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Singtel and Singapore Esports

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Singtel and Singapore Esports Association launch award

Singapore Esports Association (SGEA) has joined forces with telecomms company Singtel to launch an award that recognises talent and excellence in esports.

The nominees for the newly-devised PVP Esports Award were selected by representatives from both parties after the closing of the Southeast Asian Games on December 11th.

For the first time in its 30 year history, this year’s edition of the SEA Games featured esports as an official medal event. Rather than prize money, players will compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Ng Chong Gen, President of Singapore Esports Association discussed the partnership in a release: “SGEA is proud to partner up with Singtel in supporting local esports athletes as well as the gaming ecosystem. We believe that Singtel’s infrastructure and our industry veterans will enable us to further develop the esports scene in Singapore.”

Players will be selected using criteria that includes excellence in performance, sportsmanship, and commitment to the craft. The creation of the award is a continuation of the partnership between Singtel and the SGEA, in which they’re aiming to cultivate Singapore’s first official esports players.

Arthur Lang, CEO of Singel’s International Group added: “We are pleased that our sponsorship of the Singapore team has enabled the athletes to focus on what they do best and having a shot at winning medals for Singapore. This award recognises their skills and contributions, and represents our commitment to support and celebrate their efforts. We believe they will be excellent ambassadors for the sport, and an inspiration to others.

“With the growing popularity of competitive gaming in the region, we are passionate about developing the gaming ecosystem for professionals and amateurs alike through our PVP Esports platform.”

Each worth $10,000 (£7,690.58), the awards offer cash alongside additional funds to aid professional development, education, and athletic training.

Esports Insider says: The introduction of the PVP award is nice in that it rewards players for doing well, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. The inclusion of esports at the Southeast Asian Games is a much bigger deal but this award is a nice accessory.

Esports Coverage to Be a Sports

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Outstanding Esports Coverage to be a Sports Emmy Award Category

Today, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced that it will add “Outstanding Esports Coverage” as one of its award categories for this year’s Sports Emmy Awards.

The award will recognize the craft behind the delivery of coverage and presentation of competitive, organized video gaming to the viewer during a championship or final event.

While this will be the first award category of its kind, esports entries have received nominations in the past as League of Legends was named the honoree in the “Outstanding Live Graphic Design” Category for in 2018.

“We are entering an exciting new chapter for the Sports Emmy Awards with the addition of an exclusive category dedicated to recognizing excellence within esports,” said Adam Sharp, president and CEO, NATAS. “The category, Outstanding Esports Coverage, illustrates the academy’s commitment to remain on the forefront of the ever-changing world of sports production.”

World of Esports Viewership

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Esports Production Summit: Making Sense of the Elusive World of Esports Viewership, Consumption

Founder of Esports Charts Ivan Danishevskyi offers an analytical take on esports ‘ratings’

One of the more hotly debated topics accompanying the rise of popularity in esports is measuring and articulating viewership numbers for major live events. When crunching some of these seemingly massive streaming numbers, it can be difficult to draw parallels with traditional sports or even any form of entertainment.

Esports Charts is a company that analyzes a massive amount of data derived directly from all known streaming platforms (without any outside influence) in order to determine the exact number of viewers, breakdown by their languages, and growth dynamics of subscribers on channels and social networks. This presentation by Esports Charts founder Ivan Danishevskyi offers a look at the state of the market in terms of esports-content consumption.

Esports To Spur Gaming Sector

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Esports to spur gaming sector

Intellectual property is the lifeblood of content creators and game companies, empowering them to retain users and sustain growth, and the industry will gain fresh momentum and traction in future as esports becomes popular, panelists told a forum on Thursday at the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable themed “New Era of Cultural and Creative Industries: Opportunities for Gaming IP”.

The forum, co-organized by China Daily Asia Pacific and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, brought together prominent game developers and publishers, investors and top-tier industry stakeholders. It was held as part and parcel of the Business of IP Asia Forum.

“While it’s true that the online game industry is much more robust on the Chinese mainland than it is in Hong Kong at the moment, I believe Hong Kong is keen to catch up with the world’s leading online gaming cultures with a little push from the local government,” said Zhou Li, editorial board member of China Daily Group and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific.

Citing the HKSAR government’s initiative to pledge HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) for the city’s esports industry in the 2018-2019 budget, Zhou noted that the flagship Hong Kong international esports event, introduced merely three years ago, has seen huge turnouts every year, including in July 2019.

