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Category Archives: Overwatch

Overwatch League Hopes Hawaii Plan Will Boost Activision Blizzard Esports Outfit’s 4th Season – Forbes

In hindsight, starting a global sports league in 2018 roughly 25 months before the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down was not and is not the most ideal of circumstances.

With 20 teams based in the U.S., Canada, China, South Korean, France and England, Overwatch League had to quickly pivot from its first year of live events in the franchises’ locations back to its familiar online format, going dark for two weeks to switch gears. Teams from North America like New York Excelsior moved its operations to Seoul for its Korean-based roster to not encounter pandemic-based immigration issues.

Another issue with online gaming in a global esports league was latency, with a lag potentially putting teams at competitive disadvantages if, let’s say, the San Francisco Shock are playing remotely against the Shanghai Dragons. Activision Blizzard’s ATVI workaround for this connectivity problem as the league begins its 4th season this weekend is called “Project Aloha.”

In continuing with its tournament-based online format it implemented during the pandemic last year, Overwatch League will have 12 teams based in North America and Europe play a series of three regular season weeks in their 2021 home markets, culminating with a six-team knockout style tournament to determine the two best teams during that span. Those two clubs will go to Hawaii, where there’s a direct internet cable that runs to Tokyo, to play against the two top Asian teams during the OWL season’s four tentpole weekends in May, June, July and August. NYXL, the Philadelphia Fusion and Los Angeles Valiant will join the four Chinese teams and the Seoul Dynasty to form the eight-team Eastern side of the league.

“Connecting directly from Hawaii to Tokyo is a fast enough connection speed that the gameplay is going to be high quality, the players don’t report any issues and they’re all excited to do it,” said Jon Spector, the Overwatch League’s vice president. “So Hawaii emerged for us as this kind of silver bullet solution.”

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OWL will have a small staff of five or six in Hawaii for IT or league operational issues, limiting the amount of personnel for health and safety reasons.

“The amount of staff that have identified ‘business critical reasons’ why they should ultimately be in Hawaii is a surprisingly long list of folks,” Spector joked.

The league hopes that there will be plenty of East vs West storylines that emerge over the course of the season, making up for the reality that there won’t be any regular season inter-regional matchups for the foreseeable future aside from the tentpole tournaments. Spector is optimistic that the league will take everything it learned from a turbulent 2020 season, which started with five encouraging live events and had to go back online, and take this format and grow engagement in 2021 with what it believes is a strong regular season structure.

In its 2nd season with YouTube as its streaming partner, Overwatch League is streaming in 4K quality for the first time, native account linking with for its viewer rewards program, a clips feature for instant highlights, new graphics packages and music tracks to try to improve the viewing experience at home.

Of course, Overwatch League hopes that the current regular season match format is only a temporary solution. Spector said the league has been in pretty regular contact with all 20 teams about what they want to be doing in their markets this year, whether that’s fan engagement or the live events OWL was so excited about last February and March. And news broke this week that live events will return in China later this year.

MORE FROM FORBESOverwatch League Is Returning To Live Events This Season – But Only In China

“Right now, we’re doing our best to stay flexible on that question,” Spector said a couple of weeks ago. “At this point, we’re keeping our options open. Our season is going to run several months, and my hope is that as we get later into the season, it’s gonna be easier and safer to bring back live events.”

Live events will be easier once more players are vaccinated around the world, and Spector thinks that given the travel and immigration protocols the players will encounter that they’ll want to get the vaccine as soon as they’re eligible. However, the plan is to leave those decisions to the individual teams rather than have the league mandate or require anything.

Spector stressed that as the pandemic still persists around the world, Overwatch League is at an advantage over the UFC and other traditional sports like Major League Baseball in that its players and teams don’t have to gather and congregate in one location to proceed with its regular match schedule with a structure that drives excitement and preserves match integrity

“I don’t think it’s as necessary for us to take some of those material risks around filling up a stadium and asking the teams to travel regularly,” he said.

As OWL says hello to Project Aloha in Hawaii as the 2021 season begins on Friday, the hope is that this is only a temporary stopgap in the league’s winding, twisting journey over the last three years.

What Date & Time Verdansk Is Being Nuked in Warzone – RealSport101

Season 3 of Call of Duty Warzone is just around the corner, but the nuke event to see the end of Verdansk will come first.

If you’re looking forward to the new 1980s Verdansk map, you’ll want to know exactly when Verdansk is set to be nuked in Warzone.

What Time Verdansk Is Being Nuked

Recently, many key Call of Duty influencers were sent packages that state that something is set to happen in Verdansk on April 21 at 12pm PT, which is 3pm ET and 8pm BST.

Since Season 2 of the battle royale is set to end the following day, on April 22, it’s possible that Verdansk getting nuked is what’s being teased, with the new 1980’s Verdansk map to follow the next day.

