North American esports and gaming company Misfits Gaming Group has announced a partnership with Spanish esports organisation TeamHeretics for the Call of Duty League (CDL).
The partnership will see Misfits’ Florida Mutineers Call of Duty League franchise be rebranded to the Miami Heretics. Moreover, Team Heretics will become an equity partner in the franchise, with Mutineers’ branding being retired.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that the two organisations have struck a deal for a team in a franchised league. In 2022, Misfits sold a majority stake in its League of Legends team that competed in the LEC to Heretics. Also interesting is that this is not the first time Team Heretics is making moves in Call of Duty. The organisation competed in several Call of Duty editions between 2016 and 2019, participating in the Call of Duty World League.
The two brands said that the new partnership for the CDL is a continuation of good relations, and a testament ‘to the strong bond between the two organisations’. The newly-rebranded Miami Heretics will also focus on both the Spanish and English markets, broadening the organisation’s reach. This means that Miami Heretics will create content in both languages.
Heretics will be in charge of content and marketing for the new organisations, meanwhile, Misfits Gaming Group will run day-to-day operations and commercialisation. Both brands will work together on broad strategy and business direction.
The Mutineers saw moderate success during its time in the CDL, placing mid-table at several CDL Majors and winning several smaller CDL tournaments in 2020.
Co-Founder and CEO of Team Heretics, Arnau Vidal, commented on the news: “We are extremely excited to start this adventure with MGG and join the CDL. Heretics was born with Call of Duty and this move means so much to us and our fans. We cannot wait to bring the Spanish passion again into the league.”
Saudi Arabia-backed esports festival Gamers8 has featured countless international tournaments since it commenced in July, including leading games like CS:GO, Dota 2, PUBG and Rocket League. However, viewership performance has varied greatly across esports titles.
Gamers8 and Saudi Arabia’s wider increasing investment in esports is, however, the subject of criticism due to the government’s human rights record, including on LGBTQ+ matters. Gamers8 is organised by the state-run Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports, which is chaired by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan.
With Gamers8 2023 soon wrapping up, Esports Insider takes a look at the event’s viewership performance.
All viewership statistics have been sourced from viewership data analytics platform Esports Charts.
Gamers8 2023 kicked off with one of its most popular competitions. Across four days, 44 Fortnite duos battled for a total prize pool of $2m (~£1.57m). Gamers8 2023 Fortnite was organised by ESL Gaming and the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFFEIS).
Just over 105,000 peak viewers tuned into Gamers8’s 2023 Fortnite competition. Although the tournament has the highest Fortnite prize pool in 2023 thus far, it only places 10th in terms of peak viewership this year for Fortnite events. In comparison, the Fortnite event with the highest peak viewership this year was the Rubius MadCup, with over 327,000 peak viewers, organised by notable Spanish streamer Rubius.
Gamers8 Tekken 7
Gamers8’s Tekken 7 tournament also took place from July 6th-9th. In total, 16 national teams competed for its $1m (~£785,000) total prize pool. Organised by the same entities, the Tekken 7 series attracted less than half the peak viewers of the Fortnite event, with around 44,000 peak viewers. Moreover, it could not compete with fighting game tournament EVO 2023, where a Tekken 7 event saw 241,000 peak viewers.
Within the fighting game niche, its peak viewership figure made Gamers8 Tekken 7 the fifth most-popular Tekken tournament of the year.
PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2023
For the PUBG Mobile World Invitational 2023, Gamers8 collaborated with PUBG Mobile developer KRAFTON and its publisher, Level Infinite. With a total prize pool of $3m (~£2.36), the invitational saw 18 teams, including FaZe Clan and Team Falcons, participate from July 11th-16th.
The PMWI 2023 is currently the second-most popular Gamers8 2023 event in terms of peak viewers (517,000) and the second-most viewed in terms of watch hours (9.65m). Similarly, it is the third-most watched PUBG Mobile competition of the year, behind the PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2023 and the 32nd SEA Games.
Gamers8 2023 Rainbow Six Siege
The $2m (~£1.57m) Gamers8 2023 Rainbow Six Siege tournament was organised by ESL and SAFFEIS. Eight teams, including G2 Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas, were invited to compete from July 13th-16th.
The event performed moderately in terms of viewership both within the Gamers8 and the Rainbow Six Siege calendar. Among all 2023 R6 competitions, Gamers8 2023 R6 has the fifth-highest peak viewership with 33,900. However, this is significantly lower the leading event, Six Invitational 2023, attracted 232,000 peak viewers.
