Why Alibaba’s foray into Esports matters

We all heard the exciting news: giant retailer Alibaba is setting sails on the eSports market through its subsidiary sport division Alisport. Can iconic entrepreneur Jack Ma conquer yet another market?

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CEO of AliSports, Zhang Dazhong, had the following to say post-announcement:

“Sports is a multibillion dollar business in China, with
massive growth potential. That is why Alibaba is investing heavily in this
vertical. Linking sport and technology enhances the quality of life. That is
what we want to do through AliSports.”

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With an initial $15.6M investment poured into a $5.5M international
event followed by 20 eSports Club Competition Centres holding 1200+ tournaments,
the “Chinese Amazon” means business here. And talking about Amazon…

Haven’t seen this before ? Yep, Amazon, the other leading
retailer fished Twitch for $970M back in 2014, beating Youtube at the finish
line. Since then, Twitch has been growing up at a fast pace and is opening to
new types of streamers such as developers, creatives and foodies.

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This trend is the one of gigantic retailers acquiring or
producing content to feed the millions of products they sell. And eSport may be
the best bet yet. It reconnects with the younger generation while being deeply
associated with technology, hi-end gear and sports, all hi-spending markets.

We’ve all read the studies and estimates from the likes of
Newzoo and Superdata, promising a new Gold Rush for both Gaming and Sports
industries. The estimates are cool, but the facts are even better:

  • The last 3 major CS:GO tournament all surpassed
    the million concurrent viewers mark.
  • Clash Royale, Supercell’s take on eSports already brings more than $1.5M per
    day.
  • The International 5 money prize is on par with
    Tennis Major tournament.
  • Merchandising and Broadcasting rights on the rise.
  • 21.3% of Twitch viewers come for eSports.
  • Coca Cola. Yahoo. Verizon. ESPN. Intel.
    Turner. Disney.

All the ingredients seem to mix perfectly for the long
awaited eSports explosion as a mass culture. But we shall not overlook the competition barebone: tournaments.

They come in all sizes and shapes, the few big ones and hundred thousands small ones,
multiplied by a growing number of eSports. There were 2 majors eSports (CS and
Starcraft) and a few notable ones (Quake, FIFA) back in the days, with a few dozens
organizers in key territories for each.

Nowadays, we can count at least 5 major eSports (CS, LoL,
DotA 2, Hearthstone and Call of Duty) and dozens of noticeable ones (Starcraft
II, Heroes Of The Storm, FIFA, World of Tanks, Vainglory, Street Fighter V…),
all operated by thousands of operators and publishers all over the globe!

This massive expansion of the eSports tournaments occurred
without any rules, do’s and don’ts or framework. From the grass root scene to the
big operators, everyone went its way, resulting in highly variable experiences
for everyone.

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We can observe this issue with scenes such as the FGC (Fighting Games
Community), which sees all of its organizers use different in-house or third
parties platform to handle their tournament and share their results, leading to
a lively but nearly impossible to track eSport scene. That’s why we created
Toornament.

Providing a powerful, free, unified platform for every
eSport professional is the motto driving Toornament. With a smooth experience
and advanced features, free, web-standardized API, we aim to unify the way
people run and follow eSports tournaments.

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The Alisport announcement deeply resonates with us:  its ambitious plans encompass most of the
current eSport spectrum: one top tier event combined with hundreds of local
competitions all year long in dedicated eSports centers. And they may run into
the issue we talked about: how to build such different tournaments and provide content the
most efficient and consistent way possible?

We believe in eSports and have been working in the industry
for more than 15 years, with both local associations and Fortune500 publishers.
We believe their eSports projects start from a common ground: building great
tournaments and share them the best possible way. We believe Toornament is
shaping to be THE answer to this crucial challenge, whether you’re a local association or Alibaba.

Here come new challengers: Super Senso and Street Fighter V

As we continuously add new games in our supported disciplines pool, some stand out more than others, like this week’s two latest additions: Super Senso and Street Fighter V.

