esports Industry

BT Announces Partnership With Major eSports

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BT announces partnership with major esports team Excel to become their exclusive lead partner

  • BT signs a multi-year sponsorship agreement with UK-based Excel Esports to become their exclusive lead partner.

  • The new BT logo will appear on all kit worn by Excel, including the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) team, and the Excel UK League Championship (UKLC) team has been officially renamed BT Excel

  • BT will provide connectivity and infrastructure for Excel’s HQ to help the team train and become a successful global team

BT has signed a new multi-year contract with Excel Esports to become their exclusive lead partner and will see BT branding prominent on all kit worn by Excel’s League of Legends European Championship (LEC) and UK League Championship (UKLC) teams. BT will also provide world class connectivity to Excel to help them train and perform at the highest levels.

The LEC is the biggest European league within League of Legends where only the top ten teams in Europe get to compete and the UKLC is the official regional league. League of Legends is the world’s most popular esport with last year’s World Championship breaking records with more than 44 million viewers. The full Excel team will wear the BT kit for the very first time this weekend at the Neosurf Cup at Twickenham Stadium, which is also home to Excel’s HQ and training facility. As part of the agreement Excel’s UKLC team will now be officially renamed BT Excel.

Pete Jeavons, Marketing Communications Director at BT, said:

The UK is increasingly a nation of gamers, and esports is hugely popular and growing across the world. Excel Esports shows incredible promise as a leading UK-based team and working closely with them is a natural extension of our commitment to provide the connectivity and skills to help people across the UK realise their potential.” 

Robin McCammon, Chief Commercial Officer, Excel Esports, said:

BT is an absolutely iconic British brand that resonates globally and we can’t think of a better fit as a lead Partner to help elevate Excel to the next level. This is a sponsorship that will reach beyond the conventional sponsorship formula. BT is about connectivity and community and that is exactly what Excel and esports in general is all about. Having such a recognisable brand commit to a long term partnership really shows the strength of the UK esports industry and the growth of Excel.”

Kieran Holmes-Darby, Co-founder & Chief Gaming Officer, Excel Esports, said:

We couldn’t be more proud to be playing a part in BT’s first steps into the world of esports. It’s great to work with a partner that understands the importance of developing the grassroots ecosystem in professional gaming. Excel is known for nurturing UK talent, which is why we invested in training facilities at Twickenham Stadium and is also why BT is fantastic partner because they can help provide us with the infrastructure we need to improve our players’ performance. This is an incredible start to what will be a defining year for us and our teams, and we can’t wait to work together to continue establishing Excel as a global esports leader over the coming years.”

This deal follows announcements last year that BT will be the exclusive long-term lead partner for all of the Home Nations football teams across the UK, and at all levels. Excel’s 2020 jersey will feature in an upcoming BT campaign and be made available for the public to purchase from the Excel Esports merchandise shop at excelesports.com from today.

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Top Mobile eSports Titles

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Top mobile esports titles to watch out for in 2020

The last year has undoubtedly been a big one for mobile esports. With filled stadium events, viewership crossing the million mark in tournaments like the Free Fire World Series, and rising prize pools, mobile games have solidified themselves in the esports ecosystem. Mobile esports still have a long way to go, however. For many games like PUBG Mobile and Free Fire, 2019 was just the beginning. These games stepped into the year with the challenge of encouraging their already huge player base to be passionate about esports. The developers of both games managed to do just that while also attracting new players. 

With 2020 kicking off, several mobile games have big plans for the year when it comes to esports. Here are the top seven mobile esports that fans should watch out for over the next 12 months.

PUBG Mobile

Unlike some of the other games on this list, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile has unveiled most of its esports plans for 2020. The PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019 was a huge success in terms of engagement and viewership. The Spring Split Global final was the most-watched event of the year for the game, peaking at 596,824 viewers and had a concurrent viewership of 221,491. Of course, carrying this momentum forward in 2020 was a no-brainer for Tencent. The PMCO will continue in 2020 along with the PUBG Mobile World League. The total prize pool for the year is estimated to be over $5 million. This makes the game the biggest mobile esport in terms of prize money (excluding in China). PUBG Mobile esports in 2020 will have ample opportunities for all with campus championships for amateur players, along with the PMCO and World League for semi-pro and professional players. The PUBG Mobile Pro League will also be launching next year in the Americas, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, ensuring year-long events for fans to look forward to. 

Brawl Stars

Brawl Stars is among the new games to step into esports. The MOBA has been developed by Supercell, which boasts other mobile esports titles like Clash Royale and Clash of Clans. While the game received a large number of community tournaments since its global release last year, the first Supercell supported event—the Brawl Stars World Finals 2019—was held in November. The event attracted 93,989 viewers at its peak and had an average viewership of 28,694 people, according to Esports Charts.

For 2020, Supercell announced the Brawl Stars Championship. It’ll feature monthly online and offline events that will grant qualification points toward the World Finals, which will be held in the fall of 2020. The overall prize pool for the championship is $1 million. Fans can contribute an additional $500,000 to the growing prize pool by purchasing special in-game items, which will be revealed before the 2020 World Finals.

