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Pro gamers to press start in Columbus

Courtesy of Katie Goldberg

This summer, thousands of video game players and spectators will gather at the Greater Columbus Convention Center to witness the self-dubbed “world’s largest competitive video game competition.”

Major League Gaming will be coming to Columbus June 3-5 for the second stop in their Pro Circuit tour this year.

Competitors will be playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops” on PlayStation 3, “StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty” on PC and “Halo: Reach” on Xbox 360, Katie Goldberg, vice president of public relations for MLG, said in an email.

Each game will be displayed on a massive main stage for spectators to view. However, there are plenty of things to do besides just watch.

Hundreds of other gaming stations will be set up, as well as booths scattered with MLG players, products from MLG sponsors, pre-release access to games and more, Goldberg said.

This year marks the eighth annual MLG Pro Circuit tour. The tour opened in Dallas, Texas, in April and will continue around the country for six total stops.

To cover the overhead of events that can cost a few million dollars each to put on, MLG turns to sponsors and online tournaments. Sponsors include Dr. Pepper, Stride Gum and more. In addition, tournaments that are held on gamebattles.com require an entrance fee, former MLG referee and third-year business student Matt Siegfried said in an email.

This season’s Pro Circuit is the largest yet with more than $1 million in prizes, Goldberg said.

Games chosen for the events are usually popular.

“Competitive gaming leagues are still a young part of the business world, so it can sometimes be tough to keep them afloat. MLG tries to choose high-population online games with dedicated members that will attend events and watch the online streams,” Sigfried said.

Players on the tour play for eight or nine months a year, leaving time for an off-season to allow for a break, make team and league changes and to add or remove games from their line-up, Siegfried said.

The tour is not the only place that players can compete. Thousands of competitions take place daily on majorleaguegaming.com and are open to the public, Goldberg said.

Through online tournaments, players can qualify to play at live Pro Circuit events. In these tournaments, pro status is won. By earning enough points, players or teams of four can make their way into the top 16 seeds and become pro players.

“There are no special requirements for becoming a pro if you are good enough and can make it to an event, so it’s something that anyone with dedication can strive to become,” Siegfried said in an email.

Once players and teams have won their way into the top 16, they must continue to compete in a three-day double-elimination tournament to make it to the top eight in order to win prizes.

The team that wins the national championship in “Halo: Reach” will receive $100,000. The “Starcraft II” national champion will win $50,000 and the “Call of Duty: Black Ops” winners will receive $50,000, Siegfried said.

“I play ‘Call of Duty’ about an hour a day,” Daniel Eschliman, a second-year in pre-mechanical engineering said. “Playing in front of an audience with a team would require a lot of communication.”

Kendra Schmoll, a third-year in political science, said the difficulty of the event makes it appealing

“I am sure that the challenges of playing maybe worth seeing and I am probably going to check it all out,” she said.

Spectator passes are on sale at www.majorleaguegaming.com for $20 until May 6. After May 6 prices will increase to $25. Doors will open at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 N. High St., at 1:30 p.m. on June 3 and the competition begins at 5:30 p.m. The tournament will also be streamed at the MLG website.

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