On Jan. 23, Aspen, Co. the best Counter-Strike players in the world will join world-class snowboarders and skiers at the ESPN’s Winter X-Games.
This is only the second time MLG and esports have made an appearance at the X-Games. In June, the best Call of Duty teams in the world competed in Austin, after which MLG President Michael Sepso promised that the company’s appearance wouldn’t be a “one-time thing.”
He was right. Now Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will step into the limelight as the North American esports institution throws its hat into the game’s ring for the first time in its history, inviting the best sides in Europe and North America to contest for X-Games medals.
A breakdown of participants by region isn’t available yet. We do know the tournament will feature eight teams in total, selected via online qualifiers, and will broadcast on MLG.tv, the company’s online streaming platform. Top three performers will garner gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Even more notable than the gilded bling, however, is the opportunity for participants to demonstrate their skill in front of a massive, mainstream audience. While full-length games will only be shown on MLG.tv, highlights and additional clips will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC, two of the United States’ largest television networks. While there won’t be any full game coverage outside of MLG itself, the tournament’s inclusion in ESPN’s programming remains yet another nod to the growing cultural significance of esports in a mainstream context.
For fans of Counter-Strike, the event is another in a mounting series of viewership victories—most notably, the recent ESL-One Cologne grand final, which brought in 409,000 concurrent viewers. For Major League Gaming, its second X-Games appearance is a major step for an organization eager to push its business into the mainstream lens.
As to whether MLG planned to continue hosting Counter-Strike tournaments, CEO Sundance DiGiovanni had only this to say to the Daily Dot: “There will be more.”
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