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Culture Events

Enthusiast Gaming Acquires Omnia Media, Increasing Its Total Reach To 300 Million Gamers

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc. announced on Thursday, 6 August 2020, that it has
acquired Los Angeles based Omnia Media for approximately CAD $45 million in both cash and stock. The new agreement will bring Enthusiast Gaming’s total monthly reach to 300 million video games and esports fans as they expect to close the transaction during the third quarter of 2020.

The company has entered a binding share purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares of Omnia Media from Blue Ant Media Solutions. The deal consists of a purchase price of CAD $11 million in cash, 18.25 million shares of Enthusiast Gaming, and a vendor-take-back note with a value of CAD $5.75 million.

The deal is said to be a bargain find for Enthusiast Gaming, which has previously taken up 12 gaming companies in the past 3 years. The organisation paid US $20 million to acquire The Sims Resource which is infamous for being one of the largest female gaming destinations around the world.

Omnia Media is a YouTube gaming network that shares premium, original content to its followers. Its platform is one of the most highly visited and subscribed-to channels for video game related content. The network produces over 30 weekly shows and represents more than 500 gaming influences.

The organisation reaches over 90 million unique viewers and boasts a significant U.S market inventory that consists of over 1,000 channels, 500 million subscribers and 3.2 billion monthly total video views. It saw an approximate revenue of $60 million for a one year period that started from August 2018.

In an interview with Forbes, Adrian Montgomery – CEO of Enthusiast gaming – mentioned that “gaming is the new social network”. The newly signed deal will breathe life into a new platform that will have more touch points with its audiences than any other gaming company which is active in North America.

Additionally, this arrangement positions Enthusiast Gaming as an industry leader towards advertising agencies and popular brands that are looking to target the Gen Z and millennial generations.

It has been reported that the company has been operating at a loss as records show a
long-term debt of CAD $20.6 million, a quarterly loss of CAD $5.6 million and a cumulative deficit of CAD $84.5 million. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has also caused the entire industry to take a huge hit revenue wise, due to cancelled spectator events this year. The effects are anticipated to negatively impact the industry’s expected earnings of 2021 as well.

Despite all these events, Enthusiast Gaming is positive in its spirits. In fact, the organisation has future acquisitions in the pipeline too. They attributed the reason to having seen a 30% increase in users across its platforms since the unexpected hit by the pandemic.

CEO of Blue Ant, Michael MacMilllan, commented “We are delighted to share that Omnia Media will be joining Enthusiast Gaming, a move that will solidify Omnia’s bright future with the scale and access Enthusiast provides as a publicly traded company. This transaction is an exciting, new way for Blue Ant to continue its investment in the esports market”.

As a result of the arrangement, Blue Ant is expected to own about 18% of Enthusiast
Gaming upon its completion. Blue Ant will also be entitled to nominate a director to the board of directors of Enthusiast Gaming. As per the conditions, Blue Ant’s ability to resell the other party’s shares will be restricted for one year too.

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Culture Events London United Kingdom

You Can Get a ‘Women in Esports’ Scholarship at University of Roehampton

Most industries still aren’t free of gender biases and the esports sector is no exception. The University of Roehampton in London is on a mission to fill more competitive esports seats with women, and it’ll do so by offering a ‘Women in Esports’ Scholarship from September 2020.

This windfall is a result of the work of Roehampton Esports, which is the university’s esports department. The scholarship programme entails four scholarships to first-year students, worth up to £1,500.

More than the financial edge that students will receive, they will also be entitled to a dedicated mentorship scheme and serve as a nexus between students and senior industry professionals. As a result, students will enjoy numerous opportunities and activities that can fast-track their esports career.

At its crux, the programme will hone the next generation of female esports professionals, while increasing diversity and inclusion in the esports game industry. The scholarship is the first of its kind in Europe.

“We are proud to be engaged and at the forefront of developing talent for an exciting and emerging industry like esports. Diversity and inclusion are values held to the highest regard at the University of Roehampton and the scholarship is another example of how we implement this into the experience of students and the extra-curricular activities available to them,” said Professor Anna Gough-Yates, Provost, University of Roehampton, in a release.

The University of Roehampton has also secured the collaboration of landmark esports organisations to support the programme and to enhance what it has to offer. These specially curated partnerships will thus operate within the framework of the new esports scholarship.