Free Fire

The biggest mobile esport of 2019 in terms of viewership (excluding China) was Free Fire. Garena unveiled the first international esports event for the game in early 2019 with the Free Fire World Cup. The tournament was held in April 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand and shattered viewership records. It averaged over 600,000 viewers and peaked at over one million people watching. Building up from the success of the World Cup, the Free Fire World Series 2019 featured regional qualification leagues around the world. Held in Brazil last November, the tournament broke the viewership records set by the World Cup. It peaked at over two million viewers and had an average viewership of 1.2 million people. While Garena still hasn’t announced esports plans for 2020, the Free Fire community’s passion toward esports has been made clear.

Call of Duty: Mobile

Call of Duty: Mobile may have only been released a few months ago, but it’s already become one of the biggest mobile games on the market. The game has 170 million downloads since its release. It may be too soon to talk much about an esports scene for the game, but the number of ongoing community tournaments makes it clear that esports is something that fans want to see from the game. Garena, which released the game in Southeast Asia, has already realized this and has been hosting tournaments. The Clan Invasion Tournament was held in Singapore and Malaysia, featuring live finals in the respective countries as well. Call of Duty: Mobile Mission One was also recently held for Thailand by Garena and featured a $6,600 prize pool. 

The Call of Duty: Mobile Creator Challenge by WSOE has been the biggest tournament for the shooter in the Americas. The tournament featured notable influencers, streamers, and players from the region. It had a $30,000 prize pool and peaked at over 12,000 viewers. Activision hasn’t announced any tournaments for the rest of the regions yet. Considering the hype and competitive nature of the first-person shooter, though, it should only be a matter of time before it does. 

Clash Royale 

Clash Royale is looking to have another fabulous year in 2020 with the Clash Royale League. While fans are still awaiting the exact format for 2020, we can expect it to be similar to the system in 2019. The Clash Royale League runs in Asia, China, and the West with notable organizations like Fnatic and Team Liquid competing. The Clash Royale World Finals 2019 was held in December with a $400,000 prize pool. The 2019 World Finals saw a decline of over 63 percent in peak viewers compared to the 2018 Finals. The concurrent viewership dropped by 64 percent as well. While these may be troubling numbers, a huge part of the drop in viewers could be because Supercell didn’t give out any free goodies for watching the livestream of the CRL World Finals 2019. In 2018, players earned gold, chests, and even gems just from watching the livestream, which significantly increased viewer numbers.

The game has a dedicated player base and a properly structured esports format along with the backing of numerous tier-one organizations. ELEAGUE recently televised highlights from the CRL World Finals 2019 on TBS, a first for mobile esports. It also promised to continue creating more content around the game. With announcements like these, 2020 is looking bright for Clash Royale. 

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) is another mobile esport to watch out for. The game has been running esports competitions for over two years now in Southeast Asia, where it’s extremely popular. In 2019, however, the developer Moonton expressed desires to expand the game to newer territories. The M1 World Championship, the first of its kind for the MOBA game, featured a $250,000 prize pool. In addition to reserved slots for Southeast Asian countries, qualifiers were also held in the U.S., Brazil, Russia, and Turkey. The M2 World Championship will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

This move comes after MLBB’s main competitor, Arena of Valor, dropped countries like the U.S. from the Arena of Valor International Championship 2019—its premium international esports event. Expanding to new regions is a steep task for the developers with Riot Games scheduled to release League of Legends: Wild Rift for mobile in 2020, along with competition from other games such as NetEase’s Marvel Super War in which players can battle as characters from across the Marvel universe. Moonton is ready to take on this challenge, though, since it recently released MLBB 2.0. The launch of MLBB 2.0 includes a faster loading time, a more refined UI, and a completely new map, which makes the game one of the best mobile MOBAs on the market. 

League of Legends: Wild Rift

The last game on this list is League of Legends: Wild Rift. The game hasn’t been released, but Riot has promised to roll it out in 2020. Several leaks have shown gameplay footage of the game already and it’s similar to the PC version. While it may be too early to speculate about an esports scene for the game, it’s unlikely that Riot won’t try to push it in that direction.

In a recent interview, Hideo Hikida, a producer at Riot Games, told Mais Esports that Riot would “love to see the community embrace the game and move it forward in whatever way they can.” He further added that if this means that the community wants to see esports tournaments, Riot would love to give exactly that to the players. For now, fans have to wait until the game receives a release date before tournaments start happening.

 

 

Implicity eSports Gaming Company Announces

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Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company Announces Engagement of OutField Consulting for Corporate Sponsorship and Advertising Sales

Boca Raton, Florida, Jan. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company, (OTCQB:WINR) (“Simplicity Esports” or the “Company”), an established brand within the esports industry and an operator of esports gaming centers, today announced that it has selected OutField Consulting, a Brazilian-based sports marketing firm, to serve as a consultant for sponsorships and business development in the U.S. market, as well as in Brazil. OutField Consulting has a solid track record in the esports market in Latin America, having worked with top teams, brands and specialized agencies.

“Our retention of OutField Consulting is indicative of our commitment to engage with corporate sponsors in 2020. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with an industry leader, and join their roster of clients that includes StubHub, Flamengo Soccer Club, and Inter Milan Soccer Club. We believe engaging OutField Consulting puts us in a position to dramatically increase our brand awareness with fans, as well as endemic and non-endemic corporations,” Jed Kaplan, CEO of Simplicity Esports, commented.

