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All Megatrends ESports

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The Alpha Of All Megatrends: ESports

eSports is quickly becoming a dominant force across the world entertainment industry.

With growth set to continue, monetization will follow to around an easy $10 billion.

The industry is young, and so is the target audience. Decades of profits are ahead.

I don't use the word 'megatrend' lightly. It is a precarious word, full of hype and unrealistic expectations. People often think that they can invest in any one of the companies exposed to one of these trends and make bank. Such strategies have lost many people a lot of money over the decades. Think of railroads, airlines, and solar, all boasted as megatrends. Sweeping cemeteries could be filled with the remains of companies that had remarkably short lifespans, their megatrend status notwithstanding. That's not to say that some companies haven't ridden those waves to tremendous profitability. There are some. But it takes time, the maturing of the industry, one or more shake-outs to scrub the losers, and finally stability. Good luck picking the winners.

Most recently, the aging of America and the swelling senior population has been often cited as a megatrend. Yet, the situation is stuffed with nuance, which I wrote in detail about herehere, and here.

I mention all this to underscore the fact when I use the word megatrend, it is not some loose label or click-bait. When it comes to eSports, or the competitive video gaming industry, there is plenty of data indicating how huge the rise has been and will yet be. That isn't to say that there is no nuance here and you can just grab an eSports ETF and have your retirement secured. No, granularity and wisdom are always mandatory for true investing. Nonetheless, of all the megatrend waves to try and catch, I think this one is the easiest.

A Little History

Esports goes farther back than you might think. Ever heard of Spacewar!? It was developed in 1962 and features two spaceships dog-fighting around a gravity pulling star. This was the game featured in the first documented instance of an eSports tournament, hosted by Stanford University in 1972. Competitors played for a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

Fast-forward to 1980 and we find the first large scale tournament, with 10,000 competitors showing up to clash in Atari's Space Invaders. Then in 1983, the U.S. National Video Game Team was formed and took a bus tour around the country challenging arcade gamers to bouts and even tried organizing contests with other countries.

As the sport grew, so did the number of tournaments. From the Evolution Championship Series ("EVO") to the Nintendo World Championships (OTCPK:NTDOY), both players and spectators started flocking. EVO is of particular mention. Since its inception in 1996, it has occurred every year since 2000, with each year showing considerable growth in a variety of metrics. Featuring only fighting games such as Street Fighter, Smash Brothers, and the like, EVO has garnered a tremendous popular following. EVO 2019, held at the Mandalay Bay for three days in Las Vegas, had 9,000 participants and was streamed to millions of others via various streaming sites. Viewed hours totaled 5.73 million.

The internet has revolutionized the gaming industry. Consoles gave way to personal computers. The prevalence of computers naturally rose to a prevalence of computer gaming, with players able to compete, alone or on teams, against opponents thousands of miles away.

Esports has become so popular that an arena was constructed at The Luxor in Las Vegas to host gaming events:

The 30,000-square-foot, multilevel HyperX Esports Arena is designed to host every form of competitive gaming, from daily play to high-stakes esports tournaments, and features a competition stage, 50-foot LED video wall, telescopic seating, PC and console gaming stations, and a network TV-quality production studio.

A new $50 million dollar facility is under construction in Philadelphia. This is in addition to dedicated eSports facilities in Honolulu HI, Arlington TX, and Burbank CA. Other facilities are outfitting themselves to host eSports events occasionally like Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The worldwide architectural firm HOK, with 24 offices on three continents, is dedicating ever more personnel and resources to the field, imagining high tech and interactive eSports stadiums. HOK was in fact involved in the renovations to Boardwalk Hall mentioned above, as explained in a New York Times article:

HOK, a sports-focused architecture firm with a growing e-sports practice, which helped reconfigure the stage, change the lighting and set up a broadcast studio for live streaming, said Rashed Singaby, a firm senior associate whose previous work includes the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons.

HOK, based in Kansas City, is funneling more resources into the growing field. Two years ago, it had no designers working on e-sports; today, it has 15, said Mr. Singaby, who added he has had commissions for five e-sports projects in the past year.

Developers are now knocking on HOK's door, including owners of empty big-box stores hoping to repurpose them, Mr. Singaby said.

"The numbers don't lie," he added. "The commitment to this ecosystem has been gigantic in the last 10 years. We don't think this is going away."

The parallels to professional physical sports are apparent. Interestingly, eSports has attracted the attention of professional athletes. Back in 2016 previous NBA star Shaquille O'Neal and MLB players Alex Rodriquez and Jimmy Rollins invested in NRG eSports, a professional group that plays League of Legends and Counter-Strike:

I am not suggesting that we use professional athletes as a gauge for whether or not an investment should be made. Rather, my point is that eSports is getting noticed. It is huge and growing. What was once a corner for people to point and laugh it is becoming mainstream, credible, competitive, and scalable.

Massive institutions are in on the action. eSports sponsors include Intel, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Red Bull, Mountain Dew, T-Mobile, Audi, and Airbus. eSports events have occurred in London, Madrid, Hong Kong, Paris, and many others.

A Word On League of Legends

This particular game has become so important it deserves a section all its own. League of Legends, currently the most popular game in the world, is one I have personally had considerable experience with as a player and as a spectator. As most who have played will attest, it is addicting. Launched in 2009 by Riot Games [acquired in 2015 by Tencent (OTCPK:TCTZF) (OTCPK:TCEHY)], League of Legends has 80 million monthly users and 27 million daily users across 145 countries. From 2011, that is a CAGR of 36% and 33% between monthly and daily users, respectively. The 2018 League of Legends world championship had more viewers than the NFL Superbowl from that same year. The LoL Esports page on YouTube has 3.2 million subscribers. The video of the 2019 World Championships on that same page has had 5.1 million views. While it is free to play, the game relies on micro-transactions to earn revenue. For example, people can pay to get different "skins", outfits if you will, for the characters they play. Riot brought in $1.4 billion of revenue in 2018. As they and other platforms continue working on monetizing their products, hefty profits will follow. A dedicated eSports facility, complete with dining area and gift shops, sits adjacent to Riot's headquarters in Los Angeles.

So it's popular. But is it profitable?

