Feb 12 2014 - 10:07 pm

With 'Call of Duty' event, Hollywood gets serious about esports

The courtship between Hollywood and esports continues
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

The courtship between Hollywood and esports continues. Following this month’s Ender’s Game-sponsored StarCraft 2 tournament, Major League Gaming is teaming up with one of the biggest studios in Hollywood for another round.

Optic Gaming, the sixth-ranked Call of Duty team in North America, is partnering with MLG and Relativity Studios to promote 3 Days to Kill, a new action flick starring Kevin Costner. The event features Optic playing Call of Duty: Ghosts for 72 straight hours to see how many kills they can accumulate what's being called a “kill marathon” session.

The event will begin at noon ET on Friday, Feb. 14, and extend through the weekend. It will be streamed on MLG.tv, the new streaming platform that is driving MLG toward profitability for the first time in its 12 year history.

The “kill marathon” is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which because it eschews the usual tournament or exhibition format that esports usually uses to seduce advertisers. The novel idea came from MLG offices in New York City, long a hub of Call of Duty activity.

For Optic Gaming, the deal represents yet another milestone for one of the most popular organizations in esports. Featured in the Chicago Tribune recently, the American team inspires a hugely vocal fandom of more than 560,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter.

Most of all, the event is a signal of strength from MLG. Money from wealthy advertisers—Relativity Media is a multi-billion dollar business—is the lifeblood of any media organization, and the esports industry is no different.

MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni has been confidently boasting about his new streaming platform and advertising team since last year.

The construction of a new ad sales team began when Donald Reilley joined MLG in June 2013 to work as executive vice president of sales. Reilley's 16-year career in the industry included stints at Xbox and Amazon. He immediately went to work building a new team to leverage the company’s considerable reach among 16-34 year olds males, a famously valuable demographic to advertisers.

This event is the first product of a MLG-Relativity partnership inked in Oct. 2013. We can expect “an array of future programs,” Reilley said, that will “demonstrate the vast opportunities for collaboration within the entertainment industry.”

Has the new MLG.tv platform enabled the ad team to do more? Or is a newly revitalized ad team boosting the young streaming platform? The answer lays somewhere in between.

As a nearly-profitable esports league independent of publishers and wielding its own capable streaming platform as well as a revamped ad team, MLG is in a strong position bargaining position with advertisers. It can produce content that will keep eyeballs on the product.

“The MLG team created this 3 Days to Kill program to showcase the movie in a fun and different way that fits with the theme and within our MLG.tv programming,” Reilley said.

If Reilley and his team can keep producing effective “custom ideas,” big time advertisers will likely return to fertile ground, and MLG’s outright profitability—no asterisks about taxes required—may be secured.

Photo via Optic Gaming/Facebook

Jan 20 2017 - 5:28 pm

Combo Breaker announcement may imply the end of auto-qualifiers for Capcom Pro Tour

Capcom may be trying to simplify its 2017 Pro Tour.
Steve Jurek
Dot Esports
Image via Capcom

A big change is coming to the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour, but yesterday's announcement may have hinted at an even larger change—a possible end to players winning automatic qualification into the Capcom Cup through Premier events.

The Street Fighter V tournament at Combo Breaker is being upgraded to a Premier event for the 2017 Pro Tour, Capcom announced via Twitter. The event, which will take place in the Chicago area over Memorial Day weekend, served as a Ranking event in 2015 and 2016. Its spiritual predecessor, the Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament, filled the same role in 2014.

Premier events award more Capcom Pro Tour points to top performers compared to Ranking events. A yet-to-be-announced number of the season's top points earners will earn a spot in the Capcom Cup, the season's championship event. Premier events also offer a Capcom-provided pot bonus. The figure has not yet been confirmed by Capcom, but it is believed to be $15,000.

In previous years, a player who won a Premier event received an automatic berth in that season's Capcom Cup. Thursday's announcement, however, may have implied that this is no longer the case.

