Pro gaming: A look into the games, athletes and casters of eSports

Evo, tournaments, seasons, Dota, League of Legends, Major League Gaming — we've been in an eSports state of mind at Polygon lately. Check out our StoryStream below for stories that cover everything from Binding of Isaac League Racing to Evo in pictures to eSports' "NASCAR moment."

eSports has its Super Bowl: Here's the good and bad of the League of Legends Championships

SKT T1's dominating victory capped off League of Legends' Season 3 World Championship tournament, in which 14 teams from around the world came to Los Angeles to fight over three weeks for a share of a $2 million cash prize. SKT took home half of that money as the grand champions. It was developer Riot Games' attempt to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that eSports, like professional League, could match the glamour and spectacle of real-world pro sports, and in that regard it certainly came closer than any event before it.

Looking back on the three weeks of competition, it was hard to...

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Virgin Gaming opens subscription-based paid eSports leagues

Competitive gaming outfit Virgin Gaming launched a subscription-based eSports service allowing players to enter into customizable leagues and compete for money, a new level atop its existing free-to-enter, fee-based service, this week.

The eSports field of the gaming industry is growing rapidly, and the world's most skilled players in games like League of Legends are now able to make a living as professional gamers. And there's more money to go around than ever before in eSports. But are players willing to pay a monthly fee, in addition to buying games, for a chance to make some money off...

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How the new League of Legends Challenger league will create a pathway to the pros

Riot is partnering with Coke Zero to run a league for the Challenger tier of competitive play in League of Legends. The yet-unnamed league, which will begin in 2014 in North America and Europe only, will run alongside next year's League Championship Series (LCS) and serve as an entrée into the LCS for the top-ranked Challenger players.

Representatives for Riot and Coke Zero explained to Polygon yesterday how the Challenger tournament is intended to fix a major issue within League competition — and how its role brings League eSports further in line with real sports.

Riot currently...

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League of Legends World Championship viewers guide: the teams, the players, the stories

First, let’s look at the tournament format.

Fourteen teams have qualified from around the world; four of those have been gifted an automatic spot in the quarterfinal round of eight thanks to winning their respective regions. The only regional winner to not receive a quarterfinal bye is the European team Fnatic due to Europe's last-place finish at the All-Star tournament held in Shanghai in May.

The remaining ten teams have been divided into two groups. In the first part of the tournament, the groups will play one another in a round-robin format, with each team playing each other team in...

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A viewer's guide to the League of Legends World Championship

Last year's World Championship set a viewership record of 1.2 million concurrent viewers during the finals, and the All-Star tournament held in Shanghai this past May chalked up 18 million views over the course of the weekend: With those numbers in mind, the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship will almost certainly be the biggest eSports event in history.

The genre, however, is notoriously impenetrable to watch for those who don't play the games. This guide is aimed at hopefully helping you, the curious viewer, understand just what the hell is happening on-screen and why it...

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MOBA, DOTA, ARTS: A brief introduction to gaming's biggest, most impenetrable genre

This past weekend at PAX Prime in Seattle, North America's top professional League of Legends teams fought for the chance to play in this month's World Championship tournament, with newcomers Cloud 9 and Vulcun Techbargains winning big alongside old guard holdout TSM Snapdragon. Starting on Sept. 15, the best teams from all over the world will compete in playoffs leading to the grand finals on Oct. 4 at Los Angeles' Staples Center. Millions of dollars are at stake, and millions of viewers will tune in to watch what might be the biggest eSports event in history.

It's hard to deny that...

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StarCraft 2 'just doesn't fit' in MLG's Nov. Championship

Major League Gaming is "not planning to run" StarCraft 2 at the Pro Circuit Championship in Columbus, Oh. this November, MLG co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni revealed on Twitter this morning.

The tournament, which will run Nov. 22-24, won't feature Blizzard Entertainment's real-time strategy game because it "just doesn't fit into our Cbus plans," DiGiovanni explained in a subsequent tweet.

When asked what MLG's plans look like for the future of competitive StarCraft 2, a spokesperson told Polygon that the organization does "not have any additional information to share at this time."

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MLG's founders on the past, present and future of their real sport

Here's the second: To MLG's founders, there is no fundamental distinction between traditional sports, ground out in lots and fields and stadiums worldwide, and eSports, where players earn bragging rights on digital battlegrounds.

When they were young, they played sports. Before they started MLG, they competed against each other by playing video games. MLG, which is at its core an entity that provides an organizational structure for competitions that take place on millions of consoles and PCs in millions of homes every day, was a natural outgrowth of that competitive spirit.

