AFK Weekly: Snoop Dogg FaZes the F*** Up
Hello everyone! In recent years, a number of celebrities have made their way into the esports industry–perhaps as a way to express themselves and grow their portfolios. Drake, Jeniffer Lopez, members of Imagine Dragons, and Post Malone are just a few of the music industry icons who have invested in the esports industry. The latest to join the list is Snoop Dogg, who has been increasing his presence in the gaming industry over the past year.
The rapper has been regularly streaming on Twitch, primarily playing Madden NFL on his channel. Now, Snoop Dogg has officially joined FaZe Clan and will now produce content for the brand as “FaZe Snoop.” He will join the company's board of directors after it goes public later this year. Snoop Dogg has a wealth of experience with brand building and marketing strategies in the entertainment industry and he could prove to be a key asset for FaZe to help it grow and scale after its IPO goes live.
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
ESL Gaming partners with Qualcomm to launch $2M USD mobile esports league
Mobile processor company Qualcomm has inked a deal with esports tournament organizer ESL Gaming for the “Snapdragon Pro Series,” a series of competitions that will be held in North America, Europe, the Middle-East, China, North Africa, and Asia-Pacific. The tournament will take place in three stages: the Open, the Challenge, and the Masters to give all players from different regions a chance to participate.
According to the announcement , the league will feature a $2M prize pool and will be a “multi-genre” esports competition. ESL's lineup of mobile esports events in 2021 included League of Legends: Wild Rift, Legends of Runeterra, Asphalt 9: Legends, PUBG Mobile, Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, and Clash Royale. Since the Snapdragon Pro Series is being touted as a “multi-genre” event, we can expect at least some of these titles included in this circuit.
The Snapdragon Pro Series might replace ESL's current mobile esports ecosystem, which was launched in March 2021 featuring a $650K prize pool for its Spring Season. More details about the league including a confirmation of the titles that will be featured in it, is expected to be revealed in April.
Key Takeaway: ESL’s decision of leaving out the South American region for the Snapdragon Pro Series is certainly questionable considering the eyeballs that the region draws for mobile esports titles. According to Newzoo, the mobile-dominated region was projected to generate revenues of $47.5M in 2021 (+16.0% year on year), powered by a 43.8M strong esports audience. This could be a missed opportunity for ESL to expand its presence in the region.
The CDL Stage 1 Major sets new viewership records
The first Call of Duty (COD) LAN tournament of the year, the Call of Duty League (CDL) 2022 Stage 1 Major, has broken multiple viewership records marking its return to LAN at the home of OpTic Texas, Esports Stadium Arlington as a huge success. The tournament was the first CoD LAN event since the Call of Duty Championship 2021.
Activision confirmed that the viewership peaked at 186K viewers, and had the most viewers out of any Major tournament since CDL’s start in 2020. According to Sports Business Journal, the event, with a sold out arena on March 6th and 7th, also broke concession sales records. According to Esports Charts, the CDL 2022 Major 1 recorded at least 20K more viewers than the second-most viewed Major, CDL 2021’s Major 3 which had a peak viewership of 135K.
Despite being impressive, these numbers still pale in comparison to the biggest events in Call of Duty history. The Call of Duty League 2020 Finals with a peak viewership of 331K and the Call of Duty World League Championship 2018 with a peak viewership of 324K continue to hold the crown as the only two tournaments to cross the 300K threshold.
Key Takeaway: The Call of Duty League has shared in many of the criticisms levied at its struggling counterpart the Overwatch League. However, CDL remains a substantially more promising investment. While there are tough days ahead due to the delay of the next Call of Duty title, there are more aspects of CDL to be encouraged by than its sister league which has pinned every bit of hope on a reportedly lackluster sequel.
ZOWIE will sponsor ESL Pro League Season 15
ZOWIE has been named as the official monitor partner for the ESL Pro League Season 15. Under the agreement, all CS:GO players competing in the league will use ZOWIE's 240Hz XL2456K monitors.
Evo announces title lineup for its first event since 2019
Evo has unveiled the lineup of games coming to the popular fighting game tournament returning to Las Vegas as an offline event for the first time in two years this August. As expected, Evo staples such as Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 are returning, but there are some new debuts as well. The full lineup is as below.
Activision Blizzard taps third party for OWL
The Overwatch League (OWL) has partnered with Dome Productions to produce and broadcast the league’s fifth season. This follows the company’s decision to sign with Esports Engine as its broadcasting partner for Call of Duty League 2022.
Peacekeeper Elite player signed for $700K
Wuhan-based Peacekeeper Elite team RSG acquired Chinese Peacekeeper Elite player Hua "FlowerC" Chi for RMB 4.41M ($700K), making it this season's most expensive player transfer. This is one of the most expensive transfers in Chinese mobile esports only next to the likes of LGD Gaming’s acquisition of ChengC for RMB 11.78M ($1.82M) and Weibo Gaming’s acquisition of Zimo for RMB 12M ($1.89M).
Astralis announces 45% growth in revenue
Astralis Group released its financial report for the 2021 fiscal year which showed a 45%increase in net revenue from DKK 51.5m ($7.49M) in 2020 to DKK 75m ($10.9M) in 2021.
People on the move
It was a rough week for the editorial team at consumer-focused esports gaming site Upcomer (more below). We feel for everyone affected, wish nothing but good things for them, and hope they find new vocations as soon as possible. Here are some of the biggest movers and shakers this week:
Tyler Keenan has been promoted to the role of SVP of partnerships & revenue at OverActive Media Group.
Mitchell Lawrence Smith joins Andbox as its new chief content officer.
Jen Neale exits Story Mob to join Riot Games as its new senior communications strategist for NA Esports.
ESL Gaming VP of Product Development James Lampkin announced his departure from the company this week.
Wisdom Gaming has promoted Jaycie Gluck to the role of senior vice president and Ian Anderson to chief innovation officer.
Simon Walters, Chris Sullivan, and Andrew Drake will step down as non-executive directors at Guild Esports. James Savage has resigned from his role as executive finance director for personal reasons. Brian Stockbridge and Mike Edwards have been appointed as new board members.
Almuth Mackowiak has been promoted to lead of EU community development PUBG Corporation.
Ben Watley exits his role at Electronic Arts as senior strategist of competitive gaming brand to join Polygon Technology.
Upcomer parent company Enthusiast Gaming has laid off a large chunk of the editorial staff at esports-focused publication, according to Sean Morrison. The company said that the layoffs are the result of a pivot to "video content." It is unclear how many people have been let go as of this writing.
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