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League of Legends ‘MSI’ and VALORANT ‘Stage 2 Masters’ live events to take place in Reykjavík, Iceland in May

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League of Legends ‘MSI’ and VALORANT ‘Stage 2 Masters’ live events to take place in Reykjavík, Iceland in May
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Riot Games announced that two of its biggest esports events of the year will take place back-to-back this May in Reykjavík, Iceland. Additionally, as Riot Games continues to expand its esports footprint, the company has expanded its partnership with Verizon as the official 5G partner, supporting both LoL Esports Global Events and VALORANT Esports.

The League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, will kick off competition between the top 12 teams from the regional leagues on Thursday, May 6 and culminate with the final on Sunday, May 23.

The VALORANT Champions Tour (VCT) Masters Reykjavík, beginning the next day on Monday, May 24, will be the first VALORANT esports event to feature live international competition, bringing together the top 10 teams from around the world to fight for a spot at VALORANT Champions later this year. VCT Masters Reykjavík will conclude with a final scheduled to take place on May 30th.

Competition for both events will take place in the Laugardalshöll indoor sporting arena as Riot brings best-in-class esports competition from two titles to Iceland for the first time.

“We are thrilled to showcase high-level Riot esports competition to a country as stunning and unique as Iceland, underscoring that passion for our esports can be found in every corner of the globe,” said John Needham, Global Head of Esports for Riot Games. “Both MSI and VCT Masters will introduce us to breakout stars to watch this season, and also serve as the initial events for Verizon’s extended and much-appreciated commitment to our esports ecosystem.”

In addition to MSI and Masters 2, Verizon’s multi-year agreement as the Official 5G Partner also extends to the biggest global events of the LoL Esports and VALORANT competition calendar. This includes the League of Legends World Championship (“Worlds”), which makes its return to North America in 2022; LoL Esports All-Star Event; three VALORANT Champions Tour Masters events; and VALORANT Champions. The partnership also includes the VALORANT North America Challengers.

Verizon also is a key partner in VALORANT’s recently announced VCT Game Changers, a program that will host monthly tournaments to give female players more opportunities to compete at the semi-pro and grassroots level.

This partnership just serves as the latest iteration of Verizon’s consistent support of Riot’s esports business. Since 2020, Verizon has been the Official 5G Partner for the League Championship Series (LCS), providing support for LCS through original video content and in-broadcast sponsored segments. Their support extended to VALORANT First Strike: North America, the first official tournament for Riot’s premier tactical shooter, as well as The Wild Rift Invitational – the world’s first Wild Rift esports event featuring LCS players and celebrities.

“Expanding our partnership with Riot esports allows us to build on the success of the past year and continue expanding the opportunities to leverage the power of 5G Ultra Wideband for player and fan experiences across both LoL and Valorant,” said Yvette Martinez-Rea, Vice President, Sponsorships and Partnerships at Verizon. “We’re also very proud to put our support behind VCT Game Changers to provide more opportunities for female players at all levels.”

“We were thrilled to have Verizon on board as a partner for the LCS and Wild Rift last year, so to expand on that relationship across the biggest esports events in the world with both LoL and VCT is meaningful validation of what we are creating here at Riot esports,” said Naz Aletaha, Head of Global Esports Partnerships and Business Development at Riot Games. “Our aspiration to consistently deliver unforgettable experiences and initiatives for fans is a passion we’re proud to share with Verizon, and we look forward to leveraging their expertise and best-in-class technology across our sports.”

The Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) is a foundational battleground in the annual LoL Esports season, where rising stars and teams make a global name for themselves. Held between the first and second splits of the season, the best teams from each of the 12 regional leagues compete for the title. This year, a new format will open with three stages, beginning with Groups, in which all 12 teams split into three groups of four teams, each playing a Best of 1 double round robin. The top two teams per group will advance to the next stage, where the six remaining teams will play another Best of 1 double round robin. The top four teams will advance to a playoff bracket, and play in a Single Elimination, Best of 5 Semifinal followed by Finals.

VCT Masters Reykjavík will bring top VALORANT teams from around the globe together for the first time to determine who will stand as the best VALORANT team in the world heading into the second half of the season. Starting in April, thousands of teams will attempt to qualify for Masters Stage 2 through their regional Challengers events, with the 10 teams securing a spot in Reykjavík.

“VCT Masters Reykjavik is our next big step in further establishing VALORANT as the fastest-growing global esport,” said Whalen Rozelle, Riot Games’ Senior Director of Esports. “We have some of the most passionate fans around the world, and we’re committed to giving them a live event so that they can see how their favorite teams stack up internationally for the first time ever.”

Teams from both sports will quarantine upon arrival in Iceland. For the health and safety of the players, staff, and local residents, the events will be unable to accommodate a live audience, however all MSI and VCT Masters Stage 2 matches will be broadcast live globally across various digital platforms.

eSports

MTG Sells ESL Gaming to Savvy Gaming Group for $1.05 Billion

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Swedish esports and gaming firm MTG has agreed to sell ESL Gaming to Saudi-backed Savvy Gaming Group at an enterprise value of $1.05 billion.

MTG, which owns 91.46% of ESL Gaming, corresponding to $960 million, said it was expecting net proceeds of around $875 million from the deal, including transaction-related costs.