"It was...

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Becoming the very best: The Pokemon World Championships

According to Nintendo sales figures released this past January, Pokemon Black Version 2 and White Version 2 have sold nearly eight million copies worldwide. Of those millions of players, just three will be crowned as the greatest trainers in the world next month at the Pokemon World Championships in Vancouver, BC.

Getting to that point requires a substantial investment of time and energy from competitors around the world, who work their way up qualifying tournaments held at the regional and national levels. The travel mandated by the process would be taxing for an adult with a steady...

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Opinion: Binding of Isaac League Racing is the secret best thing to happen to eSports

BOILeR stands for Binding of Isaac League Racing. Edmund McMillen's action-adventure roguelike, The Binding of Isaac, is a single-player-only game. It was never intended for competitive play. But BOILeR makes it work.

players could receive any of nearly 200 items on each floor

The idea is simple. In each event, two players load up a tournament-standard save file for The Binding of Isaac. They start at the same time and race to see who can be the first to make it to a specified location — during the regular season, they're aiming for Mom's Heart, what was the initial end to the game...

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Why the unionization of eSports is a difficult if not impossible road

Thanks to event organizers like Major League Gaming and major tournaments like LCS, the growing number of professional gamers have a public platform to begin careers within the eSports community; but, as the population of pro-gaming continues to grow the question of whether they are beginning to require a means of protecting their career in this young industry remains unanswered.

The protection of their careers through the creation of unions is an issue that still hasn't been tackled head-on by eSports organizers or players. While some professional players are outspoken in their opinion...

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Traveling the world, playing fighting games

Upon its release in 1991, Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior featured a somewhat ridiculous but now embedded premise: brawlers with unique styles battling it out in street corners and back alleys across the globe. Fueled by personal motivations, the game's characters helped establish the idea of traveling fighters (mostly) seeking something profound, whether searching to recapture lost glory, avenging a loved one or proving oneself a warrior.

In the fighting game community, 27-year-old Nicolas "Kane Blueriver" Gonzalez from Santiago, Chile has embodied that premise, leaving his home...

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Opinion: Why you should love the fighting game community

My best friend, David, has always been an avid baseball fan. Though he never played above the high school level, David was a talented young pitcher and continued to follow the sport long after his fastball had slowed to a more leisurely pace. A few years ago, while we sat at a Yankees game, it struck me that I would never understand baseball as well as my friend. I understand how the game works but I don't have an appreciation for its nuances or the stories that come with each player. In every matchup, David can see history being made; I just see another game.

Then again, I don't love...

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League of Legends teams partner with eBay for charity tournament

Two League of Legends teams have partnered with eBay to run a tournament that will raise money for a charity of the winner's choosing, the eBay Charity Invitational.

According to the event page, members of League of Legends teams Evil Geniuses and Team Curse will compete in one-on-one matches, with each player fighting to earn money for their charity of choice. The tournament will take place on Wednesday, July 24 at 8 p.m. ET and will be livestreamed on Twitch by One Nation of Gamers.

The event will feature auctions on PC gaming equipment and collectibles from past eSports events,...

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The time a StarCraft supergroup took on Korea

Nobody expected that competing in Proleague, the oldest and most elite Korean StarCraft team league, would be easy. The Korean teams who call Proleague their home have been playing professional StarCraft for a decade, ever since StarCraft: Brood War became a surprise sports phenomenon in Korea, and they routinely recruit and train the best aspiring pro real-time strategy players.

But in their worst nightmares, the owners of the two strongest StarCraft teams in North America and Europe didn't think their combined Evil Geniuses – Team Liquid (EGTL) "dream team" would find itself in last...

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Evo 2013 in Photos

Evo ran in Las Vegas from July 12-14, and record-breaking amounts of spectators watched their favorite competitors battle in the toughest and most prestigious fighting game arena of the year.

The spectacle of Evo cannot be easily distilled in words and photos. The emotion of the players, the energy of the crowd and the one-of-a-kind controlled chaos that are the Grand Finals on Sunday are as much a physical sensation as they are mental.

But we'll try our best.

Main stage and show floor

Evo was divided into two halls: a main hall and a secondary hall. The main hall contained the main...

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How the highest-paid eSports pros' six-figure winnings stack up

The tournament earnings of the highest-paid professional eSports players reach as high as six figures, according to eSports Earnings' ranking of the top 100 players and their competitive gaming cash hauls.

