This week in esports: Tencent, Audi and NA LCS

It has been a busy time in the world of esports again this week, with Riot confirming each of the NA LCS teams for the upcoming season and confirming initial reports of a few weeks back. News has now emerged of an ultimatum made by Riot regarding conflicts of interest in team ownership. Elsewhere, Audi have partnered up with Astralis once more and will have their logo on the shirts permanently. In China, Tencent has secured exclusive rights to PUBG and is vowing to combat cheaters as well as ensure the game doesn’t get banned by the government. 

Three teams handed one-year NA LCS ultimatum

Riot Games has reportedly handed a one-year ultimatum for three teams caught in an ownership conflict. Cloud9, Team Liquid, and the Golden State Warriors – the NBA giants behind the new organisation Golden Guardians – have been asked to resolve certain conflicts of interest by next November, according to SportsBusiness Journal and ESPN.

Riot’s ruleset in place for the North American League of Legends Championship Series prevents multiple teams in the league from sharing the same owners.

“No team owner or team manager or affiliate of an owner may own or control, directly or indirectly, or have a direct (e.g., ownership) or indirect (e.g., a contractual arrangement) financial interest, or be an employee or contractor of, more than one League of Legends team in a professional esports league.”

The dispute arose when GSW Esports LLC, the company behind the Warriors, was granted a franchise spot in the NA LCS for future splits. The company is a subsidiary of GSW Sports Ventures LLC, which reportedly includes ‘several owners’ who are also invested in fellow franchise holders Team Liquid and Cloud9. The result is a direct infringement on Riot’s official rules.

Two of those currently on the wrong side of the ruling are Peter Guber and Kirk Lacob, who act as co-managing partner and assistant GM of the Warriors respectively. The pair are both a part of aXiomatic, who acquired a controlling interest in Team Liquid in September 2016.

Read the full article here.

Tencent secures exclusive rights for PUBG in China

Gaming giant Tencent has secured the rights to operate PUBG in China after partnering with game developer Bluehole.

In doing so, Tencent has endeavoured to curb cheating and ensure the game does not get shut down by the Chinese government, following reports that the game was “too bloody” and counter to “traditional socialist core values” as reported by VentureBeat last month. 

The popularity of PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds has been well documented, with the game having sold over 20,000,000 copies despite being in early access. The game’s popularity is not limited to the West, and it’s already very popular in China although one glance at the leaderboards goes to tell a story regarding the rampant cheating problem. 

Tencent will work with developer Bluehole to ensure the game is compliant with local regulation and it doesn’t face risk of a ban. It’s also well known that Tencent takes cheating very seriously and has developed fantastic anti-cheat software in the past so one would assume that will also be at the forefront of the company’s minds. 

Read the full article here.

Astralis and Audi enter permanent partnership 

Credit: Astralis

Following an initial “pilot case” shirt sponsorship in January, Astralis and Audi are back together: this time with a permanent deal.

The deal in January was a three month pilot case which coincided with Astralis’ sensational run to glory at the ELEAGUE Major and was rumoured to be worth in excess of $750,000. Now, following evaluation of the results, the two are back together again and the famous four rings of the German car manufacturer will once again feature on the popular Danish Counter-Strike roster’s jerseys.

The partnership will resume immediately, with an event on November 23rd for fans to be held in Copenhagen where the new jersey will be presented. It’s ahead of the BLAST Pro Series which will see six of the world’s best teams battle it out in Copenhagen in a new, innovative tournament format whereby games are played and broadcast simultaneously in the main arena and fans can effectively choose which one to watch until the playoffs get underway. 

The move to sign a new partnership comes after Nielsen, a company that specialises in sponsorship valuations, found that Audi received more than “ten times its return on sponsorship exposure” during the ELEAGUE Finals and DreamHack Las Vegas tournaments back in January and February. RFRSH Entertainment, has been behind several big deals featuring the CS:GO team and non-endemic sponsors. We’ve seen Astralis pick up the likes of Coco Fuzion, Jack & Jones and PanzerGlass to name but a few. Now Audi are back on the somewhat illustrious list (as far as esports goes). 

Read the full article here.