Last Week in E-Sports: New tournaments, new opportunities

Last week in e-sports we saw new tournaments announced for Splatoon 2, Arms, and Injustice 2. We also saw the first few spots in the Overwatch League get purchased, a new location announced for Hearthstone’s tournament series, and a brand new streaming service open its doors in an effort to compete with Twitch. Let’s take a look at all the new gamer goodness.

Nintendo Makes Good on its E-Sports Promise

Remember that Switch trailer that showed e-sports teams going head to head in Splatoon? Well it’s actually happening. At E3 this year, Nintendo will be holding large-scale e-sports tournaments for two Switch games, Splatoon 2 and ARMS.

That being said, both tournaments are a bit of a marketing stunt. The first is the 2017 Splatoon 2 World Inkling Invitational, which will take place on June 13 and will involve four invited teams from Europe, the USA, Japan, and Australia/New Zealand.

The second competition, the ARMS tournament, will take place on June 14 and will also feature pre-invited fighters pitted against each other in a single-elimination tournament.

Here’s the catch. Both tournaments are taking place before the games officially release, so there is zero chance for deep and practiced competition. In addition, Nintendo hasn’t announced any actual prize support for the event, and while they said more details will be unveiled as we get closer to the event, it’s looking more and more that this competition will just be a “for fun” exhibition to showcase both titles.

Want to Get Paid for Watching E-Sports?

Well, now you can. Blizzard has just announced that they will be hiring a brand new Overwatch Observer. What does an observer do? Well, according to the job listing you will have to watch professional Overwatch matches and figure out ways that the spectator experience can be improved. Yes, you will be the person who watches the Overwatch.

The job’s responsibilities are as follows:

  • Spectate and produce content for Overwatch tournaments of all tiers
  • Work with team to establish and develop team cohesion and group camera work in the game client
  • Work with team of observers to continually improve techniques of spectating Overwatch
  • Partner with internal stakeholders to brainstorm in-client improvements to the spectator functionality
  • Collaborate with internal departments to develop a cohesive vision for Overwatch esports observing
  • Recognize and evangelize relevant storylines in Overwatch esports
  • Establish needs, requirements and wish list items to improve viewability of Overwatch esports
  • Provide feedback on existing systems and processes
  • Evangelize best observing practices to internal and external partners
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of current esports landscape as it relates to all Blizzard titles

Overwatch has seen unparalleled popularity in the months since its release, however it has yet to catch on seriously as an e-sport. This position shows that Blizzard is doing what they can to figure out why, though my guess is it has more to do with costs associated with competing than the quality of the spectator experience.

Azubu Is Launching Another Streaming Platform

Azubu is teaming up with Twitch competitor Hitbox.tv to launch yet another streaming platform: Smashcast. The service will include features such as a “hype-o-meter” and the ability to stream in 4k. However, Hitbox had already introduced 4k streams in the past, and there are few details on what this hype-o-meter is. In short, it still has a lot of ground to cover when you consider their established competitors in Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, which have all risen as e-sport streaming platforms.

Hearthstone’s Spring Championship Will Be Held in Shanghai

Hearthstone’s Championships are taking competitors on a tour of the world. After the Winter Championships were held in the Bahamas, the upcoming Spring Championships will be held in Shanghai at the Shanghai Expo Center from July 7 to 9. This will be the first tournament in Hearthstone’s Year of the Mammoth, featuring Journey to Un’Goro. There is $250,000 of prize money on the line as the 16 best players from the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and China pit Pirate Warrior against Pirate Warrior in an attempt to take home the gold.

Over A Billion Dollars Will Be Spent on E-Sports Advertising in Just 4 Years

According to analysis firm IHS Markit, over two hundred and eighty million dollars were spent on e-sports advertising alone last year. If the market continues as it currently is, they expect the e-sports industry to be spending over a billion dollars on advertising a year by 2021.

Where is all this revenue coming from? According to IHS, China. Chinese viewers accounted for 57 percent of all e-sports viewing in 2016. That’s impressive considering they estimate that over six billion hours of competitive video games were watched last year alone. That’s a 20 percent increase over the previous year.

IHS states fragmentation as e-sport’s biggest financial problem. E-sports are huge internationally, but locally we see major swings in its popularity. In addition, each region supports different e-sports to different extents. There is no one reliable e-sport to invest in, which is why investors tend to shy away from the scene.

Injustice 2 Getting New Tournament Series

Netherealm Studios is supporting their new fighting game, Injustice 2, by launching a brand new $600,000 tournament series before the game’s release date. The Injustice 2 Pro Series will be composed of four different circuits, each with a mixture of online and offline events. Players will earn points for their performance in each event and the top finishers will move on to the finals in October.

Should Streamers Be Held Accountable For Their Choice of Media?

Twitch bans are not at all uncommon in the e-sports world. It seems like every week some streamer is saying something toxic and getting their Twitch channel shut down for it.

