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100 Thieves is the latest organization to pass on the Call of Duty franchised league, Ninja inks an endorsement deal with Adidas, and the final season of HBO’s Ballers will focus on League of Legends.
Missed any of the biggest esports business news last week? The TEO Monday Morning Briefing recaps the top headlines from the last seven days!
Esports organization 100 Thieves has confirmed that it will not participate in the franchised Call of Duty Global League (CDL) in 2020. In a video on Twitter, the company founder and CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag cited the high cost of operating a franchise. “We just can’t take that risk right now…to make a financial commitment as large as this just doesn’t make sense for us right now.”
Additionally, Haag noted Activision Blizzard’s policy against having established esports organizations use existing branding for their CDL teams. To date, OpTic Gaming is the only organization active in Call of Duty that has been confirmed to be participating in the CDL, through its acquisition by Immortals Gaming Club, which secured a Los Angeles franchise slot earlier this year.
In the days following the announcement, Haag revealed 100 Thieves would be reentering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and would be looking for a roster during the ongoing Berlin Major.
Adam Apicella, Activision Blizzard’s vice president of league and event operations and a longtime employee of Major League Gaming (MLG), has announced his departure from the company.
Apicella shared the news on Twitter this afternoon, tweeting, “After working on close to 60 games and hundreds of live event programs, I have decided to leave Activision Blizzard. More importantly, after 16 years, my time as a member of the MLG family has come to an end.”
An Activision Blizzard representative later confirmed with The Esports Observer that the company has closed its MLG Arena production studio in Columbus, Ohio. The publisher noted that “all employees were made aware of this decision and were given the opportunity to pursue open roles, with relocation assistance, throughout the company.”
Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and athleticwear brand Adidas Originals have entered in a multi-year partnership. Neither Adidas or Blevins revealed details other than a tagline of “Time In,” a reference to “putting the time in” to a passion before finding success. During a Mixer stream, Blevins encouraged his audience to “use their imagination.” It could, he hinted, result in products in “the real or virtual world.”
HBO television series Ballers has begun its fifth and final season, unveiling a story arc featuring League of Legends and teams such as Splyce and Team Liquid.
Riot Games posted a trailer ahead of the season premiere, teasing League of Legends pro-competition and scenes set at the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Studios in Los Angeles, California, as well as Riot Games headquarters.
Ballers stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Spencer Strasmore, a retired NFL player who now serves as a financial manager for current NFL pro players. The trailer suggests that the storyline revolves around an NFL player who is looking to enter the esports industry.
Sponsorships and Partnerships Round-Up
The Overwatch League’s (OWL) list of food and beverage sponsors rises as the Kellogg Company signs a multi-year deal to promote its Pringles and Cheez-It brands. Through 2021, Activision Blizzard’s franchised esports league will deliver co-marketing initiatives that include branded show segments, product packaging, and ticket giveaways. The initiatives cover Pringles products globally, while Cheez-It will remain U.S. only.
In a related announcement, Xfinity has been named the presenting partner of the 2019 OWL playoffs and Grand Finals in Philadelphia, giving the event a hometown sponsor in the Comcast-owned internet brand. Terms were not revealed, but Xfinity will be given a major presence with signage and other assets both physically at Wells Fargo Center and on media broadcasts with Twitchand ESPN/ABC.
Esports venue owner Allied Esports has announced a multi-year partnership with digital media company LiveXLive to use the HyperX Esports Trucks as content production facilities at live concerts and festivals. LiveXLive will use the trucks to broadcast artist interviews and other content from events, as well as host performances by bands for its “LiveXLive Presents” series.
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