This is the question that investors want answers. While there is plenty of money involved in eSports, where and when it flows is tricky. An April 2018 article from gameanalytics explains it well:

eSports has come far in 20 years, but while it might be rivaling professional sports leagues in terms of viewership, the financials are a different story. The NFL was expected to generate $14 billion in revenue in 2017, with the NBA hitting $7.4 billion. At its most optimistic level, Newzoo forecasts that global eSports revenue could reach $2.4 billion in 2020.

Video games can be hard to monetize, especially those offered online. The list is long of free to play titles: League of Legends, Fortnite, World of Tanks, Apex Legends, and Hearthstone among many others. These games require people to spend money on extras, which is not necessarily a given or consistent.

That being said, higher education is catching on to the trend, indicating that the space has moved from hobby to profession, as told by a Forbes article:

Ohio State will debut an 80-seat facility in the fall (of 2019) around the time it debuts what it calls "a first-of-its-kind comprehensive esports program" that will include "undergraduate and graduate degrees; an elective course in esports content production; online certification programs for specialized credentials; and a gaming speaker series."

Smaller schools such as the University of North Texas have been engaged in esports for even longer. UNT opened a $200,000 esports facility in 2017, open to any student or faculty member but designed specifically for competition training.

And the 40-year-old private Full Sail University is building a significant portion of its campus life and work opportunities around a new esports arena, team and club, said the school's esports strategist Bennett Newsome.

What the Future Holds

We have established that eSports is ridiculously popular and will very likely continue to grow. We have also established that the monetization of video games has been elusive, and currently sits at a pretty low level. But if the popularity can be coupled with profitable monetization, you have a true megatrend. That was the topic of a fascinating article from venturebeat that is worth reading in entirety, but I will quote and summarize. The article was based on a webinar wherein industry experts held a panel discussion to address the issue of monetization. Some main points:

- Like professional sports, eSports can earn money from media distribution rights, live events, advertising, sponsorship, merchandising, and prize winnings. Unlike professional sports, however, the games themselves are owned, which introduces another avenue of monetization. No one owns football. No one owns basketball. They are without copyright. This is in stark contrast to video games, which are intellectual property and which are owned. Robb Chiarini, director of eSports at Ubisoft, spoke to this in some detail:

If you've ever heard me talk about these things, I talk about how traditional sports have to sell media rights. They have to have sponsors. They have to have advertisers. They have to have all this influx of money, because they don't have anything, at the end of the day. They don't own the ball. You and I could start up a new football league tomorrow if we wanted to and no one can stop us from using that sport as a vehicle for a program. We'd get our own sponsors, do our own things, and we could do anything we wanted. Nobody owns the IP of the football.

With video games, we're in a very different place, in that we can look at things differently if we choose to. As many esports start up, they look at it going, hey, this is a marketing a vehicle, a messaging vehicle, an engagement vehicle, a community retention and engagement vehicle, rather than a P&L against a thing to provide an entertainment that creates profit. For us, owning the game gives us the opportunity that every activity we do, every dollar we spend on an esport, is actually a way for us to engage with our existing communities, create viewership, create playership, create opportunities for monetization within the game and on the game itself.

All of that is super interesting. I believe esports has the biggest leg up against traditional sports in that way. Adding to that-I agree with your list, merch and media rights and things. There are some other things that are interesting. Gambling is out there in the space, not that I'm a proponent or otherwise, but that's a revenue stream that's out there in the world. Fantasy leagues, gambling sites, things like that. Another thing we do in esports, or in gaming in general, is interactive money. When you look at things like Twitch Bits and things of that nature that allow people to purchase around the game, that's different from the traditional sports. That's another revenue opportunity within the ecosystem, and for all of gaming.

Revenue for eSports was $906 million in 2018, broken down as follows:

Jonathan Singer, industry strategist at the content delivery network, cybersecurity, and cloud service provider Akamai mentioned the following to elaborate on that above graph:

I have a little bit of a bomb to throw, which I feel is a good way to start off a panel. That is, we talk about where the revenue is growing to. I think it's supposed to be $904 million this year and then a billion soon enough, with 380 million global viewers. That's a nice size of audience. But when you do the division there, you're talking about $2.60 a user... Is that enough money to go around? It's not a lot of money yet. I know we're growing as an industry, but when we're talking about revenue models, you have to talk about how we're getting there and how we get-everyone's fighting for a slice of that pie.

While today that sounds bad, it also underscores the opportunity, as Kent Wakeford, chief operating officer at eSports organization Gen.G pointed out:

I think what you just framed up is one of the most exciting opportunities in esports. Goldman Sachs had a report recently where they showed that the average esports consumer monetized to about $3.94. Whereas the average consumer in traditional sports is monetizing to about $54. That means there's a 10X opportunity within the esports market to grow and build those connections with fans, to bring them things they're willing to pay for, for their excitement and their fandom and their engagement with teams and players. I view that as an opportunity.

When I look at the revenue growth drivers in esports, I think they're all way under what the reality is going to be. We see it in the viewership. We see what's happening on a global basis with stadiums being built all around the world - in the U.S., in China, in Korea. We see brand sponsors coming in. We see bigger media rights deals happening. We see merchandise. We just saw the announcement with the Overwatch League and Fnatic doing merchandise. It's moving at a much faster speed than a lot of the industry reports have been putting out. That's the opportunity. That's why you see so much capital coming into esports.

The Silver Screen

Another avenue for profitability is turning video games into full-length movies. This has already been happening to some success with the titles "Pokemon: Detective Pikacho", "Rampage", and "Angry Birds 2", "Tomb Raider", and "Prince of Persia". I imagine the trajectory here being similar to how sports have become inexorably tied to cinema. What with hugely popular movies like "Field of Dreams", "Hoosiers", "Miracle", "Rocky", "Rudy", "Remember the Titans", "Radio" and others, don't be surprised to see movies based on video games taking their place among the most popular movies. The difference with video games is that, as was mentioned before, no one owns the rights to football or basketball. I could make a sports movie today and not have to pay a dime of royalties. However, if I tried to make a movie about one of the champions from League of Legends without getting the rights and paying a handsome fee, I could be sued. This could be a vast source of revenue and growth.

