MLG Dallas Preview – Pro Gaming at Its Best

If you’re not watching e-Sports already, you really should be. There’s no better way to start than by watching the best of the best in game genres across the board at the MLG National Championships in Dallas.

I don’t watch football, and I rarely see a game of basketball. I’m not a soccer fan, and I never cared for baseball. I just don’t get into sports. Demonstrations of physical prowess just don’t do it for me. I’ve been a nerd all my life – I’m not going to start caring about ESPN now.

Pro gaming, or e-Sports, is where I go for my fill of competition. I love seeing a player with skill far greater than mine do something that seems otherwise impossible. I thrill at seeing the underdog pull out the win, the old pro reclaim his title, and the newcomer make a name for himself.

It’s the same thrill and excitement that others get from normal sports, but in an arena I can appreciate, understand, and even potentially compete in. If you’re a gamer, this is something that you should be watching too.

This weekend is the perfect time to start. You can watch the best players in the country – and some from outside it – competing at the MLG National Championship in Dallas from November 5-7. You can stream it free from the MLG website in standard definition, or shell out $10 for a higher quality HD stream.

The best of the best are squaring off this weekend at MLG’s National Championship in Dallas, but if you don’t know who you’re rooting for or why, it’s a little hard to understand. To help, I’ve created a bit of a primer to let you get to know some of the bigger names in the two biggest games there.

In addition to ‘Halo 3’ and ‘StarCraft II’, there will be streams for the ‘Tekken 6’, ‘Halo: Reach’ and ‘Modern Warfare 2’. Unless something changes, the ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’ tournament will take place offline, since Nintendo is a bit uncooperative about that sort of thing.

Halo 3

The MLG started with ‘Halo’ as a primary focus, and that stays true today as ‘Halo 3’ is one of the most watched games on the roster. It’s a game that just about every Xbox owner is familiar with, and one of the most exciting to watch.

The finals tournament involves eight teams with four players and one coach each. The coach helps the team coordinate, know when weapons are spawned, and spot things that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Each series is a best of five, with different game types for each round. If the series goes all five rounds, you’ll see two Multi-Flag matches, two Team Slayer matches, and a game of Team Oddball or Team King depending on the round.

On the line is $100,000 for the first place team, $60,000 for second, $40,000 for third – all the way down to $8,000 for eighth place. It’s the biggest videogame event of the year, and the prize pool reflects that. It’s also invitation only, which means these teams are the best there is.

Final Boss is one of the teams you’ll want to watch out for this weekend. They dominated ‘Halo 2’ for years, and after a slow start in ‘Halo 3’ are back in action. They won the last two MLG events in Raleigh and Washington D.C., and are hoping to take back the championship this weekend.

The number five seed, Dynasty, may be able to take down the top team. They swept Final Boss in a 3-0 series in the winner’s bracket in Washington D.C. If they can capture that magic again, Dynasty is bound to be a huge threat.

StarCraft II

‘StarCraft II’ exploded onto the scene at MLG’s event in Raleigh earlier this year, and its fan base has just kept growing. This is one of my favorites to watch and a good game to start with if you have trouble with the sometimes hectic pace of ‘Halo’.

A total of 128 players will be competing, 48 of whom were invited by the MLG. It’s a double elimination tournament – meaning that there’s a winner’s bracket and a loser’s bracket. Every series is a best of three, and the winner of each bracket meets in the final match.

Top prize is $6,250 – a far cry from the massive ‘Halo’ award but still nothing to sneer at for a game so new on the scene. It’s also important to note that ‘StarCraft II’ came on mid-season, and will likely see a larger prize pool for its first full season of MLG next year.

Greg “IdrA” Fields is favored to win this event as he won in D.C. He plays Zerg tremendously well. Though he was knocked out of the Korean tournament known as the GSL, he’s an incredibly dominant player.

Terran users will want to watch The Little One, also known as TLO.  Well, they would have until he switched to Zerg.  Instead check out qxc, a guy who’s got a nice range of builds and some very slick medivac play. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the Protoss player HuK, who fell short in D.C. due to an incredibly unconventional strategy, but is a regular in the later tournament rounds.

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