US Army Esports Stops Streaming After Violations

Screen Rant: “After a series of seemingly nefarious actions, the US Army Esports team has reportedly paused all interaction on their social media platforms, including streaming Twitch. The U.S. Army and Navy Esports teams have been under fire for conning young teens into signing up for military contracts, and the former has most recent come under scrutiny for banning viewers from commenting on their Twitch channels for dissenting, a potentially unconstitutional act.”

“In mid-July, the U.S. Army Esports team came under heavy scrutinization after it was reported that they had been banning viewers who asked about war crimes. The backlash they faced came from viewers who claimed their First Amendment rights of free speech had been violated, since the U.S. Army Esports team is a government entity and was censoring US citizens in its stream chat. Their second offense was when viewers discovered a series of fake giveaways running on their social media pages. The fake links led people to an army recruitment site that provided no further mention of the supposed giveaway.”

“Esports insider Rod Breslau posted a tweet claiming that “sources” had told him that the US Army Esports team has paused all social media activity due to the recent influx of negative media coverage.”

Mid-Atlantic Conference Announces New League For Esports

ESPN: “Aiming to recruit and engage more competitive video gamers, a dozen schools in the Mid-American Conference are creating a stand-alone esports conference to offer structured competition without the extensive rules that govern intercollegiate athletics.”

“That means the teams can enlist not just amateur players but a type prohibited in traditional college sports: competitors who already turned pro or made money from gaming, sometimes as teenagers years before college.”

“There’s boatloads of kids out there that want to do this — well, they’re doing it already,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. “And so to have some level of organization that provides for regular competitive opportunities that are well-run, on a regular basis, we think will give our schools a leg up in terms of attracting these students to their campuses.”

Daniel Abt Caught Cheating, Suspended by Audi Formula E

Bleacher Report: “The Audi Formula E team has suspended driver Daniel Abt for cheating during an esports charity race over the weekend.”

“Audi announced Abt’s punishment in an official statement on Tuesday, via ESPN.com: “Daniel Abt did not drive his car in qualifying and the race at the fifth event of the Race at Home Challenge on May 23 himself, but let a professional sim-racer do so. He directly apologised for this on the following day and accepted the disqualification.”

“Per Alan Baldwin of Reuters, Abt used professional gamer Lorenz Hoerzing as his ringer during Sunday’s Race at Home Challenge event.” 

Gambling on Esports Begins to Climb

Sports Illustrated: “The NBA and MLB are trying—but largely failing—to capture the attention of sport-deprived fans through esports tournaments featuring professional basketball and baseball players competing as themselves in NBA2K or MLB: The Show. Meanwhile, esports leagues with real, professional gamers like the Call of Duty League (CDL) and Overwatch League (OWL) are quickly becoming more of a preferred option for people to watch and wager on while the nation is sheltering in place.”

“Gambling on esports continues to skyrocket while gambling on more traditional professional sports has plummeted after the NBA, MLB, and NHL regular seasons were all postponed and March Madness was canceled due to COVID-19. Sportsbooks are feeling the pain of not having sports in action. In fact, Nevada sportsbooks had a 96% loss in revenue for the month of March compared to both February 2020 and March 2019.”

“The Nevada Gaming Board just allowed sportsbooks to start offering odds on the Call of Duty League on April 17.”

Twitch’s New Esports Directory Allows Easier Navigating For New Viewers

TechCrunch: “Twitch is doubling down on esports in this new era of social distancing as a number of traditional sporting events have been cancelled. The company this week introduced a new esports directory on its site that will make it easier for viewers to find live matches, information on players, games with active competition leagues, a directory of players and more.”

“The goal, Twitch says, is on making Twitch easier to navigate with regard to this sort of gaming content — particularly at a time when its site is seeing a surge of growth due to the COVID-19 lockdown. According to a recent report from Streamlabs, the pandemic has since pushed Twitch to reach all-time highs for hours watched, hours streamed and average concurrent viewership in the first quarter of 2020.”

“Notably, it surpassed 3 billion hours watched for the first time — a significant milestone.”

Esports on the Rise While Traditional Sports go on Hiatus

Variety: “Across the globe, live sports have been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. The shutdown leaves inevitable gaps in programming — and sports fans looking to scratch that competitive itch have lost their favorite pastimes as they spend weeks self-isolating.”

“As the quarantine drags on, however, the gaming and esports scene has risen to the challenge of filling that void. The numbers speak for themselves: According to a study by Streamlabs and Stream Hatchet, in the first quarter of 2020, Twitch reached all-time highs for hours watched, hours streamed and average concurrent viewership.”

“Fans of esports — and perhaps those deprived of traditional sports looking for competitive entertainment — are turning out in swelling numbers to catch the action.”

12 Hours of Esports Set to Air on ESPN

The Verge: “ESPN is set to air 12 hours of esports coverage on April 5th, turning to NBA 2K, Madden NFL 20, and Rocket League tournaments to fill the programming void left behind by traditional sports leagues going on hiatus.”

“Esports has grown considerably over the last few years, but the industry has seen a surge in interest over the last few weeks. Craig Levine, global chief strategy officer for the CS:GO ESL Pro League, previously told The Verge that ‘as other sports and entertainment have gone dark, we’ve probably inadvertently benefited.'”

“Twitch, one of the main platforms for streaming, has seen an impressive growth as more people spend time at home. The platform went from 982 million hours watched in February to over 1.1 billion hours in March, according to livestreaming tools and services provider StreamElements. That’s a 20 percent growth in viewership. Having pro athletes compete in virtual tournaments, and bringing their fans to sites like Twitch, is a win.”

Inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Race Becomes Most-Watched Esports TV Show to Date

Engadget: “NASCAR and Fox Sports might have started airing virtual races out of pandemic-induced necessity, but it appears their efforts paid off. Fox has revealed that the inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race on March 22nd drew 903,000 viewers on FS1, making it the highest-rated esports TV program to date. It was also the most-watched broadcast on FS1 since mass sports event cancellations on March 12th and the most-watched sports broadcast on cable that Sunday, although those last two feats weren’t too difficult given the dearth of live sports.”

“There’s little doubt that NASCAR and Fox had the advantages of both an audience with nowhere to go as well as a bevy of real-world pro drivers, including race winner Denny Hamlin. Viewership might not have been what it was otherwise. All the same, this does show that people are willing to watch esports on TV in large numbers given the right circumstances, and suggests that more than a few people got their first taste of competitive gaming this past weekend.”

Overwatch Collegiate Clash Presents $40,000 in Esports Scholarships

Engadget: “There’s certainly an active Overwatch college esports scene, but it can be difficult for a player to stand out and turn pro when there are hundreds of schools. Activision Blizzard, Torque and UMG might have a way for serious players to shine. They’re launching an Overwatch Collegiate Clash series that will have college competitive teams square off for a chance at both recognition and a total $40,000 in esports scholarships. The eight-week series will have eight teams face each other per week, with a final round pitting the winning teams against each other.”