AFK Weekly: Dota 2 Major Returns to NA For the First Time Since 2016
Hello everyone! Microsoft’s $68.7B USD acquisition of Activision Blizzard, announced in January, is being watched with close eyes by various US government institutions. Earlier in January, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission would review the multi-billion dollar deal.
Now, US Federal prosecutors and securities regulators are reportedly investigating large bets that media mogul Barry Diller, his stepson Alexander von Furstenberg and producer David Geffen made on Activision Blizzard Inc shares in January, days before the company announced its acquisition. The Wall Street Journal (who broke the story) reported that the trio have an unrealized profit of roughly $60M based on Activision’s share price of around $80. The WSJ reported that the Justice Department is investigating whether any of these trades violated insider trading laws, and that the SEC is also looking into a civil case on the same. Barry Diller denied these allegations, deeming the trade a “lucky bet.”
Diller appears to be the central figure of these investigations since he served on the Coca-Cola board with Activision CEO Bob Kotick and is a “long time friend” of the latter according to the WSJ report. It is certainly going to be interesting to see the investigation unfold over the next few months.
With that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of this week’s most impactful and important esports business news and more in the latest edition of Esports Business Insights by AFK Gaming.
- Vignesh Raghuram, Supervising Editor, AFK Gaming
Dota LANs return to North America with PGL Dota 2 Major Arlington
The North American (NA) region will finally get to host a Dota 2 major for the first time since 2016 with the PGL Dota 2 Major Arlington. The $500K tournament is scheduled to take place from Aug. 4 - 14., at Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas, and will feature 18 teams competing in it.
Up until now, The Boston Major hosted in 2016 has remained as the only Dota 2 Major in NA. However, since then, NA has hosted multiple premier Dota 2 tournaments including The International 7 (Key Arena, Seattle) and The International 8 (Rogers Arena, Vancouver).
The ESL One Los Angeles 2020 Major scheduled to take place in February 2020, would have been the first in-person tournament hosted in the NA region since 2018, but the tournament was postponed and later hosted online due to complications arising from the global lockdowns related to the pandemic during the year.
Key Takeaway: The Dota 2 Pro Circuit (DPC) did not have the best start to the year with the first major of the season being canceled due to complications arising from an increase in COVID-19 infections in January 2022. However, it looks like Valve has turned things around with the announcement of ESL Dota 2 Major Stockholm and the PGL Dota 2 Major Arlington.
Valve hosting two majors in the west might also indicate that the company could be looking to host The International 11 in China or Southeast Asia, later this year. The two regions possess a large portion of the game’s fan base and it is difficult to see them going completely ignored through a full DPC season.
Gears of War esports program is ending
Microsoft-owned Gears of War developer The Coalition has announced that the current esports season will be its last for the foreseeable future. According to the announcement, the developers are shifting their “focus to future projects” and are also “working hard” on the future of the Gears franchise.
The company also confirmed that the current season will continue to move ahead as scheduled with the upcoming Women's History Month tournament on March 26, the Spring Major in April and the Summer Major in June amongst its final events.
Following the release of Gears 5 in September 2019, The Coalition teamed up with PGL to announce the Gears Esports circuit featuring a $2M prize pool. Unfortunately, the company had to shelve its plans of hosting live in-person events and shift Gears esports entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while other esports titles such as Call of Duty or CS:GO have returned to in-person events, Gears has continued to host its tournaments virtually.
The Coalition thanked the community and its partners for their contributions to help run the program for two years and has stated that it will “celebrate Gears Esports” and look back at some of its memorable moments over the next few weeks.
Key Takeaway: A potential Gears of War 6 is still at least a year or two away. It appears The Coalition is less interested in maintaining the current release as a lifestyle title similar to the approach Rockstar has taken with Grand Theft Auto 5. Shooters remain the most saturated esports market, so with Microsoft’s own competitor Halo returning to the battle, it’s not especially surprising that The Coalition is choosing to completely look to the future.
NODWIN Gaming claims 40% growth post-pandemic
In an interview with Adgully, Akshat Rathee, co-founder and managing director of NODWIN Gaming* stated that the company recorded 40% growth post-pandemic. According to Rathee the company was growing at “a steady 10-12% pace” before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Complexity Gaming renews partnership with Miller Lite
Complexity Gaming has renewed and broadened its partnership with Miller Brewing Company beer brand Miller Lite. In addition to working together on merchandise, the companies also plan to develop additional content, including a series focussed on supporting and amplifying minority voices in the industry.
Activision confirms Call Of Duty: Warzone for mobile
Activision has confirmed that Call of Duty: Warzone is coming to mobile devices and that it is hiring artists, engineers, producers, and product managers for the same.
Loco raises $42M in Series A Funding
India’s game streaming platform Loco announced that it has secured an investment of INR 330 crores ($42M). Hashed led the investment round which also saw participation from Makers Fund, Catamaran Ventures, Korea Investment Partners, and Loco’s seed round funders including Krafton, Lumikai, and Hiro Capital.
Game Developer signs Gen.G to promote its video game
Game developer Nimble Neuron has signed a two-year partnership with Gen.G Esports to promote its “Eternal Return” game. The two companies will execute a series of promotional activations including the “Eternal Return Collegiate Club Program,” which will see students compete against each other in Eternal Return esports tournaments.
People on the move
It’s always good to see people who have been laid off due to an acquisition find work elsewhere in a short amount of time: for example, former members of Esports Stadium Arlington. Onto this week’s big moves:
Alex Gonzalez exits Respawn Products to join Enthusiast Gaming as the new head of its Luminosity division.
Former Coca-Cola North American lead for global gaming and esports Alex Williams has joined Capitol Records as its VP of gaming strategy & business development.
Former Super League Gaming AS1 Event Operations Lead Alexandra Andersen has joined Informa Markets as digital program manager.
Julien Benichou has been promoted to the role of senior director of partnerships strategy and execution at Gen.G Esports.
Former Esports Stadium Arlington Partnership and Event Fulfillment Manager Stephanie Mayer joins Professional Bull Riders as partnership marketing manager.
Jen Simon exits Barstool Sports to join 100 Thieves as chief content officer.
Former Capital World Media Esports Lead Dhairya Jhaveri joins India-based Jio Games as its new esports content strategist.
Former Yahoo Sports and NBC Sports editor Jared Gross joins Dignitas as senior director of content.
Michael Brennan leaves Virgin Media Television to join Riot Games (Ireland) as esports broadcast production manager.
Esports Entertainment Group hires Damian Mathews as its new chief financial officer.
Thomas Spencer leaves Esposure to take on the role of talent coordinator, gaming, and esports at Underscore Talent.
Matthew Bintcliffe exits his role at Renault Sport Racing to join Alpine F1 Team as its new esports partnership coordinator.
Disclosure: NODWIN Gaming is an investor in and a client of AFK Gaming
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