The list shows that more than 60 eSports players have earned over $100,000 in prizes from tournaments, not counting sponsorship deals or income made through livestreaming practice matches.

Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, who is considered one of the world's first professional competitive gamers, is number one on the list with a total of $454,544.98 earned from 35 tournaments. Wendel has...

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How two StarCraft commentators became stars

Dan Stemkoski and Nick Plott patiently wait at the side of the stage, suit jackets buttoned up, eyes calmly scanning the darkened room. When they get their cue — a voice shouting, "GO!" into their earpieces, the cameraman making windshield-wiper arms — they'll climb the steps to greet a live audience of hundreds and broadcast to an audience of potentially millions.

Soaked with blue and purple lights, with music thumping and an audience watching their every movement, the two are cucumber cool. They've done this thousands of times before. On cue, they'll get up on stage, knowing...

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Evo 2013 livestream draws record numbers on Twitch with 1.7 million viewers

This year's Evo fighting game championship drew record viewership on Twitch, with 1.7 million unique viewers watching the tournament's official livestream channels.

According to Matthew DiPietro, vice president of marketing at Twitch, concurrent viewership during Evo peaked at 144,848 for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. That viewership figure bests Twitch's estimates for Super Smash Bros. Melee, which drew 134,000 viewers, and Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition, which drew 125,000 viewers.

Twitch says those record-breaking numbers smashed all records for fighting game tournaments, coming...

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Opinion: eSports needs a 'NASCAR moment'

Each year, the collection of legitimately professional athletes who competed in race after race all strove to win the defining symbol of racing accomplishment: The Winston Cup.

This sounds like an unimpeachable and prestigious award, a fitting symbol for honorable victory, until you parse it out: Winston is a brand of cigarette. The sport's symbol of victory was named by its corporate sponsor, and that corporate sponsor was the maker of a product that (among other things) was not legal to advertise on television.

Cue: panic.


Today the racers of NASCAR all compete for the same cup,...

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EVO Japan can still happen, says tournament founder

Founders of the Evolution Championship Series fighting games tournament say a Japan-based event can still happen, reports Shoryuken.

Speaking during a special Japanese Nico Nico livestream following the Evo 2013 finals yesterday, one of the tournament's founders, Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar, along with Mad Catz community manager Mark Julio, said Evo Japan could happen as early as next year and has not been forgotten.

At Evo 2010, tournament organizers announced Evo vs Godsgarden, the official spin-off fighting games tournament for Japan, and set the dates for May 6 and 7, 2011. However, due...

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Competitive gaming recognized in U.S. as a pro sport

The official League of Legends eSports tournament League Championship Series has been recognized as a fully professional sport by the U.S. State Department.

For the first time, players from outside the United States can move to the U.S. under specific visas, which are provided for pro sports players coming to America to work. Previously, overseas LCS players had to go through a complicated series of applications to play professionally in the United States.

The first player to benefit from the change in the law is Danny 'Shiphtur' Le, who has joined Team Coast and is eligible to move to...

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League of Legends Season 3 final heads to Staples Center

The Staples Center in Los Angeles will host the final event for the League of Legends Season 3 World Championship on Oct. 4, developer Riot Games announced today.

It's a notable step up from last year's event, which was held at the Galen Center on the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. The Staples Center's capacity ranges from approximately 18,000 to 21,000 depending on the event, and it's the home of four professional sports franchises: the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. It has played...

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MLG's new 'ESPN-style' eSports shows coming this August

Major League Gaming is working to expand its programming lineup with original ESPN-style shows, the first of which will premiere this August, MLG's new VP of programming Chris Puckett told Polygon today.

Puckett, who's served as MLG's leading play-by-play commentator during live events, is working to develop 6-10 hours of weekly original programming that will air weeknights on the company's official website. The shows will include everything from analysis to competition, interviews with players and more.

"Shows will range from live streaming directly from MLG Pro Players and personalities...

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Blizzard eSports team working towards a more accessible WCS season for NA and Europe

The eSports team at Blizzard is working to makes the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series more accessible and inclusive to players in North America and Europe, according to a Reddit AMA with WCS organizers.

Blizzard announced the StarCraft 2 WCS in April, the first season of championship eSports for the game. Qualifying rounds for the $1.6 million tournament were held in North America, Europe and Korea, and rounds in the latter region included more player slots than in the NA and Europe. In the AMA, Blizzard's team acknowledged the series had a stronger presence in Korea, but moving...

