The Speedrun: Issue 1 | MLB, Gillette, Pokemon and Weezer, oh my!

The Speedrun: Issue 1 | MLB, Gillette, Pokemon and Weezer, oh my!

I fill my feeds with people much smarter than I, and much more educated than I, in a variety of industries that are both fascinating and game-changing... no pun intended. Esports is one such industry and after consuming mass amounts of information shaping the ever-evolving vertical over the last year or so, I have opted to develop "The Speedrun," a weekly digest containing 5-10 of the must-know headlines and high notes that will help arm my connections and professional acquaintances with enough banter to hold their own in any gamer-focused corner of the Internet. Or maybe it won't - either way, it's fun to write about.

MLB entertaining entry into esports, but still weary.

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Major League Baseball and MLB Advanced Media have been keeping an eye on esports. “I think it’s all about fan engagement, and it’s about finding the right place to go in,” Jamie Leece, MLBAM’s Vice President of Games and VR, said Tuesday at SportTechie’s State Of The Industry event. “So we certainly are looking at it.” However, Leece also believes that we haven't seen a truly successful esports title backed by traditional sports leagues.

“There are very few esports activations that are profitable as an activation,” Leece said. “The products behind them can profit. The organizations that are around those esports can profit. But the actual contests themselves are still trying to find a way to not be more than the marketing budget. So that’s something that I think as a league or an IP holder or as a licensing partner, that’s the thing you have to solve to make sure that you’re not just one, doing it wrong, or two, throwing good money after bad.”

On the flip side, commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged that the league's engagement with esports has been a weak spot that they intend to rectify in 2019. “It is a real priority for us going forward,” Manfred said. “It’s tough to say more than this, but I’m pretty confident, in 2019, we’re going to have a really nice announcement in that space.”

Dot Esports provided grounding commentary on the state of traditional sport esports in comparison with the blockbuster titles like LoL and CS:GO -

Maximum concurrent viewership (MCV) at the end of the  NBA 2K League’s inaugural regular season peaked at 28,000. The MCV for the 2018  Madden Club Championship fell just under 150,000 on Twitch. Sports Business Daily reported the MCV of the NHL’s Gaming World Championship was just over 28,000. All of these stats are mere fractions of the numbers that games like  League of Legends and  CS:GO produce.

Gillette to partner with creators from 11 countries to form the "Gillette Gaming Alliance."

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Men's grooming brand Gillette is not foreign to the esports realm at this point, however their latest activation with Twitch is looking to make a splash. The brand is teaming up with 11 creators from 11 different countries, including US's CourageJD, to kick off a "Bits for Blades" promotion that allows Twitch viewers to obtain Twitch Bits (Twitch's donation currency) by purchasing select Gillette products. In addition, fans will be able to click a Gillette banner available in each creators' stream that will take them to a third-party site where this Bits for Blades promo can be extended.

The campaign will activate at TwitchCon Berlin next month with giveaways and meet and greets with each of the brand's partners.

OpTic x Champion collab sells out within minutes.

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OpTic Gaming officially partnered with Champion Athleticwear in a groundbreaking deal to be carried out through 2019 and beyond.

“The awesome OpTic community, the Green Wall, is all about style and confidence, and just like their name says, Champion comes from a legacy of winners dating back a hundred years. It’s a perfect fit,” said Joe Hills, OpTic’s head of brand strategy. “Working this closely with Champion is a huge deal for us, because it means that the OpTic community is helping to push mainstream awareness of esports in popular culture, and it’s a show of faith for Champion, who want to co-brand their apparel to a community of passionate and loyal fans from all over the world.”

The first phase of the partnership included co-branded apparel (t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants and jerseys) that dropped in Champion's flagship stores in LA and NYC on March 1. The entire line was then put online in OpTic's store the following day and sold out within minutes leaving fans both exasperated... and hungry for more.

Nike to outfit all 16 LPL teams in China.

Speaking of apparel giants entering the space, Nike has now inked a 4-year deal with the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) in China. While they ran a "Dribble&" spot featuring LeBron and RNG player Jian "Uzi" Zihao last year, they follow behind aforementioned Champion, as well as Adidas and Puma regarding official sponsorship of an organization or league. The deal is structured similarly to the ones Nike cuts with the NFL and NBA.

The brand will supply all 16 professional teams with sneakers, clothing and eventually jerseys. The first Nike garments will be available for purchase at the Mid-Season Invitational in May with a jersey reveal to occur at the League of Legends Championship in Paris later this year.

New Pokemon games announced!

Not much more to say here - hype for the 23 year-old IP is growing at a staggering rate, again, as Detective Pikachu is set to hit theaters on May 10. (Random note: while looking into the film, I discovered there is a 3DS title with the same namesake?) Building on the momentum spearheaded by the unique film, Nintendo rolled out the first trailer for the next installments in the Pocket Monster universe: Sword & Shield.

Fortnite's latest in-game event featured... Weezer?

After the remarkable success of an in-game concert put on by EDM artist Marshmello, Weezer is the latest to dabble in the wide-reaching world developed by Epic Games. To help promote the release of their 13th studio album, the band worked with the team behind Fortnite to launch a map in Creative Mode for Season 8 aptly dubbed Weezer World. The amusement park-like area is the first place fans can hear four unreleased tracks from the Black Album.

Apex Legends crosses 50 million unique players in first month.

You've likely heard of the Respawn Entertainment/EA title Apex Legends. The free-to-play title exploded onto the scene after a surprise launch last month and has continued to see meteoric success. Within the first 8 hours, the game had seen 1 million players join. Within the first 24 hours, 2.5 million players had joined. In just 28 days, Apex Legends had enticed 50 million players to check out the game and they aren't hitting it and resorting back to what they are comfortable with. Even high-profile streamers like Ninja and DrLupo continue to insert Apex Legends into their regular rotation, after their promotional contracts surrounding the launch had expired.

Keep this one on your radar. Is it a Fortnite killer? Probably not. It's entirely too early to tell. And don't you dare discount PUBG - if anything, the success that Respawn and EA have enjoyed with their latest title elevates the battle royale-style of gameplay above and beyond just a fad.

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Questions, concerns, happy thoughts? Would be happy to entertain any discussion in the comments below.

Speedrun: Issue 2 | Google Stadia, Arcade, GameStop’s Resurgence, Automakers and More!

Speedrun: Issue 2 | Google Stadia, Arcade, GameStop’s Resurgence, Automakers and More!

Weekend LAN Experience - Midwest CS:GO Tournament at Wichita State University

Weekend LAN Experience - Midwest CS:GO Tournament at Wichita State University