Darang Candra, head of esports research at Niko Partners, called esports the “No. 1 driving force for growth in the gaming industry” as it’s able to reach a global audience regardless of what language people speak, and make the game understood across the world.

Riding high on the live streaming craze worldwide, esports has spawned its own ecosystem and given birth to a billion-dollar advertising market, he said.

Hendrick Sin, co-founder and vice-chairman of CMGE Technology Group, believed his Shenzhen-headquartered mobile game company, founded in 2009, is already a step ahead in testing the massive potentials of the IP-based mobile-game market, where the market in China alone reached 97.2 billion yuan (US$13.8 billion) last year. 

The total market size of the country’s mobile-game market amounted to 145.1 billion yuan.

Candra is upbeat about the market’s potentials. The market size in terms of revenue of PC (personal computer) and mobile games on the Chinese mainland hit US$30.8 billion last year, and the mainland is now, undoubtedly, the games industry’s capital of the world.

“For everyone here in Hong Kong, right next to you is the biggest games market in the world, bigger than the US,” Candra said.

Drawing on his 25-year-long working experience in the gaming sector, Alex Xu Yiran, chairman and CEO of Leyou Technologies Holdings, introduced the two major types of companies in the gaming world — platform companies and content providers.

“Platform companies are defined as bigger players known for their capabilities to acquire a valuable user base at low cost, in the large quantity, in a steady manner, in the long run and for a long time. Ideally, they do nothing but just lie in bed and wait for the money to flow in,” Xu said in jest.

By contrast, content providers are smaller players who rely on platform companies to access the user base and make money.

“This is where IP could come in. IP can empower content providers and make them a bit closer to powerful platform companies,” Xu said.

He believed the story unfolds in both ways. On the other hand, online games themselves not only count on IP, but also provide value for IP.

“The value of IP comes from the user base and users’ willingness to pay the money. Multiplayer online games, thanks to long life cycle, can keep users playing and paying for the game for decades,” he explained.

Sin said IPs are usually obtained from two channels. The traditional approach is to work with global leading IP owners such as Disney on a game-by-game basis. Today, a more proactive approach for an ambitious game developer and publisher like his company is to invest in IP startups, including TV dramas and animations. “When they are incubated, we can work with them on games,” he added.

Kevin Lee Ka-tsun, founder and CEO of Redspots Creative, said his company has been working with large Chinese online platforms like Kugou and Bilibili, by providing its VR interactive technologies as solutions, and webcasters of those platforms can create their own VR figures and do live streaming through these figures.

Redspots Creative provides cutting edge technologies and tools for people with great ideas or good stories to tell, so people can create their own animations or comics and these are all IPs. 

Currently, the company, which owns 120 comic book IPs and more than 3,500 episodes of stories, is working with several workshops in Hong Kong.

Astralis eSports IPO

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Astralis is the first eSports team to file for an IPO. Our data shows why Wall Street should care.

Astralis Group ($ASTRALIS), an eSports team and media organization, is filing for an IPO. It's a little unheard of, considering eSports hasn't been around for that long, and they usually don't operate like startups. 

But this could be the first domino to fall that gets the rest going. eSports is a billion-dollar industry, and while Astralis is only looking to raise roughly $20 million in Denmark, expectations are that competitive gaming will double in value over the next few years.

Operating three brands in total (Astralis, Origen and Future FC), Astralis is expected to raise quite a lot of money. According to Astralis, they "have a proven business model with solid sponsorships, growing merchandise sale and increasing media revenue from the tournaments."

Haven't heard of Astralis before? Have no idea what eSports even are? Are you confused when you watch commercials on ESPN or TBS for competitive gaming? You're not alone.

Over the last two years, Astralis Gaming saw its Twitter following shoot up 64%. This is thanks to its strong lineup of players (@dev1ce@Xyp9x@dupreeh@gla1ve_csgo@MagiskCS, and @zonic) and stellar Counter-Strike play.

Over at Facebook, the unhip place for youngsters to gab, Astralis saw its likes go up by 20% since 2017 when they started getting hot.