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MLG's future involves working with developers 'hand-in-hand'

Major League Gaming's president and co-founder, Mike Sepso, has big plans for the future of the competitive gaming league, and it involves seeing the MLG as a place where games start.

Speaking to Digital Trends, Sepso said that the league already works extensively with developers of the titles it features in its tournaments like League of Legends, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and StarCraft 2. It helps those developers with built-in streaming and integration of other MLG features that are necessary for competitive games. Sepso told Digital Trends that the future of the MLG will feature more...

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MLG Spring Championship begins next week in Anaheim with more than $100K in prizes

Major League Gaming's Spring Championship series run from June 28-30 in Anaheim, Calif., where hundreds of players will compete for more than $100,000 in prizes.

The Spring Championship, which is part of MLG's Pro Circuit, will include Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for Xbox 360, League of Legends and StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm.

Events include:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 players on will compete for $50,000 in prizes, with $20,000 earmarked for first place. It will feature 128 teams competing in an open bracket, and 12 teams will qualify for the championship bracket, battling the top...

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Guild Wars 2 developers eye eSports with aims to create the most popular PVP in an MMO

Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet is planning to expand its current PvP development in an attempt to push its fantasy MMO into the big leagues of eSports gaming.

The Washington-based studio aims to turn the Guild Wars sequel into the most popular PvP game within the MMO genre, game director Colin Johanson told Polygon; however, more work is required before they make their next move.

"From launch we really just didn't have the things in place required to make PvP really successful," said Johanson. "But we're getting to the point right now where that stuff is really coming in fully. As a...

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Infinite Crisis dev Turbine partners with MLG for eSports push

Infinite Crisis developer Turbine Inc. has signed with Major League Gaming to bring the upcoming multiplayer online battle arena title into the eSports limelight, the companies announced today.

Turbine and MLG will bring Infinite Crisis, which is currently in closed beta, to upcoming eSports tournaments and gaming events like E3 2013. MLG will eventually include the free-to-play title in its Pro Circuit. At E3, the eSports teams Curse Academy and Complexity will compete in a tournament that will be livestreamed from the Warner Bros. Games booth on the show floor. The tournament will begin...

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Wargaming.net launches North American eSports league for World of Tanks

Wargaming.net, developers of the massively online games World of Tanks, World of Warplanes and World of Warships, launched a North American eSports league for World of Tanks today, according to the company.

The Wargaming.net League North America will hold three seasons, each of which will culminate in a final tournament with $100,000 in prizes. League play will follow "regularly practiced global standards," including 7v7 matches, tanks with a maximum tier of eight and a 42 point maximum.

Registration will open tomorrow, May 29, and the first season will include the following events:

  • Q...

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Papa John's promotion offers half-price pizzas for eSports support

U.S.-based fans of eSports have a few major incentives to dine at Papa John's for the next week, since the fast-food pizza chain is offering a half-price discount for online orders made in support of eSports.

From today through May 27, eSports fans can head to pizza.gg and click through to the Papa John's website in support of the eSports players, teams and leagues of their choice, even for individual games. That includes organizations like Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses for games such as League of Legends and Dota 2. They'll receive 50 percent off a pizza by entering the promo code...

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First UK eSports bar opens in London next month

A new location of the Meltdown eSports bar chain will open in London on June 1, the company announced on its Facebook page.

The venue, setting up at 342 Caledonian Road, will treat patrons to gaming-themed drinks and livestreamed eSports events during open hours, from 5 p.m. until midnight on weekdays and until 1:30 a.m. on weekends. Bargoers will also have free access to PC's for free-play time and participation in weekly bar tournaments for titles like StarCraft 2, League of Legends and Street Fighter 4.

Meltdown London will host a grand opening party the night of June 1. Details on the...

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Evil Geniuses drops popular StarCraft 2 player for disrespecting eSports community

Evil Geniuses, one of the leading North American eSports organizations, released well-known StarCraft 2 player Greg "IdrA" Fields today for disrespecting the eSports community in a forum comment.

Fields, who had been a part of Evil Geniuses for almost three years, was a controversial fixture in the eSports scene for his negative attitude and hot temper. In response to a half-joking statement suggesting that Fields' outrageous behavior resulted from a perceived need for strong personas in eSports, he wrote (screencap via PCGamesN), "Nope you're all a bunch of fucks. It just so happens I get...

