Category Archives: Esports

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G2 Esports’ Reality Show Will Give Fortnite Gamers a Chance to Go Pro

G2 Esports has partnered with prepaid payment company paysafecard to launch a new interactive Fortnite talent show called Making The Squad. The show will document 20 amateur Fortnite players who will compete for a full-time contract from the G2 Esports organization.
Fortnite content creators who are at least 16 years of age have until Nov. 15 to apply to be one of those selected to participate in Making The Squad’s initial qualifying round. Entrants must apply through G2’s website by submitting a highlight video of their Fortnite skills as well as a self-recorded video explaining why they want to join G2 Esports. 
“Supporting one of the world’s first international, interactive talent shows to find the next big influencer in Fortnite, is a fantastic way for us to connect the paysafecard brand with the esports community in an authentic, meaningful way,” said Oliver Wolf, VP of Marketing at paysafecard, in a press release on the G2 website.

The contest will span eight weeks and the top eight gamers will be invited to Berlin to compete in the finals. During the final competition, four of the most talented players will be awarded full-time streaming contracts to join G2’s new Fortnite content team. Making The Squad has also received backing from sponsors Logitech G and Esport Management.
Making The Squad contenders will partake in interactive online challenges as well as real-life tasks, according to the press release. Fans can watch the reality series through video content uploaded to G2’s YouTube and Twitch channels. The show’s judging panel will include Carlos ‘ocelote’ Rodríguez, the CEO of G2 Esports. G2 currently employs 58 players across 12 professional esports teams according to the organization’s website.

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“At G2, we’ve always been focused on providing top quality entertainment to fans old and new,” said Rodriguez in the press release. “We are constantly dreaming up new ways to interact with the industry and provide pathways for talented pros dreaming of going big. This will be our first original content production, but we believe that the G2ARMY will really enjoy tuning in. We can’t wait to meet the newest entertainers for G2 Esports.”
SportTechie Takeaway
Fortnite, the most popular video game in the world, keeps getting bigger. Earlier this week, the NFL announced a deal with Epic Games to integrate NFL uniforms and other football-themed features into Fortnite gameplay. While Making The Squad’s arrival makes G2 the first esports organization to produce its own reality-based show, sports media company Overtime was first to launch a digital reality series that follows professional Fortnite gamers.


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League of Legends Enters World Championship Weekend as Mature Esport

Before Riot Games could launch League of Legends as an esport in late 2012, they needed a rulebook. The task fell to its newly hired senior manager of esports, Chris Hopper, who joined the company after working as a financial consultant. He asked coworkers about other gaming bylaws he could use as examples. They replied, “Good luck.”
Hopper, who’s best known in the gaming world as “Chopper,” was charting new territory in esports but not completely without any model. He download the rulebooks for about 40 traditional sports, everything from FIFA and the NBA to UFC, Formula One, cricket, poker, and the Olympics. He perused each in search of anything applicable.
“I would literally just pull out lines that I liked,” said Hopper, now Riot Games’ head of esports for North America. “Like, ‘OK, this feels like a good rule.’ I’d pull it out and just put it into a Word document. At the end of it, I had a confusing-as-hell Word document. It would talk about the player and the court and the ball and the puck and the car.”
This was the modest beginning of esports infrastructure, a far cry from this weekend’s League of Legends World Championship. The final between Europe-based Fnatic and China’s Invictus Gaming is taking place at sold-out Incheon Munhak Stadium in Korea, which has a capacity north of 50,000. Fans in the U.S. can watch on ESPN+ and Riot’s Twitch channel. A North American team, Cloud9, reached the world semifinals for the first time.
Chris Hopper (Courtesy of Riot Games)
Data from July 2012 hailed League of Legends as the world’s most popular video game—doubling the usage of second place—but a competitive esport with an organizational hierarchy, stable franchises, international schedule, and global fan base is a whole other matter. There’s a scouting combine. Mastercard is a global sponsor.
“Look, six years ago, we were nothing,” Hopper said, adding that the history and structure of major professional sports aided LoL’s rapid ascension by cutting decades off the learning curve. “That was our first LCS rule set. It was literally built on the work done by traditional sports. Without that work, we’re never here today. We’d never go from nonexistent to franchise in six years if we don’t have decades of football, decades of baseball, and decades of basketball to lean on.”
The term “mature esport” may sound like an oxymoron, given the nascency of the whole industry. But in a climate when Fortnite could go from launch to arguably the most popular game on the planet in a year, LoL’s relative stability stands out. The North American circuit introduced a 10-team franchise model late last year—seven have backing from traditional sports ownership including the Warriors, Rockets, and Yankees—and Europe will follow suit next year.
“Franchising has brought in a lot of stability and the ability to think long-term where your spot is guaranteed, regardless of competitive performance,” said Ryan Edens, the CEO of FlyQuest, one of the 10 domestic franchises. “You can invest in more long-term infrastructure plays to create something sustainable.”
Edens’ father, Wes, is a cofounder of the Fortress Investment Group who is part-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, storied English soccer club Aston Villa, and now FlyQuest, a consortium of esports teams.
“Our big thesis has always been, in terms of sports properties, we don’t know what it will look like 20 years from now, but we’re pretty sure that basketball, soccer, and esports are likely to be—at least of the sports today—the three biggest,” Ryan Edens said. “They’re certainly the most global of the traditional sports today.”
Cloud9 is the first North American team to reach the LOL world semifinals (Courtesy of Riot Games)

