It was just three weeks ago that the League of Legends World Championship wrapped up, dishing out $1 million in prizes to South Korea’s SK Telecom T1. Professional gamers and their fans are already prepping for the next big competition.
Starting tomorrow, Major League Gaming (MLG) is kicking off an event featuring Dota 2, the other major player in the multiplayer online battle arena genre, which has dominated eSports in recent years. There’s also a side helping of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for good measure.
MLG is always a good metric of eSports rapid rise. The league has seen 600 percent jump in audience just three years, according to MLG vice president Adam Apicella. And advertisers are eager to get a piece of a young, engaged demographic who can watch hours and hours of eSports content over the course of a weekend.
Tomorrow’s Fall Invitational invites four Dota and Black Ops teams to compete for $15,000 in prizes each. The winning Dota 2 team will land a spot at MLG’s Fall Championship in November, alongside the other best teams in the scene.
Major League Gaming remains North America’s largest independent eSports organization. Unlike, say, Blizzard or Riot, MLG doesn’t own the games that feature in its tournaments, which have included Starcraft 2, Halo, and Smash Bros, among others.
Why has MLG made such a big push into Dota 2?
“For our Pro Circuit activities we focus on a few games each season,” Apicella told the Daily Dot. “Over the last few years, the Dota scene has grown exponentially especially with a large International presence and the incredible showing at Valve’s TI tournaments… We felt there was an opportunity for us to foster that growth in North America as well and help drive the Dota scene even further.”
League of Legends events have drawn record viewing numbers for MLG in the past. Since it shares an incredibly similar format with Dota 2, there’s always been talk of a rivalry between fans. Apicella says that there’s a place for both in the eSports scene.
“I don’t necessarily think of this as a rivalry, rather competition between two games in the same genre,” he said. “I think both games were created with eSports in mind and offer players a great competitive platform that is constantly evolving and we hope to continue to showcase both games moving forward.”
As for the other half of tomorrow’s event, Call of Duty: It’s interesting to watch a game literally be replaced year after year with a new variant. Call of Duty: Ghosts will release in about a month, and will swoop in and replace Black Ops 2. MLG is actually hosting the first pro event featuring Ghosts at the Columbus championship, something Apicella says the league is “extremely excited” about.
MLG is also looking for opportunities on next-gen consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, Apicella added, isn’t ready to announce anything official yet.