Whether it’ll be just the start of the nuke event, the nuke itself going off, or the new map being released, something is certainly set to happen in-game on April 21.

Other Possible Times

It hasn’t actually been confirmed by Raven or Activision when Verdansk is going to be nuked, however, so some other times are possible.

VGC has reported that April 21 will just be the start of the in-game event, with the big bang not ushering in the new map until the following day.

verdansk nuke time
DROP IN: A new map is set to arrive next week

VGC say: “While kicking off on April 21, the activities leading to the updated map’s reveal will culminate in an explosive in-game event on April 22, designed to narratively transition Warzone from the Modern Warfare era to a Cold War era setting more in line with the most recent premium series release.”

Therefore, it’s possible that the tease is just part one, and more events and playable moments will be teased between now and the beginning of Season 3.

Of course, we’ll be sure to let you know when the time for Verdansk being nuked is confirmed. For now, set your alarms for 3pm ET on April 21.


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A vaccine expert answers your questions about the Covid-19 jab – YP

Young Post spoke to Professor Benjamin Cowling, Division Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, about the Covid-19 vaccination, and asked him to answer your questions and concerns surrounding it.

Why children fare better against Covid-19 than adults

YP reader Vinci Leung: How have the different vaccines been made?

BC: There are different technologies used to make the vaccines. One of the oldest ways is to make vaccines is to grow the virus and then deactivate it so it is no longer infectious. That is done by using heat and other techniques in a lab. It is then further purified to be safe enough to inject into a person, and your body will generate an immune response to it. This is how Sinovac was made. [This is an inactivated vaccine.]

A more recent technology was used to make AstraZeneca. It uses a common cold virus called adenovirus and modifies it so it has some genetic information from Covid. It then uses that as a way to stimulate people’s immune systems to protect themselves against Covid.

The BioNTech vaccine is clever because it uses that same biological process the virus uses inside a cell to copy itself. When a virus invades our cells, it uses our cells like a factory to make more of the virus – that is the only way it can reproduce. It’s not like bacteria, which has its own cells. This is called an mRNA vaccine. It doesn’t contain the virus itself, but instead contains a single-use “instruction manual” to make a part of the virus which your immune system then responds to.

It’s natural to have questions about the vaccine, especially because some of them use new technologies. Photo: EPA

YP : Will the vaccine still be effective against different variants?

BC: In theory, vaccines can be updated to cover those variants. The mRNA vaccine could be updated the quickest by changing the “instruction manual”.

For inactivated vaccines, you first have to grow the virus into large amounts which takes time, and you need to check that the virus you’re growing is growing properly and not changing.

We stopped hugging and shaking hands during Covid – should it stay that way?

YP reader Vinky Wu Wing-ki: What are the potential side effects? Is the injection painful, and will it hurt after?

BC: The injection is not painful at all. It’s such a thin needle. After the injection, it’s quite common to feel some minor reaction to vaccination. Maybe your arm will feel sore, you’ll feel a little bit tired, and some people might have a fever, but those are mild.

It’s very unusual to have a major reaction to vaccination. In Hong Kong, we’ve heard of some people going into shock, like some do if they are allergic to peanuts. There might be something in a vaccine that they didn’t realise they were allergic to, or it is a chance event. Those are extremely rare though, 1 in 100,000. You’d have to vaccinate a lot of people to see more of those events.

There’s a very low risk of anything more serious, but there’s always going to be some risk of a mild reaction because you’re injecting your body with something that stimulates your immune system.

Some have reported feeling sore and tired after the second BioNTech injection but other than that, side effects appear to be mild. Photo: SCMP/May Tse

YP: How do you determine the efficacy of different vaccines?

BC: The effectiveness of the vaccine tells you how much your risk is of getting Covid after you’ve been vaccinated. The BioNTech vaccine is 95 per cent effective, meaning your risk of getting Covid is reduced 95 per cent from the initial risk.

Clinical trials determine the efficacy of a vaccine. You must test the vaccine in a large group of volunteers. Half will get the recommended two doses of the vaccine, and the other half will get a saltwater placebo that mimics the process of getting vaccinated. It’s important that those two groups are allocated at random to eliminate differences.

Among those people, they follow up to see who got the virus, and then use a formula to produce a number.

YP: Can you still get Covid after the vaccine?

BC: Yes, you can.

You can still spread coronavirus, even after getting the vaccine

YP reader Jenny Huang: How long will the vaccine protect someone for? Will you have to get it yearly?

BC: We’ve only been studying Covid for just over a year. We already know that people can be reinfected after their first infection, and we know the vaccines are not 100 per cent [efficient]. As time goes on, we will learn more about how long immunity will last after the recommended two doses of vaccination.

My expectation is that in some people the protection will last for a long time, but for others that

immunity will wane a bit more quickly, so it’s possible that we would need booster doses after a year or two.