If you're still scratching your head over the concept that colleges sign kids to eSports scholarships, let's do a quick rundown of some stats to show why more teams could file for IPOs in the future. This is all from the Astralis website:

  • In only 3 years Astralis has managed to capitalize on brand-building capabilities, bringing the brand to break even since August 2019.
  • In 2019, the number of eSports viewers around the globe is estimated to reach 443 million. In 2022 the number of eSports viewers is expected to reach 595 million.
  • Astralis Group’s team brands and media channels have a 100% borderless viewer base with endless opportunities reaching a global, growing audience.
  • The eSports market is a billion-dollar market expected to grow +20% p.a.
  • The eSports industry is progressing fast towards the lucrative maturity phase, and Astralis Group has the proven foundation to drive and monetize on this potential!

Straight from the horse's mouth; we couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Esports Investments Mergers and Acquisitions

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Esports investments, mergers, and acquisitions in November 2019

As the esports industry continues to grow, so does the interest in owning a piece of the pie. Celebrities and venture capitalists are investing millions of pounds, companies are merging together to consolidate, and acquisitions are becoming pretty common, too.

To make things easier, Esports Insider has brought together the major investments, mergers, and acquisitions of November 2019.

Hitmaker raises 250% of crowdfunding campaign target

UK-based esports job platform Hitmarker raised 250% of its equity crowdfunding target in just six days.

The target of the campaign was £80,000 for 4 percent equity, though the company set a cap of £200,000 for 9.43 percent equity and successfully met it.

Read the full article here.

Gen.G receives investment from Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator

Multinational organisation Gen.G esports received investment from Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator.

Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator is an early-stage venture capital fund based in New York, USA. Financial details were not disclosed.

Read the full article here.

Team Vitality raises €14M and opens Paris facility

French organisation Team Vitality received a further €14 million (£12 million) investment from esports venture fund Rewired.GG.

Including the €20 million Rewired.GG invested back in November 2018, Team Vitality has now received €34 million (£29.3 million) in the last year from the fund. The capital will be used to grow the organisation and pursue an expansion into both China and India.

Read the full article here.

Mainline raises $6.8M in Series A funding

Houston-based esports tournament software management company Mainline raised $6.8 million (£5.22 million) in its Series A funding round.

The round was led by Work America Capital, with contribution from private investors. The capital will be used to enhance Mainline’s software technology and bolster its workforce.

Read the full article here.

Artist Capital Management raises $100M for esports fund

Investment management firm Artist Capital Management raised $100 million (£77.9 million) for its Artist Esports Edge Fund.

The fund “seeks to provide institutional investors with concentrated exposure to leading esports companies.” Artist Capital Management led 100 Thieves’ Series B round, which amounted to $35 million (£27.3 million), in July.

Read the full article here.

Astralis Group releases prospectus for IPO

Astralis Group shared the prospectus and plans for its upcoming initial product offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq First North Growth Market.

The parent company of Astralis, Origen, and Future FC offered shares from November 18-29th and has a three-year strategy for growth that involves scaling and developing its performance model, broadening its brand portfolio, and optimising its commercial platform.

Read the full article here.

ReKTGlobal receives investment from Landon Collins

ReKTGlobal, the parent company of Rogue and London Royal Ravens, received investment from NFL athlete Landon Collins.

Financial details of the Washington Redskins athlete’s investment were not disclosed. He joined the likes of Nicky Romero, Marco “Tainy” Masís, Lex Borrero, members of Imagine Dragons, and DJ Steve Aoki.

Read the full article here.

FanAI secures $8 million in Series A funding

Esports sponsorship data platform FanAI secured $8 million (£6.13M) in its Series A funding round.

The round of funding was led by Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation, with contributions from Courtside Ventures, Sterling VC, GFR Fund, Allectus Capital, CG Tracker Fund, M Ventures, and CRCM Ventures.

Read the full article here.

Misfits Gaming Group launches incubator and seed fund

Misfits Gaming Group announced the launch of a new company, MSF.IO, an esports and gaming-focused seed fund and incubator.

The fund will amount to $10 million (£7.8 million) and aims to help esports and gaming companies “take their business or idea to the next level.”

Read the full article here.

Torque Esports to merge with Frankly and WinView

Torque Esports Corp., Frankly Inc., and WinView, Inc. agreed to combine forces to form an “integrated news, gaming, sports, and esports platform” called Engine Media.

The company will be co-led by Darren Cox, CEO of Torque Esports and Lou Schwartz, CEO of Frankly. Tom Rogers, Executive Chairman of WinView, who also serves as Chairman of Frankly, will serve as Executive Chairman of Engine Media.

