kimball's Take:

  • Another prominent and historic esports organization has an all-women esports roster. Like I've said before, organizations need to continue to invest in women's break down barriers for women in esports for actual change to happen.

LA Thieves Wins CDL Championships 2022

The top 8 teams from the regular season headed to USC's Galen Center to compete for the top prize of $1.2 million. LA Thieves wins it all in front of a home crowd.

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