We’re starting the New Year off with a new look. But obviously you’re still here just to read about the news, so that hasn’t changed. Read more.

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You may have already made the astute observation that our newsletter looks quite different. That’s because it is. We’ve been working in the background for several weeks now with a new email campaign service that offers greater versatility with the editing and layout capabilities of our newsletter. And we’ve taken great advantage of that increased functionality.

Moving forward, you can expect to continue to see this new look. And it will continue to evolve with time as we come up with more ideas for how to change things up. We hope you like it and we’re excited to see what else 2020 has in store for all of us!

But still, what a great way to start off the new year, right?!

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Mobile games are on the rise in the esports industry with more than two billion people worldwide playing mobile titles for a generated $152.1 billion in revenue. Competitive games are among the more popular of these platforms. Tencent reigns above all with the majority of competitive games fitting into the MOBA and battle royale genres.

Wangzhe Rongyao (Kings of Glory): This is one of the biggest mobile games in China. It was first released in 2015 amid the craze for League of Legends and similar MOBA games. By 2017, it boasted 200 million players and 80 million daily active users. The World Championship Cup took place last August and brought together 12 teams from across Asia to face off over the $4.5 million prize pool.

Gerna Free Fire: This game first came into existence December 2017 and has grown to generate more than $1 billion in revenue just in a single month. In November the World Series finals were hosted in Rio de Janeiro and teams competed for a $200,000 first-place prize pool. The event peaked at over two million simultaneous viewers and averaged 1.2 million viewers, a record for the game.

Clash Royale: This easy-to-learn and hard-to-master game has gained significant popularity over the years. In 2019, the League World Finals peaked at over 13,000 viewers and had a $400,000 prize pool. Despite being one of the biggest competitive mobile games of 2019, its growth has slowed significantly versus previous years.

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang: This game first released in Southeast Asia in July 2016. It quickly boomed to 500 million registered players and 75 million active players. It wasn’t until 2019 when the developer stepped up and had its first world championship, which attracted a peak viewership of 650,000 people, much of which came from Indonesia.

PUBG Mobile: This game is the king of battle royale mobile games and may yet surpass the popularity of the PC version. The Fall Split Global Finals had a peak viewership of 525,000 people and boasts a player base of 600 million users, which may make 2020 an even better year for the game. The game plans on having more than $5 million in prize pools for competitions next year in addition to adding circuits to build path-to-pro ways for amateur players.

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Apple is reportedly working on a new Mac machine that will focus on gaming and is expected to release in 2020. Reports suggest that it will compete against high-end pre-built gaming PCs and will cost up to $5,000. The price isn’t terribly surprising given Apple’s proclivity toward charging ridiculous prices for hardware.

This new gaming machine will be aimed at the esports market, which is an interesting shift given that Apple has has zero interest in the market until now. This is also heavily dependent on esports games supporting MacOS, which isn’t terribly common in the first place.

In addition to the high price, the leak indicates that “it may be a large-screen all-in-one (AIO) or a large-screen gaming laptop.” More details are expected at Apples Global Developer Conference (WWDC) next June.

Image via TMZ Sports


According to FaZe Clan co-owner Apex, esports professional players are not immune from injury. Just because players sit in comfy chairs, this doesn’t mean they’ll never get hurt. In an interview with TMZ Sports, he expounded on how video game injuries are a real thing.

Carpal tunnel: This is the most common of injuries. To avoid this, many players develop stretching routines with their hands and go through a series of “warm-ups” to make sure they don’t succumb to this problem. Apex indicated that one of his gamers had to sit out for several months due to the injury and couldn’t play.

Hands are livelihood: Some players have even had hand surgeries that resulted in an end for their professional career. Recovery is never guaranteed and without the right therapy, players can end up worse off than before.


Image via Blizzard


For players that have been with this game since the beginning (like us), it may come as a shock that Hearthstone will celebrate its 6th birthday in 2020. This simple card game has withstood the test of time with surprising resilience and continues to draw a large audience of players daily in spite of the numerous other games that continue pop up.

A well-developed game: The team developing Hearthstone (aka “Team 5” internally) keeps ahead of the live game by about a year. So when one expansion releases, the next one is almost entirely completed and the one after is in concept stage. So when individuals leave the team, like Ben Brode, Yong Woo, and Hamilton Chu did in 2018, the effects aren’t truly felt until a year later. 2019 was heavy content-wise, featuring three expansions released across 12 months. The story told across these expansions added a fun narrative, but developers still had more in store structurally for the game.

Then came Battlegrounds: Tavern Brawls was the last game mode introduced in 2015, so it came as something of a welcome surprise when they introduced Battlegrounds. To returning players, Tavern Brawl was the least appealing part of the game. Players hoped to see a tournament mode introduced, but Blizzard announced that said mode had been shelved indefinitely. But not entirely. There was an explosive rise in autobattlers and made the development team ask the question what an autobattler would be like in Hearthstone. Then Battlegrounds was born, which has since attracted many players to the game, new and old alike.

Esports changes: Hearthstone changed a lot as an esport this year. It started with the end of the Masters System, a competitive structure that was both unsustainable and exhausting for players and viewers alike. The World Championship (technically for 2018) happened in April 2019 and was incredibly satisfying, but was followed up by the introduction of a very contrarian Hearthstone Grandmasters. This new format went against the open grassroots system Blizzard normally used that allowed anyone to work their way up to the tournament scene. Grandmasters allowed each region autonomy, except for eight players invited to a region’s Grandmaster division based solely on 2018 results. The other eight were invited based on prize money earned, or the arbitrarily phrased “legends spot,” which was more of a popularity contest. This had a damaging effect on viewership for the Grandmasters Global Finals at BlizzCon, averaging 40,000 viewers, versus 100,000 for the previous World Championship.


Image via University of California


Whether colleges and universities are handed a blank check or have to cobble together the funds to create an esports team, there is no single way to build a team. One could always buy the biggest and best machines on the market, or give students the opportunity to build their own rigs and give them a sense of ownership. Schools across the nation are finding and adopting traditions as they build their infrastructure and technology into full-blown esports facilities.

1. Don’t lock the infrastructure down
Some universities maintain a DIY philosophy and have the students assemble the technology and equipment given them, such as the gaming machines or even their chairs. While the temptation may exist to lock down this technology and keep students from messing with things, other universities adopt a more permissive approach, which encourages students to install new games, learn how to maintain drivers on the computer, and so on.

2. Find a home wired for esports technology
When an esports program is first started, the institute will try to outfit the team with the technology needed to compete. But key to this is an ideal location that is suited to addressing the technology’s needs. This means finding a location with sufficient bandwidth, electrical power, and internet capabilities not slowed down by the campus network.

3. Make the arena generate revenue
Winning tournaments isn’t the only way to make an esports program profitable. Some universities put together arenas that other students can attend and watch events as they’re broadcasted. Additionally, some campuses allow students to use gaming PCs for an hourly fee so that the devices can still generate revenue from regular use. Then there’s the opportunity to find sponsors that will provide equipment.

4. Keep mobility in mind with hardware
When first setting up an esports facility, there is significant work involved with moving in and setting up the equipment, such as chairs, monitors, keyboards, and desks. But these need to be somewhat mobile as students will need to adjust layouts when new game teams are formed, when they need to take equipment to events, and so on.


We’re giving away a free gaming backpack every Tuesday to people who sign up here.

To start, you’ll get three entries in the drawing. Want more? Then refer friends, follow us on social media, and more.