See, League of Legends has considerable lore surrounding each of the 146 characters you can play as. Their stories are distinct, yet many are tied to one another. The structure is already in place to make full length features films derived from this lore. In fact, the folks at Riot have already put some stories to cinematics. Feel free to conduct a YouTube search of your own, but this clip tells the story of one Lucian seeking to free the soul of his deepest friend, Senna, who was killed by Thresh, a soul collector:

As the popularity of League of Legends continues to grow, expect big-name studios to start launching themselves into these gamer worlds.

Even the mighty Amazon (AMZN) is getting heavily involved. They purchased the video gamer streaming service Twitch in 2014. Twitch has 15 million daily active users.

Asia

In all my talk of megatrends, I have to mention Asia here. Everyone has talked about Asia, and China in particular, as the next big growth markets. Successful investing in these regions has been challenging as the situation is filled with complications. As it relates to video games, it is valuable to understand the cultural role technology and video games have there. Traditional sports, as we would term them, don't have a huge place in Asian culture. Children are encouraged to study rather than exercise. In contrast, video games are massive in the region. eSports professionals are celebrities. Regarded as the best League of Legends player in history, "Faker" of South Korea is paid $2.5 million dollars a year to play for the eSports squad SK Telecom T1. He dropped out of high school to get on the team.

China alone makes up 57% of the global eSports audience. Ann Hand, CEO of Super League (SLGG), an eSports community and content platform said, "The first place you should go if you care about gamers is Asia, and specifically Greater China, as fast as possible."

If Asia is the next big growth market, video gaming is the industry that will be among those to lead the way there.

Where Traditional Sports and eSports collide

Never ones to look down their nose at potential profits, the world of traditional sports is hitching their wagon to eSports. Nike recently disclosed a four-year sponsorship of the League of Legends Pro League ("LPL") in China. They are to provide shoes and apparel to 16 teams in the region. Of the deal Nike said:

Since its inception, Nike has always believed that in all sports, a strong body and will make athletes better. As China becomes a new e-sports cultural center, Nike is pleased to support the next generation of athletes and establish a long-term cooperative relationship with e-sports to contribute to the future development of sports ecology."

This isn't all. Adidas has signed agreements with the French team Vitality. Puma has linked up with North American team Cloud9 to create signature apparel for gamers. While not necessarily inevitable or to happen soon, eSports may even become part of the Olympic games. A forum was held by the International Olympic Committee and the International Sports Federation last July to discuss the matter. They are steering clear of involvement for now, but the fact that the discussion was had at all is revealing. The proverbial ball is rolling.

Brief Exploration and Conclusion

The final point to make is that the audience for eSports is young. The average video gamer is between 20 and 25 years of age. There are many decades of monetization ahead as these fans age and bring up their own children in the video gaming culture. This is in contrast to traditional sports, where recent data has shown considerable waning interest. The average NFL viewer is 50 years old. MLB is 57 years old. MBA and NHL is 49. This is amid a backdrop of plummeting viewership and emptier stadiums. eSports is young. It is growing. Money is flowing into it. But the best part is that the ship has not set sail yet, as it were. Remember the stats from above where the average eSports consumer monetized to about $3.94 vs. the $54 for traditional sports? Recall also that people are watching eSports more than they are watching the Superbowl. As eSports monetization closes the gap on traditional sports, lucrative might be an understatement. As firms figure out how to monetize eSports, and they are, it is going to be fantastically profitable.

The opportunity exists because profitability has lagged popularity, for now. A quick look at some of the top names in the space shows that market participants are concerned about growth. Tencent currently trades at $43, well off the all-time high of $60 back in the first part of 2018. Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is trading around $55, while back in mid-2018 they were above $80. The breather is an opportunity to buy while monetization takes shape.

As it relates to valuations, value investing purists might shy away from the high P/E ratios of Tencent at 32 or Activision at 25. I prefer to consider these ratios in context, and for both companies, their respective P/E ratios are well off their five year average P/Es of 43 and 51. In that respect, they are cheap. In fact, all the other traditional valuation measures (P/S, P/FCF, etc.) for Tencent are below 5-year averages. Activision is more of a mixed bag. If value is your thing, Tencent may be the better choice. Activision Blizzard owns Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Candy Crush. Tencent owns League of Legends and has a 40% interest in Fortnite. It terms of the most popular games and in demand content, these two are the winners. That should be a good starting point for individuals to conduct their own due diligence.

For exposure to a more pure eSports model, Super League Gaming is interesting in that it doesn't own any games but rather operations in the content delivery and interactive platform space. It connects players through its cloud. They specifically market themselves to the sub-pro audience. The CEO is aiming to create a "Little-League" for eSports. This niche player might be interesting to explore. They had their IPO earlier this year at $8.50 but currently trade at $2.74.

In light of that brief overview, in my upcoming articles, I am going to start jumping into this sector head first. I will begin by exploring several eSports and video-gaming ETFs (NERD) (ESPO) (VIDG) and then move on to individual companies such as Activision Blizzard, Tencent, and Super League Gaming. I hope you join me. For now, the best way to play the trend is to either A) buy one of the above mentioned ETFs or B) buy the stock of the companies who own the more popular titles in the eSports and gaming world.

Esports ETF creator

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Esports ETF creator breaks down the current state of the industry

It’s been a big year for esports.

Between record multimillion-dollar prize pools in Fortnite and Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2) as well as research firm Newzoo’s prediction that the industry will exceed $1 billion in revenue this year, the esports hype is well and alive.

And the creator of one esports ETF says the industries about to get even bigger and better.

Will Hershey, co-founder and CEO of Roundhill Investments, launched the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF (NERD) in June to give investors a way to play the esports space, especially as it continues its global expansion. Esports has historically thrived in Asia, with China and South Korea as two big regions for the industry, but the North American market has exploded in recent years.

Now NERD may not have been the first esports ETF on the market – that honor goes to VanEck’s Video Gaming and Esports ETF (ESPO) -- but Hershey emphasizes that NERD seeks to give investors a more pure exposure to the esports market.

“What we’re trying to do [is] provide people that core exposure, and maybe not go outside the risk curve and look at things like Microsoft and Amazon that really aren’t getting you what we’re talking about,” he said on CNBC’s “ETF Edge.”

So while an ETF like ESPO offers exposure to a plethora of game publishers, NERD’s holdings feature the likes of media-related companies like Chinese streaming platform Douyu and hardware companies like Turtle Beach in addition to a handful of major game publishers. Over half of the 25 companies held in the ETF are from Asia including Tencent, whose ownership of major esports-related companies like Riot Games leads Hershey to describe it as “a mini gaming ETF” in and of itself.