Read the full article here.

Houston Outlaws acquired by Beasley Media Group

Immortals Gaming Club sold Overwatch League franchise Houston Outlaws to Beasley Media Group.

The media company already has experience in the esports industry, having invested in Renegades in April. Immortals Gaming Club took control of Houston Outlaws when it acquired Infinite Esports & Entertainment, the parent company of OpTic Gaming, in June.

Read the full article here.

Esports Content With ESR

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Telemundo Expands Into English-Language Esports Content With ESR 24/7 Channel Deal

Telemundo Deportes, which launched the first-ever U.S. Spanish-language eSports channel earlier this year to tap into a rapidly growing lucrative market, is boosting its eSports offerings to include English-language content to attract a broader audience. To that end, the NBC-Universal owned network signed a multi-platform deal with ESR 24/7 eSports Channel giving it access to "thousands of pieces of English-language content" that will be used across its platforms every year. 

The content will feature the entire range of esports entertainment from over 10 different titles, such as Fortnite, FIFA, Apex Legends and Overwatch. The Telemundo Deportes eSports channel will also have live events, tournament highlights, short-form match highlights, streamers docuseries, reality, and streamers’ content from their partners and influencers. They include: professional streamer Destiny who has nearly 500k followers on his Twitch channel, and gamer and streamer Tobuscus who has 6.3 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

Among the content that will be available on Telemundo Deportes is Inside Fortnite World Cup, an original documentary series produced by ESR around the Fortnite World Cup, the largest esports competition in history.  

“With the extensive content provided by ESR and the live, daily action from our streamers, we look to continue engaging with the Hispanic gaming community while increasing our involvement with the esports industry,” says Eli Velazquez, EVP of Sports Content for Telemundo Deportes.

The ESR programming will be presented on Telemundo Deportes’ eSports channels available via the Telemundo Deportes app, YouTube, Twitch and Instagram. In addition, Titulares y Más, Telemundo Deportes’ nightly sports and lifestyle show will continue to present esports news and trends, competition segments and special appearances of Telemundo’s streamers.

Telemundo Deportes’ eSports channels will continue to present content produced by its exclusive streamers, including Sofia “Kipi” Ornelas, Juan “Patán” Sotullo and Jaime “neroxx-” Penalosa, who recently joined the network to offer bilingual streams. The three streamers are playing over 70 live hours combined every week. Their content is also available on-demand and in short-form across Telemundo Deportes’ digital platforms.

ESR, the first 24/7 eSports network in the United States, distributes its 24/7 channel and programming through Sinclair backed STIRR platform, XUMO, Sumsung TV, ESPN, Telemundo, and others partners worldwide.

Esports Free of Digital Doping

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The Quest to Keep Esports Free of Digital Doping

Contents

How do you cheat in esports? It’s not as if you can take anabolic steroids to make your character run faster, or HGH to increase its lean body mass. Believe it or not, doping is not unheard of in esports – when you’re gaming for hours at a time, the temptation to boost your focus and increase alertness must be overwhelming – but this isn’t where cheating usually manifests. Rather, esports is vulnerable to what can be referred to as digital doping: covertly deploying code to cripple your opponent or give your own team an unfair advantage.

Following a number of high profile scandals in esports, the question of how to clamp down on cheats is now paramount. Digital doping is not a completely new phenomenon; it’s simply a contemporary variation on an age-old song. It is almost inevitable that in any professional competition, especially with personal glory and money on the line, there will be those who will try to take shortcuts, to game the system, and in some cases, outright cheat.

The question for referees, tournament hosts, and gaming companies is how to maintain the integrity of esports by catching the cheats, and discouraging others from making an attempt to gain an edge by illicit means. It’s a thankless task, but one which is getting easier thanks to esports solutions tailor-made for spotting the scam merchants.

Undermining the Game

Whereas doping in traditional sports takes place at the physical level, digital doping occurs within the game itself. Doping can be as simple as a piece of code inserted into the game that provides an unfair advantage, such as in October 2018, when a player for the professional gaming team OpTic – Nikhil “forsaken” Kumawat – was caught red-handed using an aimbot in a competitive game of CSGO at the eXTREMESLAND 2018 Asia Finals. The prize pot for the competition was a huge $100,000, giving plenty of incentive for dishonest play. Perhaps the most shocking element of the whole incident occurred when referees got suspicious and tried to inspect forsaken’s computer, whereupon the cheat tried to delete his hacks as they watched over his shoulder.