Super Senso

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Poised to be one of the stars in mobile competitive gaming this year, Super Senso mixes the beloved Advance War flavor with lovely low-poly graphics aiming to bring the established turned-based strategy genre to the mobile and eSport era.

The team behind Super Senso seems to follow Vainglory’s eSport-focused footpath and we’re confident in the fact that it’ll also become a popular discipline on Toornament.

The “Senso Brawl”, the first competition with popular streamers, is already being held this week and you can check all the action tonight at 7PM EST.

 

Street Fighter V

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We’ve talked at length about Street Fighter V and the fighting hype is finally upon us as the game is now available. Boasting a unique PC / PS4 crossplay feature and ditching the “Super Turbo Arcade Edition” outdated business model, SFV looks like it’s equipped for the task of bringing Fighting Games to the next eSport level.

While the big tournaments are coming over the next weeks (Stunfest, Kumite, Canada Cup, EVO…) we’re already seeing SFV tournaments hours after the game has been released.

From sleepless night double brackets to monthly leagues at the office, we have you covered with every kind of Street Fighter brawl you’d like to set up. Can’t wait to see more V-Trigger action!

 

Give us your feedback

“We’re listening!”

This is one of our mottos. Toornament is an ever-evolving platform fueled by both our passionated team and our community. We’re
constantly adding new features, ironing out bugs and tweaking
performances.

We recently got great feedback from our community, be it local organizers, power users or video game developers. Here are some examples of requests we get and how we respond to them:

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Tweaks

Let’s update, upgrade on an existing feature. Example: resend the acceptation mail for participants who didn’t respond yet. We’re also boosting our tournaments’ capacity from 128 to 256 participants.

Minor features

Some features are easy for us to implement and commit. Don’t hesitate to ask for them! Example: getting the AM/PM time format alongside the 24 hours format displayed in the widget.

UI/UX

Are there areas where you think we could improve the way you interact with the dashboard, from new arrangement to ? Example: We were proposed (with a nice drawing) a new visualization grid for the admin rights panel.

Long term projects

Yes, we’re working on new major features and these take time. Don’t be shy to ask for big things. We’ll always discuss them and see how they could fit in our roadmap… Or maybe, maybe we’re already working on them? Example: Free For All format, Participants score reporting.

Impossible stuff

Just kidding, nothing’s impossible! Some projects are sometimes simply out of our reach. For example, getting advanced statistics for all supported games like we have for Dota 2, LoL or Blood Bowl 2 doesn’t only depend on us. The games themselves have to allow some access to their own data, through APIs or match IDs. Ask your favorite game developer!

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Of course, we can’t answer all the requests and some take much more time than they seem to take. Plus, we already have a packed roadmap ahead.

But we’re always thrilled when some of your feedback open our eyes and influence our work.

So next time you have feedback and requests, fire us an email at support@toornament.com! We’re also very reactive on our Twitter account, @toornament.

eSport Watching Guide, week 3

As we cover more and more eSports tournaments around the globe, we thought it’d be a nice thing show you all the current and live events you can follow on a weekly basis.

Here are all the widgets you can check and share and of course, you can get all these scores and streams straight from your mobile with our free app Toornament eSports iOSAndroid). Happy watching!

