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esports marketing

Esports Promotes Workplace Skills

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Esports promotes valuable workplace skills, supporters say

“ NORMAL — David Kirk wants to “dispel some myths” about video gaming. Gamers are not “living in their parents’ basements, drinking Mountain Dew and eating Doritos,” said Kirk, recently named director of Illinois State University’s esports program.

Instead, they are learning teamwork, communication, critical thinking, leadership and time management — skills valuable to future employers — say Kirk and others involved in the burgeoning field of competitive collegiate esports.

In several cases, students are demonstrating those skills by leading the charge to have their schools elevate teams from club status to the varsity level. 

Danii Green of Bloomington, a sophomore in computer science and sociology at Heartland Community College, approached Athletics Director Ryan Knox in fall of 2018 and “asked what it would take to turn our club into a varsity esport…. It was a long journey, but it was well worth it.”

Skylar Guimond, Heartland’s director of student engagement, said, “We’re really responding to the needs and wants of our students.” The varsity program is scheduled to start this fall at Heartland.

It wouldn’t have been as easy to get the program running if Heartland didn’t already have a team that was competitive as a club team, said Guimond. “Danii has been a big help.”

The story is similar at Lincoln College, where Willie Spratt of Collinsville, a junior in organizational leadership, has been instrumental in getting the varsity program going. Spratt, in his second year as student government president, started forming esports teams when he was 13 and has competed professionally, winning prize money. He has backed away from the professional side to help develop Lincoln’s program.

“I want something that will last after I leave,” said Spratt. Competing in esports has “made me a better leader,” he said, and taught him how to multitask, a skill he helps teach as a peer mentor.

“We have proof that the more engaged a student is, the more impactful their education will be,” said Guimond, and that translates into better retention and better grades. Mark Perdue, Lincoln College athletics director, said he would like to see the esports program launch new majors, such as game design.

Kirk said, “There are a lot of opportunities in esports beyond just gaming opportunities.” Students can gain experience in broadcast production, marketing, event management and the technical side of esports, he said. “That’s where working with other academic disciplines comes in,” said Kirk.

Jack Blahnik graduated from ISU in December but seized the opportunity to stay as an esports program coordinator for campus recreation. “I just couldn’t let it go,” said Blahnik, who spent four years in an ISU esports club, including three as president. “There was still so much more I could do here.”

Blahnik said, “ISU was willing to listen to the students and that made all the difference.” Having varsity-level esports instead of just clubs provides better competition, helps with student recruitment and, in the case of community college students, increases opportunities for scholarships when transferring to other schools, organizers said.

“It’s no different than if their passion is soccer,” said Lincoln College President David Gerlach. “Why have sports on campus? … It builds a better student.” Josh Mol, a junior in history from Lindenhurst who competes at ISU, said, We all come together and put our heart and soul into the game. We come together as a team. It’s not just a video game.


Counter-Strike’s new esports framework

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Counter-Strike’s new esports framework allows for profit-sharing, transforms league

“ A partnership between the largest esports organization and leading Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams aims for long-term viability for its most viable players. Dubbed the “Louvre Agreement,” 13 CS:GO teams will have a share of revenues and profits from Pro Tour competitions held by the ESL, the world’s largest esports network and the oldest still in operation. The partnership also involves Dreamhack, which produces large-scale esports events and festivals.

This agreement also makes the 13 teams majority stakeholders in the league and will have a role in how it operates. The agreement transforms the ESL Pro League into a 24-team competition (starting on its 11th season in March) with a single global division, moving away from a region-based model. The additional 11 teams must qualify on the basis of their world ranking or through the Mountain Dew League, the ESL Pro League’s gateway series.

Victor Goossens, founder, and co-CEO of Team Liquid said the teams and ESL have been working to plan for sustainable careers and futures for the esport. “The new entity will utilize our combined strengths to pave the best path forward for everyone,” Goossens said in a prepared statement. “We consider this a monumental agreement and an important step forward for all of esports.”

The signed teams for the ESL Pro League are Astralis, Complexity, Evil Geniuses, ENCE, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Mousesports, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Team Liquid, Team Vitality, and 100 Thieves. 

The agreement means those partner teams are now majority stakeholders with a long-term slot for participation and will earn a share of revenues from all competitions in the ESL Pro Tour, including IEM Katowice and the ESL One Cologne. The ESL Pro Tour has a total prize pool of $5 million across 20 tournaments and leagues.

“The other remaining 11 slots will be open to teams qualifying on the basis of their world ranking or directly through the Mountain Dew League, the ESL Pro League’s gateway competition,” said Craig Levine, ESL’s chief strategy officer. “This creates the best of both worlds by allowing for stability as well as new and up-and-coming teams to qualify.”