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League of Legends was, Edens added, an obvious starting point for that portfolio. They bought in just as franchising was beginning. What appealed to FlyQuest was Riot Games’ track record—everything is relative—in showing good intentions and running a good league.
“As organizations, the most important thing to evaluate is the relationship with the developer,” Edens said. “Because, unlike traditional sports which is a two-party system, esports is a three-party system. It’s not just labor and management.”
Traditional sports have a league office, but its commissioner reports to the owners whereas the developer is a more intricately involved third party—having created the very game being played—without having the same oversight from franchise ownership.
LOL’s championship trophy, the Summoner’s Cup (Courtesy of Riot Games)
Esports in general and League of Legends in particular continue to grow. Hopper said most players are between 18 to 30 years old. About 35 percent are in college at any given time, a cohort that has remained stable. That means LoL’s game population hasn’t aged but also hasn’t expanded down the age spectrum, so getting younger teens playing is a goal, Hopper said. One way they’ve done that is to partner with PlayVS, which is working with the National Federation of High Schools to introduce esports at the scholastic level. Riot also has advocated LoL as a collegiate sport.
As business has grown, so too has the sophistication of all facets of the enterprise, though there still is trial and error. When Riot Games commissioned its championship trophy, the Summoner’s Cup, the first prototype was 70 pounds—way too heavy to lift.
The rule book has evolved, too. During his bleary-eyed late nights of research back in 2012, Hopper stumbled across one regulation addressing the possibility of a fan entering the competition site and interfering with the act of shooting. He can’t recall if this came from archery or darts or something else, but Hopper was amused such a rule existed. The scenario resembled a “gank” in LoL, when a competitor emerges out of the jungle by surprise to create an advantage in a fight. So he adapted the concept for the esport in a clause that attracted little attention.
“For about four years, the term ‘fan gank’ was in our rule set,” Hopper said. “I put it in as a joke, mostly because I was up to four in the morning writing this thing every night. In my cranked-out mind, I thought it was hysterical. Somehow no one caught it for like four years until we brought in a new league ops guy who was reading through it and was like, ‘Who put this fan gank thing in there?’”