These organisations include Women in Games, the National University Esports League (NUEL), Cat Collective, Special Effect, and London Esports. These organisations bring industry-level training to the table and will also enhance recipients’ scholarship opportunities by offering work placements.

In one such collaboration with Women in Games, Roehampton University will host weekly esports sessions with women-only, along with other networking opportunities that will be created for recipients and other attending women in esports.

Welcoming the collaboration, Women in Games CEO Marie-Claire Isaaman described the scholarship to be “a very positive move to encourage further diversity and inclusion in esports”.

With the collaboration, Roehampton University will be one of Women in Games’ first Educational Ambassadors.

While there are privileges and educational material that scholars are entitled to, just about any student can be a part of the vibrant esports environment in Roehampton University. Students will all have access to the Roehampton Esports Arena, which is a space in the university’s campus that is dedicated to esports.

University of Roehampton

Apart from boasting esports gear and computers with games, the space will also feature elements that focus on building sustainable gaming habits.

The days of sports scholarships being reserved only for the athletically gifted and the physically elite have far surpassed our time. Where there is a smaller requirement for physical capabilities, esports players need a conclusively different set of talents, with quick fingers and instantaneous reflexes merely scraping the tip of the iceberg.

That also leaves esports athletes prone to different risks. While a fractured knee might not harm the career of a professional esports player as much, game addiction and nerve health issues like carpal tunnel syndrome are equally potent considerations.

It is part of what will be tackled with the university’s collaboration with esports performance company G-Science. The company will work with the Roehampton University on building a “healthy gaming” programme that focuses on the mental health of students, as well as their physical well-being.

Applications for the London-based university’s ‘Women in Esports’ scholarship have already opened, and only a lucky four students will be able to clinch it. The deadline to apply for the first round of scholarships is on 1st September 2020.

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Culture Events

Riot Befalls Shanghai with the 2020 League of Legends World Championship

Not even a pandemic can withstand the riotous passion of League of Legends fans.

Following an extended period of doubt and anxiety among esports and League of Legends fans, Riot Games has finally confirmed the continued occurrence of the World Championship this 2020. Slated for commencement on the 25th of September and concluding with the Grand Final match on the 31st of October, the annual tournament will be hosted exclusively and physically in Shanghai, culminating at the Pudong Soccer Stadium.

While the League of Legends World Championship was meant to travel across the East-Asian subcontinent, limitations and restrictions caused by the volatile and still evolving COVID-19 pandemic threw the proceeding of the event in uncertainty. In recognition of the continued threat of the pandemic, Riot Games has not only decided to confine the physical aspect of the championships to Shanghai, but will also relegate early stages of the event to digital platforms for fans and viewers.

Riot Games has emphasised its dedication to minimising the risk of infection and any potential viral spread with their conscious efforts in keeping physical interactions and gatherings to a minimum.

“Hosting the event in a single city will reduce travel throughout the tournament and give us the ability to more closely control the show environment. We continue to use the guidance from various health organisations and local and national authorities to prioritise safety for our players, fans, and everyone involved with bringing Worlds 2020 to life,” the company said in a blog post.

Even though the physicality of the crowds will be missed for the bulk of the competition, Riot Games’ trend of going big continues with their choice of location for the finals.

The brand new Pudong Soccer Stadium is not designed to include space for activities of fitness, leisure, and entertainment, but will also be home to the Shanghai SIPG football club. Furthermore, the stadium is slated to host the AFC Asian Cup in 2023.

Between the location and the pandemic, fans around the world are sure to mourn their inability to witness the World Championships live. Thankfully, Riot Games’ reputation of serving their fans is held true with their planned virtual fan experience. The early stages of the championships will focus on providing a complete digital viewing experience. With no physical venues for this stage, viewers at home can be assured that they’re getting the complete experience.

After all, given League of Legends’ reputation as one of the most-watched and played esports games, it does make sense that the digital experience is catered to during the championship. And based on previous events, being part of a digital audience for the World Championship is still cause for excitement!

Riot Games has had a relatively inspiring track record for digital experiences. From the Elder Dragon in 2017 to 2019’s Holonet technology alongside virtual hip-hop group True Damage, they have time and again found ways to further innovate the viewer experience.