Not all digital doping incidents are as extreme. In October 2019, YouTuber and professional cyclist Cameron Jeffers was deemed to have gained an advantage in the competition by using a bot. The competition saw stationary cyclists ride around a virtual course created by software developer Zwift. All participants in the race used the Z1 Concept bike which could only be unlocked by spending considerable time on the course and leveling up before the competition. Although Jeffers won the race in competition, the discovery that he used a bot to complete the leveling up process was deemed unsportsmanlike and he was stripped of the title.

Fixing the Problem

In order to maintain discipline in esports, and to restore the faith of players who have been on the receiving end of unscrupulous actors, systems which can check and monitor gametime are now a necessity. One such solution is Kronoverse, a blockchain-powered monitoring system that records and logs all player actions permanently. Since the data is archived to a blockchain, the fidelity of the competition is maintained, since anyone can scrutinize the record and check for signs of foul play.

A solution of this nature also allows games to be audited at a data level, or alternatively, they can be viewed as an in-game replay, much like a video recording but using data to trigger the gameplay actions in real-time. This allows both button presses and actions to be viewed simultaneously. Further to this, the system allows in-app betting and for bet patterns to be analyzed in conjunction with gameplay events. This is another useful feature in an industry in which the issue of gambling and match-fixing is a recurring issue. A recent example of this was in the NBA 2K League when Basil “24K Dropoff” Rose was found guilty of sharing insider information with gamblers. It is still unclear exactly how the information Rose sold was used, but in a protocol such as Kronoverse, investigating these types of crimes would become far easier.

The Game Is Just Getting Started

Esports is now a huge industry that is expanding rapidly; a 2017 report tipped revenues to reach $1 billion by 2019. In such a money-rich sector with huge cash prizes for the winners, cheating is inevitable. To maintain faith in the game, the esports industry must follow a similar path to traditional sports and make every effort to catch the digital dopers.

Commercial eSports Player Data

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It’s in the Game: the Commercial Uses of Esports Player Data

The first known prioritization of statistics and data in professional sports was via former baseball player-turned Oakland Athletics’ General Manager, Billy Beane. His use of empirical baseball data (known as Sabermetrics) radicalized the way data collection is used in sports, from scouting talent to measuring a player’s responsive behavior. 

Competitive video gaming has not always relied on analysts in the same way, but the introduction of dataset heavy titles such as StarCraft and Dota 2 have made analysts indispensable among team staff. The escalating audience numbers and prize money of tournaments have now created a clear commercial case for traditional analytics companies such as SAP, Microsoft, and IBM, to build and outfit teams with an esports-ready version of their pre-existing data software. In addition, several of these companies are also developing tools that integrate analytics into esports broadcasting. 

What is Being Measured? 

Those familiar with any given traditional sport can make assumptions about the types of player data that is recorded. In tennis, this includes serve direction and placement. In basketball, Bayesian statistics have been used to measure a team’s defensive ability on the court. But to those with little understanding of esports games and their respective genres, it is first important to explain what is being measured, and why it impacts a player’s performance.

Spatial movement and player reactions

All competitive video games feature a finite area of playing space, in which the movements of the player are further limited (e.g. by terrain, obstacles). Whether it’s a shooter or strategy title, a player’s positioning and distance will affect how much reaction time is required, and this, in turn, can be measured game by game.  

Commercial Example: Tobii and SteelSeries each offer eye-tracking solutions that let developing players match their eye-movements against professionals.

Combinatorial space of possibilities

Even during complex strategy games with hundreds of different units on screen at any given moment, there is still a hierarchical order to every possible action. Players must constantly modify and augment their live-strategies, and account for random variables (if any). The right software can identify which decisions by a player were the most optimal in a given gameplay scenario.

Commercial Example: Community-run resources such as LoLSkill, League of Graphs, and Oracle’s Elixir list the most picked and banned champions in League of Legends, as well as their win rates. Some also provide calculators that can estimate a team’s probability of winning a game after the 15-minute mark. 

Management of player economy and resources

hough some esports titles do not require the player to obtain and/or upgrade items and equipment, several of the most widely-played games feature some kind of in-match economy. Essentially, players earn currency by defeating enemies, which they can use to purchase or modify weapons. Even battle royale titles, which do not have an in-match economy, limit the ammunition and healing equipment available to the player.