2016 LCK Spring Split

Share the LCK 2016 Spring Split widget

2016 NA LCS Spring Split

Share the 2016 NA LCS Spring Split widget

2016 EU LCS Spring Split

Share the 2016 EU LCS Spring Split widget

2016 LPL Spring Split

Share the LPL 2016 Spring Split widget

2016 LMS Spring Split

Share the LMS 2016 Spring Split widget

2016 CWL Australia

Share the 2016 CWL Australia widget

2016 CWL Europe

Share the 2016 CWL Europe widget

2016 CWL North America

Share the 2016 CWL North America widget

Gold Series Heroes League 2015

Share the Gold Series Heroes League 2015 widget

2016 StarCraft II StarLeague Season 1 : Main Event

Share the 2016 StarCraft II StarLeague Season 1 : Main Event widget

2016 DreamHack Open Leipzig

Share the 2016 DreamHack Open Leipzig widget

Dreamhack Leipzig 2016

Share the Dreamhack Leipzig 2016 widget

6 eSports trends for 2016

We can all agree on how crazy 2015 has been for eSports. More games, more money, more audience, more recognition, spectacular announcements and acquisitions… It’s been one hell of a ride. Well, guess what: 2016 is already poised to be even crazier. Here 6 (of many) points to prove it:

1. Publishers are the rulers

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The heavy move the whole eSports industry was expecting is happening: video game publishers are taking control of their IPs. Following Riot’s steps, Activision-Blizzard has been continuously taking control back from the independant organizers hands. The recent MLG is the latest, most spectacular step in this way.

Valve, known for its more hands-off strategy, is also starting to weight in the way its eSports are handled. The Dota 2 and CS:GO major circuits and qualifiers do not prevent independant organizers from running their own events with their own rule, but they cast a huge shadow over everyone else, as they attract the top teams, the largest audience and loudest hype.

2. Players and teams Unions

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On the other hand, players and teams are the other major force to reckon with. The idea of a union has been rampant for years, and even tried by the main CS 1.6 at the time even tho it didn’t work. The latest attempt was a leaked requirements list CS:GO teams intended to sent to from the tournament organizers.
Despite failed projects and short-lived announcement, 2016 might be the year we see major clubs and organizations come up together with norms and ethics codes. We hope they start small and simple, to federate as much people as possible.

3. Here’s Television showing up late to the party

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Ah, TV. For years, eSports has been dreaming of the days it would be featured on national networks. It never really happened (sorry, CGS) in western countries. But for the last months, we’ve seen strong signs of television finally playing catch-up with eSports. ESPN and BBC started to air eSport tournaments (on their secondary channels, tho). Turner will launch a huge CS:GO league this year. Great news, but are they still needed?

Since a few years, eSports grew up outside of the TV screen and found its own way to viewers, with streaming. Twitch and Douyu wild success changed the game, as both eSports fans and professionals understood that they didn’t need Television any longer, they just built their own media. We’re thus very curious how traditional TV moguls will bring to eSports in order to challenge streaming platforms. When the hunted becomes the hunter.

4. MOBAs are plateauing

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Gone are the golden days of MOBAs? Not quite of course, as the genre remains the most popular in eSports by a large margin. But their spectacular rise seems to have to come to a stop in 2015. DotA 2 saw its numbers decrease a bit in September, even thos we can tie them to the release of the less-stable, more buggy “Reborn” client.

Last but not least, “Heroes Of The Storm” seems to struggle. Despite the heavy promotion from its publisher Blizzard, the brawler-styled MOBA doesn’t seem to eat at LoL and Dota’s cake and convert enough new players. The fact that none metrics have been released since the official launch is a strong indicator.
2016 might be the most critical year for MOBA. Will the genre fade like Starcraft, or prevail like Counter Strike?

5. FPS on the (re)rise

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2016 is poised to be the biggest CS year in history, with a record number of major tournaments, more players than ever (the 10M active mark has just been reached).

The FPS genre will also rise with the much awaited Overwatch from Blizzard and new milestones from the new Unreal Tournament open Alpha.
On consoles, competitive Call Of Duty may get a boost, with a popular iteration (Black Ops III) and the new in-house World League. Halo 5 is also working hard to get its community back together and reclaim its console-FPS throne.
After years of reloading, the shooting genre is back, all guns blazing.

6. Amateur tournaments level up their game

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As the top players in eSports are bringing our young industry to a new level, let’s always keep in mind that it’s strengh will always lie in the community and grass root tournaments around the world. And this is where we’ll weigh in as much as possible, bringing a solid backbone for both eSports professional and amateurs.

