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This week in Esports

Esports, NFL team up for Super Bowl Fortnite event

Field Level Media

As the synergy between professional sports and gaming continues to grow, a trio of power players in both industries announced a partnership, just in time for the Super Bowl.

In the words of Twitch’s Twitter feed:

“Twitch streamers. NFL stars. Fortnite.”

More specifically, Twitch, the NFL Players Association and Epic Games are teaming up for a series of Fortnite events pairing NFL players with streamers to raise money for charity.

Among the reported planned competitions will be the NFLPA Open on Jan. 15, when select active NFL players will compete for the title of “Best Fortnite Player in the League.”

But the biggest event is the Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl, in which 16 Twitch streamers will team with 16 NFL figures to compete in a variety of games leading up to the Super Bowl. The first event began Tuesday, with other broadcasts to be held on Tuesdays before the final live event in Miami Gardens, Fla. – site of Super Bowl LIV – on Thursday, Jan. 30.

Super Bowl LIV will be held Feb. 2.

Twitch retains popular streamers

Streaming platform Twitch announced Tuesday that it has retained three of its most popular streamers with exclusive, multiyear contracts.
Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, Saqib “LIRIK” Zahid and Timothy “TimTheTatman” Betar have more than 10 million combined followers and 550 million combined unique views. According to the Twitch Tracker on Tuesday, TimTheTatman’s 4.17 million followers make him the seventh-most followed streamer on Twitch.

According to The Esports Observer, all three are represented by Loaded, and the company facilitated each gamer’s deal.

“These professional streamers are a part of the core foundation of Twitch,” Loaded founder and CEO Brandon Freytag told The Observer. “Each started to stream in 2011/2012 and have built massive and passionate audiences due to their engaging streams and participation in several iconic events throughout the years. We are excited to have each of them continue their success with Twitch in an even bigger way for more years to come.”

According to The Observer, DrLupo has raised more than $1.3 million for charity partners in 2018, including a 24-hour live stream for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital that raised more than $600,000.

Among the games the three play and stream are World of Warcraft, Fortnite and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The news comes after Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek announced last fall that they were leaving Twitch to stream exclusively on Mixer, Microsoft’s streaming platform.

New PUBG Global Series launched

PUBG esports is retooling for 2020 and announced Tuesday the launch of the PUBG Global Series.

It will replace the format that existed during the 2019 inaugural season.

In 2020, PUBG will host four, 32-team events, to be held in April, July, October and November. The prize pools will be crowdfunded, and the first three events also will serve as qualifiers for the year’s final event, the PUBG Global Championship.

The first event will be PUBG Global Series: Berlin, with qualifying beginning in February for most regions. The top four teams from PGC 2019 – Gen.G, FaZe Clan, Four Angry Men and OGN Entus Force – earn an automatic entry.

PUBG also unveiled plans to supplement prize pools via opportunities for teams to earn revenue through what the organization described as “Pick’Em Challenge-type activities” as well as the sale of team-related items to support participating teams and increase in-game engagement.

More than $6 million in prizes were distributed last year.

Finally, the organization announced that it will introduce tournaments to appeal to prospective players and fans.

High School Esports League playoffs on tap

The High School Esports League on Tuesday announced the playoff schedule for the Fall Majors, where teams from across North America are competing for a $30,000 college scholarship prize pool.

The semifinals will take place on Saturday and Sunday. The Grand Finals run from Dec. 16-20 and will be live-streamed on twitch.tv/VarsityNetwork.

A total of 30 champions will be crowned in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Rainbow Six: Siege, Rocket League, Smite, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate, Madden 20 and NBA 2K20. Each winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

The HSEL Fall Major Playoffs are hosted by FBI_Tugboat, Irelique, topical_tv and Zark.

Nets' owner invests $10 million in G2 Esports

Joseph Tsai, the billionaire owner of the Brooklyn Nets, has become a minority owner of G2 Esports after investing $10 million, the organization announced.

G2 also said it intends to open an office in New York in 2020.

“New York is an under-leveraged and under-represented market in esports, which is odd because it in particular is where so many impactful subcultures have been born in the U.S.,” Jens Hilgers, one of G2’s founding owners, told Forbes. “This is an opportunity for G2 to capitalize on playing to the East Coast.”

G2 teams compete in a variety of platforms, including League of Legends, Fortnite, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PUBG and Rocket League.

Forbes recently valued the company at $165 million, which represents a 57 percent increase from 2018. Earlier this year, G2 raised $17.3 million from New York investors, according to Forbes.

The increased presence in New York City is expected to allow Berlin-based G2 to capitalize on sponsorship possibilities with American companies.

Additionally, Forbes said Tsai’s connections should allow G2 to better reach the market in China, where it is seeking to expand its reach. Tsai, born in Taiwan, is co-founder of Alibaba, a Chinese ecommerce conglomerate, and he can offer guidance into expanding into the market.

Virtus.pro on verge of acquiring AVANGAR'S CS:GO team

One of the hottest teams on the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene is on the verge of being acquired by one of the bigger names in esports, according to a report Monday night.

Citing multiple sources close to the situation, DBLTAP reported that AVANGAR’s CS:GO team is in the final stages of being acquired by Virtus.pro, an outfit that currently fields a CS:GO team but whose success in the game has been stunted in recent years.

According to the report, the team of Timur “buster” Tulepov, Alexey “qikert” Golubev, Dzhami “Jame” Ali, Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev and Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev will become Virtus.pro’s new CS:GO team, though it is unknown what Virtus.pro will do with its current Polish team.
Jame is Russian, SANJI is Uzbekistani, and the rest of the AVANGAR team is Kazakhstani.

The last 12 months have been filled with first-place finishes for AVANGAR, most notably the CIS Minor Katowice in January, the DreamHack Open Rio in April and BLAST Pro Series: Moscow in September. AVANGAR also finished runner-up to Astralis at the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 in September.

Conversely, Virtus.pro’s CS:GO recent results have been largely disappointing save for a second-place finish at the V4 Future Sports Festival – Budapest in September.

Most notable among the new additions is AdreN, who played on Virtus.pro’s initial CS:GO squad, which began in October 2012.

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