ESforce Holding: Summing Up 2019
ESforce Holding — the largest esports organization in Russia, CIS, and Eastern Europe — announces the summary of 2019. This year, all holding’s business departments demonstrated robust growth. EPICENTER series tournaments, RuHub studio broadcasts, Cybersport.ru media and Virtus.pro professional team have set a series of all-time high metrics. ESforce team was joined by 55 new professionals, including a few top-managers. ESforce has significantly expanded its partner and sponsor pool in 2019, and the holding’s projects have claimed multiple prestigious awards.
We are listing the year’s summary in every ESforce Holding business direction below.
Epic Esports Events Tournament Organizer
Epic Esports Events specializes in hosting international esports competitions and is the organizer of the CIS’ largest tournament series — the EPICENTER — in Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
In 2019 Epic Esports Events held two flagship tournaments of the EPICENTER series including the second major Dota 2 tournament in Russia (the first was held in 2018 entitled EPICENTER XL). EPICENTER Major 2019 final stage that took place on 28-30 June in Moscow’s “CSKA Arena” became the most-watched Major stage of the DPC 2018-2019 season. The final view’s count of EPICENTER Major across multiple streaming platforms exceeded 46 Million (Chinese audience not estimated), with the tournament’s final stage gathering more than 15 million unique viewers.
EPICENTER Major was deemed “The Best Esports Event” by BISPO Awards 2019 — a Russian independent award for sports business and effective management of sports projects. The tournament was also a finalist in the nominations “Best Innovative Technological Solution in Sports” and “Best Professional Sports Event”.
Besides the flagship EPICENTER series, Epic Esports Events organized a series of tournaments and esports events on a “turnkey” basis for the holding’s clients and partners, such as Adrenaline Cyber League and Parimatch League series, esports competitions in Russia and Europe as part of KFC Battle project, CIS regional qualifiers for the international series Auto Chess Invitational 2019, as well as “Superstomp on top” for MegaFon.
Epic Esports Events’ projects claimed the 2019 Effie Awards, Eventex Awards, and Sport Leaders Awards.
RuHub Broadcast Studio
RuHub is a key media content producer for esports audience and the largest Russian-speaking esports studio in the world.
In 2019, RuHub Studio covered more than 47 tournaments, the most popular among them: DreamLeague Season 11: The Stockholm Major, MDL Disneyland® Paris Major, EPICENTER Major 2019, MDL Chengdu Major, IEM Katowice Major 2019, as well as Fortnite World Cup 2019 main stage and Dota 2’s The International 2019 qualifiers.
According to an esports business news portal Esports Observer data for May 2019, RuHub studio esports broadcasts of Dota 2 were the most-watched worldwide on the Twitch streaming platform. These metrics allowed the studio to overtake the most popular streamer in the world, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, in popularity. Furthermore, RuHub’s streams made it to the top-10 most-watched channels in the world in the first half of 2019. Previously, no Russian-speaking Twitch-channel managed to score high enough in the half-year and above ranking.
According to an analytics portal SullyGnome.com, RuHub’s Dota 2 channel was the most popular Russian-speaking Twitch channel of 2019. The second place also went to another RuHub channel dedicated to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
In 2019, the viewers have spent more than 77 million cumulative hours watching RuHub studio streams.
Virtus.pro Esports Club
Virtus.pro is the most titled esports club in Russia. The club’s lineups are the six-time champions of Major-class international series in Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and other disciplines. At the moment, the club has rosters in four disciplines: Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and Apex Legends.
In 2019, the total sum of winnings earned by Virtus.pro throughout its existence exceeded $13.8 million, elevating the club to the 6th place in the worldwide winnings ranking. The club’s Dota 2 team was the winner of Adrenaline Cyber League 2019 and the Parimatch League Season One series.
In addition, Virtus.pro completed the update of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. 2019 marked the most massive player transfer in the history of CIS esports as AVANGAR CS:GO roster transfers under Virtus.pro tag.
Virtus.pro yet again proves its status as not only the most titled esports club of Russia, but also with the greatest media-ability: the players of Dota 2, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive rosters took part in the country’s main evening show — “Vecherny Urgant” — three times. Furthermore, the club launched an official account on the Chinese social media platform Weibo in 2019.
