On Location: MLG Pro Circuit

August 29, 2010

Major League Gaming’s 2010 tour stopped near Snackbar East’s North Carolina headquarters this weekend. We thought you may want to know what it’s like, so we checked it out.

After a hard-fought victory, a man in a jersey and a headband jumped, shouted and celebrated as a crowd looked on and cheered.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the guy in question was playing Tekken.


But at Major League Gaming’s Pro Circuit, the goal is to feel like a true sporting event. Professional players with sponsors and team logos battle on stages with stands of spectators and live broadcasts. Product logos are everywhere, seemingly providing more legitimacy to the competitions as sporting events. Testosterone flows freely here, as do the free chips and soda, and the competitors all have this look on their faces that says “I’m a pro, and I want everyone around to know it.”

The players’ skill backs it up, though. The weekend included tournaments of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, StarCraft II, World of Warcraft and Tekken 6, as well as the series’ centerpiece Halo 3 competitions. Those not in matches stand around large LCDs and projector screens, following the action while clinging to their personal controllers for their next matchup. On the main stage, premier Halo events are played and broadcast online, complete with color commentary, webcam feeds of players and scoreboards to help viewers follow along at home. 


So how does it feel? Let me put it this way: have you ever played a competitive game with a few people sitting around watching and commenting? Just imagine that with a few hundred people, and it’s pretty much what you have at MLG’s events. For such a “professional” event, watching them compete is a largely casual affair, full of snarky commentary and relaxed oohs and aahs from the spectators next to you. Once you get past the litany of logos and settle down to watch a match, it can be a lot of fun.

Of course, for those people who like that kind of thing, the $25 entry fee gets you unlimited free Dr. Pepper, Doritos, Hot Pockets and Stride gum. Oh, and hand massages. (I’m not kidding.) In that respect, it may be an interesting alternative to an afternoon at the ballpark. And that’s what it is, really. It’s not some gamer’s mecca like a big convention or something, with things to do and people to hang out with. Rather, it’s an interesting show of skill to take in for a specific audience that understands the context.  


MLG’s Pro Circuit stops next in Washington, D.C. in October and wraps up November 5-7 in Dallas. For more information (or to follow online), go to mlgpro.com.