The leading organization responsible for organizing events in competitive Call of Duty, online and LAN, is Major League Gaming (MLG). Without the strides MLG has made over the years, competitive Call of Duty would be struggling to gain an audience.
Recently, MLG has decided to dedicate ‘arenas’ for LAN play (local area network). The first one in the US happens to be right down the street from me,here in Columbus, Ohio! The first event taking place at this MLG.tv Arena was the Call of Duty Ghosts Season 3 Playoffs, an event featuring 8 professional teams. I was lucky enough to attend.
MLG.tv Arena is not a large place. It was located in a business park on the east side of Columbus, just a 5 minute drive from the airport and about the same from the Easton shopping mall. I found the location through some Google searching, and drove up to the event trying to look out for a big MLG sign. There was none. I found the specific building the event was located in after seeing a few guys outside throwing a football, wearing MLG shirts. I parked the car right out front; there weren’t many cars there. I asked if I was in the right place, just to be sure, and went inside.
The entrance to MLG.tv Arena is pretty nice. It feels like a small hotel lobby, with a set of couches and a tv broadcasting the event. Two guys were manning a reception desk, and behind them were trophies from the past MLG tournaments. I could see past them into the main room. It looked pretty cool, so I decided to pay my way in.
The main stage is the only stage. There are two booths right in the middle, and above them is the casters desk (literally, a floor above and in the middle of the two booths). To the side was another desk used to film a caster and COD pros before matches, as they talk about the teams about to compete. To view the matches, two large projection screens were suspended above the booths. There were 4 sets of bleachers that could probably fit a maximum of 150 people. And of course, in MLG fashion, blue and red lights were used in an otherwise dim atmosphere. There was even fog.
There was a merch shop located near the entrance. There, you could buy t-shirts, Scuf controllers, Astros, and more. There were two Xbox Ones set up to play FIFA 15 and Need for Speed. Water bottles could be bought with the MLG logo on them.
For the enjoyment of the fans, there was a LAN set up with 8 Xbox Ones and viewing screens. The entire time, there were kids playing, so I never had the opportunity to try it out myself.
For the pros, there was a lounge which was upstairs from where the main event area was. I have no idea how they got up there, there must have been some sort of secret passageway for the privacy of the pro players. There was also a room that I could see where the MLG staff were editing video footage.
Overall, the event space is pretty nice. I don’t see much room for improvement (literally, there is not enough room for expansion at least). I am wondering how often the space will be used, and if there will ever be a sign out front displaying the MLG logo. At least I know where it is already.
Adam Apicella (MrAdamAp), who works for MLG and set up the arena, has stated on Twitter that he hopes more arenas will be built around the country in the future. So far, the Columbus arena is just an experiment. If MLG decides that it was worth it, they may build similar arenas in other major cities. The idea is that each arena will serve as home turf for some of the professional teams.
Will other games besides Call of Duty be played in the MLG.tv Arena? I don’t think anyone knows for sure. Games like League of Legends attract a gigantic audience, and that would surely not work out. Time will tell, and we will be seeing more of MLG.tv Arena as the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Season 1 Playoffs kicks off.