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Will Betting On eSports

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With most sports on hiatus, will betting on eSports become popular?

The Coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and professional soccer seasons, as well as the outright cancellation of the NCAA March Madness tournament. The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until at least 2021.

So what are sports bettors betting on now? Last week, the sports on the home page of popular online sportsbook DraftKings’s website that people could bet on were professional darts, German soccer, the Kontinental Hockey League, and New Zealand cricket.

If there are limited sports to bet on, sports betting will obviously suffer. To fill the vacuum, sportsbooks are getting creative.

“We remain as committed as ever to giving our fans more ways to win,” a FanDuel spokesperson told MarketWatch. “We’re currently working to develop new, entertaining games which we hope will be a fun diversion during this uncertain time.

Sports betting site FanDuel offered its first ever political bets for the most recent Democratic candidate debate. A few of the posted debate bets were which candidate, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, would say “coronavirus” more often, and whether or not “Iraq” would be mentioned. It is not currently legal to bet on the outcome of political elections in the United States, only prop bets such as these are allowed.

Other popular wagers according to FanDuel during this coronavirus sports stoppage were special contests for the reality TV show Survivor, and what Tom Brady’s next team will be. The former New England Patriots quarterback has now signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jason Ader, a well-known gambling industry expert and CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, says this could also be an interesting period for a new form of sports betting known as virtual sports.

“The virtual sports industry is a real industry we are seeing growth in,” Ader told MarketWatch. “People are betting on virtual sports. It’s computer playing against the computer.”

Popular games to bet on are League of legends, World of Warcraft, and Fifa. “I suspect this could be a moment for Esports,” Ader continues. “If it isn’t, it will never be.”

No gaming companies contacted for this story would disclose specifics as to how much money has been wagered on Esports or virtual sports in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, but Ader claims that Esports betting is up 19% year over year.

Las Vegas, the sports betting capital of the U.S., has been devastated by the effects of the coronavirus shutdown. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a 30-day freeze on non-essential business, including gambling, for his state. Nevada averaged $441 million total bet per month in 2019.

The governor’s directive impacts the casino resorts, sportsbooks, and convenience store slot machines. Last week, the famous Las Vegas Strip will be shut down for the first time since the JFK assassination in 1963.

 

Comscore Partners With Twitch to Bring Gaming and Esports

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Comscore partners with Twitch to bring gaming and esports viewership stats to advertisers

Measurement firm Comscore announced this morning a partnership with Amazon-owned game-streaming site Twitch. The deal will see Comscore measuring video streaming activity across Twitch,  including gaming and esports, as well as other audience viewing metrics. This will allow advertisers to get a better understanding of video viewing behavior on Twitch, which helps them in targeting their campaigns to reach key demographics.

Specifically, Comscore says it will measure things like minutes spent and content minutes per ad minute, which are important to advertisers. In time, the partnership will expand the integration to other areas — including a launch in additional markets outside the U.S. and Canada, where it’s going live now, as well as to category and genre-level reporting.

Twitch today remains the No. 1 game-streaming site, despite the recent losses of top streamers to rivals like Microsoft Mixer, Facebook Gaming and YouTube Live. Last year, Twitch competitors wooed away key talents like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wan and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios. In Q1 2020, Corinna Kopf left Twitch, as well. As the losses climbed, Twitch saw its hours watched and streamed drop in Q4 2019.

The company is now fighting back. It just signed a deal to retain its top female streamer and 10th most popular overall streamer, Pokimane, earlier this month. However, despite the talent loss, Twitch’s growth is continuing. The site is expected to top 40 million U.S. viewers next year, according to eMarketer. By 2023, it will reach 47 million. That’s made it too big for the tech giants to ignore, analysts said. Twitch needs to prove its worth to the advertising community.

The site generated $230 million in ad revenue in 2018, which increased to $300 million last year, according to a report by The Information. But this fell far short of Twitch’s own internal goals, the report claimed. Today, the streaming service still continues to experiment with growth outside of the gaming vertical, with areas like classic TV streams and vlogging, but it has not made non-game streams a core part of the Twitch experience. Amazon also hasn’t capitalized on its acquisition, either to boost its own gaming unit’s titles or integrate Twitch’s live streams with its own video offerings or its Fire TV business.