It’s also possible that there could be a test available to say who should get the booster and who shouldn’t, because their immunity is high.

If there were more variants, and the vaccine from this year doesn’t seem to be that effective, we would get booster doses specifically targeting that variant. There might be different boosters for BioNTech and Sinovac.

The other possibility is that, after the first two doses you get a good level of protection, then you’d get a booster dose after a year, and then other booster doses could be spread out over a few years after.

People queue up for Covid-19 vaccines at the Sha Tin Community Vaccination Centre. Photo: SCMP / Felix Wong

YP reader Noki Wong: Are there any long-term side-effects of the vaccines?

BC: There are very few consequences that are recognised as long-term side effects of this vaccination.

If there were, we wouldn’t choose to use the vaccines because we want them to be safe.

YP : Does the vaccine cause Bell’s palsy?

BC: This is something that’s not fully understood. Bell’s palsy is triggered by an infection, so it’s not necessarily [caused by] the virus or the vaccine, but an immune response to the virus or vaccine. It happens mostly in older people, not children.

It’s quite difficult to disentangle whether it was the kind of thing that would happen anyway, or if it was because of the vaccine, but it is possible to recover from it.

How to get the vaccine when you’re afraid of needles

YP reader Alvin Chan Wai-hei: Is the vaccine suitable for people of all ages – teenagers, young people, middle-aged people and the elderly?

BC: BioNTech is licensed for people aged 16+ [and recently has promising results for people as young as 12], and Sinovac is 18+.

So why are these vaccines not available for children yet? New vaccines are developed and tested in a laboratory first to make sure they are safe, then they are given to a very small number of adults so they can check they are working the way they are supposed to work.

Then, proper clinical trials take place amongst adult volunteers, and then it goes down to teenagers, and after that they will be tested on children.

How to have meaningful interactions during Covid-19

YP reader Cheung Hing-yin: Should children get the vaccine?

BC: By the end of this year, we would expect these vaccines to become available for children and teenagers below 16, but we have to see the results of the clinical trials first.

We would expect that the vaccines [will] work better in children and teenagers than they do in adults, because they show a better immune response.

YP reader Angel Zhang: Is there any way to assign a particular vaccine to a specific age group?

BC: Right now in Hong Kong we have a choice of two vaccines. In other places, health authorities have prioritised the most effective vaccines to the most vulnerable people.

There is a case to be made to give the most effective vaccines to people who would benefit the most from that vaccine.

Call Of Duty: Mobile Season 3 Will Launch On April 16th – Bleeding Cool News

Activision and Tencent Games revealed today that Call Of Duty: Mobile Season 3 will launch sooner than expected. The season will be called “Tokyo Escape” and it will officially kick off on April 16th at 5pm PT. The season will launch with a bunch of new content for you to team up on as you’ll be getting a new Multiplayer Mode, a Swords & Stones mode, as well as the addition of two new maps in the form of Oasis and Coastal. You’ll also have access to a pair now two epic premier weapons you can earn in the form of the PP19 Bizon – Yokai and the QXR – Scorching Sun. Not to mention 50 tiers of rewards in the battle pass for the season, including Samurai-themed characters, weapons, and more.

A look at the artwork for Season 3, courtesy of Tencent Games.
A look at the artwork for Season 3, courtesy of Tencent Games.

Call Of Duty: Mobile Season 3

  • New Maps – Two new multiplayer maps make their debut in Call of Duty: Mobile:
    • Oasis – First introduced in Modern Warfare 3, Oasis takes place in an upscale desert hotel themed for the season.
    • Coastal – A brand-new map designed for Call of Duty: Mobile and created specifically for the Search & Destroy mode.
  • New Battle Royale Updates – Season 3 will also see the addition of a new operator skill and BR class.
    • Operator Skill – Bull Charge – A riot shield skill that can be earned by reaching Tier 14 in the Season 3 battle pass.
    • BR Class – Spotter – The new Battle Royale class will be available later in the season through its own featured event.
  •  New Multiplayer Modes
    • Night Mode 2.0 – Optimized versions of Night Mode launching for a limited time (April 22- 28)
    • Swords & Stones – Available for a limited time (May 6-12), this mode goes back to basics allowing only melee weapons in a free-for-all contest. The new mode includes airdrops that change to the Shadow Blade skill, Molotov Cocktail Scorestreaks and more.
  • Marquee Event – “Warrior’s Path,” a Samurai-themed event begins on April 29 and enables players to join either the Five Knights or the U.A.C. to complete daily tasks and earn rewards in either MP or BR mode. Winner takes all here, with the faction earning the most points at the end of the day taking control of a node on the map.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

Investors are flocking to video gaming, but be wary of esports, SPACs, advisors say – The Washington Post

For example, outsiders to gaming and gaming culture are often confused about esports and how it fits into gaming as a whole. The distinction is important; it’s the difference between investing in an established, soaring industry and a nascent one still looking for secure footholds on its ascent.

