- Mattel, Inc has announced the UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament to be held in Las Vegas on November 11.
- The grand prize is $50,000 USD and the ‘honor of being crowned the first official UNO World Champion’.
- The event will be held at the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas inside the Luxor Hotel & Casino with extensive streaming coverage available worldwide.
You’ve no doubt heard of the card game UNO. It’s now a huge game but like many games it had a very inauspicious beginning in the Cincinnati suburb of Reading, Ohio back in 1971. It was invented by a guy named Merle Robbins who spent $8,000 to have 5,000 copies of the game made. He later sold the rights to a group headed by Joliet, Illinois funeral parlor owner Robert Tezak for $50,000 plus royalties of .10 cents per game. Tezak formed International Games, Inc. to market UNO. In 1992, International Games was purchased by toy giant Mattel and that’s when UNO *really* began to blow up.
Today, UNO has produced so many theme decks, spinoffs and licensed products–including video game, dice and bingo versions–that it’s hard to keep track of them all. You can find what looks to be an exhaustive list here:
The list keeps growing and mutating–for example, in late October Mattel announced a collab between UNO and Nike featuring a product line developed in coordination with NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (who is apparently a fan of the game). The full collab includes shoes, apparel and a themed UNO deck.
As you’d expect, accurate sales data is difficult to find but according to several UNO fan websites the game has sold more than 150 million copies in 80 million countries worldwide. You can find the rules to many UNO variations as well as ‘Classic Uno’ here:
This product description from the Mattel website should give you a general idea of the gameplay:
UNO® is the classic card game that’s easy to pick up and impossible to put down! Players take turns matching a card in their hand with the current card shown on top of the deck either by color or number. Special action cards deliver game-changing moments as they help you defeat your opponents. These include Skips, Reverses, Draw Twos, Wild and Draw Four Wild cards. You’ll find 25 of each color (red, green, blue, and yellow), eight Wild cards, three Customizable cards and one Special Rule card inside the 112-card deck. If you can’t make a match, you must draw from the central pile! And when you’re down to one card, don’t forget to shout “UNO!” The first player to rid themselves of all the cards in their hand before their opponents wins. It’s Fast Fun for Everyone!
This is the 50th year of UNO and to commemorate the milestone Mattel has launched the first ever UNO Championship Series complete with a naming sponsorship from Mobil 1. The event will crown the first UNO World Champion and where better to do this than Las Vegas?
The event will take place on November 11, 2021 from the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas, located inside Luxor Hotel & Casino and will have plenty of streaming coverage worldwide. Here’s the details of the event from a Mattel, Inc. press release:
Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) announced today that select fans will compete at the first-ever official UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament powered by Mobil 1 in Las Vegas, NV on November 11. Viewers from around the world can watch live on the UNO TikTok channel starting at 6:00 pm PST as the finalists compete for a grand prize of $50,000* and the honor of being crowned the first official UNO World Champion.
Earlier this summer, nearly 2 million fans participated in the UNO Mobile Tournament and battled it out in over 28MM matches to win in-app and other prizes. Select participants of the UNO Mobile Tournament, 10 players from the UNO 50th Anniversary Instant Win Sweepstakes, and a few special UNO fans have been invited to play in the UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament. It all comes to a head on November 11, as players compete in high-stakes UNO elimination games for the chance to win a coveted seat at the table for the Finale game.
Produced by AE Studios, the content development, storytelling and production services division of esports entertainment company Allied Esports, the tournament and event broadcast will be livestreamed on the new UNO TikTok channel and featured on the app’s “Discover Page” starting at 7:00 pm PST. Fans all over the world can tune in as players drop their final cards and yell “UNO!” to win the coveted title of UNO World Champion.
This commemorative year has celebrated the last five decades of UNO with a long list of collaborations spanning the art and fashion world – making it easy for UNO fans everywhere to celebrate their love of the game in style.
You can watch the stream starting at 6:00 PM PST/9:00 PM PST. Here’s what you’ll see:
Finalists will draw their first cards at the HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas, located inside The Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV starting 6:00 pm PST and running through 8:00 pm PST on November 11, 2021. Hosted by UNO fanatic and professional gamer and streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, the tournament will be stacked with sure-to-be-wild fun including:
- On-stream appearances from some of the biggest UNO fans, including Grand-Slam champion Olympic Gold medalist and entrepreneur Venus Williams and more.
- A star-studded, head-to-head exhibition UNO game featuring Ninja, former professional NASCAR driver and commentator Clint Bowyer, singer Ashlee Simpson Ross and more.