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MLG Spring Championship tickets for Black Ops 2 tournament now on sale

Both competitor and spectator passes for the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 tournament in Major League Gaming's Spring Championship are now on sale, MLG announced today.

The tournament's finals are scheduled to take place from June 28-30 in Anaheim, Calif., at the Anaheim Convention Center. It will include a 128-team open bracket and a 24-team championship bracket.

Early-bird discounts are in effect. It costs $400 to purchase a competitor pass for a team that wants to play in the tournament, but the earlier a team enters, the less it pays. From April 22 to May 17, the price is $280 (30 percent...

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MLG's StarCraft 2 WCS America Qualifying Tournament begins this weekend

A series of broadcasts on Twitch.tv for Major League Gaming's StarCraft 2 World Championship Series America Qualifying Tournament will kick off this weekend and continue through next week, according to a press release from MLG.

The broadcasts begin Saturday, April 20, at 1 p.m. ET and will proceed with winners and losers rounds through 10:30 p.m. ET. Sunday's matches focus on the losers brackets, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and ending after the final round which begins at 6 p.m. ET. MLG will also broadcast four qualifying matches beginning at 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. You can watch...

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MLG's spring season to feature four qualifying events for Black Ops 2

The spring season of Major League Gaming's Pro Circuit will feature four Spring Championship Online Bracket Qualifiers for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, according to a press release from MLG.

Competitive Black Ops 2 players can participate with the Xbox 360 version April 13 to May 1, May 4 to May 15, May 18 to May 29 and June 1 to June 12. Four winning teams from the single elimination, best of five matches will compete in MLG's Spring Championship, which will take place June 28-30 in Anaheim.

Those interested in participating in the events, which will be broadcast online, can register now...

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StarCraft 2's first official worldwide ranking system for eSports

StarCraft 2 World Championship Series for 2013, the first official worldwide ranking system for StarCraft 2 eSports is now established, Blizzard Entertainment announced.

The World Championship series features StarCraft 2 competition across three leagues: Korean, American and European. There will be three seasons and the respective global season finals.

Players will earn points within the WCS's global ranking system, with the top ranked players competing in the global grand final held at BlizzCon in Anaheim, Calif. this November. The new StarCraft 2 championship will begin on April 4 with the...

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Battlefield 4 developer DICE is 'very interested' in eSports, general manager says

Battlefield 4 developer EA Digital Illusions is "very interested" in eSports as it relates to the upcoming first-person shooter, according to a video interview with general manager Karl Magnus Troedsson published on Luetin09's YouTube page.

The interview took place in the wake of the Battlefield 4 reveal last week, and Troedsson discussed several aspects of the game, including its competitive multiplayer component.

"We definitely see Battlefield — especially the multiplayer component of it — as a very competitive part of the game, of course," Troedsson said. "And multiplayer is the...

ANZ teams qualify for the $1 million Call of Duty Championship 2013

The two Australian and New Zealand teams to qualify for the Call of Duty Championships were decided by the Australian Cyber League Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 finals on March 15 in Sydney, Australia.

"It's a great feeling to take out the Call of Duty title in Australia, and we can't wait to go to Hollywood and play for the big bucks against the world's best," said Albert Nassif, captain of Team Immunity. The other team to qualify for the Championships during the eight hour tournament was Mindfreak eSports,

They will join the top eight teams from the Black Ops 2 Champions Series League,...

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Pro-gaming in US and Europe 'well on its way' to being as big as South Korea market, says MLG boss

Professional gaming and eSports in North America and Europe is "well on its way" to becoming as big as it is in markets like South Korea, according to Major League Gaming co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni.

Speaking with Polygon, DiGiovanni said that the growth and engagement pattern MLG has seen indicates that eSports and competitive gaming are both on the rise, and if leagues like MLG can provide the structure and opportunity for the next generation of gamers and fans to get involved, eSports in the West could reach unprecedented heights.

"I think that global competitive gaming and eSports...

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First eight teams qualify for the $1 million Call of Duty Championship 2013

The eight teams to qualify for the Call of Duty Championships have been decided by Black Ops 2 Champions Series of League Play on Xbox Live.

The top eight teams from the Black Ops 2 Champions Series League — Curse, Rage, TVA, Awe Sports, compLexity, Phoenix, Quantic and Vintage — will make their way to the Call of Duty Championships to compete against 24 other teams in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 multiplayer matches on Xbox 360.

The remaining 24 teams will be chosen from the MLG Winter Championship on March 15-17, in Dallas, Texas; the ESL's European Finals in Cologne, Germany on March...