Tournament format analysis: How Riot and ESL deal with the Random factor

As tournament formats and structures are our little hobby, we started analysing the major Esport events and the reasons behind their choices.

After The International 5, here we are, breaking down the LCS Finals and the recent ESL One Cologne 2015.

We hope you’ll find good inspiration or cautionary tales for your own tournaments!

LCS Finals 2015

  • Group Stage

The Group stage follows a “Round Robin”, “Home – Away” Best-of-1 format. It looks like a Best-of-2, but the each participants won’t play their opponent twice in a row.

We like this approach, as it provides more variety in each day’s match-ups and allows some time for the “revenge hype” to build up.

  • Knockout Stage

Following the Group Stage, eight teams  advance to the Knockout Stage (formerly known as the Bracket Stage) and matchups transition to Best-of-5s. The Knockout Stage is comprised of Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals.

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The main change this year comes from a draw phase between the Group stage and the Knockout stage.

Riot wanted to give more transparency and avoid “throws”, where a team loses a game on purpose to avoid another team in the knockout bracket. The bracket draw will be broadcasted Live after all the Group stage matches are played, so that no one is be able to predict its future opponent.

Randomness is used here as a firewall against deceptive performances which hurt teams’ credibility and cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament.

ESL One Cologne 2015

After the unique format used at IEM Gamescom, ESL continues to explore alternatives to the classic “group-to-bracket” format. For this Summer ESL One, the German organization has come up with yet another twist in their structure. Here’s an excerpt from their announcement:

“We start the event with 4 groups of 4 teams each. Each group contains 2 legendary teams and 2 challenger teams. The teams will fight it out in a double elimination best-of-1 format per group with a small twist. The top 2 of each group will qualify for the playoffs.

The twist comes at the end of the first day of matches:

On the first day, all 4 groups will be played out up to and including the winners match, with the elimination match and deciding match still to be played out. This means that 4 teams will have qualified for the quarter finals and everyone else still has a chance to make it that far.

At the end of day 1, we will redraw the groups and seed the quarterfinals ensuring that a team cannot face off against a team that they have faced off against before until they reach the grand finals. After this swap, the teams will continue their run through the groups against their new opponents and try to reach a spot in the quarter finals.”

In a nutshell:

1. Groupstage is a Double Elimination brackets with 4 teams.

2. Semi finals are played, Winners Finals are played. The winner of this match qualifies for the Knockout Stage.

3. The three remaining teams from each group are shuffled with teams from other groups, but keep their current position.

4. In the new groups, Losers match is played, then Losers finals are played. The winner qualifies of this match qualifies for the Knockout Stage.

The main motivation behind this move is to prevent a team from being beaten twice by the same opponent. Still, it doesn’t look like it’s a fairer solution, as the original groups are supposed to be balanced from the start, with top seed teams and two low seed teams.

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But our main concern on this option is the audience: Bracket Groups are already quite peculiar – although very interesting, but stacking a redraw right in the middle might be excessive.

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Instead of playing games in a group of 4, we’ll play the 3 first games in a group of 4, then shuffle, then play the 3 remaining matches in a new group of 3. Still with us?

We then think about the participants. ESL CS tournaments are already criticized for using a Best-of-1 match format in the group stage, considered by many as not suitable for Counter-Strike. This FPS metagame is heavily influenced by the different maps and its ban/draft system.

Adding the group redraw hurts the relevance of the results, as naysayers will always have room to complain and post many “what if…” post-tournament articles and tweets.

The ESL One Cologne 2015 tournament format ultimately received mixed feedbacks for its Best-of-1 Match format in the group stage and GSL Groups redrawn. The next major tournament for ESL will be held in Dubai for the ESEA Invitational and we wonder which format they’ll come up with.

The International 5 competition structure analysis

As The International 5 is underway, let’s talk about its complex structure and the way it handles performances, elimination and other matters.image

Let’s be honest: last year International was a mess to follow: regional qualifiers, last chance tournament, round robin, double playoff, main bracket, all intricated with one another.