And on the subject of Tencent, Hershey also points out that there could be one risk factor coming out of China.

“I think if you’re going to point out risk factors [for esports], I’d more look towards the regulatory environment we’ve seen in China,” he said. “We saw [regulation in 2017 and in 2018] where we actually had a ban on new games coming to market. That’s kind of one of those ancillary risks that we would point to.”

But Hershey also stresses the global nature of the NERD portfolio in mitigating possible headwinds. And despite past regulations in China, which is a major market for gaming, Hershey points out that the gaming industry is still growing at a rapid pace.

“For us, it always comes back to the data,” said Hershey. “You’re talking about a gaming industry that’s $150 billion this year, growing at about 10% per year. That’s larger than the music and movie industries combined.”

“I think it’s only a matter of time before those larger investors start catching wind of how big this industry is,” he added.

Since it launched on June 4, the NERD ETF is up over 1%.

2019 Esports Production Summit

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2019 Esports Production Summit: Pro Leagues Embrace Esports To Reach New Fans

Professional sports leagues continue to embrace esports, and their efforts was the topic of discussion during one of the panels at SVG’s Esports Production Summit last week in Los Angeles.

Matt Arden, head of content and media, NBA 2K League, NBA, emphasized the importance of managing workflow, with upwards of 55-60 operators involved in every NBA 2K event.

“The need [is] to be able to turn on a dime, and everyone has to be comfortable abandoning a rundown,” he explained. “Insights have to flow up to the front bench, and it is definitely a hand-raise environment, where information flows freely. With four game admins and game operators, there is a whole host of non-traditional production in the truck. You’re overseeing a much larger broadcast than just calling shots.

One thing everyone agreed on is that, given how much the competition matters, the tips and tricks, often done on a VOD basis, are essential. “We doubled down on tips and tricks,” Arden reported.

Joe Lynch, head of broadcast, EA, concurred, adding that EA finds that about 90% of fans watch so that they can learn and get better. With upwards of 12 hours of content created a day, there is plenty of fodder for tips and tricks.

“Tips and tricks are always what people want,” he added.

One of the unique challenges facing the traditional leagues when it comes to esports is serving all the fans. NBA 2K, for example, has 13 in-game cameras, and producing the coverage in a way that appeals to the novice and the hardcore fan is a key goal.

“The hardcore fan is so adamant about the way they like the coverage,” said Arden. “Minute to minute, it’s a struggle to try and crack, but it is fun to try and crack it.”

Jeff Politsch, head of broadcast, eNASCAR, NASCAR Productions, said that his production control is very traditional, with upwards of six observers plus a traditional-production person keeping eyes open for various battles. “They want to give the directors what they need,” he said.

NASCAR also does a two-box, with the game in one box and the drivers in the other. “Viewers can watch what they want to watch,” he explained. “Going forward, we have tons of other opportunities and options to figure out what the audience wants. It’s always evolving.”

Another challenge is that the constant action in esports competitions makes it difficult to fit in feature stories and profiles that can enrich the coverage. The latest version of Madden is much more run-heavy, and that makes it particularly difficult to get stories in because the clock is almost always ticking.

“You can do a five-minute piece and just watch the viewership go down,” said Lynch. “And worse, you can’t bail out of it.”

The NBA2K challenge in storytelling is that there is only a six-week period to learn about the players and attempt to create content. As a result, the league creates very quick, short-form documentary series, like Draft Hopefuls, that can be shot in a day.

Adam Poel, partner/director, productionDefacto Entertainment; supervising broadcast producer, NBA 2K League, has found that adapting to a new way of doing a broadcast has been fulfilling. “The fans are not shy about letting you know what they want,” he noted.

And, although a new game may seem small today, you never know where it might end up, he added: “Small doesn’t mean it won’t become like League of Legends or bigger.”

Games Market Trends

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Games Market Trends and Publishers to Watch in Southeast Asia: The World’s Fastest-Growing Mobile Games Market

Southeast Asia’s games market is growing rapidly. In 2019 alone, it will generate game revenues of more than $4.3 billion—a remarkable year-on-year growth of +13.9%, as shown by Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report. Linked to this impressive growth is SEA’s rapidly increasing online population, a byproduct of the region’s increasing number of smartphone users.

The SEA games market is like no other in the world, in terms of tastes, top publishers, and more. In this article, we explore the market’s games landscape, zooming in on notable local and foreign game companies’ performance in the exciting region.

We focus on the six markets that make up the majority of Southeast Asia’s gaming market: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Many publishers across the globe are already targeting SEA, with some striking results. The swell in the number of SEA’s smartphone users is reflected in the region’s mobile games market, which boasts revenues of $2.6 billion this year and year-on-year growth of +17.4%, making SEA the fastest-growing mobile games market in the world.

This year, these mobile revenues will account for 69.4% of the region’s overall game revenues, compared to PC’s 22.3% and console’s 8.3%. While console, mobile, and PC revenues are each growing in the region, mobile is growing the fastest, as shown by mobile’s share of game revenues growing from 67.3% in 2018 to this year’s 69.4%. Naturally, the mobile-first nature of SEA’s games market means that publishers with a focus on mobile are dominating. And companies both local and overseas are vying for a piece of this high-potential growth region.

Is Mobile’s Dominance in Southeast Asia’s Games Market Sustainable?

For many publishers and developers trying to find success in the market, mobile is the go-to point of entry. There are many reasons for this; firstly, from a development perspective, the development process is often simpler for mobile titles, compared to console and PC. On a consumer level, smartphones are more affordable (low- and mid-spec devices, in particular), and consumers already use them for other aspects of life—social, business, and other leisure activities.

Most mobile games, including the most popular and highest-grossing titles, use the free-to-play monetization model. This model is not yet the standard for PC and console; although, it is becoming more popular. But that’s not to say revenues from these free-to-play mobile games are less sustainable.

Mobile is leading the charge for innovative monetization, and the most successful mobile titles, including Pokemon Go and Honor of Kings, can retain players—and payers—for as long as most of the biggest titles on PC and console. Many of these monetization techniques are also trickling into console and PC titles.