FIFAe Finals 2023
The FIFAe Finals 2023, organised by FIFA and EA and hosted by Gamers8, consisted of three tournaments: the FIFAe Club World Cup 2023, the FIFAe Nations Cup 2023, and the FIFAe World Cup 2023. Each featured a prize pool of $1m (~£785,000).
While viewership data on the Nations Cup is currently unavailable on Esports Charts, the two remaining FIFA events garnered respectable viewership numbers compared to other FIFA competitions in 2023. Of the three, the FIFAe World Cup attracted the most fans, with 55,100 peak viewers, making it the second-most watched FIFA competition of the year.
Riyadh Masters 2023
The Riyadh Master 2023 from July 19th-20th, a Dota 2 event organised by the Saudi Esports Federation, was one of the largest tournaments of the Gamers8 festival. It featured a total prize pool of $15m (~£11.8m) and 12 notable teams in the Dota 2 scene, including OG and Team Liquid.
With almost 588,000 peak viewers, the Riyadh Masters 2023 saw the highest peak viewership of all Dota 2 competitions in 2023 so far. In terms of hours watched, it takes second place after The Lima Major 2023. However, it should be noted that Dota 2’s biggest tournament of the year, The International 2023, is yet to take place.
Gamers8 2023 Rennsport
The young sim racing title Rennsport received a $1m (~£785,000) tournament at Gamers8. Racing league ESL R1’s 12 partnered teams, which include FURIA Esports and MOUZ, participated in the event from July 27th-30th. Gamers8 Rennsport was sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Oil Group.
Despite low popularity compared to some of the larger esports franchises featured at Gamers8, the sim racing tournament was popular in its niche. With 14,000 peak viewers, it was the most-watched Rennsport event of all time.
Gamers8 2023 StarCraft 2
Gamers8 StarCraft 2 was a multi-stage event taking place between August 3rd-6th organised by ESL and SAFFEIS. A total of 16 players competed across the SC2 Groupstage, SC2 Playoffs, SC: Remastered Legends and SC2 Legends for a combined prize pool of $500,000 (~£392,000).
The SC2 Playoffs attracted the most fans, reaching 54,300 peak viewers. SC2 Playoffs and SC2 Legends rank second and third in terms of viewership among 2023 SC2 tournaments, respectively, below only IEM Katowice 2023, with 73,200 peak viewers.
Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6
Coming hot off the heels of the highly anticipated release of the title among the fighting game community, ESL and SAFFEIS organised a $1m (~£785,000) tournament for Street Fighter 6. The event saw 32 players participate in Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6 from August 10th-13th.
Despite its relatively large prize pool compared to other Street Fighter tournaments, more established competitions from the franchise outshined the Gamers8 event. For instance, with 105,000 peak viewers, Gamers8 2023 Street Fighter 6 garnered significantly fewer viewers than EVO 2023 Street Fighter 6 (442,000).
PUBG Global Series 2023 Phase 2
Gamers8’s PUBG event was organised in collaboration with PUBG Collaboration as part of the PUBG Global Series 2023. From August 10th-20th, 24 of the best PUBG teams, including Gen.G and NAVI, competed for a prize pool of $2m (~£1.57m).
Featuring a $1m (~£785,000) prize pool, Gamers8 2023 CS:GO ran from August 16th-20th. Organisers ESL and Saudi Esports Federation invited 16 of the top CS:GO teams, such as the likes of ENCE and Team Vitality.
It is likely to be one of the last CS:GO competitions before the eventual release of Counter-Strike 2. Gamers8 CS:GO attracted only 429,000 peak viewers, which ranks eighth compared to all 2023 CS:GO tournaments so far. This is far less than BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023’s peak viewership of 1.53m, however, this was a Major-tiered event. The most popular non-Major CS:GO tournament was IEM Cologne 2023 (727,400 peak viewers).
Gamers8 2023 as a whole
Gamers8 2023 will conclude with millions of total hours watched, having featured a diverse range of esports titles.
Despite criticisms towards the influence of Saudi Arabia in esports, the country continues to increase its stake in the industry. This includes Gamers8 securing several notable partnerships for its 2023 festival, such as PepsiCo, Razer, adidas and Aramco, among others.
The final tournament of Gamers8 2023, Gamers8 Featuring Rocket League, has yet to be finished. This story will be updated once the festival has concluded.
Lea is a business student with too many passions and too little time. In addition to missing her shots in Valorant, she spends her free time advocating for mental health awareness and fostering inclusive esports communities.
OverActive Media, the parent company of Toronto Ultra, Toronto Defiant and MAD Lions, has announced a net loss of CAD $3.48m (~£2.02m) for Q2 2023, an increase from the same period last year (CAD $2.34m).