For the 5th iteration of its grand tournament, Valve made things simpler, but retained the multiple phases format. Here’s our break down on these choices:

Open Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)

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  • Up to 1024 teams
  • Single Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of One
  • The winner is qualified for Main Regional Qualifier

Toornament’s notes: the first step to The International is a brutal welcome. Hundreds of opponents and no misstep allowed!

The combination of “Single elimination bracket” and “Best of 1 Matches” is really steep, but what choice do you have, when thousands of competitors around the world want and can take part in it?

This format is very time efficient, but should never be picked for any advanced stage of your competition.

Regional Qualifiers (NA, EU, CN, SEA)

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  • 10 teams
  • Group stage : 2 groups of 5
  • Double elimination bracket: Top team of each group enters through the
  • Winner bracket, 2nd team enters the Loser bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except for the Finals in Best of 5
  • Winner is qualified for the Wildcard tournament.

Toornament’s Notes: Classic structure. The limited number of participants allow for a double structure format, the classic “Group to Playoff”. This allows a good amount of matches and the right balance of forgiveness when a competitor stumbles.

The only twist here is that your group performance weighs more than usual on the rest of the competition, as the 2nd ranked in the group directly goes to the Loser bracket, instead of entering the Main bracket with a low seed. This method will be used throughout the whole competition.

The Wild Card

  • 4 teams
  • Double Elimination Bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3
  • Top 2 teams advance to the Main Event
  • Bottom 2 teams are eliminated

Toornament’s notes: A small, quick competition qualifying the two last teams for the Main Event. This phase wasn’t necessary, as the organizer could just have invited 12 teams instead of 14 and qualified the 4 winners of the Regional Qualifiers.

We think it’s a good way to start the Main Event with an appetizer, and a perfect rehearsal for the admin, streaming and casting teams.

Main Event – Group Stage

  • 16 teams
  • 2 groups of 8
  • Round Robin: Everybody plays each other within a group
  • Match format: 2 games. 2-0 earns 3 points, 1-1 earns 1 point, 0-2 earns 0 points
  • The top 4 teams of each group enter the main Bracket, the Bottom 4 teams of each group enter the Loser Bracket

Toornament’s notes: This is The International specialty: a huge amount of 112 matches being played in the course of 4 days. Still, the largest phase of the competition doesn’t eliminate anyone.

The rankings it produces are purely Seed intended, as everyone will go to the next phase no matter what. Again, Valve leans toward the “top to the winner bracket, bottom to the loser bracket” method.

We thus feel that this phase is very forgiving for everyone and that the organizers want to give as much chances as possible to every participant. We wouldn’t expect less from the most anticipated Esport tournament of the year.

Main Event – Playoff

  • 16 teams
  • Double Elimination bracket
  • Match format: Best of 3, except the Grand Finals using Best of 5 and the Loser Bracket Round 1 using Best of 1

Toornament’s notes: The last phase of The International 5 follows the ever popular Double Elimination Bracket, adding two modifications to the original model: at the very end, the Grand Final is a Best of 5 match, instead of a set of Best of 3 matches, where the competitor coming from the Loser Bracket has to “reset” the Finals by winning a first Best of 3, whereas the competitor from the Winner Bracket just needs one set to win it all.

At the very beginning of the tournament, Valve has left a steep Loser Bracket 1st round for the bottom competitors. This round is played in a Best of 1 match, meaning a swift elimination for 4 of the bottom teams.

We do understand this decision – Group Stage rankings must come with a price, or no teams will be motivated to really perform, or show their strategies and best moves.

Final Wrap Up

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The International is really one of a kind. Its much hyped, crowdfunded money prize is the talk of the town, but its competition structure is worth a look. Valve went with a very unique way to treat its competitors, going from brutal phases to more forgiving ones

The fact that all the teams play a lot of matches over an extended period says one thing for us: The International is a massive competition, but also a massive  celebration of DOTA 2 as a game, a community and an Esport discipline.

