This week, we have two new organizations looking to push the esports market even further into the mainstream. We also have another gaming behemoth expanding the reach of its esports division.
Let’s jump right in!
The Professional Esports Association is created
In a somewhat unprecedented move, seven of the top North American esports franchises have come together to form the new Professional Esports Association (PEA).
The new organization will launch its first tournament in 2017 for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The seven teams involved will compete for a prize pool of $500,000 for Season One and a cool $1 million for the first year.
The founding teams include all of the powerhouses from North America:
There is no current indication if additional organizations will be allowed to join, or what the potential buy-in cost would be.
The PEA is a direct result of owners wanting their players to have more control of their franchises, which is why they’re also looking to reform the working conditions of those involved with their organization.
That extends to shoutcasters, not just players. Players and owners will receive an equal 50 percent share of profits, and each caster will receive a share equal to a player.
The PEA will also provide a suite of financial benefits and services to the players, including retirement and investment planning, health insurance, and more.
Players will also have a deciding voice, including electing player representatives.
Player representatives will sit on both the rules committee (providing tournament formats, playing rules, prize distribution, etc.) and the grievances committee (ensuring that all player concerns are heard and a resolution is proposed).
The announcement of the PEA comes just two months after several team owners of LCS franchises were angered by Riot’s decision to make drastic changes to the League of Legends game ahead of Worlds (our in-depth Worlds team analysis for Group A can be found here, and Group B can be found here).
New collegiate esports association launches
Esports at the college level has a new voice entering the fray. In a press release last week, the National Association of Collegiate eSports announced its launch.
Its goal? To add validation to esports at the college level. The press release stated:
NAC eSports is the only association of college and university sponsored eSports programs that promotes the education and development of students through intercollegiate eSports participation and the institutional commitment to support those initiatives.
Members of the association are dedicated to legitimizing collegiate eSports and providing college students the opportunities to live their passion for competitive gaming, while pursuing a quality education.
Universities looking to partner with NAC eSports will have to prove they have an established esports scene at their school. Collegiate esports juggernauts Robert Morris University, Maryville University, and Columbia College have already backed the NAC.
— Columbia eSports (@Cougar_eSports) September 7, 2016
In total, the NAC has the backing from 20 institutions.
The NAC will have its first Esports Invitational next spring. The 2017-18 season will then have its own regular and postseason events.
Formerly, only Riot was publicly promoting collegiate esports (starting in 2014). Riot holds an annual uLoL Campus Series, a tournament that features colleges and universities across North America.
There have been plenty of exciting headlines from the college level this year. The Big Ten Network just held its first Big Ten Invitational (sponsored by Riot), pitting Ohio State and Michigan State against each other at the PAX East gaming convention.
Activision Blizzard hires Fox Sports executive
Pete Vlastelica, former Fox Sports executive, will now take over as president and CEO of Activision Blizzard’s esports division next month. This move will further push esports into the mainstream media.
Vlastelica formerly oversaw the digital components of Fox Sports. That included content, product development, and social media operations. His main task will now be to expand the content platform, audience outreach, and to promote Blizzard advancements.
Activision Blizzard purchased Major League Gaming earlier this year, hoping to bolster its available leagues and streaming presence.
.@MLG It's my privilege, believe me. Now get back to shaping the future of media.
— Pete Vlastelica (@PeteVlastelica) September 7, 2016
MLG’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive championship in April set esports viewership records, including a record 1.6 million viewers watching at the same time.
Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, stated why the company hired Vlastelica:
“We continue to add to our all-star esports leadership team. Pete is an entrepreneurial leader with a history of creating inspired content and developing new digital channels of distribution. As we continue to build MLG into the premier esports network, Pete will further our mission celebrating the accomplishments of gamers worldwide.”
Misfits gives out new contracts to its players
Now, on to some player news from League of Legends: Misfits, which just qualified for the EU LCS, have some exciting news to share.
Top laner Barney “Alphari” Morris and AD Carry Steven “Hans sama” Liv have renewed their contracts with the team for two more years.
— Misfits (@MisfitsGG) September 6, 2016
This is big news for Misfits fans, as Alphari and Hans sama are the two foundational players on this team.
Alphari averaged a 10.2 KDA and a 52.6 percent KP throughout the entire 2016 Summer Challenger Split. Hans sama was second in CS per minute (his teammate was first) and fourth in damage per minute.
Misfits earned their right to play in the EU LCS after dismantling FC Schalke 04 in a 3-1 series win during the Summer Promotional Tournament.
Two-year contracts for players are almost unheard of in esports. That just goes to show you that Misfits is looking to become a permanent member of the EU LCS.