“We are very excited to work with Simplicity Esports, as we firmly believe in their “brick-and-click” business model and in their vision for the esports industry. We look forward to leveraging Simplicity Esports’ unique positioning in the industry to merge online and offline strategies.” Pedro Oliveira, Founding Partner of OutField Consulting.

About Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company:

Simplicity Esports and Gaming Company (WINR) is an established brand within the esports industry, competing and streaming in popular games across different genres, including PUBG®, Fortnite®, League of Legends®, Overwatch®, Gears of War®, Smite®, and various other titles. Additionally, Simplicity Esports operates Esports Gaming Centers that provide the public an opportunity to experience and enjoy gaming and esports in a social setting, regardless of skill or experience.

PUBG®, Fortnite®, League of Legends®, Overwatch®, Gears of War®, and Smite® are registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains statements that constitute “forward-looking statements.” Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous conditions, many of which are beyond Simplicity Esports’ control, including those set forth in the Risk Factors section of Simplicity Esports’ Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on August 29, 2019, as amended or updated from time to time. Copies are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Simplicity Esports undertakes no obligation to update these statements for revisions or changes after the date of this release, except as required by law.

About OutField Consulting

OutField is a consulting firm focused on the traditional sports, esports and entertainment industries, while working to build innovative strategies in the U.S. and in Latin America. Working with companies such as Unilever, Microsoft, Wix.com, StubHub and New Balance, and sports organizations such as Flamengo, Club America and Inter Milan, OutField aims to translate brands’ strategies and goals in the sports/esports industry, while also supporting sports organizations in their strategies, management, fundraising and revenue generation.

 

 

 

Blizzard partners with ESL

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Blizzard partners with ESL, Dreamhack for esports events

Blizzard Entertainment announced on Tuesday that they will be partnering with ESL and Dreamhack for the next three years for their Hearthstone, Starcraft II, and Warcraft III: Reforged professional esports events. New formats will be announced as ESL will create Pro Tour events for both Starcraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged.

This deal is a great step forward for StarCraft II esports and creates an exciting new esports scene around Warcraft III: Reforged, said Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports. We’re deeply committed to bringing the best in competitive entertainment to fans and players around the world, and we’re thrilled to expand our collaboration with ESL and DreamHack in support of that effort.

The new ESL Starcraft II Pro Tour will include tournaments on at least four different continents, with the global finals moving from Blizzcon to the Intel Extreme Masters Championship in Katowice, Poland. ESL will also build a new competitive format for Warcraft III: Reforged.

The first season of ESL’s Starcraft II Pro Tour will be composed of seven total tournaments including Katowice 2020 and Katowice 2021. Two IEM competitions and four Dreamhack events will lead up to a Master Championship at IEM Katowice 2021.

We feel extremely honored to establish a new home for RTS esports fans and be responsible for two of the most prestigious esports titles of all time,” said Sebastian Weishaar, CPO at ESL. “ESL and DreamHack are deeply rooted within Blizzard esports games and have built ecosystems around them for years now. Tying both StarCraft II and Warcraft III into the ESL Pro Tour narrative is our contribution to these passionate communities and will provide both titles with a promising platform to continue writing esports history.

The Hearthstone Masters Tour will be doubling its number of events from three to six, with competitions in Arlington, Texas, Bali, Indonesia, Jönköping, Sweden, Montreal, Canada, and two other locations, one in Asia-Pacific and the other in Spain. The latter two event locations will be announced at a later date.

All six of the Masters Tour events will have a prize pool of at least $250,000 and additional crowdfunding options. Grandmasters Tour will also return for two more seasons in 2020 with a slight format change that will see all 16 players across three main regions (Asia-Pacific, Americas, and Europe) competing against each other for the first four weeks and earning placement points. These points will go toward division placements in the latter three weeks, when the two divisions will play internally in a round-robin. Playoffs will take place the final week.

 

 

Esports is coming to an IMAX

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Esports is coming to an IMAX theater near you

IMAX signed a deal with esports infrastructure startup Vindex to bring esports event live streams to the extra big screen, per Variety.

The startup will be tasked with creating unique experiences for fans across the globe to witness live streams of competitive video gaming. The deal will benefit the esports world as much as IMAX, which will likely be able to draw some extra viewers to theaters through the partnership as movie theater ticket sales decline in the US. 

As esports grow in popularity, the very digital medium is seeing success crossing over into physical spaces to further engage fans. While the companies have yet to announce which esports are set to live stream in IMAX, almost every major Esport has some form of live competitions that fans can either attend in person — usually at stadiums — or live stream from home. Both options tend to attract a high number of viewers: For example, tickets for the League of Legends World Championships, held across Berlin, Madrid, and Paris for its final, sold out in 8 seconds, and online viewership peaked at 44 million concurrent viewers across many digital platforms.