True Damage (League of Legends) Behind The Scenes w/ Thutmose

Even with the pandemic having dulled events across the globe, League of Legends fans, and supporters of Riot Games can continue to anticipate what the company may have in store for them in the 2020 World Championship.

Unfortunately, League of Legends’ North American fans will have to wait an additional year before Riot Games and the World Championship grace their shores.

Given the loss of opportunity to fully realise this year’s World Championship as planned, Riot Games will return to China for the 2021 tournament, allowing the nation and Chinese fans to experience the championship as promised. However, the 2022 World Championship will cross the oceans to the United States.

Till then, it is with continued anticipation that League of Legends fans await the crowning of their new champions.

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Culture Events International

Tekken and SoulCalibur Online Challenge Tournament Series to Begin in September

Bandai Namco is hoisted to hold two sets of online events for Tekken 7 and Soul Calibur VI, both of which are set to begin in September and end in December.

During the Japan Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable, representatives announced the Tekken Online Challenge along with the SoulCalibur Online Challenge. The roundtable discussion saw leaders of the Japanese fighting game industry meet online to discuss the past, present, and future of fighting games. Tekken producer Michael Murray was amongst the people in the discussion.

Registration for both the Tekken Online Challenge and the SoulCalibur Online Challenge have opened, although neither challenge will begin until September. No dates have been revealed just yet.

The two events follow Bandai’s unsurprising cancellation of all physical tournament events for Tekken, SoulCalibur and Dragon BallFighter Z World Tours, owing to COVID-19.

The developer had initially announced that it was “finalizing online competition event solutions for the remainder of the year”, and that it would “have more news to share soon”.

As opposed to using the online challenges as overarching circuit events like how Bandai’s World Tour events would typically function, these will be run as standalone regional events.

The SoulCalibur event will only be open in three regions over the course of two months. The event will take place in Japan in September. In November, the event will be run in Europe and the United States, although no details have been revealed on how the regions will be split up. The developer has listed the US as East and EU as West.

Tekken players may have a better chance of challenges taking part in their region, with the tournament slated to cover 6 different regions over 10 events. The regions are namely EU, US, Oceania (Australia), Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. Unlike the lack of region-related specification with SoulCalibur, Tekken sees the EU and US regions divided into different sub-regions.

First-place winners of the Tekken events will walk away with USD$500, while second and third-place winners will be awarded $300 and $200 respectively. Special exhibition winners will also be awarded $500.

Upon completion of the main Tekken tournament, winners of the open tournament will be offered a chance to win more prizes playing in a “Special Match Set”. The set will see a best-of-five player go up against another skilled player who will be pre-selected by tournament organisers.

A Tekken 7 Pre-event Weekend will take place between August 15th to 16th. Open tournament entries are also live now on Smash.gg, although only residents of US West can participate.

Bandai Namco will reveal more details about each event as September approaches. These events are the developer’s earliest first-party events since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the developer will not provide any official support for offline events, it stated in a press release that individual organisers could still continue to host physical events at their own discretion.

“We urge competitors and fans to seek tournament details through event websites and to use their best judgement regarding their personal on-site participation,” it said in a press release.

Game developers like Bandai Namco have had to act fast and smart in order to stay relevant while trying to recoup the losses faced from the cancellation of live events that were scheduled way before the virus hit.

“We want to thank our competitors and fans for their understanding in this matter and we look forward to bringing back physical events when conditions permit us to do so. Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected,” Bandai Namco shared in its press release announcing the cancellation of its World Tour events for the 2020 season.

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Culture Events Local

Tampines Rovers Win Singapore’s First Esports Football Tournament

Gamers can attest to the fact that esports and offline sports are of two completely different disciplines. But that did not dampen the spirits of Singapore’s football players, who resumed their rivalries online over two weeks of competitions in the Singapore Premier League’s (SPL) very own football video game tournament. The Tampines Rovers emerged victoriously.

Officially termed eSPL, the tournament premiered on 11 July 2020 and was a joint initiative between the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Redd+E Sports, Zenway Productions, and The Gym. And although the tournament was likely born out of circuit breaker requirements, it was part of a pilot project testing the league’s plans to push domestic games into the esports arena.

“With COVID-19 having curtailed our plans for the 25th anniversary season, the introduction of the eSPL is a timely one which will allow football fans to catch some sporting action featuring players from our SPL while waiting for the resumption of the league,” said Jonathon Wong, the FAS Director of Commercial and Marketing.

