2012 has felt like a breakout year for eSports, and MLG just released some huge numbers to prove it. Last weekend's MLG Spring Championship absolutely crushed the viewership totals of the MLG's entire 2011 lineup combined. When a single championship weekend eclipses a full year of competition, you know 2012 is likely a transformative year.
MLG Spring Championship 2012
If you were to look only at the championship winners who came out of MLG Spring Arena this weekend, you might think there were no real surprises. DongRaeGu winning a StarCraft 2 championship is just something we have come to expect by this point, and Team Solo Mid looked dominant from the beginning of the tournament.
But you probably wouldn't have predicted that DRG would take his StarCraft 2 championship from twelfth-seeded Alicia (Yang Joon Sik, Korean Protoss), who had just swept MarineKing out of the loser's bracket final.
Yesterday's games at the MLG Spring Championship comprised probably the best single day of eSports I've seen. The afternoon was full of some incredibly tight League of Legends matches and a lot of exciting StarCraft 2 pool and open bracket play, and the evening featured an increidble 3-game series between MarineKing and Stephano that saw one of the most perfect plays you could ever hope to see, and a miraculous comeback victory to close out the series.
Would it be churlish to ask the MLG never to host a major event on Pacific time ever again? Because the last StarCraft 2 matches just finished an hour ago, and now I'm watching the sun come up outside my window while I try to turn notes like "MC = toast" and "MKP PROX RAX!!!" into something coherent. This seems like a good tie to reconsider some life choices and ask the important questions like, "Could Grubby have taken Game 3 from MarineKing if he'd just scouted more?"
It's hard to complain about the late hours the MLG has me keeping when there was so much great competition to enjoy on Friday. With 10 StarCraft and League of Legends streams to choose from, there was almost always a good match available. European readers and East Coasters who missed Friday's action can catch the rebroadcast on the red StarCraft 2 channel that precedes today's games.
Another MLG season draws to a close this weekend in Anaheim, and a look at the offerings illustrates just how much the MLG has changed over the course of this one spring season.
League of Legends appears for the first time at an MLG championship in 2012 [thanks to reader IceSin for the correction], taking its place along StarCraft 2 as a major focus for the MLG. The Summer Season will see League of Legends get its own Arena event, just like StarCraft 2. A group of pro gamers from the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) will be at MLG tomorrow for an exhibition tournament, an event that helps mark the end of the Korean giant's exclusive focus on Brood War and the Korean competitive landscape. Finally, Anaheim will also play host to the USA National finals for the StarCraft 2 World Championship Series, Blizzard's international competition aimed at picking one world champion from among all the major pro-gaming markets. The fragmentation that often defined professional StarCraft 2 is giving way to a more cooperative attitude, and an international focus.