Despite mobile’s dominance and increasing market share, console-and-PC revenues are still on the rise in the region. PC-and-console developers are continuing to invest in SEA, in line with the population’s growing disposable income, giving consumers the means to spend more on entertainment and the technology that comes with it.

The growing population in the region presents an attractive opportunity for console- and PC-first publishers. Adding to this, Ubisoft and EA are already consistently ranked among the largest game publishers in SEA (by revenues), thanks to their widely known IP strong content offering on console and PC.

As SEA continues along its strong growth trajectory, it could also be the ideal environment for cloud gaming. After all, one of the promises of cloud gaming is easy consumer access to a range of titles, without them needing to own expensive, high-end hardware.

The technology could mark an inflection point of gaming in Southeast Asia, bridging the gap between AAA PC-and-console and the region’s mobile-first playerbase. As things stand, publishers are making less-demanding versions of their titles specifically for markets like SEA—PUBG Lite on PC, for example. Cloud gaming may disrupt this, bringing a range of high-fidelity games to Southeast Asian gamers.

Successful Local Publishers in the Mobile-First Market of Southeast Asia

Local company Sea Group (previously known as Garena) is one of the top publishers in the region, having previously built a name for itself by publishing and localizing Chinese company Tencent’s games in SEA. The company released its first original IP and title, Free Fire, last year. The title was a huge hit in Southeast Asia, dramatically spiking Sea Group’s revenues in the region, with Thailand accounting for the highest share.   

Free Fire’s success was not just limited to SEA, however, with the game also performing well in another growth market: Latin America.

Sea Group’s success came at a critical time, as Tencent decided to self-publish PUBG Mobile in most markets in SEA, signaling that Sea Group could no longer rely on publishing Tencent’s games to solidify its position in the region. As of November 2018, however, Vietnamese company VNG has been the publisher for PUBG Mobile in Vietnam, leading to a significant increase in its revenues and made it one of the region’s notable local game companies.

Singapore-based publisher I Got Games (IGG) is another top player in SEA, with its large number of titles across PC and mobile; however, its mobile revenues are declining in the market—a result of the publisher’s aging roster of games, which include the popular Lords Mobile.

Finnish company Supercell has faced similar issues but has since started to regain its position, owing to the success of one of its more recent titles, Brawl Stars, in the region. This highlights the importance of releasing new games in offsetting player fatigue.    

Chinese and Korean Companies Continue to Invest in—and Double Down on—the Southeast Asian Market

Tencent continues to be one of the region’s top-performing game publishers in terms of revenues, boasting strong year-on-year growth in terms of revenues, helped in no small part by the ongoing popularity of PUBG Mobile in the region. Tencent is also planting the seeds for future revenue success in SEA’s growth markets, thanks to PUBG Mobile Lite, which features less-demanding minimum specification requirements and download sizes compared to ordinary PUBG Mobile—perfectly accommodating for the devices in the emerging mobile (gaming) market.

Other Chinese companies are also making moves in the region. Two notable publishers are ZlongGames and GAMENOW; the former company had multiple had a slew of releases this year that fared extremely well in the market, RPG Laplace M and strategy game Langrisser chief among them.

Similarly, GAMENOW struck success in the region with MMORPG game Mu Origin 2.  Chinese company EFUN, however, decided to shift its focus from SEA to South Korea earlier in the year, which is reflected in the company’s decreasing mobile revenues across the region.

Speaking of South Korea, some of the country’s developers are also performing very well in Southeast Asia. Gravity, a subsidiary of GungHo, has doubled down on the region, investing heavily to promote its IP in the region—particularly the Ragnarok franchise. The results are clear, with the company’s revenues skyrocketing since 2018.

Korean company NEXON also enjoyed increased revenues in the region, mostly thanks to Maple Story and FIFA ONLINE. This trend is echoed in the company’s global numbers, though, with NEXON boasting back-to-back record-breaking quarters.

The diversity—by location and games library—of games companies demonstrate the uniqueness of SEA’s games market. What’s more, the individual markets within Southeast Asia are singular and have vastly different preferences from one another. 

Compare different markets within another region, for example, within Western Europe or South America, and you will find far more consistency. This makes targeting relevant markets within SEA vital for any company looking to rollout their game—or strengthen their presence— in the region. In future articles, we will be shining the spotlight on individual markets with Southeast Asia, as well as other successful publishers.

The Esports Phenomenon Brings New Challenges

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White Paper: The Esports Phenomenon Brings New Challenges and Opportunities in Media Tech

There are few current trends in media and entertainment as exciting and fast-growing as esports (an umbrella term encompassing competitive gaming across a number of distinct games). Growing out of the humble origins of arcade tournaments and online-game play-throughs, esports has experienced a meteoric rise recently, although tournaments have been broadcast by such channels as GIGA since the early 2000s.

Still, the growth that media organizations have witnessed in the past half decade has been immensely impressive. In 2018, Newzoo predicted that, by 2021, esports will become a bigger industry than traditional professional athletics, and the industry will see its first $100 million media-rights deal (an incredibly ambitious forecast). In a follow-up piece published in early 2019, it predicts an audience of 645 million viewers by 2022.

With this evolution comes a wealth of opportunities for organizations driving growth across media technology, especially those that better enable remote production and help facilitate fast, global multichannel distribution. This dynamic vertical combines the broadcasting opportunities of live sports coverage and entertainment with exciting differentiating factors that demand the aforementioned capabilities. If media-tech enterprises want to seize on this boom, understanding the unique nature of esports production and distribution is important: there are some different challenges and opportunities compared with traditional sports productions.

Esports’ Rise on the Leaderboard Explained

Although gaming tournaments have been around since the 1970s, esports as we know it bloomed in the 1990s, in the time of games such as DOOM, Unreal Tournament, and Starcraft. Still, the rate at which esports has gone from niche hobby to mainstream phenomenon in more recent years is impressive, to say the least.

In a 2013 PCWorld article, writer Andrew Groen argued that the state of professional PC gaming could be attributed to its massive “economic rise of Asia.” Although esports had looked like a dying industry in the early 2000s, he suggested that the availability of free PC gaming centers and the prominence of competitive PC gaming in countries like South Korea not only helped to rescue esports but to position it for the mass appeal it’s currently enjoying.