The eSPL tournament featured all eight Singapore-based football teams, with two representative players from each club competing in the football simulation video game eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer (eFootball PES) 2020.

Singapore Premier League

Teams were easily identifiable, with eSPL having used the game’s built-in editing mode to dress in-video football players in the playing teams’ actual jerseys.

“Great effort has been put into localising the look of the teams so that SPL fans can have a stronger sense of association to their favourite teams when watching the games,” said Wong.

The duo that represented Tampines Rovers in eSPL were Haziq Mikhail and Joel Chew, who went from strength to strength pursuing three straight victories to finally defeat Lion City Sailors despite a rocky start at the beginning of the tournament.

This was not Chew’s first victory in the esports football space, who recently won the StayandPlay Asian series 2020. However, neither Haziq nor Chew were familiar with the Pro Evolution Soccer video game which they competed on.

“It really feels great to help Tampines Rovers be crowned as the first-ever eSPL champion, and it is always nice to win something,’ said Chew.

There were also two mini-tournaments that took place alongside the key eSPL tournament. One of them was a women’s tournament which featured four players from the Women’s National Team, including Lutfiah Hannah who won.

Singapore Premier League

There was also a celebrity tournament that saw SGAG and the Sailors in a face-off, where the Sailors won.

Although not in a stadium, the tournament garnered a high viewership after being broadcast on Singtel TV (mio Sports 111), StarHub TV (Hub Sport 2), and meWATCH as well as streamed on the SPL Facebook page. The tournament recorded north of 1 million impressions and 154,000 views over to weekends of competitions.

Keeping abreast of non-physical requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, eSPL had set out to keep the local sporting landscape, as well as to merge the elements of sport and entertainment in times where both forms are scarce.

“The eSPL has demonstrated that eSports and our Singapore Premier League can complement each other well, judging by the encouraging numbers of fans tuning in to our Facebook page to cheer on their favourite SPL clubs in the virtual arena,” said Wong.

The pilot project was concluded by FAS to be successful and as a marker of new milestones for SPL.

“We will continue looking into more creative ways to bring SPL action to fans as we work towards progressing together with the evolving sporting landscape so as to always remain relevant,” shared Wong.

The eSPL tournament’s finals took place on 19 July 2020. Fans can still watch all matches on the SPL Facebook page.

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Culture Events Local

JJ Lin Adds an All-Singaporean Team to His Esports Organisation SMG

As it turns out, homegrown Mandopop singer and ‘auntie killer’ JJ Lin has more going for him than boyish good looks and a captivating voice. The singer also happens to be an avid gamer, and recently won the hearts of the Singapore gaming scene when he announced that an all-Singaporean team would be added to his international e-sports organisation, Team SMG.

The local team is signed to Lin’s esports organisation and comprises of veteran gamers who have clinched top awards playing first-person shooter (FPS) games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in numerous competitions.

In keeping with their past achievements, the seven-member team will be competing in a new FPS by Riot Games called Valorant. Before getting scouted by Team SMG, the homegrown team had already won two Valorant community tournaments in Singapore.

This is the first-ever Singaporean team to be added under Team SMG, which stands for “Still Moving Under Gunfire”. Lin first founded the organisation in 2017, with former Dota 2 player and coach, Kenchi Yap.

The addition hits Lin close to home, who enjoys revisiting his roots in Singapore. The singer has previously even been spotted playing Dota 2 at a LAN shop here.

He said, “Born and raised in this little red dot that is Singapore, it’s been my dream to not only build my businesses and brands here but also farther beyond.”

“This is a milestone in my esports journey, one that is very close to my heart.”

Esports has also been a long time passion for Lin. He shared that although he started gaming as a pastime, his passion has since evolved into a global mission for esports.

“As a Singaporean, I naturally want to nurture a home-grown team and inch them towards the global platform. I aspire to instill positive values in them while striving to achieve success in an ever-growing esports industry,” he shared.

Team SMG Valorant is fresh off of its competitive debut against other teams in Southeast Asia. The team played its first competitive match on 29 July 2020, making a strong entry into the Rise of Legion: Valorant tournament.

The team won its first two matches, beating two Thai teams and barely missing a spot in the grand finals. The team will walk out of the tournament with a 3rd prize, amidst 16 other competing teams.