Commercial use: The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive app CSGO Scout includes a smart economy tool, while TrackDota logs data on items purchased and buybacks in Dota 2.

Patch changes and game updates

A recurring challenge for professional esports players is adapting to the weekly changes in their respective video game. While traditional sports makes incremental rule changes and regulations, esports titles see almost weekly alterations. Analysts and software developers alike need to factor the impact of these “patches” and ensure their strategies match the current version of the game.

Commercial use: The analytics platform Mobalytics maintains multiple “tier lists,” updated after every patch, that lists the most viable champion choices for both regular players and those considered High-ELO (i.e. in the top 1%-2% by ranking). 

Acquiring Match and Player Data

On the one hand, the fact that every video game action is entirely “digitized” makes it inherently better suited to empirical analysis than traditional sports. The latter has to be digitized before it can be analyzed, and esports skips that potentially time-intensive step. However, this leads itself to two issues: there is a deluge of digital information to sift through, and for some games, there are immovable barriers to entry.

“The central source of truth is always going to be from the game publisher, and the application programming interface (API) they provide,” said Matthew Gunnin, CEO of Esports One, whose products use computer vision and machine learning to generate statistics from live esports broadcasts. In the early days of the company, Gunnin relied on the API as well as manual data capture. “Now, we rely heavily on computer vision for a lot of that data, but it varies on a case-by-case basis, depending on the game and how early supported it is,” he said.

The richness of the data, and its preferred usage, depends both on the game itself and the competition structure around it. Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) title, has been one of the more accessible titles for data and analytics, as the publisher Valve has put up less barriers in front of open source projects. Data can be accessed on the most granular level, including advanced match data extracted from match replays. 

On the professional level, Dota 2 is played in a tournament cycle, with open circuits and several highlight events per year, as opposed to a weekly league format. This means players are less concerned with analyzing their own practice sessions, and instead there is high relative value in scouting opponents and finding patterns.

“Right now we have around 65K matches, that are historical in the sense they are past matches,” said Melvin S. Metzger, an esports developer for SAP HANA, who noted that the company can fully analyze any Dota 2 match played in a public pro setting. “We put these into context with what happens in matches that are played now, or in the future.”

When comparing an individual player’s data to that of an entire team or competition, the data usage is subjective to whatever requests are being made. “If I have one player and I want to retrieve every kill that he or she has done on a Tuesday afternoon with this champion, it will only have x number of matches,” said Gunnin.

“If I want to see that same sort of information for the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), for example, on a certain champion, it’s having to do the same thing for one individual player, and do that across all players. But that’s a unique case, in the sense that the different schemas that you’re building can make that process easier, so it’s being able to preempt those sorts of requests before they’re made.”

As with most subsections of the esports industry, player development through data is still in its infancy. For many established tech companies, the goal, for now, is brand attachment. Whatever practical results emerge from, say, Cloud9’s partnership with Microsoft, the marketing campaign is what will resonate with the casual esports fan.

“The future of data, and how it’s going to be used from our perspective, is how we will correlate the stats we have on users to the information, data, and events that are happening on screen,” said Gunnin. “We’re now looking at all of your gameplay, recognizing how the pros play […] and start storing and tagging events in the game for you to reference while you’re in the game.”

Case Study: SAP, Team Liquid, and Dota 2

In April 2018, enterprise software company SAP announced it would be the official innovation partner of esports team organization Team Liquid. Focused around the latter’s Dota 2 team, one of the core aspects of the partnership was to develop software based on game-derived data, helping to analyze player performance and scout new talent. 

After a year of collaboration, SAP has learned to develop tools that are actually relevant for a professional esports team, and likewise Team Liquid learned what SAP needs to know to create such tools. “That’s basically your common software development process, but it is, because of the complexity of the topic, very challenging,” said Metzger.

The core team developing the software comprises just two people, both with full-stack development skills paired with data science knowledge. One of the earliest tasks for SAP was to assist Team Liquid in the drafting phase; the pre-match portion of Dota 2 where players select their own heroes, while banning choices for the other team. The potential synergies between heroes makes this one area where teams are seeking to gather the most data possible.