Start here: While all esports games are video games, not all video games are considered esports. Perhaps an easier analogy is that all racing cars are cars, but not all cars are built for racing. While cars and video games are accessible to most people, racecars and esports are left to the professionals and aspiring amateurs, a much smaller group of folks.

In 2020, SuperData, a Nielsen research company, reported that the games and interactive media industry has grown 12 percent year-to-year, becoming a $139.9 billion global business. The U.S.-based segment of that market stands at $60.4 billion. While the pandemic surely impacted this growth, investors are focused on games that are played by the global population, not just esports.

“Video gaming is the future of entertainment, it is about people being social, and it is the place to hang out,” said Josh Chapman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Konvoy Ventures, a venture capital company that invests in infrastructure technology, tools, and platforms for tomorrow’s video gaming industry. Chapman believes his company’s success is about “investing in the masses, not just the smaller professional levels,” but admits he is “getting lots of inquiries, of late, on investing in esports because of the pandemic, all the media hype, and the news surrounding SPACs.”

The three reasons named by Chapman provide three areas investors should scrutinize before committing their money specifically to an esports operation. The first two reasons — increased visibility during the pandemic in replacing shuttered traditional sports on TV networks like ESPN and the increasing media coverage of esports — are important because they provide a kind of shiny veneer that obscures the answer to two fundamental questions. First, is esports actually flourishing during the pandemic? Second, is the hype warranted and driven by the financial success of esports, or more by their increasing visibility?

The assertion that esports has benefited from the pandemic hangs primarily on their ability to hold competitions while traditional sports disappeared for several months. Those events did not, however, go according to plan.

Activision Blizzard intended 2020 to be the year the Overwatch and Call of Duty leagues would capitalize on the company’s vision of creating an esports setup that mirrored traditional sports. Teams would host events before live audiences, traveling from one host site to another. Covid derailed those plans just as they were beginning, and while both leagues held online competitions from remote locations, a linchpin of their economic model — one in which esports teams have access to local market revenue through ticket and merchandise sales, as well as regional corporate sponsorships — completely fell apart. Ahead of the 2021 season for both leagues, Activision Blizzard laid off its esports events team.

Newzoo, an oft-sited market analysis site that has long been bullish on esports’ revenue potential, revised down its projections for the esports industry in 2020 from $1.1 billion to about $950 million.

These downward adjustments reflect the risk assessed by investors in the market. Although there are three primary ways to invest in the video game market — video game publishers (Activision, Electronic Arts, and others), esports organizations (such as Cloud9, Team Liquid, Fnatic) and infrastructure companies (such as Discord or companies that offer tools for livestreaming), Chapman has remained committed to the third category because he believes it is the lowest risk of the three.

“Video games seem to carry an abnormal amount of risk due to the increasingly competitive landscape and fluctuation of large game studios and teams who, in my opinion, are overvalued with linear business models,” Chapman said.

Chapman’s third reason investors are drawn to gaming properties focuses on the allure of SPACs around esports. A SPAC is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company created for the sole purpose of going public. Also known as ‘blank-check’ companies, SPACs are solely formed to raise funds in an initial public offering (IPO). It then uses the funds to acquire a private company (in this case, an esports company), effectively bringing it to the stock market more quickly and with fewer regulatory filings.

Sean Branagan, Chairman of Scrappy Capital, a seed investment company, is wary of SPACs forming around esports properties.

“SPACs tend to take companies before they have truly proven themselves, and in essence, they are competing against traditional investment firms that were waiting for these companies to mature through traditional funding rounds,” Branagan said. “With SPACs, this process is skipped, and the company goes public at an often-inflated valuation.”

Furthermore, Branagan said he is concerned for the average folks flocking to invest in SPACs because “we have learned from history that SPACs allow the initial investors to have an exit plan from the start, leaving the general public investors without the management expertise to bring the newly formed company to maturity.”

In mid-December 2020, the same SPAC management team that pushed fantasy sports and sportsbook company DraftKings to go public, Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp., used a similar approach for an esports company. It took its newly formed SPAC, Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp., and, merged with mobile esports platform company Skillz, making Skillz the first publicly traded esports platform on the New York Stock Exchange. But, to Branagan and Chapman’s point, Skillz has yet to be profitable and it projects it will lose $47 million this year, according to a CNBC interview with its owner, Andrew Paradise.

Skillz is not the only esports company trying to cash in on the SPAC craze. In early August 2020, the Vistas Media Acquisition Company, a SPAC, (NYSE: VMAC) began trading and is currently, according to its corporate filings, on the lookout for “a strong digital product/service company, including but not limited to content, film, postproduction and/or visual effects facilities, animation, streaming, augmented and virtual reality, music, digital media, gaming and esports.”

It is important to remember that SPACs were popular before the global financial crisis of 2007-08 but fell from popularity afterward as the overall economy struggled. Some investors argue that SPACs contributed to the crises back then, as they are often seen as a sign of market excess.

“SPAC is a tool, like any tool, for a capital intensive and high growth company,” Branagan said. “Esports tends to be a low capital-intensive investment with high growth potential. In either case, the management team takes the company public, gets their funds, and then goes off into the sunset. On the flip side, it is a closed old boy school with a high-profile sponsor. That may not end well.”

Whileesports may continue to ascend in popularity and visibility, it remains a high-risk investment with numerous questions yet to be answered. Will the franchise league model work? Will the players unionize and bargain for a larger piece of the economic pie? Will advents like 5G and additional fiber optics in the U.S. broaden the esports market to more of the population? The answers to these questions will remain critical for the investor, especially in these unusual times.

Ellen M. Zavian is a professor of Sports Law at George Washington University. Follow her on Twitter @zavian.

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The Call Of Duty Mobile Team Offer Tips & Tricks For The Season – Bleeding Cool News

As we’re currently sitting in full swing of the second season of Call Of Duty: Mobile, the team at Activision would like to offer a few tips. The team recently hit us up to drop some knowledge out there for players to pick up, which will hopefully help you out as they continue the season. We got a top 10 list for you below to read, which has some pretty good tips to check out. But it’s all up to you and what you decide to do with this knowledge. If everything’s working out for you, awesome. If not, maybe some of this can help.

A little bit of advice from the Call Of Duty: Mobile team, courtesy of Tencent Games.
A little bit of advice from the Call Of Duty: Mobile team, courtesy of Tencent Games.

10: Switch up your loadout as needed, whether it’s to a close-quarters setup for breaching a contested point, a long-range kit for defense and overwatch, or even a support loadout focused on taking out enemy equipment and Scorestreaks.

9: Don’t be too rigid in thinking of the map’s three-lane structure. While it’s a helpful way to initially learn the layout, the best players will move up and down across the lanes as often as through them.

8: While Shoot House might seem geared toward close-quarters combat, there are more than enough long sightlines for the savvy sharpshooter. Use high ground when able and search for those angles that offer clear shots between cover points.

7: Need ideas for an Operator Skill? Get crazy in close quarters with the Equalizer or Death Machine, or try the Sparrow or Tempest for long shots from the office or down the lanes.

6: Grenades can do wonders here, especially in pitched fights when teams are dug in behind cover. Use your grenades liberally to perfect lob distances all over the map.

5: Fall back to your team’s gate spawn if you need to call in a Care Package or even just for a safe spot from which to take down enemy aerial streaks with a launcher.

4: Need to cross the center lane? Make it fast. The longer you’re exposed there, the more likely you are to get taken out by precision fire from either end.

3: If you’re getting pummeled from the skies, make sure to always have a backup class with Cold-Blooded equipped for extra protection against AI-controlled Scorestreaks in dire situations.

2: Communicate with your team. Call out enemy positions, share your attack plans, and coordinate for a more precise overall strategy that’s sure to lead to many victory screens.

1: Enjoy! Shoot House is a great map that only gets better with repeated plays. Dig in, whether you’re heading in as a Shoot House vet or deploying here for the first time.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

Players to Know in LA’s Fast-Growing Professional Esports Industry – Los Angeles Business Journal

Team Liquid competes in Riot’s League Championship Series.

Team Liquid competes in Riot’s League Championship Series.

Most Los Angeles residents are well-acquainted with local teams like the Dodgers, Lakers and Rams — as well as the massive venues where they play their home games.

But fewer Angelenos may be aware of the hugely popular esports franchises that call L.A. home.


Over the last decade the city has emerged as a hub for professional video gaming. Some of the world’s most popular and fastest growing esports franchises are housed in high-tech facilities across L.A., with many clustered around Silicon Beach.


Although the teams may not be household names for mainstream sports fans, viewership data show they have captured the attention of tens of millions of young gamers around the globe.


“I don’t think esports is niche,” said Walter Wang, vice president of operations at esports company SoloMid Corp., also known as TSM. “There’s enough people watching already, and it’s only going to increase because more people are growing up playing video games.”


Chasing the NFL, NBA

Wang pointed to a 2019 viewership analysis by Riot Games Inc. that concluded that Riot’s North American “League of Legends” league ranked as the third-most popular sports league behind only the National Football League and the National Basketball Association among 18- to 34-year-old U.S. viewers, based on average-minute-audience figures gathered by Nielsen Corp.

TSM owns one of the most successful teams in the League Championship Series, and the franchise did well enough to qualify for last year’s world championship event in Shanghai, which drew nearly 46 million peak concurrent viewers.


With such a large fan base already in place, Wang said TSM is able to focus on winning games as a primary means to building its brand and following.
“If you win, you build fans,” Wang said.

 
Steve Arhancet, co-chief executive of TSM rival Team Liquid, said esports organizations resemble conventional sports teams in that a focus on competitive success encourages investment in elite players and the coaching and practice infrastructure to support them.


“All of the resources that we provide to our teams and players are best in class,” Arhancet said. “Everything from the equipment they use, the facilities they train in, the sports psychologists they work with … we make significant investment in those.”


Esports companies differ from traditional sports organizations in a few key ways. For one thing, nearly every major esports organization competes in multiple games. TSM and Team Liquid have invested heavily in franchises with Riot’s League Championship Series, but both organizations also support teams and individual competitors in at least 10 other games.


Another difference is that teams competing in traditional sports are generally tied to a specific geographic location and physical venue, which is not always the case in esports.


Competing in multiple games

Activision Blizzard has built leagues around its “Overwatch” and “Call of Duty” games in which each franchise is associated with a particular city. Of course, arranging for teams to actually play matches in those cities has been a logistical challenge — particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Arhancet said Liquid (which does not have teams in the “Overwatch” or “Call of Duty” leagues) sees its fanbase as global, rather than concentrated in Los Angeles or The Netherlands, where the company’s offices and training facilities are located.


“(Esports is) more worldwide,” Arhancet said, “which just opens the opportunity to have a much, much bigger fanbase than you would otherwise in professional sports.”


To capitalize on this global audience, Liquid launched a fan engagement platform called Liquid Plus earlier this year, which Arhancet said will be key to capturing much of the value that traditional sports teams gain from having a physical venue to generate sales of tickets, merchandise and food and beverages.


“Instead of having in-person venues, we operate online digital stadiums,” he said. “We’re hosting events … where hundreds or thousands of people can come, and we can just as easily sell a beverage that’s delivered to your house.”


Here’s a look at some of the most influential esports organizations in Los Angeles.

The Big Players 

SoloMid Corp.

Founded: 2009
Headquarters: Playa Vista
CEO: Andy Dinh
Games Competing In: 11
About the company: TSM was founded by Andy Dinh, who was once one of the top-ranked “League of Legends” players in the world. The company’s League of Legends team has captured seven titles in Riot’s League Championship Series since 2013, giving the organization a reputation as one of the premier franchises in gaming. According to esports analyst GEEIQ, the company’s teams and players have amassed roughly 8 million combined followers on social media and streaming platforms, giving TSM an advantage in landing sponsorships and brand partnerships.

FaZe Clan Inc.

Founded: 2010
Headquarters: Hollywood
CEO: Lee Trink
Games Competing In: 6
About the company: FaZe Clan is known less for its collection of trophies (though its teams have earned a fair number) than for the brash video content and highlight reels produced both by professional players and a vast network of streamers that includes celebrity athletes and musicians. The company’s focus on content has given it more than 20 million followers, according to GEEIQ. FaZe Clan’s teams mainly compete in popular shooter games like “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite.”

Championship Franchises

Team Liquid

Founded: 2000
Headquarters: Santa Monica
Co-CEOs: Steve Arhancet, Victor Goossens
Games Competing In: 17
About the company: One of the most venerable teams in esports, Team Liquid is also one of the most successful, with championship teams in multiple titles. The organization began in the Netherlands as a group of “StarCraft” players. Its training facility in Los Angeles is largely focused on “League of Legends,” and Liquid has captured four titles in the League Championship Series. The company is majority-owned by Axiomatic Gaming, an esports investment company founded by Bruce Stein, Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis.

Counter Logic Gaming Inc.

Founded: 2010
Headquarters: Culver City
Founder: George Georgallidis
Games Competing In: 6
About the Company: Counter Logic formed in 2010 as one of the first pro teams competing in “League of Legends,” and it has captured two titles in the League Championship Series. In 2017, Madison Square Garden Co. acquired a controlling stake in the business. The company shut down its successful “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” team in 2017 but still competes in the game with an all-woman roster that has captured first place in several recent tournaments.

Cloud9 Esports Inc.

Founded: 2013
Headquarters: Santa Monica
CEO: Jack Etienne
Games Competing In: 13
About the company: Cloud9 was founded by former TSM manager Jack Etienne and his wife, Paullie Etienne. The company achieved quick success, with its “League of Legends” team finishing first in its debut season. Cloud9 supports teams competing in numerous games, including Activision Blizzard’s “Overwatch.” Its London Spitfire franchise took home a championship trophy in the Overwatch League’s inaugural season.

Hometown Heros

100 Thieves Inc.

Founded: 2017
Headquarters: Baldwin Hills
CEO: Matthew Haag
Games Competing In: 4
About the company: 100 Thieves is a relatively new esports company with a quickly growing brand. The company entered the League Championship Series in 2018 and is also behind the Los Angeles Thieves franchise in Activision Blizzard’s new “Call of Duty” League. As a team representing the city, the Thieves will play home games locally once in-person events are possible.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Founded: 1999
Headquarters: Denver
CEO: James Martin
Games Competing In: 2
About the company: Stan Kroenke is best known in Los Angeles as the owner of the Rams and the developer of SoFi Stadium, but the Denver-based company that bears his name also has a sizable presence in the esports world locally. Kroenke Sports owns the Los Angeles Gladiators franchise in Activision Blizzard’s “Overwatch” League, as well as the Los Angeles Guerrillas of the “Call of Duty” League. Because Activision Blizzard’s leagues support regional franchises, both teams are expected to host Los Angeles homestands once indoor sports venues are safe for crowds.

KSV Esports Delaware Inc. (dba Gen.G)

Founded: 2017
Headquarters: Santa Monica
CEO: Chris Park
Games Competing In: 6
About the company: Gen.G’s investors include actor Will Smith and Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong, and the company has a sparkling 13,000-square-foot headquarters in Santa Monica. But Gen.G’s most popular teams are based in South Korea. The company’s “League of Legends” team plays in Riot’s Champions Korea league, and its “Overwatch” team, Seoul Dynasty, represented the East region in last year’s championship series. Gen.G does have a few American teams, including an all-woman “Fortnite” squad.

Immortals Gaming Club

Founded: 2015
Headquarters: Del Rey
CEO: Ari Segal
Games Competing In: 5
About the Company: Immortals competes alongside TSM and Team Liquid in Riot’s League Championship Series, and the company also owns the Overwatch League’s Los Angeles Valiant franchise. The team was expected to play homestands locally in the year ahead, but in January, Immortals abruptly cleared out its roster and moved the team’s operations to China. Meanwhile, Immortals also owns the Made in Brazil esports brand and has focused in recent years on building its international business with a platform based around popular shooter “Counter Strike: Global Offensive.”

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Call Of Duty League Has Made Zenni Their Official Eyewear – Bleeding Cool News

Zenni announced this week that they have officially partnered with Call Of Duty League to become their official eyewear. The company kicked off their partnership with the esports league as the presenting partner of the 2021 Season April Major, currently happening this weekend. While the finer details of the deal weren’t revealed, we do know that they will Zenni and its Blokz product line during in-season broadcasts, including tournament and post-season previews, and casters wearing their products on-air. The two will also collaborate on original content with a pro-player TBD, and when physical shows go back to normal,  Zenni will showcase its eyewear at events. We got a couple of quotes about the deal below as you can check out today’s final round of competition on YouTube at the bottom.

Only the best to compete with the rest! Courtesy of Zenni.
Only the best to compete with the rest! Courtesy of Zenni.

“Just a few years ago, fashion and gaming were rarely used in the same sentence. Today, these worlds intersect regularly. Call Of Duty League pros are some of the most followed, most influential esports personalities in the world, and they demand form and function in anything they wear – especially when it comes to their eyes,” said Jack Harari, Vice President, Global Partnerships at Activision Blizzard Esports. “We believe the Zenni product line will resonate strongly with our passionate community. We look forward to working closely with Zenni for years to come, kicking off with Zenni as the presenting sponsor for Call Of Duty Major II, which will showcase for fans the culmination of some of the most competitive action we’ve ever seen in the Call Of Duty League.”

Call Of Duty esports has a rich history, and we’re thrilled to be working with the Call Of Duty League to share the value of our Blokz technology with their audience through 2021 and beyond,” said Sean Pate, Zenni’s Brand Marketing and Communications Officer. “We’ve learned so much about the esports industry over the last few years through our great partners and continuing to invest in the gaming industry has become a major priority for our business. This new relationship with a household name in the space, should cement our commitment to esports overall.”

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

Call Of Duty League Offers A New Solution For Gamertags – Bleeding Cool News

Activision-Blizzard and the Call Of Duty League have launched a new way for you to get a better gamertag within their ranks. In this day and age, especially with so many players having created original names or taken up many of the original names you would go for without a random name generator, it’s hard to get something simple that stands out. Because who really wants to have a name that has a series of nonsensical numbers at the end because everyone else beat you o the punch on your favorite phrase or name? Well, the team now has a solution that might help you as they have launched CDL MyTag, a new way to come up with something original that will give you a fearsome name as you fight against mighty foes such as Smeef, Loafus, and Buttlet.

What's in a name? A hell of a lot if you're going by SlayQueen69! Courtesy of CDL.
What’s in a name? A hell of a lot if you’re going by SlayQueen69! Courtesy of CDL.