For comparison, the Wimbledon final — the world’s biggest tennis competition — hit a peak TV audience of 9.6 million. And ESL’s ISM Katowice esports competition brought in 174,000 attendees over the course of two-weekend finals in 2019. Further, Philadelphia, among other cities, is currently in the process of building out an entire stadium for the purpose of hosting esports events. These numbers, combined with esports’ explosion into pop culture in recent years, making it pretty clear there’s a huge audience for live esports experiences. While the IMAX events aren’t exactly the same as attending a competition in person, they will expand access to live, physical experiences around esports for those who can’t attend marquee events in person but crave a more communal viewing experience. 

In-person esports experiences could offer brands a unique opportunity to reach the enthusiastic, young, and global esports audience. For instance, the IMAX partner theaters would be wise to make space for brand booths, or other mini experiences, as is the case at live esports events now. These aspects pull fans into the experience and also present a lot of opportunity for revenue generation beyond advertising. And some of the standard forms of theater advertising could become available too, like pre-event trailers or commercials, or brand advertisements on tickets. However, it’s important to note that game developers and leagues are quite committed to striking a balance between brand presence and maintaining the fantasy of their game’s world.

That means that, while there are plenty of brands that sponsor esports teams or are otherwise represented at competitions, space is limited — and at least for now there’s likely more enthusiasm among brands hoping to reach the esports audience than there is an appetite among gaming organizations to sell ad space. So, while the IMAX-Vindex partnership will almost certainly create more opportunities for brands to reach esports fans, marketers will need to think hard about their approach to securing ad space. Typically, this means tailoring campaigns to a game or team, as esports fans and organizations place a high value on authenticity.

 

 

How To Invest In eSports

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How to Invest in Esports – 10 Esports Stocks to Know

By Will Hershey, Roundhill Investments

For most people, the concept of esports may be foreign. It seems strange that people would rather watch someone playing a game than play themselves. However, for the current generation of children and young adults, spectating video games has become a notably popular activity, one that could conquer the landscape of traditional live media, sports, and entertainment. Over the past few years, esports and game streaming have rapidly moved from the fringe to the mainstream, and viewership is challenging that of traditional sports.

On a global basis, Newzoo estimates that there are 173 million frequent viewers of esports and an additional 222 million occasional viewers today. By 2022, Newzoo expects the esports total audience to reach 645 million, roughly double the entire population of the United States. These figures may suggest esports has already become a mainstream form of entertainment, though the industry is still seeking more effective audience monetization channels. Uncovering these monetization channels is likely a key factor in industry revenue and profitability going forward.

While many opportunities to invest in esports are private, we designed the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports Index to provide exposure to esports via public companies. We identified four primary types of public companies that provide exposure to the esports ecosystem — games, media, hardware, and broad-based. In our analysis below, we highlight each type of company and provide examples of holdings from our Index.

Games – Publishers / Developers

Games companies are primarily involved in the business of developing and distributing gaming software. In several cases, these companies own and operate competitive esports leagues.

  • Game publishers benefit from ownership in the underlying intellectual property, and unlike traditional sports, these companies control the ecosystem surrounding that IP.
  • Historically, game publisher revenues have been hit-driven and dependent on one-time title sales. As the industry moves to a “games-as-a-service” model, publishers are increasingly able to monetize existing IP over longer time horizons.
  • As it relates to esports and game streaming, not all publishers are created equal. Certain game publishers are positioned for esports growth, with a lineup of competitive game titles, while others focus on casual gameplay.
Activision Blizzard (ATVI)

Market Capitalization: $45.0 billion

Activision Blizzard is a globally-leading developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software. The company operates three primary business segments: Activision (console-focused), Blizzard (PC-focused) and King Digital (mobile-focused). The company’s most popular esports franchises include Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, StarCraft, and Hearthstone. Activision Blizzard acquired King Digital, the company behind popular mobile franchise Candy Crush, and esports platform, Major League Gaming, in 2016.

Overwatch League: Activision’s Overwatch League was the first professional esports league to adopt a city-based, franchise model – a model very similar to that of traditional sports. For the 2019 season, the Overwatch League supported an ecosystem of 20 teams, including 13 in North America, 5 in Asia, and 2 in Europe, highlighting the brand’s global reach. According to various reports, Blizzard sold franchise slots for $25 million in year 1, and increased to more than $30 million for year 2. The Overwatch League also reportedly signed a two-year, $90 million deal with Twitch for exclusive media rights beginning in 2017.

Call of Duty League: Call of Duty is the best-selling first-person shooter franchise in video game history. Beginning in 2020, the professional Call of Duty League will adopt the city-based, franchise model first implemented in Overwatch. The inaugural season will feature 12 teams, including 10 based in North America, and 2 in Europe. Once again, franchise slots were reportedly sold for $25 million each.

Electronic Arts (EA)

Market Capitalization: $31.9 billion

Electronic Arts is one of the largest video game software companies in the world, currently ranked number two throughout Europe and North America in terms of revenue and market capitalization. EA publishes and distributes games, content and services on a variety of platforms, including consoles, PCs, mobile phones and tablets. Notable intellectual property includes established brands such as FIFA, Madden NFL, The Sims, and Battlefield, and newer releases Apex Legends and Anthem.