“One of the challenges is that none of the public channels, essentially, gives you what you need or a real comprehensive version of the truth,” said Milan Cerny, SAP’s property owner and innovation lead for esports. “We can provide full transparency in what we’re working with. We can cater to the needs of the team itself, and the person interacting with it, in terms of how much they need to narrow down, filter, slice, and dice, and what they want to get out of it.”

Cerny explained that the final drafting solution gives the player, coach, or analyst a good idea of what he is looking at, while still offering room to draw their own conclusions. “Obviously we were looking at in-game aspects as well. Heat mapping for all kinds of events within a game, whether it be hero movement or wards,” said Cerny.

While the Team Liquid tech has remained largely behind closed doors, one area where SAP is a bit more public is its broadcast partnerships. Since late 2018, the company has worked with every notable Dota 2 tournament organizer, including PGLEPICENTERDreamHack, and ESL, providing backend services, presenting data on hero picks, win-rates, etc, on screen. Casters and production analysts are also provided insights during the pick-and-ban phase, and in segments prior to and after a match.

“We have our strength in digesting, analyzing, and processing those big amounts of historical data, and putting that into context with the data coming out of the match you’re currently looking at,” said Milan. For these events, SAP partnered with a startup called Layerth, which produces esports spectator tools, and which already had observers and other staff directly on-site and integrated into the broadcast team. 

“We identified use cases where it makes sense to query a historical database and get some information,” said Cerny. “Whether an item timing is exceptionally good or bad. Whether a net worth is exceptional in a good or bad way across the entire match.” 

While Dota 2 is notably open in regards to data collection, there are still limitations for a third-party software developer looking to build solutions around the game. “There is a lot of reverse engineering in place.” said Metzger “That’s a challenge that you have in any form of data analysis, I guess. But it is a challenge that is ongoing, especially with patches changing the game, changing file structures.”

As an example, the first time a new hero was added to Dota 2 (which already boasted over 100) when SAP was working on the tool, Metzger said nothing worked afterwards. “We look at the patch notes, try to understand what the changes mean for our system, what do we have to adapt, and we’ve become very fast at that.” Though specific details could not be shared, SAP is in a constant exchange with Dota 2’s developer, Valve.

Reuters eSports F1 Renault Interview

Reuters eSports F1 Renault Interview 920 613 ESC Today

ENSTONE, England — Female representation in esports is in a 'terrible state' and attitudes must change for women gamers to feel more welcome, according to Team Vitality co-founder and chief executive Nicolas Maurer.

The Frenchman, whose esports company ranks in the top three in Europe and partners Renault in the Formula One esports pro series, said audiences needed to be educated and gender stereotypes confronted.

No woman driver has competed in a real Formula One race since 1976 and no female gamer has yet featured in the virtual series, whose third season ends at London's Gfinity Arena next week.

Across all esports games on average, according to Maurer, women make up about 20% of the audience while even fewer participate.

"One of the big challenges, and a very interesting area of development for esports, is the number of women being pro, which is close to zero right now," the Frenchman told Reuters at an event to showcase Vitality's partnership with Renault.

"A terrible state, we have to admit."

Vitality, the leading esports outfit in France and among the top three in Europe, also has teams competing in competitions such as League of Legends, Rocket League, Fortnite and Hearthstone.

Maurer said the challenge for "everyone involved in the ecosystem" was how to create the right structure for women to rise through the ranks and become professional.

"There are a lot of women playing video games but they are not climbing because they lack role models, we have a culture where they don't always feel welcome," he said.

Asked about the chances of a female racer taking on the men in Formula One esports, he replied: "We are all waiting for that to happen, but for that to happen we need again to create the right structure."

"We need also to create an environment that is very welcoming for women," he added, suggesting esports academies would help.

"And in three or four years time we see a woman at the top level. That's what I want to see."

Maurer suggested the situation was a consequence of video games originally being designed and marketed with boys in mind, but things were improving.

"It's completely changing and now its way more varied. But still that's where we come from. And also I think we need to educate our audiences that sometimes can be harsh to women," he added.

"When you see women in a mixed team, sometimes if the team is not succeeding people will say 'Ah, it's because of the women.'

"So there is a lot of bias, a lot of things to overcome to make sure women feel welcome in our ecosystem. That's something we are working on actively. We need to get to the point where we have a lot of women there, 50-50."

Global esports revenues are expected to hit $1.1 billion in 2019, up 27% on last year and driven by income from advertising, sponsorship and media rights, according to gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo.