The eSports world is taking off in a big way. Bigger sponsors are entering the fray, production values are ramping up, and prize pools are getting bigger. The recent announcement of the IGN Pro League is the latest to hit the scene, and it goes far to cement competitive gaming as legitimate in the States.
Competitive gaming, known as eSports to fans, has had a great deal of success overseas, but has yet to catch on with mainstream America. This latest push could be the thing that really gets it there.
I’ve posted about ‘StarCraft’ tournaments in the past, but most of the really big ones have taken place overseas. Last weekend’s Major League Gaming event was a solid effort in the U.S., but streaming issues and other technical glitches made for a lackluster start that turned a lot of fans off.
Major League Gaming (MLG) has a lot of money behind it, but it’s still a smaller operation – one that from the beginning has been dedicated to eSports. It has big sponsors, but the MLG itself isn’t large. The latest entry to the eSports world, however, is.
IGN Entertainment is an incredibly large business owned by News Corp, an even larger business. It’s about as legitimate as you can get in terms of established businesses that aren’t going away any time soon.
“IGN’s involvement in eSports is extremely exciting and a boon for eSports,” explains Derrick “FearGorm” Asiedu, CEO of WellPlayed – a ‘StarCraft II’ community and production company that’s working with IGN on this project. “They are one of the biggest names in gaming and the team putting on the IPL has a genuine love of eSports.”
The IGN Pro League (IPL) is the company’s big launching point to get involved in the eSports community, with a focus on ‘StarCraft II’. Its first tournament starts later this month, leading into a much bigger second season.
Things kick off with a 16-man invitational that includes a strong lineup of players including Greg “IdrA” Fields, Danny “ViBE” Scherlong, Jonathan “KiWiKaKi” Garneau, Geoff “INcontroL” Robinson, and my favorite to win it all, Kyung Hyun “SeleCT” Ryoo.
The prize pool for the first season is $5,000, and the top four finishers get automatic qualification for the second season, which boasts a much more substantial prize of $50,000.
The official IPL website has more information on the league itself and an incredibly cool video to go along with it. You can find news on the IPL and other big ‘StarCraft II’ tournaments as well as streaming shows, forums and interviews with players at WellPlayed.