EA Sports

EA is the largest video game licensor of IP from traditional sports leagues, and as a result, is best-known for its sports simulation franchises, which include FIFA and Madden. FIFA is the 6th best-selling franchise in the history of gaming, having sold a reported 260 million copies as of 2018. Meanwhile, interest in competitive FIFA continues to grow. According to EA, the title’s 2019 eWorld Cup Grand Final viewership increased 60% percent versus 2018, setting a new record for the title.

Apex Legends

Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by EA. Following a “surprise launch”, the title amassed 25 million registered players in its first week, and 50 million in its first month. As early as three months following its launch, esports organizations began to field teams in Apex. The title has since been featured as part of the ESPN’s EXP program and Apex Legends has already distributed more than $2 million in prize money, including $500,000 at the inaugural Apex Legends Preseason Invitational held in Krakow, Poland. Viewership for the title has struggled to keep pace with its initial success, which was driven by a streamer-focused marketing campaign.

Media – Streaming Platforms, Live Events, Esports Teams

Esports media companies operate livestreaming platforms, entertainment properties, and / or esports events. These companies may also own or operate esports teams.

  • Esports media companies offer a derivative form of entertainment to the underlying games, allowing for increased engagement and monetization.
  • Unlike publishers, media companies are typically game agnostic, and their business models can adapt to the industry as new titles and genres gain in popularity.
  • The business models employed by esports media companies can vary significantly.

Huya (HUYA) & Douyu (DOYU)

Combined Market Capitalization: $6.3 billion

Tencent-backed Huya and sister company Douyu are two of the largest livestreaming platforms in China. Both companies operate as platforms for watching and interacting with live streamed content — focused on gaming and esports. As of their most recent filings, Huya and Douyu collectively accounted for 310 million monthly active users.

Huya

Huya currently derives more than 95% of its revenues from virtual gifting on its platforms, including core Huya and its subsidiary Nimo TV, a livestreaming platform focused on mobile in Southeast Asia and Latin America. In addition to its core business, Huya owns Royal Never Give Up (League of Legends Team) and the Chengu Hunters (Overwatch Team). Huya also recently announced a JV with ESL to expand its esports competitions into China.

Douyu

Compared to Huya, Douyu’s focus has been on content creators. Douyu employs an “exclusive contract model” whereby it signs streamers to 3-5 year contracts in exchange for salaries and a cut of virtual gifting revenues. For the first quarter 2019, Douyu derived more than 60% of revenues from exclusive streamers. In esports, Douyu has exclusive streaming rights to 29 major tournaments in China, including League of LegendsPUBG, and Dota 2.

Modern Times Group (MTGB SS)

Market Capitalization: $774 million

Modern Times Group (MTG) is a Sweden-based holding company focused on esports and gaming entertainment. MTG portfolio companies include strong global brands in the industry, including stakes in ESL (an esports league and events operator), Dreamhack (the world’s largest gaming and esports festival), Innogames, and Kongregate (online gaming companies). In 2019, the company completed a spin-off of Nordic Entertainment Group to become a pure-play on esports and gaming.

Turtle Entertainment (ESL)

ESL, formerly known as ‘Electronic Sports League’, is the world’s largest esports-dedicated company, offering services in gaming technology, event management, advertising, and media production. Each year, ESL runs 13 mega esports events with thousands of attendees and millions of viewers online. Most recently, ESL One hosted the Intel Extreme Masters Major in Katowice, Poland. The event saw attendance of 174,000 alongside 230 million viewers online.

Dreamhack

DreamHack is a Swedish production company specialized in organizing esports tournaments and conventions worldwide. DreamHack helped to pioneer esports and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest LAN (Local Area Network) party. By the end of 2019, Dreamhack will have hosted 15 events in 8 countries on 4 continents.

Enthusiast Gaming (EGLX CN)

Market Capitalization: $86 million

Enthusiast Gaming is a vertically integrated gaming media, esports and live events company. The company’s media segment owns and operates 100+ gaming websites, with more than 150 million unique monthly visitors. The company’s esports division is Luminosity Gaming, which owns / manages 7 esports teams including the Vancouver Titans (Overwatch) and the Seattle Surge (Call of Duty). Enthusiast also owns and operates the largest gaming expo in Canada, EGLX.

Luminosity Gaming

Luminosity Gaming, Enthusiast Gaming’s esports vertical, is Canada’s largest esports organization, consisting of 7 esports teams under ownership and management. The company’s roster includes 50+ influencers and content creators. Notably, popular streamer Ninja last competed for Luminosity before striking out on his own. Luminosity derives revenues from a combination of sponsorships, merchandise sales, prize revenues, management revenues, and league sharing revenues. They currently field teams and content creators in Overwatch, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, Madden, Smite, and Call of Duty.

Media Assets

Enthusiast Gaming’s digital media network of websites and YouTube channels is verified as the largest online gaming information network in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company’s notable properties include Destructoid, Escapist, and The Sims Resource, whereby it monetizes via a combination of digital advertising and subscription services.

Hardware

Gaming hardware companies produce peripherals (e.g. headsets, keyboards), gaming devices and processing units. These companies may act as endemic sponsors for popular streamers and esports organizations. As gaming becomes more competitive and increasingly popular, the hardware sector may benefit from increased demand.