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Danish eSports team signs sponsorship deal with Adidas

The Copenhagen Wolves, an eSports team headquartered in Denmark, signed an agreement with sports apparel and footware maker Adidas today, according to a post on the Wolves' official website.

The partnership will allow the Wolves, who compete in League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, to wear and sell its official apparel on Adidas-branded t-shirts, hoodies, bags and more. Those items are expected to go on sale "in the coming week" through the Wolves' official website.

Sponsorships in the eSports ecosystem are commonplace. In the stateside scene, Team Dignitas is sponsored...

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IGN officially cancels IPL6 eSports tournament, offering refunds to ticket holders

IGN today confirmed reports that its next major eSports tournament, IPL6, has been canceled. In a statement to Polygon, the company says its IGN Pro League is competing in a different environment than it was during its inception.

"When we launched IPL two years ago, the eSports landscape was very different with far fewer events than we have now," reads a statement from David Ting, general manager and founder of the IGN Pro League. "Now there are more tournaments than ever before competing for people's time and attention, so we're no longer in a position to commit the resources required to...

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IGN to cancel IPL6 eSports tournament, says report

The IGN Pro League 6 eSports tournament scheduled to take place in Las Vegas later this month will be canceled, according to a report from GameSpot, citing sources.

GameSpot reports tournament sponsors are having promotional products returned to them ahead of IPL6 and certain qualifying tournaments have been canceled. The tournament is still currently scheduled to take place at the Cosmopolition of Las Vegas on March 28 to 31, and feature pro players competing in StarCraft 2, League of Legends and ShootMania Storm.

If accurate, the tournament's cancellation could leave some pro players...

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League of Legends MLG tournaments kick off this month

Major League Gaming's League of Legends competitions are set to kick off later this month during the MLG winter season in North America, according to a press release from organizers.

The North American Summer Promotion Qualifier begins Feb. 26 when 16 teams will battle in a series of qualifying rounds and quarterfinals through March 7. The final four will head to the Pro Circuit Winter Championship, which will be held in Dallas from March 15-17. The teams there will compete for $30,000 in prizes. The winning team will receive receive $20,000. The Winter Championship will also include...

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Razer and eSports group Evil Geniuses announce sponsorship agreement

North American eSports company Evil Geniuses has joined Team Razer, the peripheral and accessory manufacturer's eSports organization, in a sponsorship deal the two companies announced today.

Razer will serve as Evil Geniuses' official partner for gaming accessories such as mice, keyboards and mouse pads, with the team's roster using Razer gear in all future tournaments. According to Evil Geniuses CEO Alex Garfield, the team also has plans to partner with Razer for Evil Geniuses-branded accessories that fans will be able to buy from Razer.

In a press release announcing the partnership,...

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Television programs could make eSports mainstream in the west, says StarCraft director

Getting eSports-related shows and tournaments on television could help competitive gaming reach mainstream popularity in the west, according to StarCraft 2 production director Chris Sigaty.

In a recent interview with Eurogamer, Sigaty noted that putting eSports on television increases the chance of viewers randomly finding the programs as they channel surf. Sigaty says he has seen viewers drawn to eSports at events like BlizzCon's pro matches and Barcrafts, gatherings of fans watching StarCraft tournaments in bars.

"There are some folks watching a football game, they glance over and they...

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Sony and MLG team up to bring PlanetSide 2 to eSports

PlanetSide 2 developer Sony Online Entertainment and Major League Gaming have joined forces to bring SOE's free-to-play shooter to the eSports arena, according to a joint press release.

Competitors in the massively multiplayer online first-person shooter will match up using MLG's GameBattles system, which offers services like tournaments, leagues and forums to its 8 million members, according to MLG's website. PlanetSide 2 will also appear at MLG's Winter Championship in Dallas from March 15 to 17.

The partnership will also bring original PlanetSide 2 programming to MLG's website and...

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Major League Gaming 2013 Pro Circuit to feature $50,000 in competition prizes

This year's 10th annual Major League Gaming Pro Circuit will culminate with the Winter Championship from March 15 to March 17, offering players the opportunity to compete for $50,000 in prizes.

The 2013 Winter Championship pits players against each other in a competition that features eSports titles League of Legends, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on Xbox 360 and an additional game that has yet to be announced.

As of today, only details regarding the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 competition is available. Hopeful competitors can attempt to join the ranks and reach the Winter Championship...