- The UNO Heritage Hall, featuring immersive displays of the rarest and most iconic UNO decks and products from the last 50 years.
- A winner-take-all grand finale game where eight players will compete over a final game of UNO to win the title of first-ever UNO World Champion and receive $50,000 – with the top three receiving trophies.
I’m not sure that watching ‘Ninja’ go mano a mano in a game of UNO against a NASCAR driver and Ashlee Simpson is really ‘Must See TV’. More about that in a moment. Here’s the quotes, starting with the naming sponsor. More specifically, Bryce Huschka, North America consumer marketing manager for ExxonMobil, talking about Mobil 1’s involvement:
“The Mobil 1 team is thrilled to partner with Mattel for this unique consumer experience celebrating a half century of the iconic family card game, UNO. Mobil 1, the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, strives to partner with other industry leaders to give fans one-of-a-kind experiences that can be valued and cherished for years to come.”
Ray Adler, Global Head of Mattel Games, says the event is a culmination of an eventful 50th Anniversary year:
“The 50th anniversary of UNO has been nothing short of wild. We’ve introduced new products, cultivated new partnerships, and created new experiences to bring together fans from all over the world, and crowning the first official UNO World Champion on 11/11 is a perfect culmination. Seeing thousands of our passionate fans come together from across the globe over their love of UNO is a testament to the power of this simple and universal game that transcends languages and cultures.”
It doesn’t appear that everyone is on the same page when it comes to promoting the UNO Championship event. Aside from this press release that I randomly received there’s not many details that can be found on any of the relevant websites–Mattel, UNO, HyperX Esports Arena, Allied ESports (HyperX Arena’s parent company), Luxor Las Vegas, MGM Resorts, ExxonMobil, or Mobil1. There’s some coverage on the UNO 50th Anniversary website but most of the links don’t work.
The UNO 50th site did answer I question that I had after reading the press release–who, exactly, will be competing for the UNO World Championship? The press release makes it sound like it’s some combination of tournament winners and random UNO fans. It’s at least somewhat explained on the UNO 50th site but not really. It looks like there are 10 UNO Instant Win Sweepstakes winners in the tournament, 64 players and 16 substitutes from a global mobile tournament, and an indeterminate number from ‘Local Uno Tournaments’. At least I guess there are some from ‘local UNO tournaments’–the website at least mentions that they exist and that ‘exciting UNO prizes’ are up for grabs.
The only thing under the big banner for the ‘UNO Championship Series Vegas Invitational Tournament’ suggests that we’re back to a bunch of randos battling it out:
Select fans from around the world will be invited to an in-person celebratory event taking place on November 11, 2021 (11.11.21) in Las Vegas, NV to compete for the grand prize of $50,000**
I’m actually the type of person that would be predisposed to watch the live UNO event but I have no clue as to a) the format of the World Championship or, for that matter, b) what the hell I’ll see when I tune in to the live stream–other than ‘Ninja’ v. Clint Bowyer v. Ashlee Simpson. Why isn’t any of the other companies involved promoting this event or even acknowledging that it is happening? The HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas schedule says nothing about ‘UNOMANIA’, but instead says that the ‘Arena is Closed Due to a Private Event’.
You’ll find nothing about the UNO Championships on the HyperX LV Instagram account, the Allied Esports Twitch channel, the HyperX LV Twitter account, the Allied Esports Twitter account, the HyperX LV Facebook fan page or the Allied ESports FB fan page. Nothing on the Luxor or MGM Resorts social media accounts either. There was a Tweet dated August 21 on the Mobil 1 Twitter account but it didn’t give any info–just a link to the aforementioned ‘Instant Win Sweepstakes.
It gets worse–the Mattel FB fan page has some UNO content but nothing about the November 11 tournament. The Mattel Twitter account has a RT of the UNO Twitter account from September 22–but like the Mobil 1 Tweet it only plugs the link to the ‘Instant Win Sweepstakes’. The biggest failure–the press release sends us to the official UNO IG, Facebook and Twitter for more updates but none are to be found there. The last IG post making reference to the World Championship is August 30. Some hyperlinks in the press release would have been nice but none were included:
This is all really elementary ‘PR 101’ type stuff. It would have been easy to get some cross promotion going, give us some clarity on the format and at the very least make sure that the UNO social media accounts had been updated with the 411 on the event before the press release went out. They could have just copied the PR playbook used by the Drone Racing League–they do an excellent job. They’re not going to get much media coverage if *they* can’t even figure out what is going on.