  • As with media companies, gaming hardware manufacturers can provide game-agnostic exposure to the esports industry.
  • Gaming hardware companies generally produce products that appeal to a wide array of gamers, including casual players and esports professionals.
  • Hardware can be seen as the “picks and shovels” of the gaming industry.

Razer (1337.HK)

Market Capitalization: $1.4 billion

Razer is a leading gaming lifestyle brand, sporting the tagline “for gamers, by gamers”. Razer is best known for its hardware segment, which includes high-performance gaming peripherals and Razer Blade gaming laptops. Razer’s software vertical includes Razer Synapse (an Internet of Things platform), Razer Chroma (a proprietary RGB lighting technology system), and Razer Cortex (a game optimizer and launcher). Razer’s services business consists of Razer zGold and Razer Pay, an e-wallet targeting Gen Z.

Gaming Peripherals & Hardware

Razer is a global leader in gaming peripherals and hardware. The company’s Razer Huntsman Elite is the best-selling gaming keyboard in the US, while its Razer Blade is the best-selling high-end gaming laptop.

Team Razer

Razer is known as an endemic sponsor in esports, acting as the hardware partner for many of the top esports teams, including Immortals, Gen.G and Evil Geniuses. In total, they sponsor 18 organizations.

Turtle Beach (HEAR)

Market Capitalization: $127 million

Turtle Beach was founded in 1975 as Octave Electronics, a company focused on music and audio-related products, including analog music synthesizers and PC sound cards. Over time, the company leveraged its audio expertise and evolved into one of the world’s premier gaming headset brands. Turtle Beach is credited with creating the first ever console gaming headset and is the leader in the North American console headset market.

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach is the North American leader in gaming headsets, providing peripherals to everyone from casual gamers to esports professionals. Turtle Beach’s product line includes 21 console gaming headsets and 5 PC gaming headsets. In 2018, Turtle Beach posted a record year as a result of the “Fortnite Effect”. Fortnite, a battle royale title where 100 players compete in a single map, emphasized the importance of high-quality audio for casual gamers. In esports and streaming, Turtle Beach acts as an endemic sponsor. Notable partners include the Houston Outlaws (Overwatch), Astralis (CS:GO), and Dr. Disrespect (popular streamer).

Roccat

In May 2019, Turtle Beach acquired Roccat, a Hamburg and Taipei-based provider of PC mice, keyboards, headsets, and software. Roccat offers a complete line of gaming mice (9), keyboards (8), and headsets (5). The company is built on German engineering, offering unique innovations targeting PC gamers. The acquisition of Roccat represents expansion into a new vertical (PC gaming) and new markets (Europe and Asia).

Broad-Based

Broad-based companies are stakeholders in various segments in the esports value chain.

Sea Limited (SE)

Market Capitalization: $17.6 billion

Sea Limited is the leading digital entertainment and e-commerce company in Greater Southeast Asia (“GSEA”), which consists of the combined region of Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Formerly known as Garena, Sea was founded in Singapore in 2009. Sea’s business consists of three distinct verticals: Garena (digital entertainment), Shopee (e-commerce), and AirPay (digital payments).

Free Fire

Free Fire, Garena’s self-developed mobile battle royale, is one of the world’s most popular mobile games. As of August 2019, the game had more than 450 million registered users — for reference, Fortnite last reported 250 million registered users. The title is especially popular in Latin America and Southeast Asia, generating in excess of $1 billion cumulative revenues. Free Fire has a burgeoning esports scene as well — the Free Fire World Series 2019 achieved over 100 million cumulative views, with more than 1 million concurrent viewers for the Brazilian qualifiers.

Garena +

Garena+ is an online gaming platform. Through Garena+, the company publishes and distributes game software to Southeast Asia and Taiwan including Call of Duty: Mobile, Arena of Valor, and FIFA Online. Greater Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing gaming and esports market.

Tencent (700 HK)

Market Capitalization: $441.2 billion

In terms of revenue, Tencent is the largest gaming company in the world. In 2018, it earned more than $19 billion in gaming software sales, representing 18.4% of the global market. The Chinese company owns stakes in several notable game publishers, game developers, and livestreaming platforms.

Tencent’s ownership in game developers includes:

  • Riot Games 100%
  • Epic Games 48.4%
  • Bluehole 11.5%
  • Ubisoft 5%
  • Activision Blizzard 5%
  • Grinding Gear Games 80%
  • Supercell 84.3%
  • Frontier Developments 9%
  • Kakao 13.5%
  • Paradox Interactive 5%
  • Fatshark 36%
  • Funcom 29%
  • Sharkmob 100%

Tencent also owns Huya, Douyu, bilibili, and Discord.

Riot Games

Riot Games, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent, is an American game developer, publisher and esports tournament operator. The company’s flagship product is League of Legends, a multiplayer online battle arena game. League of Legends is one of the world’s leading esports, and was the highest-grossing PC esport globally in 2018 at $1.9 billion in revenues, according to Niko PartnersLeague is one of the oldest esports, having recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary by announcing 8 million daily active players. It is also amongst the most developed in terms of infrastructure and scale, with parent company Riot Games overseeing franchised leagues on 3 continents. In 2019, Evil Geniuses acquired a slot in the North American LCS for a reported $30.25 million. In addition to League of Legends, Riot released Teamfight Tactics in 2019, and announced plans to release a series of additional titles in the coming years.