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Two more eSports professionals banned from League of Legends for 'toxic' behavior

Developer Riot Games has permabanned two more professional eSports players from League of Legends after numerous reports of inappropriate behavior, according to a post on the League of Legends community forums.

Players Ilyas "enVision" Hartsema of Mousesports and Damien "Linak" Lorthios of Against All Authority will not be allowed to take part in this weekend's League Championship Series Season 3 Qualifier or play in the Series for the remainder of 2013.

According to reports from the League of Legends Tribunal, the game's disciplinary committee, Hartsema was reported for bad behavior in...

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MLG, Dreamhack and ESL partnership aims to unify global eSports

Major League Gaming, Dreamhack and the Electronic Sports League announced a partnership today that will unify tournament activity throughout their 2012 and 2013 eSports seasons, according to a press release from Dreamhack.

Major League Gaming, the world's largest eSports organization, Dreamhack, the world's largest computer festival, LAN party and host to eSports tournaments and the Electronic Sports League, Europe's largest online game league, have partnered to "further competitive activity, benefit players and spectators, alleviate the taxing event schedule, eliminate confusion about...

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Major League Gaming's 2012 season brings 334 percent growth with 11.7 million unique viewers

The Major League Gaming international eSports league brought in a record-breaking 11.7 million unique online viewers in its 2012 season, boosting viewership growth by 334 percent, the organization announced today.

Over 15 million hours streamed online were consumed over the course of MLG's four pro championships this year, as shown in the infographic below, with its spring and fall tournaments the most-watched events in the league's history. By comparison, the 2011 season brought in 3.5 million unique viewers online. Over the last two years, total growth in online viewership rose 636...

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Major League Gaming's top Black Ops 2 players will be taking on challengers Nov. 14-15

Some of Major League Gaming's top Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 players will be accepting challengers on Nov. 14-15 in MLG's GameBattles tournament, which is open to all players.

The challenge will take place on Wednesday (Xbox 360) and Thursday (PlayStation 3) Nov. 14-15 from 7 p.m to 11 p.m. ET, with MLG's team consisting of top players like Assass1n, Censor, Spacely, Mboze and Saint. Players who want a chance at competing against Team MLG can sign up over at GameBattles. Players and teams that are selected will play against Team MLG with commentary by Chris Puckett and John "RevaN" Boble.

T...

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Major League Gaming Fall Championship events and prizes detailed

Over 1,200 players will compete in Major League Gaming's Fall Championship, which caps out the fall season with $180,000 in prizes to distribute from Nov. 2 through Nov. 4, 2012.

The Fall Championship, which takes place at the Dallas Convention center, will feature several games and tournaments, including a pre-release Halo 4 tournament worth $40,000 in prizes, StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty worth $76,000, League of Legends worth $30,000, Mortal Kombat worth $16,700, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 worth $15,000 and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale worth $5,000.

Major League Gaming is selling...

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Accused League of Legends cheaters fined $30,000 by Riot Games

Following accusations of cheating at the League of Legends world championship semi-finals and an investigation by Riot Games, official warnings have been issued to four players with a $30,000 fine levied against team Azubu Frost.

Riot Games' VP of eSports posted the rulings to the League of Legends forums earlier today, writing that the developer evaluated allegations of cheating on "intent, severity and tangible impact to the course of the game" before handing out judgment. Players were accused of looking at the mini-maps of opponents on a large screen meant for the audience, potentially...

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League of Legends Season 2 World Championships set for October 13 in Los Angeles

League of Legends developer Riot Games will hold the World Championships for the game's second season of eSports competition in Los Angeles on October 13th, the culmination of a months-long global tournament.

The world's top 12 teams, as determined by regional finals in Shanghai, Cologne, Seattle, Seoul, Taipei, and Singapore held over the past few months, will descend upon Los Angeles for semifinal competition at LA Live from October 4th to 7th. Only two teams will emerge from the semifinals to compete in the World Championship itself, which will take place at the 10,000-seat Galen Center...

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Twitch receives $15 million to broaden eSports webcasting

Video game broadcasting community Twitch received a $15 million investment from entrepreneurial investment company Bessemer Venture Partners to expand its eSports webcasting, reports Venture Beat.

The money will allow Twitch to hire more engineers and improve its streaming services worldwide. Both professional and non-professional gamers use Twitch to broadcast live matches and gameplay sessions, with 20 million unique viewers tuning in every month to watch.

"Twitch is exactly the kind of company that we seek for investment," said Bessemer Venture vice president Ethan Kurzweil. "Twitch is...