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Overtime Brings Together Five Strangers for First Esports Docuseries

Youth sports-focused digital media startup Overtime is producing a new esports series called “The Gaming Life.” The docuseries will follow five Fortnite gamers who will compete under the name Team Overtime as they try to win $1 million in prize money.
The first part of the series was uploaded to Overtime’s YouTube channel last week and follows the five gamers meeting for the first time at the PAX West Fortnite tournament in Seattle. The second part of the series follows the team as players competed in the Fall Skirmish finale at TwitchCon this weekend, which offered a $2.6 million prize pool. The Gaming Life is Overtime’s first attempt at creating esports-related content, as the company is normally angled toward producing high school basketball and football content for young followers to consume on social media.

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“Overtime is about culture and Fortnite is loved by personalities ranging from Drake to Ben Simmons. We’re excited to cover eSports and feature content our people are passionate about,” said Overtime‘s head of production Dave Zigerelli, according to The Wrap. “It’s five strangers working together to chase the dream. It has heart, it’s funny and it’s perfect for binging.”
Overtime was founded in 2016 by Dan Porter, who was previously Head of Digital at William Morris Endeavor. The company initially found success by by uploading viral social media highlights featuring some of the country’s top high school basketball and football athletes. It has received significant investments from both Kevin Durant and former NBA Commissioner David Stern.
SportTechie Takeaway
Over the past two years, Overtime has attracted a huge following among Generation Z, posting high school sports content across varying social media platforms. Business Insider reported last year that Overtime videos reach 11 million unique users a month—95 percent of whom are on mobile and under 25.
Becoming involved with esports makes total sense for Overtime since the esports industry is powered by the younger generations—from both an audience standpoint and in terms of professional gamers. The fact that a sports media company is sponsoring its own professional video game team shows the effect the esports boom is having on the traditional sports ecosystem. 


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Brooklyn Nets Forward Kenneth Faried Launched a Foundation From Fortnite

SportTechie’s Athletes Voice series features the views and opinions of the athletes who use and are powered by technology. As part of this series, SportTechie spoke with Kenneth Faried to find out about his esports gaming and tech-driven training.
To be the first to hear each athlete’s insights, subscribe to the Athletes Voice newsletter.
Kenneth Faried spent the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets before an offseason trade landed him with the Brooklyn Nets for the upcoming campaign. The power forward is also a graduate of Morehead State where he broke Tim Duncan’s modern-era NCAA Division I career rebounding record with 1,673 boards.
In June, Faried paired with pro gamer CourageJD—a last-minute substitution as teammate—to finish second in Epic Games’ Fortnite Pro-Am, winning $250,000 for charity. He used that as seed money to start a foundation he’s calling Kenneth Faried HAT. He also sponsors an AAU team called Manimal Elite, in a nod to his own nickname. 
Initial Interest in Technology
“When I went to school, I actually told my mom and my dad that I wanted to study CSIS [Computer Science and Information Systems]. I was going to do that in college, but it was just too difficult for me to do while playing basketball because it was too much of a headache to stay up and do coding. Basketball in college was harder—two-a-days, with sprints at 5 o’clock in the morning because you’ve got school at 8 o’clock. That was brutal. I ended up majoring in speech communication and got a minor in business management.”