Today, pro gaming is a dynamic and lucrative business on nearly every continent and shows no signs of slowing down. With a wide range of games — such as League of Legends (LoL), DOTA 2, the aforementioned Overwatch, Counter-Strike, and Fortnite — competitive-gaming enthusiasts can easily find a challenge that suits their individual tastes.

With the introduction of streaming-community services like Twitch, professional-gaming competitions are as accessible as the largest sports events (for example, the 2017 LoL semifinals had a viewership of more than 80 million people), and major brands like Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, DHL, Coca-Cola, and Spotify have arranged sponsorship deals with global leagues like OWL, ESL One, or IEM. And Disney XD, ESPN, and ABC have teamed up with the leagues to form broadcast partnerships. Brands are beginning to recognize esports as one of the best ways to market to younger demographics, who might otherwise be harder to reach, and it’s likely that these sponsorships will only increase in prevalence.

Bringing Content to the Masses

Now that it’s clear that esports is a big deal and only getting bigger, it’s essential that media-technology businesses understand what this means for them: how they fit into the emerging puzzle.

Recently, VentureBeat published the transcript of its esports panel at the 2019 National Association of Broadcasting (NAB) convention. The wide-ranging conversation explored the nuances of broadcasting esports competitions and how they superficially resemble regular sports broadcasting while exhibiting some fundamental differences (more-complex technology, the integration of additional workflows such as social-media promotion, etc.) in the production needs.

Matt Edelman, chief commercial officer, Super League Gaming, suggests, “If you’re interested in esports [and] relatively new to esports, it will help if you think of esports as sports.”

Although this is definitely a helpful way to consider its current cultural import, from a production and broadcast standpoint, there are some crucial distinctions. Certainly, some of the same technology and production equipment is used, but we see critical differentiators in production workflows. Esports events are often much longer, so that logging and metadata become key for postproduction and social-media teams. Furthermore, we have to consider the in-game workflows and the different limitations coming from the observer itself.

Although traditional sports and other live events have started to adopt at-home, or centralized, production, esports seems to be pushing that model further and faster to reduce production costs and streamline global workflows. Additionally, at-home production makes central archiving easier, allows postproduction and social-media teams to stay at home, involves less opex, and ensures that employees don’t have to travel unnecessarily.

With this model, much of the editing, creation of graphics, and addition of audio effects is done predominantly at a home facility away from the venue. This means that every single one of these massive events requires solutions that can facilitate constant, complex workflows that depend on swift and secure file transfers to and from the venue in near real time over public and private IP networks.

Furthermore, we see much faster adoption of cloud-based workflows in the esports industry as well. That isn´t really a big surprise, when we consider that all the multiplayer games are living in the cloud already. With major publishers operating their own private WANs around the world, it´s just a natural step to shift more and more traditional broadcasting jobs into the cloud. A good example is Blizzard’s OWL production. Blizzard uses AWS Services to add localized graphics for different MRLs and regions and to transcode up to 37 individual video streams.

The ability of broadcasters to handle all these components and production conditions as quickly as possible is absolutely essential for, as VentureBeat notes, the battle for eyeballs, which is particularly hectic with esports. In addition, social-media relevance demands deployment of content ASAP. Even posting content five minutes late can make it less desirable.

Moreover, although a football or basketball game might be broadcast only on a single channel because of exclusive media-rights deals, esports events are often broadcast on multiple channels across multiple platforms without geo-blocking. Therefore, being able to move content quickly and create dynamic and attention-grabbing coverage under the real-time pressures of a given tournament is vital.

The final component that makes esports such fertile ground for media-technology businesses is the timeframe in which events take place. Since the debut of Twitch, gamers have been able to stream uninterrupted for days, and esports competitions can last an entire weekend or longer. Gaming fans are used to tuning in for extended periods, and, whereas a basketball game might just take up a solid three hours of someone’s afternoon, esports enthusiasts tune in and out or even watch for an entire day. This means broadcasters are constantly moving files over a long period of time, and they demand solutions that can handle such conditions.

Gaming Around the World

Another crucial element for media-technology organizations to consider is that esports is a global phenomenon (the 2019 Newzoo article estimates that 57% of esports enthusiasts are in the Asia-Pacific region), and the way in which fans tune in reflects that.

Whereas football fans might have a favorite local club or cricket fans a regional rivalry, esports fans largely follow individual players. Geographic loyalty or team obsession is much less prevalent in this vertical, so, even if you live in Dubai, you could be dedicatedly following a gamer based in Tokyo (although organizations like Blizzard are trying to get fans invested in local teams through leagues like OWL). Compounding this, beneath the esports umbrella, there are enthusiasts who care about only one game out of the dozens that currently drive esports’ popularity.

Esports also serves the purpose of educating or engaging new gamers with the mechanics of games at which they might still be novices. Said EA Head of Broadcasting Joe Lynch, speaking on the NAB panel, “Going by all these stats that we’ve looked at, the vast majority of the people who are watching are watching to learn. … As broadcasters and storytellers, we have to spend a lot of time teaching. NFL football games don’t do that. … They’ll do a little to explain the basic rules so you can enjoy the game, but they’re not going to go into the minutiae. … Those are the things we have to do as storytellers, and that part is really different.”

What does all this mean for distribution? Well, on a basic level, the distribution net for esports is far wider than for any other type of sports. If I’m an Overwatch super fan, I’m going to tune into OWL competitions no matter where in the world they are, time difference be damned. And, if I can’t check out a tournament because that time difference is a factor, I’m going to want (or expect) that I can watch that tournament at a different time, at my convenience.

Esports Is Here To Stay

The bottom line is simple: esports isn’t going anywhere. In 2018 alone, the industry saw $4.5 billion in investment.

The market, as it stands, is experiencing immense growth and a heretofore undreamt-of level of legitimacy, and with that comes a trove of needs and opportunities that media-technology businesses should be paying extremely close attention to.

At-home production and global distribution are elemental to esports, and with that comes an incredible demand for solutions that can support the workflows and the omnichannel content push that defines the industry. This will continue to be a growth driver for media technology and, certainly, for Signiant, as we provide intelligent file-transfer solutions to the entire value chain, including the game developers themselves, the broadcasters, and online streaming services.