“Our new partnership with Twitch is more proof of Comscore’s dedication to innovation within audience measurement and across screens,” said Carol Hinnant, Comscore’s chief revenue officer, in a statement. “In a time where gaming and esports are gaining momentum, our partnership will ensure the industry can understand consumption and take advantage of trends in this space.”

In addition, while real-world gaming and esports events have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, there’s potential for game streaming sites like Twitch to increase their viewership — even ahead of forecasts — in the months ahead. We’ve already seen the coronavirus’s impact on the App Store, as users in China downloaded a record number of games last month during quarantines, for example. As more people globally stay home to stream, game and watch, video steaming sites are likely to grow, as well. 

Comscore is not the first measurement firm to take notice of Twitch. In 2018, Nielsen announced it would measure Twitch esports audiences by way of a panel.

 

Esports Gaming Events Coronavirus

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Esports and Gaming Events Affected by Coronavirus

As fears continue to grow in relationship to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many esports tournament organizers have made the decision to cancel, postpone, clear audiences, or make an adjustment to their events. With that in mind, The Esports Observer has created a comprehensive list of leagues, tournaments, and events that have been affected by COVID-19 concerns. While this list is updated regularly, readers should still check the individual organizer web sites as circumstances may change.

League of Legends

  • League of Legends Champions Korea League (LCK): Riot announced the indefinite suspension of league play starting on March 9 with no time table announced as to when play will be resumed.
  • League of Legends Professional League (LPL): The LPL has canceled offline play since Jan. 19 and transitioned to playing league matches online.
  • League of Legends European Championship (LEC): The LEC’s spring split final which was scheduled for April 25-26 in Budapest, Hungary, has been moved to Berlin.
  • League of Legends Championship Series (LCS): The LCS spring split finals have not been affected as of yet as Riot continues to monitor the situation. Frisco, Texas, is still set to host the event on April 18-19.
  • The Mid-Season Invitational has been moved from May to July. Each region’s Summer Split start date has also been adjusted.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

  • Intel Extreme Masters Katowice: IEM’s Katowice event saw a permit granted to ESL that allowed audiences into Spodek Arena revoked after government officials decided the risk of infection was too great. This occurred 12 hours before the main event was to take place.
  • FLASHPOINT: The new FLASHPOINT League made the decision on March 6 to consolidate all of its events and play all league and championship matches in its Los Angeles studios.

Overwatch

The Overwatch League made a series of decisions in an attempt to play matches originally scheduled in China in other locations and countries. However, at this time, all matches in weeks 5-7 that were scheduled to take place in Seoul have been postponed.

Dota 2

As it stands, no significant changes, cancellations, or postponements have been announced. ESL One Los Angeles, which takes place on March 20-22, has not been affected at this time. However, recent updates suggest that teams participating in the event traveling from mainland China may have visa issues associated with entering the United States due to travel restrictions implemented by the government.

Call of Duty

No significant changes, cancellations, or postponements have been announced. However, the league did announce some guidelines and what measures it would be taking to help alleviate concerns for the Los Angeles Guerillas-OpTic Gaming home series which took place March 7-8.

  • Comprehensive cleaning of the venue and player areas and equipment each day, before and after use.
  • Onsite medical professionals, including a physician and nurse.
  • Well-stocked hand-washing supplies in all restrooms.
  • Increased access to hand sanitizer.
  • Cancellation of meet-and-greets, team walkouts, and autograph signings with players.

Rocket League

  • The Rocket League World Championship for Season 9 has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Dallas was set to host the event from April 24-26.
  • Teams have been told the remaining league matches will be played online, instead of in the Psyonix studio. Psyonix has added $250K USD to the Regional Championships prize pool as these will now be the highest level of competition.

Hearthstone

The Hearthstone Masters Tour Indonesia has been moved to Los Angeles and will be played entirely online. Players that had already booked their travel to play in the event will be reimbursed.

Apex Legends

Electronic Arts has postponed Major 1 of the Apex Legends Global Series that was set to play from March 13-15, 2020.

FIFA 20

The FIFA Global Series, FUT Champions Cup Stage V Bucharest that was set to take place from May 2-3, 2020 has been postponed.