Team SMG Valorant is poised for success in the global esports scene, emulating the victorious trajectory of its parent organisation and team. Team SMG had other victories — its Taiwanese team won the 2017 Arena of Valor World Championship, earning US$200,000.

The all-Singaporean Team SMG Valorant is the second Southeast Asian team to join Team SMG. Lin’s first strategic foray into the gaming industry in Southeast Asia led him to acquire a Mobile Legends: Bang Bang team from Malaysia, Makan Cendol.

Makan Cendol’s players feature expertise in multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games as opposed to FPS games, which is the game-type that Team SMG’s all-Singaporean team is focused on.

Lin himself finds his love for esports tracing back to the MOBA genre with a well-loved game developed by fans, Dota.

In a press statement, Lin said “I’ve grown to love the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre ever since Dota was first released on the Warcraft 3 custom game platform. It has since fueled my passion for esports.”

Fans of Team SMG can expect more team acquirements by Lin in Southeast Asia, who is on the hunt for promising talent in the region.

“Southeast Asia is one of the fastest-growing markets for mobile esports and with Team SMG, we are confident in building a place where we can cultivate and grow local talent in the region”, he said.

Expect to see more from Team SMG Valorant, which is well-timed with its victorious entry into the burgeoning competitive space of Valorant. The new game has already made waves in the global gaming industry, with almost three million gamers playing it on a daily basis during its beta testing phase, in the two months prior to its launch in June 2020.

Categories
Culture Events

Nova Esports Enters Partnership with Godlike Esports to Form New Team

Nova Esports has entered into the PUBG Mobile scene through a collaboration with Godlike Esports. The Hong Kong-based organisation ventures into India with the creation of a joint team, Nova Godlike, which will compete in PUBG Mobile with an Indian roster.

Anthony “AY” Yeung, CEO of Nova Esports explained the expansion as a natural transition for the organisation, which is already familiar with mobile esports, and a huge opportunity for growth. Considering the explosive popularity of PUBG Mobile in the gaming industry in India, Yeung believes the game “has surpassed other games in terms of popularity and revenue and made a place for itself in Indian pop culture”.

With its name known even amongst non-gamers and a low barrier to entry, PUBG Mobile has influenced culture beyond the esporting realm. Cafes and restaurants are seen to have adopted the PUBG theme, making the title a cultural landmark.

“Even people who have not played the game would have seen and heard about it through various social media memes and posts. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner has become a catchphrase that can be recognized by anyone in the teenage and adult category,” asserted Yeung.

He believes one of the main factors for the surge in popularity of the game is the low data pack cost Jio revolution and made the decision to partner with Godlike Esports for their Indian PUBG mobile operations after seeing the hype of Indian gamers and fans in PMCO 2019 World Finals in Berlin.

The objectives of the partnership includes providing high quality content for the community, creating a family-based relationship with fans, supporting the players to become public figures, attracting other globals teams to join the Indian Esports Market and having successes in local and global competitions.

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Culture Events

EChallenger Series Launched by Fifa & EA in Asia

In a collaboration between football and gaming, Fifa and EA Sports have announced that they will be organising a new Fifa esports series which commences in end June.

Football’s world governing body, Fifa and the games publisher set to introduce professional football players who will team up with esport gamers and social media influencers from four countries to compete in the Fifa eChallenger Series for Asia.

The competition is modeled after the Fifa Online 4 game and will have teams from four countries – South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

With the surge in popularity of the computer game industry in Asia, it comes as no surprise that the initiative is focused on the region.

DBS chief investment officer Hou Wey Fook shared, “We believe COVID-19 will accelerate the growth of esports, especially in Asia-Pacific.”

The online series is set to take place from 25-30 June and will last four rounds with one team crowned national champions. Each country will produce a team consisting of three players and each match will include 1v1, 2v2, and 3v3 games.

This competition will replace the Fifa eChampions Cup Spring 2020 and will be livestreamed on Fifa’s gaming platform, Fifa.gg.

Fifa Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Thomas said, “For the first time, EA Sports Fifa Online 4 fans across Asia will have the chance to watch and engage directly with their favourite football stars, influencers and esports professionals.”

The dates for the tournament are: Vietnam, 25 and 27 June; Thailand, 29 and 30 June; South Korea, 26-28 June; and China, 28-30 June.