The generous amount of matches reminds us the NBA league, where the fans get plenty of show and exciting moments. The extended length of the competition – 2 weeks from the start of the Wild Card to the Finals of the Main Event – leans toward the World Cup (4 weeks), which gives time for everyone to celebrate.

As a tournament organizer, you should take notes from The International. There are great ideas (we haven’t even talked about All-star matches, 1v1, media days, days off etc.) to keep in mind, but also lessons you should take as a warning. The main one being that The International is a huge event with huge resources. Valve did a good a job to size the need for their phases, but few people and companies can afford the millions of dollars needed.

All in all, always think about your competitors and the audience experience! The right balance between the amount of matches, the timeframe and people’s endurance will be key to your success. Share with us your ideal Tournament structure and in the meantime, let’s enjoy The International 5!

Why you should add new games to your Esport event

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The incoming Nintendo shooter, “Splatoon”, is designed with competition in mind.

We all know Esport is nowadays driven by a few chosen games : League Of Legends, DotA, Counter Strike, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, Street Fighter and such. Those major disciplines are followed by a pack of underdogs : Smite, Super Smash Bros, EA Sports games, World of Tanks etc.

But their numerous Esport compliant games with a little, but active community. We recently saw a huge “Arma 3” match and Nintendo is driving it’s newest IP “Splatoon” as a friendly, but highly competitive shooter.

As a tournament organizer, should focus your ressources on popular and known games, or give their chance to new  one ?

We support the later, for 5 reasons :

1. Easier to get to the community and publisher

Getting support from a game community or publisher may be a hard task, as everyone are close to harrass them for some attention, support or money. New or minor but promising games are on the other begging for attention and events. Getting to them will then a much easier process.

2. Money

Working on a new game can also bring great opportunities, as the game publisher will have some budget to spend on adds (media) and special operations (you). Bring a well thought pitch deck and your “new game” tournament won’t take ressources aways from your “main games” tournaments. It may even earn you some money.

3. Variety
If your tournament boasts several games, it’s always a good thing throw heavy contenders and rookie in the mix. Variety is an underrated value in Esport tournaments and Olympics are a great example of how major and minor disciplines benefit each other – and ultimately, benefit the event awareness.

4. Room for innovation
Well established games often rhymes with conservative tournaments. Groupstages to simple/double elimination playoffs are the staple in Esport tournaments, with few alternative structures. Some games like Heartstone, have their own format but again (i.e “Conquest”), but it’s still hard to chose another path. Fresh games are the perfect playground for fresh tournament structures and scoring system. Grab the opportunity !

5. “Small risk / hi reward” bet
Trying to support a new game may be seen as a risk and in a way, it is. It’s up to you to limit that risky part of the bet. Don’t invest in money prize (or let the publisher / sponsor take care of this), invite a limited amount of participants and try to squeeze the logistics requirement into manageable volume by your admin team.

As Toornament already support more than 70 Esport disciplines, we hope you’ll request us to support more !

Esport is growing, Disney / HTC / Besiktas / KeSPA edition

In a recent post about

what we expect for Esport in 2015

, new sponsors were one of our key points. More money and more recognition never hurts. Wishes came true these last days, with some new actors involved in Esport, from HTC to Disney…

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HTC gets a triple kill in LoL

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We wrote earlier that one of the main goal for Esport this year would be to attract sponsors outside the gaming industry. The past years have seen some interesting partnerships, but most ended being one shots. Now comes HTC. The Taiwanese smartphone company may be jumping into gaming this year with a new product. To show its longterm dedication, HTC striked not one but three sponsorship deals with major League Of Legends teams :

Cloud 9

Team Solo Mid

Team Liquid

Those deals focus on the North American LoL scene, showing some insight from a traditionalist sponsor which we haven’t seen before. Also worth noting the wording used by the team : “premium” a “long term” shows that we’re not dealing with some kind of one shot or gear giveaway for some shoutouts.