Epic Games

Epic is a video game and software development company. Epic is best-known for publishing Fortnite, the world’s most popular battle royale game. In terms of esports, Fortnite will award the largest dollar figure in prize money of any esport in 2019, highlighted by the $30 million Fortnite World Cup. According to Niko PartnersFortnite generated $1.25 billion in 2018 on PC, with an additional $455 million from mobile (iOS only). In 2019, Epic Games purchased Psynoix, the developer of popular esport Rocket League. Epic Games’ additional properties include the Epic Games Store, and its Unreal Engine, one of the most successful game engines in the world. As of 2018, Epic Games was valued at an estimated $15 billion.

Summary

As highlighted above, there are various publicly-traded stocks that provide exposure to the esports ecosystem. Below is a summary of the ten companies we highlighted.

Selected Esports Stocks

Top 10 Esports Teams of 2019

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Top 10 Esports Teams of 2019 by Total Prize Winnings

Never in the history of esports has there been so much money awarded to competing teams. 2019 saw over $211M USD distributed over the course of 4490 tournaments played with many esports putting out record prize money.

Valve’s Dota 2 also saw record numbers as it put out $4M more in prize money than the previous year. However, the biggest reason for the increase in prize money in 2019 was Epic Games’ hugely popular title Fortnite, and the $79M it pumped into the esports ecosystem. Esports organizations left and right created teams in hopes of getting in on the Fortnite gold rush.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 teams that earned the most in competitive play in 2019 and see how Fortnite and Dota 2 affected the scene.

No. 10 – FaZe Clan: $3.166M (2018: No. 10, $2.78M)

FaZe Clan, mostly known around the world for its Call of Duty and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams, sees itself in the No.10 spot on this list with help from its battle royale teams.

Just over a third of the total prize money earned by FaZe Clan, $1.1M, comes from PUBG where it finished first in three tournaments and second to Gen.G at the PUBG Global Champion 2019. FaZe’s Fortnite squad checked in with just under a million at $964K.

FaZe Clan’s CS:GO and Call of Duty teams had total combined winnings of  $894K.

With $6M up for grabs in the franchised Call of Duty League starting in January, FaZe Clan will look to climb the charts next year.

No. 9 – Sentinels: $3.26M (2018: No. 237, $30.4K)

The second esports franchise to find entry into the top 10 based solely on Fortnite, Sentinels comes in at No. 9, carried on the back of Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf. At the age of 16, Giersdorf won Solos at the Fortnite World Cup and saw a $3M cash prize become his.

Sentinels get credit here for being the organization that represented Giersdorf, but the real story here, once again, is that if you can find the talent and aim it at the game with the biggest prize pool, good things can happen.

No. 8 – Team Secret: $3.31M (2018: No. 11, $2.32M)

Team Secret, the Dota 2 powerhouse, rocketed to the No. 8 earner in the esports world by virtue of taking home $3.10M throughout the Dota 2 season. The Dota 2 squad acquired just over $2M by finishing fourth at The International 2019.

However, Secret is looking to create winning opportunities by fielding teams in esports that do not cost as much to run. Until these other sports start paying dividends, it will have to rely on Dota 2 to see paydays. Additionally, Rainbow 6, Apex Legends, Age of Empires, PUBG Mobile, and Age of Empires II have earned another $213K in 2019.

No. 7 – Gen.G: $3.45M (2018: No. 17, $1.35M)

Gen.G Esports dominated the PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) scene, winning three major tournaments including the PUBG World Global Championship 2019 to the tune of $2.28M. PUBG was so important to the organization in 2019, that the battle royale title winnings were approximately 94% of its total.

The prize distribution percentage should change in 2020 as Gen.G has acquired a CS:GO team starting with three now former Cloud9 players. Timothy “autimatic” Ta, Damian “daps” Steele, and Kenneth “koosta” Suen are the new core that have winning pedigrees.

Gen.G has two steady income makers with the Seoul Dynasty (Overwatch League), and Gen.G which plays in the League Champions Korea (LCK).

No. 6 – Cooler Esport: $3.51M (2018: No. 297, $10K)

The little known esports organization came out of nowhere, racing into the No. 6 spot in this year’s list based solely on its winnings from playing Fortnite. Emil “nyhrox” Bergquist Pedersen and David “aqua” Wang took home $3M by winning Duos at the Fortnite World Cup.

With the amount of money being thrown into the esports prize pool ecosystem by the likes of Epic Games and PUBG Corp., it makes sense that some smaller organizations will reap the benefits of a cash windfall. 

Cooler is showing that you do not need to have a large organization to survive in esports. You just need to find an esport or two with large prize pools and finish high.

No. 5 – PSG.LGD Esports: $3.54M (2018: No. 3, $5.36M)

The second Dota 2 powerhouse to make the list, the Paris Saint-Germain-LGD partnership has worked out thus far as the roster took home $3.4M in winnings in 2019. The collaboration also includes its FIFA squad that took home $37K.

