AFK Weekly: Riot Forced to Relocate Wild Rift Worlds Due to COVID
Hello everyone! CS:GO's PGL Major Antwerp 2022, Dota 2's ESL One Stockholm Major 2022, and League of Legends’ Mid-Season Invitational 2022 will all be taking place simultaneously this week, marking it as a landmark week for the industry in 2022.
The Stockholm Major 2022 is off to a sluggish start with a peak viewership of only 370K compared to the 1.03M and 818.63K that the PGL Major Antwerp 2022 and MSI 2022, respectively, clocked according to Esports Charts. The average viewership of these tournaments is a lot closer with the Dota 2 Major recording 244.96K compared to the 441.38K of the MSI 2022 and 455.9K of the CS:GO major. It will be interesting to see whether the same trends continue as the tournaments progress through different phases next week.
With this 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
Wild Rift’s Global Championship moves from Europe to SEA
The 2022 Wild Rift Icons Global Championship–the first world championship for Wild Rift–will be held in Southeast Asia instead of Europe, as previously announced. According to a release, Riot Games had to relocate the tournament because the COVID-19 pandemic is “complicating visa application timelines and re-entry dates for many regional teams.” Hence, the change had to be made to ensure that all teams could participate in Wild Rift's first ever world championship.
The tournament is now scheduled to take place at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore, which had previously hosted the Wild Rift Horizon Cup in 2021. Much like its PC counterpart, Wild Rift’s world championships will also take place in multiple phases and will kick off with the Play-ins beginning on June 14 and concluding with the finals on July 9.
The 2022 Wild Rift Icons Global Championship is scheduled to feature 24 teams from all across the world and has a $2M USD prize pool.
Key Takeaway: While much of the narrative, particularly in the U.S., focuses on a supposed “post-pandemic” era, the virus still represents a major logistical challenge for all international esports competitions. Riot has chosen a challenging year for its first time operating three major global esports ecosystems. Expect similar upheaval and sudden pivoting from various organizers throughout the year.
T1 signs exclusively with CAA Sports
T1 Entertainment & Sports (T1) has signed a deal with CAA Sports, a division of entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency, which will see the latter exclusively represent it for sponsorships and endorsements. The new deal also grants CAA individual rights for League of Legends star Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, arguably T1’s biggest asset and the most famous esports player in the world.
This is not the first time that CAA has been active in the esports and video game industry; in the past the company worked with Riot Games to obtain global and regional brand partnerships for League of Legends and Valorant. CAA also signed Twitch stars Tyler “Ninja” Blevins in 2020 and Tarik "tarik" Celik earlier this year.
The company also signed a deal with LA-based esports organization 100 Thieves in October 2020 to broaden its content and media interests into new areas and expand its additional revenue streams.
T1 currently hosts competitive rosters in League of Legends, Valorant, Dota 2, Wild Rift, Overwatch, Splitgate, and Super Smash Bros. It also has eight content creators under its umbrella.
Key Takeaway: In its previous partnership with Sportfive, T1 landed a number of high-profile, non-endemic deals including Nike, BMW, and Samsung. Now the leading Korean esports organization has teamed up with the most prominent global marketing agency to push its global sponsorship strategy further. CAA gaining Faker’s individual rights is also an important step. While many streamers and gaming entertainers have signed lucrative brand deals, the approach still remains a rarity for big name cyber athletes.
People on the Move has a new home
People on the Move has grown so much that we decided to give it a newsletter of its own. We are asking for a $3 USD monthly subscription fee for it to help cover some of our expenses. We will be able to create original content with detailed analysis and insights about jobs in the industry if you give us your support.
You can check out the first issue (for free) right here to have a glance at what we are offering.
Splitgate developer 1047 Games has announced that Amazon’s Prime Gaming has signed on as the official presenting partner of the Splitgate Pro Series Summer season. The league carries a $100K prize pool and will feature T1, Luminosity Gaming, Spacestation Gaming, XSET, Moist, and eUnited.
Tencent has signed a partnership deal with Marriott Bonvoy (American hotel chain Marriott’s loyalty program) for the King Pro League (KPL) and Honor of Kings World Championship. According to the deal (first reported by SBJ) a selection of Marriott hotels in China, including W Hotels, The Westin, and Renaissance, will offer KPL exclusive viewing spaces, afternoon teas, and player/fan meetings. In addition, Marriott will serve as the "recommended hotel" for audiences and players during the Honor of Kings World Championship.
The remaining two international tournaments of Riot's Valorant Champions Tour 2022: VCT Masters Two and Valorant Champions will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark and Istanbul, Turkey, respectively.
Warner Bros. Games’ fighting title MultiVersus will debut at the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) 2022 featuring a $100K prize pool. EVO 2022 is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas from Aug. 5-7.
Esports data company Bayes Esports has raised $6.2M from several tech and gaming investors including U.S. casino and resort company Las Vegas Sands and BITKRAFT ventures. The funds will be used to further scale the company by doubling its strategic partnerships and investments in product development with the help of 25 new hires.
French esports organization Team Vitality has named Samsung as its first official TV partner. The deal will cover the organization's Fortnite, Rocket League, and FIFA rosters. The two will also work together to create “behind-the-scenes gaming experiences” to engage their communities.
ESL Gaming has partnered with Acer gaming brand Predator, making it the official OEM partner for ESL One and DreamLeague. Predator's brand will be given “engagement opportunities” during livestreams and live events starting with the ESL One Stockholm Major 2022. Predator will also have its own booth at in-person events.
Sony Music Spain has partnered with Spanish esports organization Giants Gaming. The two companies will collaborate on exclusive interviews and special streams. Additionally, Sony Music Spain's logo will appear on the Spanish esports company’s social media platforms.
Haven’t subscribed already?
Get a weekly recap of all the latest developments in the global esports industry.
Insights, analysis and opinions on the above provided by our team of experienced journalists in collaboration with thought leaders across the global esports industry.
How can you support this initiative?
1. Invite your colleagues. (only those that you believe we’d truly add value to)
2. Give us your unfiltered feedback.
3. Send us tips about developments that you would like to see covered.
4. Reach out to us using afkgaming.com/contact, if you think you could provide a unique insight in collaboration with our writers.
5. Fill out our reader feedback survey.