The news of the reconfigured ESL Pro League comes on the heels of a newly announced Counter-Strike league called Flashpoint, operated by FACEIT and funded by a consortium of other esports organizations. Flashpoint’s organizers have said they want to bring more personality and flash to esports, citing the WWE as an inspiration.

Envy Gaming Hops Onboard Greyhound

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Nation’s largest bus service will partner with Dallas Fuel and Dallas Empire in 2020 season

 “ DALLASFeb. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Envy Gaming, Inc., the Texas-based esports organization that owns the Dallas Fuel team in the Overwatch League and the Dallas Empire team in the Call of Duty League, announced a season long partnership with Greyhound, the largest provider of intercity bus transportation in North America. The partnership is the first foray into esports for the iconic transportation operator, which carries more than 16 million passengers to 2,400 destinations across North America each year.

Greyhound will provide exclusive intercity bus transportation onboard its modern fleet to Envy’s professional esports teams during the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League matches played in North Texas in 2020 and plans to launch the partnership with a gaming-themed fan lounge on a Greyhound bus at the Dallas Fuel Opening Weekend, February 8-9.

“When looking at the esports industry, we realized that our brands align in many ways: modernizing entertainment, utilizing new technologies, and delivering a product that’s accessible and convenient to the greatest number of people,” said Lourdes Brown, Director of Marketing at Greyhound. “We’re proud to be partnering with Envy Gaming and excited to provide fans across North America a better, more affordable travel option to see their favorite teams this season.”

Greyhound’s buses have free WiFi and onboard entertainment allowing passengers to stream movies and television shows or play games from their own devices. Passengers can travel in comfort with extra legroom, leather seats and convenient power outlets to stay connected.

“Partnering with Greyhound gives us a chance to work with not only a fellow category leader based in Dallas, but one of the most iconic and well-known brands in travel in all of the world,” said Geoff Moore, President and COO of Envy Gaming. “Greyhound gets it–delivering modern amenities to enhance the customer experience is parallel in so many ways to the esports events we are producing in North Texas that blend the best of sports and entertainment.”

Custom-wrapped Greyhound buses featuring team branding are expected to appear at North Texas arenas hosting esports events, and players for the Dallas Fuel, the Dallas Empire and Team Envy will appear in social media and video campaigns with Greyhound. Engine Shop consulted on terms of the partnership.

About Envy Gaming

Envy Gaming, Inc. is the owner and operator of popular esports franchise Team Envy, the Dallas Fuel team in the Overwatch League, and the Dallas Empire in the Call of Duty League. Founded as a professional Call of Duty team in 2007, owner Mike Rufail has grown the Dallas-based organization into one of the largest and most-winning esports groups in the world. Today, Envy Gaming competes, streams and produces content across multiple titles including Overwatch, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, CS:GO, Fortnite, and Super Smash Bros. Envy was named the 2016 Esports Team of the Year. For more information, visit Envy.gg.

Deloitte Esports Insider Analysis 2020

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Deloitte and Esports Insider teaming up on esports market analysis and support

 “ Esports Insider, Ltd. (ESI) and Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC (DCF) will team up in 2020 to provide their insights into investments in the esports industry.

At ESI New York on 27-28th April 2020, DCF will join a judging panel of The Clutch USA, which gives esports focused start-ups an opportunity to pitch to a panel of esports, and others, investors as well as the conference delegates in attendance. Later, DCF and ESI will jointly produce a series of articles analyzing esports investment trends, which will be released in 2020 through the ESI website and its quarterly print publication, The Esports Journal.

According to DCF analysis, investment activity across the esports industry – $4.5 billion (US) in 2018 alone – has been significant in recent years. According to the 2019 Esports Survey, conducted by Foley & Lardner LLP, growth is expected to continue in the ecosystem of companies supporting teams and fans across different subsectors.


“We’ve seen rising transaction activity in the esports sector for several years now. To do what we can to foster that market’s growth, we’ll collaborate with ESI on analyzing investment activity to date as well as key trends we’re seeing within it,” said Phil Colaco, Deloitte Global Corporate Finance leader and CEO, Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC.

Sam Cooke, Co-founder, and Managing Director, at Esports Insider, said of the collaboration: Esports investment is at an all-time high. Businesses and potential stakeholders need to understand the risks and rewards and it’s important they’re receiving information from trusted sources. We couldn’t have hoped for a better collaborator than DCF. We’re thrilled to be able to strengthen our start-up pitch competition, The Clutch at ESI New York, for companies in need of funding and/or mentorship.