No matter what your niche is, it would be absolutely foolish to dismiss esports as a fad. In the past, pro gaming might have been seen as a temporary craze or a fringe hobby, but the past half decade has done wonders to disprove that assumption. Dubai even announced construction of the first esports-exclusive stadium in the Middle East.

The esports wave is sweeping the world, and media-technology organizations should be paying attention. When it comes to production and distribution, the chances are immense.

If you’re committed to innovation, you’ll go where the innovators are.

British eSports Association Vision 2022

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British Esports Association outlines vision for next three years

Not-for-profit organisation British Esports Association has outlined its plans for the next three years in an online booklet.

The association aims to drive forward with three key strategies: increasing awareness of esports in the UK, improving the standard of UK esports, and inspiring future talent.

Andy Payne OBE, Chair of Advisory Board at British Esports Association commented on the booklet in a release: “This document aims to outline the next three years of British Esports, up to the end of 2022. What will we be doing, what have we learnt so far and how can we work better? What will success look like and how do we measure that? These are the questions we’ll aim to answer in this report.”

During its first three years, the association has developed the British Esports Championships for school and college students, launched its esports & physical sports crossover activity week with West Ham United Foundation and other partners, and launched a number of guides aimed at parents on its website.

The British Esports Association also announced plans for its Women in Esports campaign, aiming to raise awareness and improve inclusivity in esports.

Alice Leaman, Schools and Colleges Liaison Officer for British Esports Association discussed the campaign: “By celebrating and supporting women in esports we can help raise awareness of the accessibility and inclusivity of esports. Competitive videogaming is enjoyed by diverse audiences worldwide, and by learning about different women involved, and how many have overcome challenges, we can help support wider UK talent to get involved from the grassroots up.”  

Esports Insider says: The association has made some solid strides in its first three years. With plans in place for the next three years and new announcements already being made, things look promising moving forward.

eSports G2 League Of Legends

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How to become one of the world's best professional gamers

(CNN)Luka "Perkz" Perkovic still remembers the first time he picked up a computer mouse and keyboard.

He was a toddler and had been watching his older brother enjoy the virtual world of video games before he finally got his turn.
"I thought it looked really cool," the 21-year-old told CNN Sport. "I didn't really know what to do."
From that moment, things changed for the Croatian who has gone on to become one of the best League of Legends (League) players in the world.
Now representing gaming powerhouse G2 Esports, Perkz is playing in the final of the lucrative Worlds 2019 -- a global tournament that sees the planet's best League teams come head to head.

'Next level addiction'

Perkz really became hooked during a spell off school after a period of health issues when he whiled away the hours gaming in his bedroom.
Little did he know that this new hobby would soon become his profession.
It wasn't an easy path though. As he spent more and more hours honing his skills online, his grades at high school began to suffer which began to concern his parents.
"I was waking up when my parents would go to sleep, to go play some more League. So they had no know idea that I was awake during the night," he laughed.
"You know, it really sounds like real next level addiction or something right?"
Even so a professional career playing never seemed doable with the esports boom seemingly so far away from his hometown in Croatia.
It wasn't until he spent a summer playing a challenger series that both he and his parents realized the Perkz's potential.
Having joined G2 Esports in 2015 he now travels the world and his talents have seen him acquire a social media following reaching into the hundreds of thousands.

'Always seen it as a job'

It's a route to the top that's not unfamiliar to Perkz's current teammate Rasmus "Caps" Winther who joined the team just last year.

For Caps, 19, the idea of a professional esports career was always in the back of his mind having grown up in a gaming mad family in Denmark.

His older brother was a professional Dota player which meant his parents were more sympathetic to his ambitions to make it in the competitive world of League, a game which he loved as soon as he picked it up.

"I think I've always seen it as a job," Caps told CNN Sport, from the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in London.

"Just because I've always aimed to be the best. I always knew that it takes."

Even before turning professional, Caps was having to sacrifice a lot at a young age to maintain his level.

Like Perkz, his grades began to suffer and Caps' free time outside of school was spent in front of a screen but all the hard work paid off as soon as he stepped on the big stage.

It was during a summer spent in Turkey where the Dane convinced both his parents and himself that this was where he belonged.

"It was kind of like a surreal experience. I still remember the feeling of making [the first] big play onstage," he reflected.

"You play so many League games [...] and then to play a game where you actually hear people clapping and you can see people at the back of the PC. It just feels different."

Online hate

Although both young men are enjoying life as a professional game, such a career hasn't been without its pitfalls.

Just as fledgling soccer players have to adapt to life in the limelight, esports stars must learn to cope with criticism from an often volatile online audience.

It's a lesson that Perkz learned the hard way after facing a tirade of online abuse as he began to make a name for himself.

Now adopting a slightly more considered online persona, there was a time when the 21-year-old was notoriously outspoken. He blames his "trolling" for the backlash he received after enduring a difficult run of form in his first year as a professional.

"It really backfired on me like really, really, hard, in ways that I think many people can't even begin to imagine," he said, saying the abuse had made him reconsider a career in esports.

"I was getting blamed by thousands and thousands of people. I couldn't even go on the internet because it would be such a mental devastation every time I would read a comment.

It's a reality that Caps has also come to accept but fortunately for the players at G2 Esports, they can seek advice from its charismatic owner Carlos "ocelote" Rodríguez who, as a former pro, has helped his young gamers adapt to life in the limelight.

Elite esports is very much a mental game and players are often encouraged to take time away from the screen to allow their minds to reboot.

For Perkz, music is the tonic he needs to switch off. Having followed in his sister's footsteps, he is a trained classical guitarist and is grateful to have a hobby so different from his career.

"It's kind of really changed me in a way," he added. "It's really relaxing for me to be able to have something [other] than League."

Eyes on Worlds

Both Caps and Perkz are now on the verge of doing something very special in the world of League of Legends.

The current team has won every tournament it's played in this year and is now the favorite to win the Worlds final on November 10 against Chinese team FunPlus Phoenix.

However, neither player is worried about the extra pressure that comes with the lofty expectations and both are aware they'll be the ones to beat.

"Yeah I can imagine, I think about it sometimes," Perkz said when asked whether he thinks about lifting that glittering trophy on Sunday.

"I think about it more of like a motivation to just keep going. Because seasons are long for me, every season is very long and very taxing."