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Basketball Training
“I use a camera all the time. We keep track with heart-rate monitors, your explosion, how much weight you’re putting on one knee, or when you jump, which side you favor when landing. I learn so much with technology to get better. I want to know the quickest way to get better or the quickest to not be hurt anymore.
“And look at all the analytics: how many times this person goes right, left. They record that with technology to break down everything. It ends up on your iPad or your phone.”
“There’s a machine, VertiMax, where you wear a vest, and you hook these straps up to a tension band. Usually a coach would throw it off the backboard, and it keeps track of your movements. The bands pull you down so you won’t have as much strength. The plate keeps track of how much force you’re putting down when you’re landing, so you can put less force on the bottom. It keeps track of what I’m doing with my body and how much strength to put on or take off. They usually use air pressure with it, too, so yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on around here.”
Family (Video) Games
“I got into gaming because of my dad and, weirdly enough, my mom. My mom and my dad both were gamers. My mom has a TV in her room beside her bed where she has an Xbox she likes to play. My dad has his Xbox set up to his TV and uses it for the cable and knows how to do all that. He plays his Xbox with me—like we’ll play against each other in Madden or we’ll play with each other in Dynasty Warriors. I try to get him to play Fortnite, but he’s not real big into that. He likes sports games and RPG games.
“I’ve got my parents all the way up to the Xbox One. We’re going to keep going. Whenever a new system drops, they’re going to get it with me. All those times they said, ‘Go on and go play your game and get out of my room’—it paid off with Fornite.”
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Fortnite Pro-Am
“Let me tell you about that, that was crazy. First, I was supposed to be playing with Summit1G, but an illness came over him so he couldn’t travel, which was understandable. They replaced him with CourageJD, so me and him teamed up and it was great. Summit and I had already been connected and talking about what we were going to do and had been playing together. For him to not play, I was like, ‘Aw man, I need a substitution.’ I didn’t know he wasn’t going to be there. I literally didn’t find out until I got there, and they told me, ‘Yeah, your partner has changed. You don’t have Summit no more.’ I was like, ‘Wait, what?’
“Courage came in, we met, talked about strategy right there in front of each other, and next thing you know, we played the first game. I came in 35th out of 100, which was a singles match. I was getting warmed up, seeing how people are. I was watching Courage, and he did pretty good—almost came in first on that one. Then the second game together, we came in fourth place and then we lost to Ninja and DJ Marshmellow. They killed us. Then, the last game, same story. We came in second place to them. But it was fun, though. Courage was really a great partner, kudos to him. He was a great teacher also and leader. He led us through the whole thing.”
His New Foundation
“With the money I won for charity, I started a foundation called Kenneth Faried HAT. ‘HAT’ means humble, appreciative, and thankful. I’ve been a person my whole life who believed that, through obstacles in life that you see, you may have good and bad, but you should always remain humble, appreciative, and thankful for everything—no matter what heights you reach in life or what you receive in this life.
“The foundation builds upon that for kids. I’m trying to teach kids to be this way through basketball and the fundamentals of basketball, teamwork, being a partner to somebody, being respectful, listening to a leader and not just a coach as a leader. Some players step up and become leaders. We’re trying to teach that through basketball and other sports.”


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EPL, EA Sports Launch ePL FIFA 19 Esports League

Electronic Arts and the English Premier League have partnered to form the ePremier League, an FIFA 19 esports tournament available to U.K.-based gamers. All 20 Premier League clubs will be represented in the tournament to give “players the chance to live their dream of winning a title for their favourite club,” according to an official press release.
Registration for the ePL starts Dec. 3 and opening online qualification matches kick off in January. The top 32 players (16 apiece from Xbox One and PS4) will then face off in the playoffs to determine club representatives for the final, which will be played at the Gfinity esports arena in London on Mar. 28-29. Final matches will take place over two legs in a group-stage format on both PlayStation and Xbox to determine an overall champion.

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The ePL Final will broadcast live on both Sky Sports and Premier League social media channels. Players who perform well in the ePremier League will also earn season-long points towards qualifying for the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series Playoffs
“The Premier League’s global reach and intensely passionate fanbase pushes EA SPORTS FIFA competition to unprecedented heights as we accelerate esports growth through traditional sports,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the EA Competitive Gaming Division, in the press release. “Through the ePL, this partnership carves a critical path forward in expanding competition not only for players, but for the hundreds of millions watching Premier League games who now can support their club on the virtual and the traditional pitch.”  
SportTechie Takeaway
The ePL will be organized and hosted by Gfinity. (The U.K.-based esports company’s stock price jumped by more than 15 percent in the afternoon following the ePL announcement.) The EPL following the steps of MLS, who partnered with EA Sports last year to launch an eMLS FIFA 18 tournament. The ePL launch is more significant than that of the eMLS, though, because many EPL teams are major players on the global sports stage.


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