However, the company was able to record revenue for the period, garnering CAD $3.86m (~£2.24m) — CAD $1.5m higher than what it achieved in Q2 2022.
In the first six months of 2023, OverActive Media achieved a total of CAD $5.48m (~£3.18m) in revenue.
Even though OverActive Media is still not profitable, the company was able to increase its revenues while maintaining its operating costs at a similar level — CAD $11.8m (~£6.85m) in H1 2023 compared to CAD $12.4m (~£7.20m) in H1 2022.
According to the Q2 unaudited financial report, the similar operating cost is due to a decrease in corporate payroll expenses in 2023 as well as in “management’s accrual of corporate bonuses resulting from lower headcount”. This decrease though was offset by the company spending more on team operations and live event expenses.
OverActive Media hosted the Call of Duty League’s Major V at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto in May 2023.
In its Q2 report, the company claimed that it has enough liquidity to meet its minimum obligations for at least another year. The report cited: “The company has assessed that there are no material uncertainties related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt upon the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
The financial results are in line with the statement made by OverActive Media’s co-Founder and Interim CEO, Adam Adamou, who previously mentioned that the company would deliver better financial results in successive quarters. Adamou stated in a recent release: “We are determined to drive towards a near breakeven Adjusted EBITDA over the year’s second half.”
When it comes to competitive results, OverActive Media has had a strong year so far. Toronto Ultra finished 4th in the latest Call of Duty League Championship, receiving $660,000 (~£383,156). MAD Lions, on the other hand, won the 2023 LEC Spring Championship and will play in the LEC Season Finals to determine the European representatives for Worlds 2023.
In Overwatch, the company reached an agreement with the Overwatch League (OWL), Activision Blizzard’s franchised league for Overwatch, for a sponsorship deal whilst also eliminating outstanding fees it paid to enter the league. The deal was valued at CAD $10.8m (~£6.5m).
It’s worth noting that on June 30th OverActive Media issued 3m RSUs (restricted stock units) to the company’s executive team. They are expected to be settled through the issuance of 3m common shares and vest over three years, with one-third vesting on each of the first, second, and third anniversaries of the date of grant.
Game publisher Activision, part of ActivisionBlizzard, is presenting a new tournament in Call of Duty Warzone, its flagship battle royale FPS.
Called “Who is the King”, the tournament takes place over five days, with the first event occurring on August 16th. The event will take place over four days, with the finals taking place on September 1st, 2023.
The tournament fields a $150,000 (£118,000) prize pool divided into two segments. The first $20,000 (£15,000) will be awarded to the best teams after each of the first four days, and the rest of the pool will be allocated during the finals weekend.
The tournament will see well-known Warzone and Call of Duty pros play against content creators and streamers. Activision noted in a release that the tournament aims to answer the “age-old debate” of whether streamers or pro players are better in the game.
The players will include some of the most-known Call of Duty League players such as the Call of Duty World champions Tyler ‘aBeZy‘ Pharris Anthony ‘Shotzzy‘ Cuevas-Castro and well-known streamers such as DiazBiffle, Asim and Scummn.
The tournament will be divided into two segments, each angled slightly towards professionals or streamers. The first and third days will see teams compete in the typical Warzone game mode Kill Race. Meanwhile, the second and fourth days will host the Call of Duty League format, meaning that Search and Destroy and Hardpoint game modes will be played. The grand final will combine all of the mentioned modes.
The tournament series is produced by American talent management company The Kinetic Group which represents a large number of players and creators in the Call of Duty space.
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.
Yue announced the news via LinkedIn on August 14th, about one month after leaving Ubisoft Montréal. As Ubisoft’s Esports Director, Yue focused on the competitive ecosystem of the developer’s tactical shooter Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Rainbow Six Siege, developing a multiyear strategy for the game as well as executing esports events.
Prior to Ubisoft, Yue spent over eight years at Activision Blizzard. Starting as a Customer Support Representative in 2010, Yue moved to managing esports programmes in 2015. As Associate Manager for the EMEA Esports scene, Yue was responsible for the regional execution of Hearthstone, Activision Blizzard’s collectable card game.
Founded as Amazon Game Studios in 2012, Amazon Games is a video game company owned by retailer Amazon. Initially focusing on mobile games, such as Airport Mania: First Flight, the company took on projects for Windows after its rebrand.
With more than 10 years of industry experience, Wei Yue joins Amazon Games to guide the direction of one of its new esports titles. In the announcement, the former Ubisoft Esports Director shared: “I couldn’t be more excited to have this unique opportunity to engrain the competitive vision and esports ecosystem directly into the DNA of the product.”