But what if a player is banned for something someone else said? This is the case for League of Legends streamer Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi who played some questionable media on his stream. The media in question comes from comedian Filthy Frank, a shock comic whose song “White is Right” contains several racial slurs. This goes against Twitch’s content policies and has resulted in a 24 hour ban.

Sneaky’s ban has raised the question of whether or not streamers should be held responsible for tangential content which is shown on their stream. In Sneaky’s case, the answer seems to be yes, as showcasing this song promotes a tacit endorsement of the song. However, other Twitch streamers have been banned for things trolling fans have said, or even simple activity in their chat feed.

If the answer is yes, then Twitch may have to provide better tools for broadcaster to help self-censor their streams. While it certainly does not seem unreasonable for a streamer to act as his or her own stream’s moderator, it’s extremely easy to viewers to take advantage of things such a text-to-speech software or song recommendation services in order to get a streamer in trouble before they can effectively act as their own censor. Then again, it could be argued that these services are all third-party services, not services provided by Twitch, and that any streamer that uses them should also put the same effort into finding effective tools to moderate their stream’s content.

What do you think? Should streamers be held accountable for content shown on their stream that they did not personally say or showcase?

Two NFL Franchise Owners Buy Slots in the Overwatch League

With team after team dropping out of professional Overwatch, who will be left to buy slots in the Overwatch League? According to a recent report, traditional sports franchises. Supposedly, the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins have both secured slots in the League, though they haven’t announced any team acquisitions. Current estimates place slots in the league at a six million to fifteen million dollar value, although rumors have been flying around about particular slots going for over twenty million. It’s no wonder traditional teams can’t get together the money they need to compete.

Wins and Losses

  • Zeng "Xiao Hai" Zhuojun and Arman "Phenom" Hanjani have both secured a spot in the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational finals on May 26. They will fight for the first place prize of $150,000 with the best SFV talent in the world.
  • OpTic Gaming is the first team ever to go undefeated in the CWL Global Pro League. They exited the Green Group with a perfect 6-0 record.
  • A relatively new team playing under the name Damn Canadians has taken home the gold in the Mother’s Day North American Call of Duty 2K Tournament. They will take home two thousands dollars and pro points for each player.
  • Team NP has defeated Digital Chaos in order to secure a spot competing in the DOTA Summit 7.

The Roster Shuffle

  • Denial Esports will be re-entering the world of competitive Call of Duty with a team consisting of Marcus “MiRx” Carter, Jay “Prophet” Nicoletti, Eric “Twizz” Servello, and Mike “Blfire” Glushenok.
  • Richard “Ricky” Stacy has left Cloud 9’s Call of Duty team, becoming a free agent. Shortly after he announced this, Cloud9 also announced they would be releasing Andres Lacefield from the team. The two players will be replaced with John “Xotic” Bruno and Preston “Priest” Greiner.
  • Kirill "Likkrit" Malofeev or M19’s League of Legends side has been suspended for three games due to toxic behavior. A replacement has not yet been found.
  • Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan has jointed up with Team Vitality after splitting with H2K gaming. He will be competing with them in the EU LCS this year.
  • Gambit Esports have dropped their entire LoL roster, except for Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov. They are looking for new players to compete in the summer playoffs.
  • Jake "Xmithie" Puchero will be joining the Immortals League of Legends team, once a trade agreement has been finalized. He will be replacing Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett who will be moving on to CLG.
  • Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafien will be leaving Team Roccat and will be moving on to the Misfits, replacing Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kown.
  • Sergey "Starix" Ischuk has joined Team Spirit as their new CS:GO captain. “ is the team and organization with which I want to continue my career in esports,” Ischuk said in the organization’s press release. “Despite the long break in practice, I am quickly regaining shape and very soon will be able to prove it in official matches.”
  • Yet another organization has dropped its Overwatch team. Splyce have decided to let its entire roster go and step back from the scene all together. Once again, they cited financial hardship as the reason for dropping out of the League. Outside of the official Overwatch League, there are few competitions being held for the game, and the League itself is still proving to be too expensive for even major teams to opt into.
  • Joining Splyce is CompLexity Gaming who have also bowed out of Overwatch before the Overwatch League gets into high-gear. Players Jake "TorkTJO" Lepoff, Nicolas "NicolasTJO" Aubin, Joe "Joemeister" Gramano, and Mihail "Meza" Păunescu will become free agents. "Anticipation of Blizzard's upcoming Overwatch League and an uptick in mainstream esports attention means that now more than ever, we have to be confident we're making the best investments in each game," CompLexity general manager Kyle Bautista said in a statement. "The decision to part ways with long-term members of our organization is never one that we take lightly, but ongoing roster instability has resulted in inconsistent performances in an already narrow field of events."
  • As we enter the DOTA2 off-season, we are seeing more and more trades of notable players. Lee "Forev" Sang-don, formerly of B)ears will be joining Digital Chaos, replacing Jimmy "DeMoN" Ho. Expect many more high profile trades in upcoming weeks.