An update on Combo Breaker's website stated that placing well at the event "will earn you valuable ranking points that put you well on your way to qualifying for the Capcom Cup!"

Notably, the statement makes no mention of an automatic berth into the Capcom Cup, something that every Premier event winner has been awarded since the Pro Tour's founding in 2014.

The statement does not necessarily confirm that auto-qualification into the Capcom Cup has been eliminated. It does, however, fall in line with statements made by Capcom esports director Neidel Crisan. In conversations with both Yahoo! Esports and EventHubs late last year, Crisan mentioned the possibility of eliminating auto-qualification berths in order to simplify the qualifying process.

A player had three ways to qualify for the Capcom Cup in 2016; winning a Premier event, placing high in the global Pro Tour points standings, or placing high in each region's Pro Tour points standings. The system confused fans, commentators, and players alike.

We may not know how qualification for the Capcom Cup will work in 2017, but we do know that the tour itself will look a bit different than it has in previous years.

Combo Breaker will presumably fill a gap left by Stunfest, a French gaming convention that that served as a Premier event on the Pro Tour in each of the last two years. Organizers of that event announced a "pause" for the convention late last year with plans to return in 2018.

The tour will also be without Cannes Winter Clash, the other French event that was part of the 2016 tour. Organizers of that event, which will take place during the last weekend in February, announced the change last week in a Reddit post. The event had served as the Pro Tour's season opener in both 2015 and 2016.

"Obviously with Cannes and Stunfest out there will need to be at least one French replacement event," Samad "Damascus" Abdessadki, a competitor and commentator who is involved in the organization of the Cannes Winter Clash, told Dot Esports. "[Capcom] can't leave France out of [the Capcom Pro Tour] when it's arguably the biggest community in Europe - and maybe [the] strongest."

France is the only European country that has sent two players to the Capcom Cup in each of the last two years. It is also home to Olivier "Luffy" Hay, the only player from outside of Asia to win a Street Fighter IV Evo title.

One event that will return is Final Round. On Wednesday, Capcom announced that Final Round will serve as the first Premier event of the season for the fourth straight year. That event, now in its 20th year, will take place in Atlanta during the second weekend of March.

Capcom will announce full details of the 2017 Pro Tour in late February.

Disclaimer: The author of this article has worked as part of the volunteer staff at Combo Breaker/Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament since 2014.

Jan 20 2017 - 9:49 pm

IEM Katowice’s CS:GO tournament is going to be awesome

The final two invites went out today, and the tournament's guaranteed to be exciting.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

The final two teams to be invited to one of the year's biggest events have been announced.

FaZe Clan and Danish soccer club FC Copenhagen's esports venture, North, will be attending IEM Katowice's Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finals from Mar. 1-5, ESL announced today. The teams, which showed impressive form towards the end of 2016 at multiple international LAN events, will be competing against some of the best teams in the world.

The two teams are also the last to receive invitations to the event, as four teams will be added after a series of online qualifiers. In total, three more European teams will be attending IEM Katowice, as well as one North American team. With an already-stacked ensemble of teams ready to attend, such as Brazil's SK Gaming, Polish hometown heroes Virtus Pro, and Denmark's top team Astralis, the four teams that will be advancing through the online qualifiers will be making an already-competitive event all the more fierce.

In October 2016, the current North roster, which was signed to Dignitas at the time, took home the $500,000 EPICENTER event in Moscow. Aside from being one of the biggest events of the year, it had all the top teams in the world in attendance. Since then, however, North has struggled to live up to the expectations placed upon them, and have recently fallen short at nearly all events they have attended since.

The opposite can be said about FaZe, since the team picked up former Astralis in-game leader Finn "Karrigan" Andersen. Since Karrigan's arrival, FaZe have had their best results since the team's inception, and have looked stronger at each event they have attended.

Taking place roughly one month after the ELEAGUE Major, which begins on Jan. 22, IEM Katowice will likely be the debut tournament of several new rosters—so make sure to keep an eye on what could be one of the biggest CS:GO events of the year.