Major League Gaming hosts its inaugural League of Legends Arena tournament this weekend, hosting pro teams Azubu Blaze, Team Black, Curse Gaming NA, and reigning MLG LoL champs Team SoloMid. The round-robin tournament, comprised of a series of best of three matches, starts at 5 pm Eastern / 11 pm CEST today and continues through Sunday, when the first and second-place finishers in the round-robin square-off in the final at 5:30 pm Eastern / 11:30 CEST. The winning team takes home $10,000, while the losing teams take home... nothing! Nothing but the sting of failure, and perhaps some lovely tourist shots of Manhattan.
As was the case with the StarCraft 2 arena a couple weeks ago, fans can watch the LoL tournament for free, or they can purchase a $10 pass for high-definition streaming. Whether you watch for free or in HD, you can rest assured that you are still watching a better sportscast than NBC's Olympics coverage. You can see the full broadcast schedule here.
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.
It might seem like a quiet time in eSports, with the MLG now looking ahead to its Spring Championship in Anaheim (June 8 - 10), and with the GSL season having just concluded with MVP's victory over Squirtle. But fear not: this Memorial Day weekend still has plenty of StarCraft 2 action thanks to the Red Bull Battlegrounds in Austin.
The 16-player tournament kicks off with pool play tomorrow at 2 P.M. Eastern time, but it starts broadcasting tonight at 9 P.M. Eastern with a pre-show panel featuring all the competitors and casters. After Saturday's pool play, the top two players in each of the four pools will compete in a bracket playoff on Sunday.
I hope you like StarCraft II, because it dominates the eSports schedule this weekend. There are two concurrent events this weekend: Dreamhack EIZO Open in Stockholm, and the MLG's StarCraft II Spring Arena 1 in New York. Arena kicks off first at 6 p.m. Eastern tonight, with MarineKingPrime (Lee Jung Hoon, Korean Terran) playing against PartinG (Won Lee Sak, Korean Protoss).
That's a highly anticipated match, and possibly a preview of the Spring Arena's Grand Finals. PartinG has been playing incredibly well lately, and is widely believed to have been robbed of a victory over MarineKing in the Global StarCraft Team League Finals at the IGN Pro League tournament in Vegas two weeks ago. PartinG was significantly ahead of MKP and on the cusp of knocking him out of the tournament when the connection dropped. The match could not be resumed, so they had to replay the same map, and this time MKP took the victory. He then went on a tear and wiped out the rest of PartinG's StarTale teammates to give his Prime team the GSTL crown.
All of which probably didn't sit terribly well with PartinG.