While the studio has announced several upcoming multiplayer games, including a cooperative online title by developer Glowmade and Disruptive Game’s online multiplayer action-adventure, as of writing this article, it is unclear which project Yue will work on.
Lea is a business student with too many passions and too little time. In addition to missing her shots in Valorant, she spends her free time advocating for mental health awareness and fostering inclusive esports communities.
Esports coaching has become a crucial part of the competitive esports ecosystem. Many esports players — professional and non-professional — actively seek coaching opportunities to develop skills or bolster their career trajectory and potential.
However, how does someone become an esports coach?
Traditional sports have developed highly specific qualifications that guide an individual into coaching. In football, where top division teams in Europe can even be fined if managers do not have the right qualification. Yet, in esports, such stringent regulation isn’t implemented.
For some games, a player’s path-to-pro has even been laid out by the game publisher or third-party operator. This ranges from VALORANT’s new esports-focused in-game mode to FACEIT’s ever-growing grassroots and developmental leagues. Yet, the journey of an esports coach feels like a guarded secret, with little guidance on reaching the position.
The rapid and recent development of this role as a viable career path means that the process of becoming an esports coach has a relatively new format. Still, similarly to most jobs, it undoubtedly involves a significant degree of self-organisation and personal development.
What does an esports coach do?
Before jumping into the ‘how’, it’s important to establish what esports coaches do.
Esports coaches are crucial in providing consistent performance for esports teams. As with traditional sports, they are responsible for building skills, communication, relationships and strategies within a team, or an individual player’s abilities, initiative and critical thinking. In essence, esports coaches oversee every performance-related aspect of a team’s journey.
As expected, the role requires a comprehensive knowledge of the game in question. For example, JLINGZ Esports’ Apex Legends Pro-League Analytics Coach, Alex ‘coldjyn’ Nicholls, is primarily responsible for guiding players through specific elements of the game: “I work primarily around strategising, preparation, and analysis. It’s my job to approach the game from an abstract point of view and find what I believe to be the fundamentally most valuable parts of the game.
“This ranges from characters to weapons and individual positions on the map, and then how these all interact. I’m also in a unique position to analyse and review the team. I see what our weak points are, and then see how we can improve them.”
There are many different types of coaching positions. Whilst most teams will be operated by a head coach, there are sometimes roles that look into finite performance analysis, such as draft coaching. Coaching also doesn’t always have to relate to in-game performance. As such, some coaches may focus on aspects like well-being and mental health, all while working alongside sports psychologists.
Does a coach have to be a master at the game to coach a player? Not necessarily. In League of Legends — a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game — there are many similarities with other esports titles, despite differences in gameplay, that can be applied to coaching players.
EXCEL Esports’ League of Legends Coach, Chrisophe ‘Kaas’ van Oudheusden, highlighted: “MOBAs are similar to other esports games. Every game requires strategy (CSGO; Call of Duty; VALORANT; etc). The shooting aspect is just a different kind of “skill” but the ideas behind coaching are the same.”
Naturally, different skill sets are attached to differing coaching positions, whether this is due to the esports title or specific coaching role. To become an esports coach, determining your strengths may give a direction to the best possible role. However, all coaches must be able to effectively oversee and guide their teams through the challenges they face. Here’s an overview of that from British Esports.
Are specific qualifications required to be an esports coach?
Currently, there is no expectation for coaches to achieve a specific qualification, with the exception of sports psychology coaching. Regardless, there are growing views that coaches wanting to work for professional teams should either have experience in the field or some sort of training.
To provide the solutions to these very real issues in esports, institutions such as the International Federation of Esports Coaches and the Esports Coaching Academy have been established, both providing more structured environments to learn coaching skills and gain related qualifications. This includes a focus on non-esports specific but vital areas of coaching, such as safeguarding. A more in-depth look at the ECA in Iceland can be read here.
Core skills are required to be an esports coach such as having a secure, detailed and confident knowledge of the game in question. Alongside this, they must be able to motivate and support their players. This requires a degree of knowledge, experience working in a team setting and interpersonal skills.
“‘You can have the best ideas in the world, but if no one will listen to you, you are not a good coach,” explained Coldjyn. “You also need to understand that you can and will be wrong sometimes, and that is ok. However, if you think you’re right, you have to be able to demonstrate it clearly.”
Kaas also stresses the importance of communication skills in coaching: “Communication is a very underrated aspect of coaching in esports. The needs of communicating should be based on the personalities your players have. Some people like an open direct approach, some respond better to one-on-one feedback. Words are a powerful tool that can help you reach your team goals.”