Esports Exodus to YouTube Reshapes

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An Esports Exodus to YouTube Reshapes the Livestream Wars

“ The Call of Duty League, the Overwatch League, and Hearthstone Esports all call YouTube home now. That’s not great news for Twitch.

Today, YouTube announced that it will exclusively stream three behemoth esports leagues—the Call of Duty League, the Overwatch League, and Hearthstone Esports, all controlled by Activision Blizzard—that had lived primarily on the game streaming platform Twitch. News of the defections rattled the esports world, especially as it came mere hours before the Call of Duty League’s inaugural match.

Twitch had held exclusive Overwatch League streaming rights since 2018 when it signed a reported $90 million deal. YouTube’s partnership spans several years as well; Google Cloud will also host Activision Blizzard’s entire library of games. In an interview with WIRED, head of YouTube Gaming Ryan Wyatt said that Google, which owns YouTube, and Activision have been in talks over esports media rights since last year. “It’s a long time coming,” he said. (Wyatt himself used to be a commentator for competitive Call of Duty.)

It’s the latest in a series of high-profile YouTube gaming poaches. Over the past several months, YouTube has plucked Twitch mainstays like Jack “CouRage” Dunlop, who boasted an average of more than 9,000 live viewers per stream. Just last week, YouTube announced exclusive deals with three gaming giants, Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, Elliott “Muselk” Watkins, and Lannan “LazarBeam” Eacott. Nabbing Activision’s esports as well will be an enormous boon for the growing YouTube live gaming platform, which currently accounts for about 28 percent of live streamed hours, to Twitch’s 61 percent, according to stream platform analytics firm StreamElements. (At the end of the last season, Overwatch League games were averaging about 40,000 live viewers on Twitch, while top streamer Jaryd “Summit1g” Lazar might average about 28,000, according to Twitch data tracker SullyGnome.)

It’s our mission to deliver high-quality competitive entertainment that our fans can follow globally, live or on-demand, and to celebrate our players as the superstars that they are,” said Activision Blizzard Esports CEO Pete Vlastelica in a press release today. “This partnership will help us deliver on that promise at new levels, by combining our passionate communities of fans and players with YouTube’s powerful content platform and exciting history of supporting next-generation entertainment.

While Wyatt declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal, he does say he doesn’t believe the transition to YouTube will impact the leagues’ viewership. He cites the success of the 2019 League of Legends World Championships on YouTube, where, Wyatt says, the platform had more peak concurrent viewers than anywhere else. Wyatt adds that Call of Duty has always been hugely successful on the platform. “We have 200 million logged-in users watching gaming content every single day on YouTube,” says Wyatt.

StreamElements CEO Doron Nir agreed in a roundabout way: “Esports tournaments have two types of viewership: Live and VOD post-game. Since most of VOD happens on YouTube already, I expect the move to YouTube for live viewership will have no negative impact on the views. If YouTube promotes it properly, it might even get more viewership.”

Google also gets the benefit of hosting Activision Blizzard’s massive infrastructure on its cloud, a significant win as the company continues to try to both compete with Amazon Web Services and demonstrate its gaming chops after Google Stadia’s rocky start. The news caught participants in the Call of Duty Twitch chat by surprise. Several expressed shock and confusion; after viewers filed into YouTube’s Call of Duty League chat, fans spammed “L,” meaning “loss.” Twitch did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment by press time.

One widespread complaint—on top of having to navigate to another website—about YouTube’s streaming platform is that it’s not as developed as Twitch’s, especially as pertains to chat. Over the years, Twitch chat has cultivated its own culture, including its own particular memes, emotes, and chants. Inklings of it persist on YouTube, but the platform doesn’t have the history. Said one commenter on the competitive Call of Duty subreddit, echoing others, “Twitch chat was probably the funniest thing about watching CoD events, WTF 🙁 no more TriHard or PogChamps on insane clutches, that’s kinda lame ngl. As someone who doesn’t play CoD anymore, only a viewer, I really enjoyed the toxic aspect the twitch chat brought it made the stream more enjoyable.

Twitch also offered in-game skins and prizes for esports fans who integrated their online game presences with their Twitch accounts. Wyatt shared that, in the future, it’s “very much on our roadmap” for them to offer rewards for Call of Duty and Overwatch League viewers. As the Call of Duty League’s inaugural weekend kicks off, it remains to be seen whether YouTube will match Twitch’s viewership numbers. As the first game kicks off, about 70,000 viewers are watching live—a respectable number, at least for now.