Besiktas football, basketball, handball and volleyball club adds LoL

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One of the largest sports club in mid-East, Turkish organisation

Besiktas JK

, just added a League Of Legends team, along with its soccer, basketball, hand ball and volley ball rosters.

Aces High is a turkish LoL team

which recently took part in the IEM Cologne. Linking an Esport club to a sport club has always been a long time and logical Esport fantasy, but this happening with a major international sports team (Besiktas soccer and basketball teams are quite renowned on the international scene) adds more weight to the deal. Here again, symbol matters more than any actual figures.

Korea closes the gap between Esport and Olympic Games

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Korea remains one of the most advanced country for all things Esports. We just learned that the local Esport authority, the famous

 KeSPA, has gotten e-sports accepted into the 2nd level of the Olympic Committee

. This means that Esport now required one last step to be integrated into the Olympic disciplines pool. Esport is 20 years old now, but its craziest dreams from the early days are about to come true.

Disney’s new teenage sensation goes Esport

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Last, but not least, Disney. The company behind Pixar, Marvel, Lucas and well, Disney, is also a juggernaut in the teenagers content industry, with hits such as High School Musical and Violetta. The new kid on the block is no other than a profesional gamer. From (another Disney’s) TV Show “Jessie”, Cameron Boyce will also star in a new show broadcasted on gaming/anime channel Disney XD.

“Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything”

follows “

a teenage professional video game player who circumvents life’s challenges using his gaming acumen

”.
But the most interesting part of this show lies in the (pro)gamer status treatment. Gamers characters have long been depicted as losers climbing from the bottom (I have no friends etc.) to the top (I’m finally cool, even tho I’m a gamer).
“GGPME” work the other way around. The hero here is an established cyber athlete, living the glamorous life of an Esport star until a thumb injury throws him back to “normal” life. We expect some stereotypes here and there, but the pitch itself shows a new step in Esport and gamers recognition : According to Disney, being a pro gamer is cool. This may look trivial to you, but this “bold” take on the matter may influence millions of kids – and their parents.

9 Esport trends we expect in 2015

As 2014 went down as a great year for Esport, 2015 may lead us to even higher levels of recognition, audience, sponsorship and of course, great moments : more games, more countries, consoles, women, production values… Take a look at our 9 trends for this year.

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…………………………

1. The consoles real awakening

If consoles represent the largest slices of the gaming industry, they’ve remain a minor force in Esport. Of course, Call of Duty, and FIFA and Destiny are selling millions and can count on a large user base. Fighting games are at home on consoles more than on PCs. There are numerous competitions, champions. But nothing as big – money wise and audience wise – as PC Esports disciplines. Why do consoles trails so far behind ?

Reasons range from technical and financial hurdles to regularly update games, no Free 2 Play major titles or limited streaming options. Things may change with this generation of consoles, as Microsoft and Sony have finally understood the huge benefits of long term, ever evolving, strong community backed games.
Of course PS4 and XBox One boasts direct stream to Twitch. But the most important feature may lie in the new publishing deals, allowing developers to update and enrich their game without having to pay each time and thus, having one major update once in a year – think Street Fighter IV, here.

Consoles needs to play catch up with PC, but they’ve finally understood and may hold the real explosion for Esport in the next years. They already had the great games, they just need to become just as great as platforms.
 
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2. Less financial turmoils

Most of the dramas occurring on the Esport scene are about players being out of a team and money. As more and more dollars are pouring into Esport through growing money prizes, contracts and sponsorship, the Esport scene still looks like a far west movie. Unpaid cashprizes, team going down because of one sponsor’s off the deal, managers running away with the money they’re supposed to collect for their players, the lack of proper contracts…
One of Esport main effort this year should  be about legal and financial supporting document, made available to anyone – with some wiki for basic knowledge and customisation of those documents.
 