Sergey Glamazda, former new verticals director at the Russian office of the global analytics and consulting company Nielsen (part of S&P 500), will take the helm of the Virtus.pro club starting from 2020.
Cybersport.ru is the largest Russian-speaking media dedicated to esports. The portal covers everything related to esports and its key disciplines and highlights main esports events in CIS and worldwide.
In 2019, Cybersport.ru broke its records in audience count eight times. The average unique monthly audience grew by 85% compared to 2018 results and now exceeds 2.57 million, with the growth rate dramatically increasing in the second half of the year. The daily average also increased by 50% and now amounts to 152 thousand users.
Interestingly, the ratio of the website’s mobile users increased to 69%, and the number of viewers “under the age of 18” dropped by 6% and now equals to 14%.
Cybersport.ru visit count peaked in August (2.93 million) due to Dota 2 world championship — The International — taking place in Shanghai, and November (2.94 million) due to a massive patch release for Dota 2. Daily audience records were recorded in August. Mediaportal broke records 5 times during The International, finally peaking at 385 400 unique users on 25 August during the event’s grand final.
In 2019, Cybersport.ru became the best “newcomer” of the “top-100 viral Russian-speaking media resources” rating by Brand Analytics by debuting straight at 68th position in the ranking. Its neighbors were Championat.com (67th place) and the Official Website of the President of Russia (69th place).
Esports and Entertainment Complex Yota Arena
Yota Arena is the biggest esports and entertainment complex in Russia. The venue hosts esports tournaments event as well as business and entertainment ventures. The complex includes a PC cafe Cyber Loft which updated its game room PCs, monitors, chairs, and accessories. Yota Arena and Cyber Loft were the shooting locations for the “Vecherny Urgant” episodes with Virtus.pro players.
In 2019, Yota Arena hosted 75 massive events. Among them are esports and gaming competitions (championships and cups of the Russian Esports Federation, Warface Open Cup: Season XII international series, Red Bull Rubik’s Cube Speedcubing World Championship), product reveals (the official Mortal Kombat 11 reveal in Russia, Honor 8X smartphone reveal, ASUS ZenFone smartphone series reveal), business events (Russian Sponsorship Forum, Cryptonite Startup Challenge, Uganda EXPO 2019), and others.
ESforce Creative and Sales Agency
ESforce holding operates a “single-window agency” that includes full esports market expertise and the experience of working with world-level customers. The agency specializes in creating and implementing sponsorship and advertisement campaigns on a turnkey basis: from esports strategy development to practical sponsorship activation utilizing the holding’s media resources on the territory of Russia and abroad.
In October 2019, Sergey Barkhudaryan, the former CEO of Publicis Sport & Entertainment (a member of one of the largest advertisement holdings in the world — Publicis Groupe) became the commercial director of ESforce.
In 2019, three esports marketing campaigns implemented by ESforce became the finalists of the Russian stage of the Effie Awards. In “Sponsorship” nomination: a massive esports campaign by MegaFon titled “Esports starts with you”, and integration of a premium fuel brand G-Drive by “Gazpromneft” into EPICENTER series. In “Campaigns with a single communications channel”: a special project by Acuvue contact lenses brand with awards for The International series highlights. The MegaFon project ultimately claimed the Effie bronze award.
38 companies and world-renowned brands became the sponsors and media partners of ESforce across all business vectors in 2019. Esports’ communications platform sparked the interest of companies in the following industries: food and beverage services, automobile industry, pharmacy, financial services, FMCG, telecommunications, entertainment, IT and Computer Hardware, betting. Among them are KFC, Parimatch, “Goryachaya Shtuchka” (ABI Product), Picnic and TUC (Mondelez), Adrenaline (Pepsi), Mercedes-Benz, MegaFon, SAP, Head & Shoulders and Gillette (P&G), Disney, “Amediateka”, and others.
Emin Antonyan, CEO of ESforce Holding:
“2019 marked the moment we finally exceeded the rank of a startup — be it with an huge resource pool — and turned into a massive, stable company. This means that we established all organizational processes, founded communications channels within the company, created a robust customer service, found a balance between the pure enthusiasm and business-effectiveness. Thanks to all this, we have demonstrated amazing results all across the board.
In 2019, we identified our core values: people, technologies, and expertise. These are the values we do possess, therefore, we can enter 2020 with absolute confidence”.