The system is pretty simple as you click this link, you’ll be taken to a small page where you fill out a couple of fields. They’re not asking for a lot, just a birth month, your first initial, your favorite Call Of Duty League team, and your preferred playstyle. From there it will kick back and form a name based on the options you put in. We threw in some random choices and got names like Raiscan, Flaklith, and Favaboom. (Feel free to take any of those, we’re not using them.) But if you spend enough time messing with it you’ll see there’s a pattern as to how it decides letters that go into the name with each option determining 1-2 letters at a time. For example, Favaboom was changed to Slayboom when we changed our play style and favorite team. So it’s random, but only to a degree. Have fun messing with it if you need a name change.

A look at the gamertag system, courtesy of CDL.
A look at the gamertag system, courtesy of CDL.

About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

Korean Overwatch League Player Shares His Experience With Anti-Asian Racism In America – Kotaku

As opening day for the fourth season of the Overwatch League looms, Korean players on North American teams are dealing with the precipitous rise in anti-Asian racism. On April 5, Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, main tank for the Dallas Fuel, talked about his experience being Korean and living in America on his Twitch channel.

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“Being Asian here is terrifying, seriously,” he said.

Lee recounted a story of people deliberately coughing on him and his teammates and cautioned other Koreans living in America because “the racism is no joke.” Here is the full clip translated into English by Florida Mayhem team manager Jade “swingchip” Kim.

Lee’s clip comes as hate crimes against Asian-Americans reach an unprecedented frequency. All over the country Asian people report being verbally and physically assaulted; the spike in violence included a gunman in Atlanta killing eight people, six of whom were of Asian descent. The attacks are attributed in part to racist rhetoric espoused by former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly blamed China for the covid-19 pandemic.

Lee’s two-minute clip sparked a wave of Overwatch League fans and professionals expressing support for the player, sharing the tweet with the hashtag #stopasianhate. The next day, on April 6, Mike “hastr0” Rufail—the co-founder of Team Envy, which is the Dallas Fuel’s parent organization—put out his own short video on Twitter condemning racism.

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“We’re doing everything we can to make our players feel comfortable,” he said.

With the covid-19 pandemic disrupting international travel and Blizzard’s plans to hold live games, teams with predominantly Asian players and staff, like the Shanghai Dragons, the Seoul Dynasty, and the New York Excelsior, competed online out of China or Korea. However, a fair number of North American teams have players who are from Asian countries, and who are required to reside in the United States to compete in the 2021 season. Kotaku reached out to these teams for comment as to whether their players have had experiences similar to Lee’s, and to ask how the teams are protecting both staff and players in light of these events.

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The Florida Mayhem.

The Florida Mayhem.
Photo: Carlton Beener / Blizzard Entertainment

“There’s been isolated incidents in the past that we’ve dealt with, but nothing recent that I’m aware of,” Albert Yeh, general manager of the Florida Mayhem, told Kotaku over Discord. Yeh said that covid precautions mean the players typically only spend time at their apartments or practice facilities, insulating them from most potential incidents.

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“In a way, the pandemic protocols have been the ‘protection’ for us,” Yeh said.

Chris Loranger, president of gaming for the Boston Uprising, said that none of his players experienced any racist incidents living in the U.S. thus far, and that they have been instructed to let management know if something does happen.

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The Washington Justice and Atlanta Reign expressed similar sentiments. A spokesperson for the Atlanta Reign wrote in an email, “There have not been issues brought forth, but we’ve encouraged staff and team members to bring any and all concerns forward, and we will support them to the best of our ability.”

For its part, the Overwatch League has not put out any official statement regarding the rise in anti-Asian attacks but said to Kotaku in an email, “At Activision Blizzard, we condemn racism in the strongest possible terms. We stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players and are working across our organization, including esports, to do our part to combat hate and ignorance.”

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Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee used to play for the Shanghai Dragons before being traded to the Dallas Fuel.

Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee used to play for the Shanghai Dragons before being traded to the Dallas Fuel.
Photo: Blizzard Entertainment

Statements are great, but they can only go so far. We hope that Asian players and staff feel that they can take their organizations at their words, and turn to them for any help they may need. Ever since the League began in 2018, there have been discussions as to whether or not the North American teams take the concerns of their Korean players seriously. In 2020, the Vancouver Titans came under fire after abruptly releasing their entire roster of Korean players, all of them seasoned champions, amid rumours of team mismanagement.

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So what can teams do to protect their players and staff? Let them unionize for starters. As for what orgs can do to assist in this climate of increasing anti-Asian violence, Mike Rufail of Team Envy shared some actionable steps his organization has undertaken. In a statement to Vice, Rufail said that Team Envy employs a mental health coach to assist players and that they’re working “to increase security measures for players” but declined to elaborate on what those security measures might be. In any case, I hope other teams take the threat of racism-fueled violence against their players seriously enough to take precautions themselves.

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