UK Esports Partnership

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UK Esports Partnership Begins to Take Shape

NEW YORK (Nov. 12, 2019) — The University of Kentucky’s vision for developing an esports program is bigger than games and sport.

“The main motivation … is our belief, our fervent conviction, that games will really bring the entire world together … and it’s going to be led by the young people of our next generation,” said Chris Park, CEO of Gen.G sports, a global leader in esports. “Today is really a celebration of games. It’s a celebration of students.”

Park was referencing the first public event, held last week in New York, designed to showcase the recently announced partnership between UK and Gen.G, which manages esports teams around the globe from its offices in America and Asia.

Through the partnership, the idea is to create an innovative esports program — unlike any other in the country — that maximizes student success and the potential for career opportunities in what is now a global, multibillion-dollar industry. At the same time, UK officials, as part of a larger Smart Campus initiative, are looking for ways to use esports and other technologies to build a stronger and larger sense of community on campus.

In New York last week, the two partners held an event at Samsung 837, the company’s high-tech event space in the city’s Meatpacking District. The event featured a panel discussion, moderated by esports personality and UK alumna Erin Ashley Simon, in front of more than 200 people. Participants in the event also tried out some of the latest games and gaming hardware from Samsung.

Against a backdrop of a colorful blur of games playing on a theater style digital media board, the panel consisted of Christine Harper, UK’s associate provost for enrollment management, Park, and Wally Johnson, a UK civil engineering senior who is president of UK’s esports club.

While in New York, UK officials from Student and Academic LifeEnrollment Management and Information Technology Services also visited with startup companies at ERA, the city’s premier tech incubator and accelerator.

“We need to meet students where they are,” Harper said. “Who knows where the jobs of tomorrow are going to be?”

For example, Harper said UK is distinctively positioned to take advantage of an esports partnership in which a synergy can be created from the university’s more than 200 majors and an industry where jobs and careers are possible in areas such as computer science, business, media and marketing, among others. To that point, Simon cited the engagement of large media companies — like ESPN and The Washington Post — in esports.

“Events like today and this partnership can help create more opportunities for students to find avenues to get into,” Park said.

But panelists quickly noted that esports — and the partnership between UK and Gen.G — is not only about career development. Both UK and Gen.G want to explore how esports can help build community in all its dimensions — whether it helps create a sense of belonging or can contribute to wellness and well-being. Harper said one of the reasons, in fact, that UK ultimately chose Gen.G as a partner is their focus on wellness and well-being. Indeed, Park cited a recent partnership that Gen.G has implemented with LA Fitness that is about promoting and prioritizing fitness.

Within the next few weeks, UK officials are planning campus forums — and focus groups — with faculty, staff and students to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with esports. In spring 2020, UK is working with Gen.G to plan an academic conference to discuss the issues associated with the growing industry and its involvement with universities. The potential exists for academic research into expanding opportunities in esports, but also challenges such as equity and diversity, repetitive motion injury and other concerns.

UK officials also will be working with faculty leaders for the appropriate review and approvals as ideas for academic programs and certificates are created.

For more about the esports initiative in New York, you can view this video: https://youtu.be/FH_kmG3U51E.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.

 

The Esports Ads

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The Esports Ads launches esports advertising database

Esports advertising database The Esports Ads has launched with information on over 200 brand activations.

The database was launched by business consultant The Moon, with Nikolay SyuskoNick Arzhantsev, and Sergey ‘greedz0r’ Shirkhodjaev at the helm.

Syusko discussed the launch in a release: “Esport industry is a great opportunity for endemic & non-endemic brands to build long-term relations with millions of customers. The Esports Ads aims to create a bridge between brands and investors & global exceptional advertising activations in esports. This project will tackle the fear of the new industry for marketing directors and brand managers.

“It will become a blueprint for the creative future in esports. We are planning to expand projects by adding educational features, so esports marketing will become as native for esports as possible. Brands will increase their RIO from marketing while esports’ fans will get new emotional experience.”

The Esports Ads aims to “embrace advertisers, agencies & esports teams creativity.” The project is aimed at both endemic and non-endemic brands – examples of the latter that have already activated in esports include Coca-ColaDHL and McDonalds.

The next step for The Esports Ads is to expand upon its database and educational potential by adding further brand activations in esports. This content will be “accompanied by industry key players’ lifehacks on esports advertising efficiency & 101 esports advertising guides.”

Esports Insider says: Advertising is a big deal in almost every industry, and activations are key to unlocking the potential of partnerships and sponsorships. There’s potential with The Esports Ads, it’s all down to how it’s tackled and how visible it is to relevant figures.

Team Vitality Adidas Collaboration

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Team Vitality unveils sneaker collaboration with Adidas

French organization Team Vitality has showcased its first collaboration with Adidas in the form of VIT.01, a pair of limited-edition sneakers.

The collaborative effort will be available for purchase at Team Vitality’s headquarters in Paris on November 9th.

This collaboration is joined by an announcement of a multi-year contract extension between Team Vitality and Adidas.

Fabien “Neo” Devide, Chairman of Team Vitality discussed the collaboration in a release: “We are very happy to be able to continue our collaboration with adidas, a brand with which we share the common values of innovation and competition. It confirms that esports is not just a simple passing fashion but a real social trend that lasts over time. This is a new and fundamental step in our development, one represented by the VIT.01 shoe which embodies perfectly Team Vitality on a day-to-day basis.”

Sylvain Bouches, Brand Manager for adidas added: “We are very proud to extend our partnership with Team Vitality. This step strengthens our position as an innovative and pioneering sports brand. Team Vitality is a quality partner, inspiring a whole generation stemming from the esports culture, a strong sector that we started to pre-empt more than two years ago.

“Offering the best of our products and technology to our athletes to help them make a difference in their game, regardless of their discipline, is a priority. We are pleased to make our collaboration durable to continue challenging the codes of the sports industry.”

Team Vitality received €14 million (£12 million) from Rewired.GG earlier this week, marking a total investment of €34 million (£29.3 million) from the esports venture fund. It also announced the opening of its 10,700 square foot facility in Paris, Vi.Hive.

Esports Insider says: Esports-related sneakers that actually look good? We’re shocked! Team Vitality has been doing a lot of things right for a long time now and this feels like another step in the right direction, especially with the extension of its deal with adidas.