What to Watch: The Week in eSports (March 15-21, 2013)

This week in eSports: MLG Winter is finally here! Heart of the Swarm has launched, and now is as good a time as ever to start eSportsing. Plus, competitive gaming has earned itself a spot at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference. Have a look at all of this and more inside. gl hf!

Here's some further ammo to fire at anyone who doubts the legitimacy of eSports: MIT's big sports conference this year featured a panel with Sundance DiGiovanni (MLG), Mike Morhaime (Blizzard), Kevin Lin (Twitch), and Daryl Morey (GM of the Houston Rockets, representing "regular sports"). The panel was moderated by Rod "Slasher" Breslau—who asked to "DM" me on Twitter the other day, forcing me to look up what that meant and realize how out of touch I am with Internet acronyms. Luckily, it wasn't some kind of hardcore eSports knowledge roast, as my worst fears suggested at the time.

StarCraft II

The biggest tournament of 2013 so far is kicking off tonight in Dallas, Texas. MLG's Winter Championships will pit 32 of the world's best Heart of the Swarm players against each other in a classic, single-elimination playoff for $75,000 in prizes. Players to watch include Flash, "The God of Brood War;" PartinG, winner of 2012's Battle.net World Championship; MC, a GSL and IEM champion widely considered one of the best Protoss players of all time; Polt, winner of Day[9]'s King of the Beta tournament; Life, an MLG and GSL Code S champion; Life, a previous IPL and MLG champion; Stephano, the French zerg player who is arguably the most successful non-Korean in the game's history; and HuK, a Canadian, 2-time MLG champion.

All matches will be broadcast for free, with HD stream upgrades available for $10. The action begins at 3 p.m. PDT.

If you're looking to watch the finals at a venue, and you live in the Bay Area, I'm planning to make an appearance at the Berkeley BarCraft on Sunday. If you're not sure who to look for, check out the interviews I did at the Heart of the Swarm launch event , featuring an interview with Robert Clotworthy (the voice of Jim Raynor.)

Watch it: Major League Gaming

The 2013 GSL Season 1 , and the last GSL to take place in Wings of Liberty, has wrapped, with dark horse RorO claiming his spot among the Code S champions. Season 2, which will be running Heart of the Swarm, officially started last week, and will run until May 11. The Code S champion this season will claim over $45,000 in prizes. After the Up/Down matches, FanTaSy, Crazy, Shine, Flying, Maru, and Soo have advanced from Code A to Code S. Sniper, Ryung, Keen, and, most notably, NesTea have dropped into Code A.

Watch it: GomTV

League of Legends

All eight teams in the North American LCS are primed to begin Week 5 (after a nice, long break) at MLG in Dallas tonight. Can Dignitas hang onto their lead? Can compLexity catch a freaking break? Who will come out ahead in the 3rd place deadlock between TSM Snapdragon and CLG? There's one way to find out...

Watch it: Major League Gaming

The EU LCS is headed to France next weekend, where Fnatic will be looking to regain the lead they lost to Gambit BenQ. Copenhagen Wolves, currently ranked last, may be making a comeback, however, with the return of Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, who was absent for a number of the matches they lost.

Still no word on whether "Dragonborns" have chosen to correct their name on my suggestion. (The plural of "Dragonborn" is "Dragonborn". Source: I'm one of those weird guys who memorizes video game lore.)

Watch it: League Championship Series EU

Other Stuff

Riot shoutcaster Leigh "Deman" Smith did an AMA on Reddit this week. Check it out to hear his take on which teams are the most fun to cover, and whether pants and/or breathing are optional for eSports casters.

Dota 2

In The Defense 3 , Team Liquid has fallen. Two matches remain before an overall winner is decided: Dignitas will face Fnatic on the 20th in the Lower Bracket Final, and the winner will go on to the Overall Final against the dominant Virtus.pro on the 30th. There's not a lot left to say about The Defense, which has been a staple of this column since its inception, except that we'll be sad to see it go.

Watch it: The Defense

The online DreamHack invitational has begun! the group stage play kicked off yesterday, and will run up until the end of the month. The top spot of the eight participating teams will claim $2,500 and, more importantly, a spot at the in-person DreamHack Winter.

Watch it: DreamHack TV

The long-standing Chinese G-League tournament was woefully omitted from last week's column. Both my all-seeing flaming eye set atop a dark tower and my two immortal ravens failed me utterly, and have been punished in accordance with their crimes. On the bright side, the final match of the tournament is available for posterity on joinDOTA, with Invictus Gaming triumphing over LGD International for the insane, $32,000 top prize.

That's it for this week, eSports faithful. Let us know in the comments what you think of this week's stories, if there's anything we missed, and what eSports events you're most looking forward to in the coming weeks. gg!