Fighting Games

  • The Capcom Pro Tour has removed Brussels Challenge 2020, Norcal Regionals 2020, and April Annihilation 2020 for this year’s pro tour.
  • Tokyo TEKKEN Masters has been canceled by BANDAI NAMCO.
  • The TEKKEN Pro Championship has been moved to a stream only event.
  • Qualifiers for the TEKKEN World Tour 2020 and SOULCALIBUR World Tour 2020 will be rescheduled for a later date.
  • NetherRealm Studios announced that Final Kombat (a Mortal Kombat Tournament) will not have a live audience.

Free Fire

The Free Fire Champions Cup 2020, originally set for April 19 in Jakarta, Indonesia, has been postponed.

Pokémon

The 2020 Pokémon Europe International Championships 2020 that was to take place in Berlin, Germany, from April 17-19 have been canceled.

Gaming Conventions

  • TwitchCon Amsterdam has been canceled. The event was originally set to take place on May 2-3, 2020.
  • The Game Developers Conference (GDC) which takes place every year in San Francisco has been postponed. The event was set to take place from March 16-20.
  • The NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference slated for March 22-26 in San Jose, California, has shifted to an online-only conference.
  • Minecraft Festival 2020 has been postponed from its original dates of Sept. 25-27, 2020. No announcement of news dates has occurred. 
  • SXSW 2020 has been canceled.

Esports Players League secures $1 million

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Esports Players League secures $1 million, 500 Startups leads investment

The Esports Players League announced today that it has finished a seed round worth $1 million. Venture capital firm 500 Startups lead the round.

Esports Players League would not disclose how much 500 Startups contributed but did not that it’s a “significant portion” of the $1 million total. This $1 million in funding will help ESPL launch its first tournaments. The company’s first season will run from April to November 2020. Its headquarters is in Singapore.

Esports Players League is a new esports tournament and platform company. It plans to have a global footprint in 16 countries. While many esports organizations like ESL focus on PC and console, ESPL will devote much of its energy to mobile. Esports is a hotbed for investments. Earlier this year, ProGuides raised $5 million for its competitive gaming coaching platform.

“Through ESPL’s national franchise model, up-and-coming esports talents can easily participate in global competitions,” EPL notes in a press release sent to GamesBeat. “By facilitating grassroots participation in what is a rapidly expanding market, ESPL has direct access and exposure to a large, valuable, and often overlooked segment of the esports industry.”

 

Esports Organization Launches Cryptocurrency

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Esports Organization OG Launches Cryptocurrency Powered Fan Token 

 

  • OG launches the cryptocurrency-powered $OG Fan Token on Socios.com. 
  • Fans can use $OG fan tokens to vote in the first poll to choose which in-game banner will be used by OG’s DOTA 2 team this season and during The International.
  • OG is the first esports partner to be launched on the Socios.com platform, joining the likes of FC Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain.

 Chiliz ($CHZ), a cryptocurrency that fuels blockchain-backed platforms and products, has announced that the first OG poll on fan engagement and rewards app Socios.com is open. OG is asking fans to choose which in-game banner will be used by the team’s Dota 2 roster this season and in The International using $OG Fan Tokens to vote in the poll. This marks the first time that esports fans have influenced a team using this method.

“We are honored to work closely with Socios.com so that our fans have the opportunity to participate in building OG’s story,” said Johan Sundstein, CEO of OG esports. “Socios.com gives fans a voice, so the link with OG was quite natural. Enhancing the connection with our community has always been part of OG’s DNA. We want to push the experience further, by offering them the opportunity to have a real impact in some of OG’s decisions.”

Only those in possession of $OG Fan Tokens are eligible to vote, which fans must purchase in the OG Token Offering. Each $OG Fan Token will be priced at around $1 USD depending on the exchange rate of Chiliz $CHZ at the time of purchase.  Once acquired, $OG Fan Tokens cannot be spent but can be used to take part in all future OG votes on the app.

Fans will earn reward points for taking part in OG polls and engaging with the team through Socios.com, giving them the opportunity to access event tickets, VIP meet-ups, OG merchandise – including signed jerseys –  and other experiences linked to OG.