PSG.LGD is another example of how titles such as Dota 2, which gives out most of its prize money in the championship at the end of the season, can have such a profound effect on the ecosystem.

No. 4 – Lazarus: $4.22M (2018: No. 65, $354K)

The former SetToDestroyX organization has a new name and some different faces in management. The organization relies on a business model that sees itself play in a number of the smaller esports titles, in order to diversify its revenue stream. In 2019 it found a winner.

By qualifying six players for the Fortnite World Cup, Lazarus had six opportunities to finish well and take home a large share of winnings. Two of those players hit paydirt. 

With second and seventeenth finishes, respectively, in Duos at the Fortnite World Cup, Lazarus won $2.35M in prize money. Playing in the qualifiers and other Fortnite tournaments netted the Canadian organization another $1.3M in winnings which has put Lazarus on the map.

Lazarus fields teams in CS:GOHearthstonePUBG, and others, and looks poised to have a solid 2020 if it can repeat its Fortnite success and score wins in other esports.

“In 2020, we will continue to develop and sign a diverse and fiercely competitive portfolio across the esports landscape in pursuit of being top 10 globally ranked,” Lazarus Esports CEO Charlie Watson told The Esports observer. 

No. 3 – NRG Esports: $5.28M (2018: $945K)

NRG’s rise to the No. 3 spot on the list was done by doing one thing: winning in a myriad of titles. The San Francisco Shock won the Overwatch League in 2019 that saw a nice $1.5M payday. Additionally, the organization took home another $2.85M in Fortnite winnings.

NRG, however, did buck the trend a bit in 2019 by transferring their CS:GO team to Evil Geniuses, for what was reported as financial reasons. The team contributed $368K to NRG’s total prize winnings this past year.

Rocket League was another six-figure winner at $379K and the Apex Legends Squad pulled in $124K. With the announcement of the $3M Apex Legends Global Series launch in 2020, as well as joining the Call of Duty League as the owner of the Chicago Huntsmen, NRG could see some nice returns.

“2019 was a dream competitive year for NRG. All of our teams were at the top of their game winning a ton of tournaments and claiming two world championships,” NRG CEO Any Miller told The Esports Observer. “Our Gaming GMs Jaime Cohenca and Chris Chung built amazing rosters around our true secret weapons, world class coaches.” – CEO and Founder of NRG Esports Andy Miller.

No. 2 – Team Liquid: $9.40M (2018: No. 2, $6.69M)

Team Liquid has one of the most diverse portfolios when it comes to winnings earned from its competitive teams. 2019 saw much success from the North American organization as its Dota 2CS:GOLeague of Legends, and Fortnite teams had great years.

Liquid’s Dota 2 team made $5.08M mostly by virtue of finishing second at The International 2019 where it took home $4.46M for its trouble. However, perhaps the bigger story for Team Liquid was the success of its CS:GO squad, who at one time was the No. 1 team in the world, according to HLTV.org. 

The addition of Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip and Keith “NAF” Markovic to Team Liquid’s CS:GO team paid off in 2019 as it took home over $2.31M. Coupled with Team Liquid’s League of Legends squad and its contribution of $455K, Team Liquid had a solid year all the way around.

No. 1 – OG: $15.84M (2018: No. 1, $11.46M)

The No. 1 team of 2019 in prize money won should come as no surprise as the Dota 2 The International 2019 Champions won a staggering $15.81M; basically the entire 2019 winnings (Super Smash Bros. brought in $900).

By winning TI9, the five OG players saw themselves become the highest-earning players in the history of esports.

So if organizations are seeking to be No. 1 on this list next year, grab the best Dota 2 team you can and win it there.

Esports New Growth

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Esports new growth point of China’s gaming industry

Esports games have given new momentum to China’s gaming industry and are becoming a fresh growth point, said a report on China’s gaming industry in 2019.

Esports games created a sales revenue of 94.7 billion yuan (13.5 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019, up 13.5 percent year on year, according to the report released Thursday by China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association.

The number of the game users have increased for five consecutive years to 440 million this year, doubling that in 2015, said the report.

The report foresees strengthened talent cultivation and an improved employment system in the esports industry with the support of relevant policies.

Emerging games such as augmented reality games and virtual reality (VR) games are burgeoning. According to the report, the actual sales revenue of China’s VR games in 2019 reached 2.67 billion yuan (381 million U.S. dollars), registering a sharp growth of 49.3 percent from a year earlier.

China has 640 million game users in 2019 and the actual sales revenue of the country’s gaming industry totaled nearly 231 billion yuan, said the report.

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.

The Booming World of Gaming

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Esports: A look inside the booming world of gaming

With viewership and revenue booming, we take a look at the world of esports. According to the tech consulting firm Activate, an estimated 250 million people watch esports worldwide and most of them also play. Global esports revenue is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2022. Our reporter Yong Chim takes us behind the scenes of how the French team Vitality prepared for the 2019 F1 Esports Pro Series in London.

Also, we speak to our guest Nicolas Desombes about whether the discipline has managed to overcome bias.

And in Test 24, we try the competition-level kart Tandikart, which offers the disabled the opportunity to discover an extreme sport like racing while staying safe.