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3. Emerging countries

Right now, Esport is a global phenomenon with a few leading territories : North America, Europe, CIS, China and Korea. Some countries may nonetheless rise this year. We’ve kept an eye on the Japanese scene, which has always been notorious for its talented players, especially on the fighting games scene. The PC scene, yet minor, is growing with the first DOTA 2 and League Of Legends professional teams.
Japan’s status on Esport is tightly linked to consoles status on Esport, as gaming PC is very rare there. We expect Japan to grow steadily over the next years. Large countries such as India are also showing strong commitment signs, with more and more tournaments and players. Esport needs to evolve beyond the classic US-EU-SEA triumvirat to become a real global phenomenon.
 
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4. Crowdfunding for everyone

Valve blew people’s minds and wallets with the The International 3. The way people could fun the cashprize and get away with great content proved to be  a huge hit. Last year International gathered close to $11M (Valve started with $1.6M), paving the way to a new generation of community backed tournament. So far, most have been a success. Most are DOTA 2, but Hirez Studios Smite World Championship went over the $2.5M mark. There may be some failure and excesses along the way, but this business model is headed to a bright future.
We’re working hard on Toornament to bring this crowdfunding mechanics to all our users.
 
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5. FGC joins the family

Esports and Fighting Game Community had a long love / hate relationship. Long (and numerous) stories short, the FGC never felt like it belonged or wanted to belong with the PC Esport scene and business model and thus, developed a strong community sense that both held it together and closed it to the other communities.
Last months have shown encouraging signs, with the best fighters being drafted in major Esport teams, streaming and so on. With Capcom’s Street Fighter V poised for the end of this year or 2016 on both PS4 and PC, the shift everyone was hoping for may be finally happening.
Fighting games are amongst the most spectacular, skill demanding and audience understandable Esport discipline and they deserve to be top tier disciplines.
 
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6. More new games and mid-sized communities

As the video game industry and culture have spawn numerous great games, Esport should reflect this depth. We all know that you can’t fully dedicate yourself to many Esports disciplines, but maybe give a try to other games, along with your main. LoL, CS and Hearthstone may reign supreme, but other deserves attention and involvement.
The case for more games also lead to more opportunities for developers and modders to try new things and keep Esport disciplines pool fresh and new.
 
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7. Female champions

Ah, the neverending topic. Women and Esports is a heated debate, as everyone thought Esport would erase the physical differences between men and women. For others reasons, Esport progamers are huge majority of guys. Why the lack of girls ? We won’t try to answer on this post. But 2015 may see the rise of women champions in a non female dedicated tournament. Scarlett has paved the way and progamers like MagicAmy won big Hearthstone tournament recently.
It’s a matter of time and dedication and finding the right talent at the right game, but a woman winning a major tournament – and remain in the top tier players for some time could be a huge boost and eye opener for Esport enthusiasts and neophytes alike.
 
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8. Generalist / sports sponsors

Something we love about the LCS : Coca Cola and American Express as premium sponsors. Esport needs here to put emphasis on the “sport”, more than on the “e”. Every gaming company is now onboard with Esport but our culture needs to grow wider. It’s more than gaming, it thus should attract more than gaming sponsors. Generalist sponsors would mean higher credibility, new audience, more money. Time to mail Nike, Starbucks and L’Oreal. 
 
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9. Production Value

It’s been one of the buzzwords lately, even tho few really get it. “Production values” means everything tournament organizers put to make a good show on site and online. More cameras, more casters, inbetween matches content, analysis, nice main stages, stream overlays etc.
As tournaments production value is going up as the time and iteration goes by, it shall be noted that the tournament itself isn’t enough nowadays. In 2015, Esport enthusiasts expect more. More entertainment, more content, more show. Production value, they call it.
And – surprise – this is where we kick in. We’re hard working at Toornament to empower with all the most critical tools to run perfect and spectacular tournaments !