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MLG announces additions to Fall 2012 Season

Major League Gaming has announced new competitions and team members to supplement their online content.

The MvP (MLG vs. Proleague) Invitational will feature StarCraft 2's 48 best players facing off for up to $10,000 in cash prizes. Broadcasts of the MvP Invitational, as well as extra web content, will begin airing at majorleaguegaming.com on September 24th. Eight winners will be chosen to compete in MLG's Fall Championship in Dallas, Texas. Competitor passes for the Halo 4 tournament, also taking place at the Fall Championship, are now on sale.

Additionally, Nick "Axslav" Ranish and Alex...

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Twitch & Alienware Scholarship awards $50,000 to accomplished student gamers

The Twitch and Alienware Scholarship awarded $50,000 to five accomplished student gamers based on their academic and gaming records, live stream broadcasting network Twitch announced today.

The competition, in its inaugural year, was announced in June and sponsored by peripheral maker SteelSeries. Applicants were judged based on their grades, achievements in gaming, and dedication to professional gaming. Each winner was awarded a $10,000 scholarship:

  • Kelli Dunlap, American School of Professional Psychology in Washington, D.C.: A Halo expert and PhD candidate writing her doctoral...

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Dota 2 International tournament 2012 winners round-up

The International, Valve's annual Dota 2 eSports tournament, was held during PAX Prime 2012 in Seattle over the weekend, with teams battling over $1.6 million in cash payouts.

Chinese team Invictus Gaming defeated 2011 winner Natus Vincere three games to one in the best-of-five championship series to take home a $1 million purse. The runner-up, the Ukrainian squad known as NaVi, received $250,000 for its efforts.

Third place and a $150,000 prize went to LGD-Gaming out of China. Another Chinese team, DK, won fourth-place honors and $80,000. The fifth- and sixth-place finishers, Team Zenith...

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Halo 4 coming to Major League Gaming's Fall Championship

Halo 4 will make an appearance at Major League Gaming's Fall Championship, which will be held in Dallas, Texas, from November 2nd through the 4th, MLG announced today.

The competitive tournament will allow players to compete in Halo 4 before its November 6th retail release, and MLG promised more details about schedules, prize purses, and the number of teams in the coming weeks.

Held in the Dallas Convention Center, the Championship will cap off MLG's fall season. Prior to the Championship, MLG will host three preliminary tournaments throughout September and October at the MLG studio in...

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Valve is working on a Dota 2 eSports documentary

Valve is making an eSports documentary focusing on several star Dota 2 players, the developer announced on GameTrailersTV last night.

The documentary follows a handful of players who entered last year's International Dota 2 tournament, chronicling their journey towards the game's $1 million prize pot.

The trailer, posted below, offers a glimpse at the family lives of these professional players and how gaming has affected and motivated them.

Valve reports that the documentary is "coming soon." This year's international Dota 2 tournament will be held in Seattle from August 31st to...

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 embraces eSports with built-in broadcasting, seasonal league play

With Black Ops 2, Call of Duty developer Treyarch is not just rewriting many of the systems that power the series' online multiplayer. It's also openly embracing its eSports fanbase — those who play Call of Duty professionally and the people who tune in to watch high-level competitive play.

Calling eSports "a major, major initiative for us," game design director David Vonderhaar says that Call of Duty is already a sport, but it needs the production, the personality, and the means to broadcast that sport to a wider audience. To help make that happen, Treyarch is building new tech for B...

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Riot Games creating League of Legends eSports Championship Series

Riot Games is creating an international pro league for League of Legends that will salary its teams and stream "television-broadcast quality" matches over the internet, the company announced today.

The League of Legends Season 3 Championship Series will be separate scheduled tournaments between Season 2's top eight teams from North America, Europe, and Asia. These teams will be offered salaries, and Riot Games will oversee prize pools and other compensation to ensure that the tournament is a "sustainable career choice" for its participants.

Matches will follow the traditional format of...

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Korean eSports pros can compete in MLG events with new partnership

Major League Gaming has teamed up with the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) to bring some of Korea's best and brightest gamers to the MLG's North American events.

The collaboration will begin June 9th, with a Starcraft 2 expo tournament held during the MLG Spring Championship in Anaheim. KeSPA participants will be announced in the coming weeks.

Folks hoping to view the first event in the two organizations' multi-year partnership will be able to watch a live stream of the event on the MLG's website. Just make sure your internet connection is up to the task of viewing all the blazing-fast...

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