Seeking a greater understanding of these core coaching skills has become more crucial in recent years. As a result, organisations such as SIDO aim to provide information that may be beneficial. The company’s research covers topics such as communication analysis and performance models, allowing aspiring coaches to develop an in-depth understanding of the behavioural fundamentals influencing competitive performance.
So, do coaches need to have been professional esports players?
There is a misconception that coaches must have experience as professional esports players. However, this is not always the case.
According to Coldjyn, an understanding of the game is crucial, but professional competitive experience is not a requirement. Although, he does admit you develop an understanding of the game by playing at a high level.
Instead, Coldjyn emphasises networking with others and working up the ladder from more grassroots teams to professional organisations.
“The hardest part is convincing the first person to hear you out. It gets easier after that point, as you can network from one to another,” he said. “If everyone you speak to gives you a good review, then you can climb the ladder relatively easily. Most people want to improve, and if they believe you can help them with that, they’ll want to work with you.”
What are the steps that can be made to get into esports coaching?
One of the most important steps in becoming an esports coach is networking. For better or for worse, this is synonymous with career pathways in esports, largely due to the lack of structure in the sector when it comes to industry-tailored qualifications.
As stressed by Apex Legends coach Coldjyn, networking significantly boosts your ability to gain a reputation and climb the ladder within your respective esport. This includes having a strong online presence, as many coaching roles in grassroots organisations remain almost entirely online.
Organisations such as the International Federation of Esports Coaching and the Esports Coaching Academy can also be incredibly useful in your journey to becoming an esports coach. Even though there is no current expectation of obtaining certain coaching qualifications in esports, learning how to develop core skills relating to the role is nonetheless beneficial and demonstrates a commitment to the career path. Whether this is done academically or through experience is up to the individual.
Finally, you must be sure of your decision to work towards becoming an esports coach. In the words of Kaas, “You should have a passion for the game and coaching. If you can’t get joy out of it, then it’s better not to start.”
Hannah is a freelance journalist specialising in esports, gaming, and tech. Alongside writing, she studies an MA in Digital Culture and Society part-time.
North American esports organisation Gamers First (G1) has revealed plans for a new multi-purpose headquarters facility, which will include studios, training facilities and an event space.
The new 25,500 square-foot facility is located in the East Congress district of Austin, Texas. The space will be used as a headquarters for G1’s esports operations, as well as other companies owned by G1 CEO and Co-Founder Kenny Vaccaro.
The space, which was previously a warehouse, will feature a modular layout, with spaces for each of its operating companies. According to a release, all spaces are designed to be modular and moveable, depending on the requirements for a specific activation or event.
For example, G1’s South By Southwest activations will use office spaces that will be moved outside of the building.
The price tag for the facility was not revealed, but a release stated it was a ‘multi-million dollar’ build-out. The HQ will house Evolve PCs, Women’s Car Ball, and various media entities, G1 said.
UPDATE 04/08/23: The article was updated to add further context about Kaysan’s role at Atlanta FaZe and other information.
American DJ, content creator and music producer Kaysan (FaZe Kaysan) has been announced as a minority owner of Atlanta FaZe, FaZe Clan’s Call of Duty League franchise.
FaZe Clan noted in a release that Kaysan’s new role will “see him working more closely with the organisation and pro players to expand the Call of Duty scene”. The official confirmation comes after a short period of speculation and rumours which were now proven true by FaZe Clan and Kaysan.
Kaysan joined FaZe Clan as a content creator in 2021 and has since hosted streams in NBA2K, GTA Online, and Call of Duty. However, he is more known as a music producer and recording artist. Kaysan has recorded a number of songs in his career, with the latest singles “Leavem Stuck”, “Black Ops” and “Plenty” all seeing millions of streams on YouTube and music streaming platforms.
Kaysan also recorded a song with renowned rapper Future in 2021 and hosted a variety of streams with well-known content creators such as xQc, Adin Ross, Kai Cenat, FaZe Swagg, and others.
Atlanta FaZe is one of the most successful Call of Duty League franchises, with four overall Major wins and the 2021 Championship to its name. The team also finished second in both the 2020 and 2022 editions of the Playoffs.
Kaysan joins Atlanta FaZe as the third co-owner of the franchise, next to FaZe Clan and Atlanta Esports Ventures, an American VC company founded by Cox Enterprises and Province. Atlanta Esports Ventures is also the owner of another Atlanta franchise, the Atlanta Reign of the Overwatch League.
Kaysan takes up his new position in an interesting and tumultuous time for both FaZe Clan and its Atlanta FaZe franchise. The Overwatch League, another Activision-owned franchised league has recently offered teams the ability of a vote to perhaps close the league for good, with a vote scheduled soon.