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Kansas City Pioneers teams up with PLLAY Labs

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North American esports organisation the Kansas City Pioneers has announced a partnership with AI-driven video game wager and data platform PLLAY Labs.

As part of the deal, the two entities will collaborate on multiple projects to enhance fan monetisation and engagement experiences across different avenues.

Kansas City Pioneers logo
Image credit: Kansas City Pioneers

RELATED: Kansas City Pioneers announces Jack Stack Barbecue partnership

According to the release, the partnership is based on creating and delivering technology, experiences and content that ‘resonates not only with esports fans but with casual amateur gamers’.

Mark Josey, CEO of the Kansas City Pioneers, commented: “As an entertainment and media company, we strive to build and create unique moments for our community. Our partnership with PLLAY is the first of its kind and will be a trendsetter for other sports organisations.

“We know our community loves competition between our professional teams but also competitions between themselves. PLLAY is a perfect fit for our Pioneers community, [so] look forward to our upcoming activations stemming across new gaming spaces.”

Moreover, the two companies have detailed that the fan experiences will range from online and live events to amplified content creation. The deal will also allow both partners to leverage the utility of the PLLAY wagering and token economy to drive NFT activations for gaming fans worldwide.

Shawn Gunn, Co-founder and CEO at PLLAY, added: “At PLLAY, we’ve long believed that giving professional and casual gamers the ability to control and monetise their own gameplay is the entertainment and competition of the future.

“We share a culture of innovation and a strong sense of inclusive community — the KC Pioneers are challenging not only what it means to be an esports athlete but changing the way organisations are connecting with their fans.”

RELATED: Sporting Kansas City FC and KC Pioneers announce partnership

Esports Insider says: KC Pioneers is set on further connecting esports and technology through offering monetisation opportunities to its fans. Such opportunities are usually possible through NFT activations, which seem to be the latest trend in esports. It’ll be interesting to see what the KC Pioneers and PLLAY will bring to the current NA esports scene.

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Troubled waters: The NLC is struggling to stay afloat after Riot’s sweeping changes to EMEA

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Before the new year begins, Riot Games revealed an entire treasure chest of changes headed to the European League of Legends scene, including a regional name change, new formats for the LEC, and a new ecosystem for tier two organizations. One league, however, is struggling to tread in these new waters: the NLC.

NLC teams are reportedly struggling to find funding and sponsors for the 2023 season due to the unstable situation in the league, according to independent journalist Brieuc Seeger. Recently, multiple major esports teams have pulled out of the league, including Excel Esports and Dusty Esports. Bifrost has also reportedly parted ways with all of its League staff, according to Seeger.

The league has been running since 2020, and has featured the Academy teams of several major European esports organizations, like Excel Esports, Astralis, and Fnatic. After an unsuccessful year in terms of finances, however, the NLC was forced to downsize its entire operation and become a non-accredited league. As a result, Seeger also said that sponsors are now hesitant to fund the league, especially after the NLC’s prize money and stipends were reduced from 200,000 to 45,000.

Related: LEC is getting a new look in 2023: Riot introduces 3 splits and over 300 games

“We tried our best throughout the year but sadly, we did not hit our partnership goals due to the current market situation,” the NLC said in a statement. “As such, it is no longer financially viable to continue at the level at which we have been operating. Therefore we have to take a step back for 2023 to establish an alternative path to lead the NLC into the future.”

There will be two splits in the year, one pro-am tournament called the Aurora Cup, and there will be eight or 10 teams competing in 2023, depending on the feedback from the teams. If the situation worsens, however, the NLC might need some major help in the coming months if this league wants to survive the new year.



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Doubling down on Matthews: TSM adds Ari and Whitemon to Dota 2 roster

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TSM’s Dota 2 roster has been going through major changes after the team’s disappointing run at The International 2022. Earlier in the roster shuffle season, TSM parted ways with Dubu, moved MoonMeander to the coach position, and the organization announced Matthew “Ari” Walker and Matthew “Whitemon” Filemon would take on their mantle.

In addition to Evil Geniuses moving to South America, TSM’s latest roster move is one of the most intriguing in the North American Dota 2 region. Not only did the team bring in two talents from two different parts of the world, but the roster got dramatically younger in the process.

MoonMeander and Dubu are 30 and 29 years old, respectively, while Ari is 19 and Whitemon is 22. With MoonMeander moving to a coaching position, it looks like TSM decided to bring in young talent in the hopes of developing them in NA.

Despite his young age, Whitemon has been a part of strong rosters in SEA like Geek Fam and T1. Ari, on the other hand, was only beginning to participate in the Dota Pro Circuit, as he only previously played with Into The Breach. Ari’s resume might look a little short in Dota for now, but his past speaks volumes.

Ari is a former Heroes of the Storm professional player who made the transition to Dota 2 in 2019 after HotS scrapped its esports scene. Only two years after making the switch, Ari reached 9,000 MMR and 11,000 MMR in 2022. His ability to learn rapidly and improve in an unmatched speed were recognized by other European talents, and Ari made it to the TI11 WEU qualifiers with Into The Breach, finishing fourth.

With TSM’s roster getting even younger, it will be up to coach MoonMeander to shape the hot-blooded talent into the best versions of themselves. The current iteration of TSM features:

  • Enzo “Timado” O’Connor
  • Jonathan “Bryle” Guia
  • Jonáš “SabeRLight-” Volek
  • Matthew “Ari” Walker
  • Matthew “Whitemon” Filemon

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OpTic Hitch Reveals $100k ‘Warzone World Classic’ Tournament

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On Twitter, OpTic Hitch has revealed the Warzone World Classic tournament, a $100,000 event that will take place between the 6th and 7th of December. It’s an event that will be backed by Team Summertime, the same team that was responsible for the Black Ops II throwback tournament that took place in October 2022. Reportedly, thirty-two countries will be represented at the Warzone World Classic, which in a way is an attempt to mirror the FIFA World Cup, which is currently live.

While OpTic Hitch was the one to break the news regarding this tournament, there’s no sign that it’s at all related to OpTic as an organisation. In November, just after the game dropped, OpTic Texas held the first-ever North American Warzone 2.0 tournament, which also boasted a prize pool worth $100,000. As fans are waiting for news regarding the 2023 World Series of Warzone tournament, events like these are pivotal to maintaining the game’s esports scene.

The Warzone World Classic is a Global Event

Admittedly, not much is known about the Warzone World Classic, aside from the date, prize pool, and the number of competitors. However, information hasn’t been provided clearing up whether those countries are being represented by individuals or by squads. Regardless, some of the best Call of Duty players in the world have already shown an interest in representing their country at the event.

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