It added that it would return at least 40% of the proceeds to shareholders, while using the rest to strengthen its position in the global gaming market, and continue its “buy and build strategy”.

“Following the transaction, MTG will focus fully on accelerating growth in its pure-play gaming business,” MTG, which has a market cap of around 9.76 billion crowns ($1.05 billion), said in a statement.

MTG, which bought ESL and DreamHack in 2015 and merged them under the name ESL Gaming, has acquired several gaming companies in the past year, including Hutch Games and Ninja Kiwi.

It added that Savvy Group, which is backed by the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund, was also buying tech platform FACEIT to merge the two companies into a global gaming platform.

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HORIZON UNION ENTERS APEX LEGENDS SPACE WITH ACQUISITION OF ESPORTS TEAM

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HORIZON UNION ENTERS APEX LEGENDS SPACE WITH ACQUISITION OF ESPORTS TEAM
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GAMING and content organisation, Horizon Union, has unveiled its entry into APEX Legends through the acquisition of European esports team, Top Dogs.

Competing in the highest level of competitive APEX, the APEX Legends Global Series (ALGS) league, Horizon Union will be represented by players Ruabbe, Mimu and ZeroNothing, who have competed for the likes of G2 Esports, Obey Alliance and ENCE.

Top Dogs, which will now be branded under the name Horizon and powered by UFO Gaming, will be competing in the playoffs of the ALGS on 22 January 2022, after qualifying in the ALGS Split 1  League in December 2021.

Speaking on joining Horizon Union Ruabbe, captain of the Horizon team, said: “Mimu, ZeroNothing and myself have been continuously pushing expectations as a team and are super happy and excited to be joining Horizon Union. Having been given such an opportunity with a leading organisation, we are ready to achieve great things with Horizon throughout 2022.”

The move to APEX further signals Horizon Union’s commitment to entering the esports space following the news of its partnership with decentralised social gaming platform, UFO Gaming, in late 2021. The partnership will see both organisations expand brand affinity in the gaming sphere, with a particular focus on esports.

Will Mollett, co-founder and talent and partnerships lead at Horizon Union, said: “Horizon’s movement into the highest level of APEX is merely a testament to our vision for the brand, with the acquisition of a fantastic EU team, Top Dogs.

“With this spearheading our esports efforts, we could not be happier to be working with a trio of like-minded individuals, hungry for success.”

Kieran Wood, co-founder and operations and commercial lead at Horizon Union, added: “Esports has always been an element of Horizon that we’ve kept close to our heart as the brand scaled. The collective drive to compete at the highest level is a goal that the entire team shares and seeks to achieve with our esports launch.

“Our first steps with Apex Legends is a sign of intent and a nod to what’s to come with Horizon throughout 2022 and we couldn’t be more excited for this venture to begin.”

Founded by Kieran Wood and Will Mollett in 2017, Horizon has grown to house over 35 creators who drive and deliver content via an always-on strategy. Working alongside global brands such as UFO Gaming, GFUEL, Boost Gaming, and ChampionUS, the organisation operates on the core principles of working closely with creators to provide strategic business value, within various verticals in the gaming world.

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WePlay Holding teams up with ISDE to provide an esports educational program

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WePlay Holding teams up with ISDE to provide an esports educational program
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The WePlay Holding esports group entered into a partnership with ISDE Law Business School to offer a new Esports Business ISDE Master’s degree program. To contribute to the training of future esports industry professionals, WePlay Holding will provide its experts to ISDE as guest professors and invite students for unpaid internships.

ISDE Spanish University Center, founded by world-leading law firms, uses a practical methodology to train and teach its students. Adopting a hands-on approach, ISDE invites professionals from various industries and offers internships from the first year.

As experts in the esports sector, WePlay Holding supports the new Esports Business ISDE Master’s degree course within an annual partnership. Besides teaching students the basics of esports, WePlay Holding will invite some of them to join the team for 3–6 months to work on real-life cases.

Esports is much more than an entertainment industry sector — it’s also highly technological. Therefore, to develop the industry further, esports needs professionals who can tell the difference between a traditional publisher’s business model and a mobile one, build a digital strategy, understand the ins and outs of content production, etc. The Esports Business ISDE Master program aims to transmit to students this knowledge, allowing them to contribute to esports after graduation.

“WePlay Holding seizes every opportunity to support the development of esports, especially when it comes to education. We are looking forward to the start of the course and are ready to make every effort to nurture the future aces of the industry,” says Oleh Humeniuk, CEO of the WePlay Holding esports group.
“In esports as any other field, something more than talent and vocation is needed. Training and study are important to stand out. Not any training, not with anyone. You need to be trained by the best with the most appropriate method. ISDE and WePlay Holding are going to provide it, only to those who really want to make out of the esports business their living and turn their Passion into a Career,” shares Alejandro Martín, Head of Admissions Department at ISDE.

The ISDE program isn’t the first educational project for WePlay Holding. In 2021, WePlay Esports, the flagship company of WePlay Holding, jointly with Kyiv National I.K. Karpenko-Kary Theater, Cinema, and Television University, launched the Computer Graphics Film Director course.

Esports education programs channel the fans’ creativity and enthusiasm into a vocation. WePlay Holding prides itself on the opportunity to support initiatives that popularize esports and develop the industry with the help of up-and-coming talents.

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