Major League Gaming Kicks Off

By Jim Rossignol on April 1st, 2011 at 9:56 pm.

Don't worry, he's a professional.
Hello! Back in the 21st century actual video gaming is happening, and it’s taking a spin this weekend with the Major League Gaming circuit, which commences play in just over an hour. This is a big old pro-gaming tournament happening right now in Dallas, with Starcraft 2 being the big draw for PC types. More information and streams of the events are embedded below, for your viewing pleasure.

This is Major League Gaming’s first event of their 2011 Regular Season, featuring Starcraft 2, Halo: Reach and Call of Duty: Black Ops. You can, should you be so inclined purchase the high-quality stream here. A full schedule for the whole weekend can be seen here.

All-Inclusive Pro Circuit Stream – Runs Friday 5:30pm to Sunday 8:45pm:

Starcraft 2 Stream – Runs Friday 5:30pm to Sunday 8:45pm:

This stuff runs all weekend, and there’s a big guide to what’s taking place just here.

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64 Comments »

  1. Meneth says:

    What is this blasphemy?
    Surely gameing is only fit for entertainment, and nothing more.
    This will never catch on, mark my words.
    I bid you good day, sirs.

    • Kaira- says:

      I say. I find it most boring to watch other people play these artificial virtual reality games, but as it seems, some heathens enjoy these heavenless festivities.

    • Archonsod says:

      They never actually play anything good at these things.

    • Oneironaut says:

      I actually enjoy watching Starcraft 2 more than I do playing it. I’ve never enjoyed the intensive amount of micro-management needed to succeed in it, but that doesn’t stop me from watching a video of it on youtube now and then.

    • mod the world says:

      Don’t worry, it is just another april fool’s joke. Nobody would be that crazy and pay for a stream showing nerds playing a game.

    • slight says:

      You see gentlemen, the problem that faces us in this instance, as more broadly in life is the insistence upon change. The engagement of moral upstanding pugilists in Quake the Third was genuinely a sight to behold. These more pedestrian chapshoots have none of the verve and vigour of their progenitors!

    • Sarlix says:

      Slight, my dear fellow. I do believe you have just coined the term of the century – ‘chapshoots’ Even though the term ‘chap’ is considered English cant, as described thus:

      Chap, a fellow, a boy; “a low chap,” a low fellow — abbreviation of CHAP MAN, a huckster. Used by Byron in his Critical Remarks.

      Your term made me laugh so extraneously that I do believe I have displaced a rib.

    • delusionsofnoir says:

      I agree with Oneironaut.
      My SC2 skills are incredibly poor but I can’t get enough casts of matches to fill the day!

      I’d particularly recommend:
      HDstarcraft
      http://www.youtube.com/user/HDstarcraft
      HuskyStarcraft
      http://www.youtube.com/user/HuskyStarcraft

      Also, TotalBiscuit’s not too bad ;)
      http://www.youtube.com/user/TotalHalibut

  2. Mike says:

    Starcraft 2 is strangely enticing to watch. I’ve never played a game in my entire life, but I really do enjoy watching it at the top-level, with a good commentator.

  3. Psychopomp says:

    It’s weird seeing a picture of Tasteless playing, rather than commentating.

  4. Miker says:

    The StarCraft 2 matches will probably be worth watching, but my time goes to the GSL World Championship first and foremost. As for CODBLOPS and Halo: Reach, well, they’re great fun with friends, but in a tournament with StarCraft 2, both end up looking a bit unworthy.

    • Vandelay says:

      Just watched a pretty awesome match between Idra and a Protoss player I didn’t know. Idra isn’t the fanciest of players, but he does get the job done pretty effectively.

      Starcraft 2 is really a great spectator sport. I’m not sure how great it is for people that don’t know the game, but I really can’t see many others comparing well. Having decent commentators helps loads too.

  5. TsunamiWombat says:

    I am discouraged by the marked increase towards sloth I witness in our youth today. I an certainly a fan of the gaming, despite it’s ability to corrupt the weakminded to liscentiousness and murder- for what is faith if it is not tested?

    However, to pay young rapscallions to play these games and then watch, I dare say, watch but not interact is the height of Roman vulgarity. Are we Italians, to allow our august Empire to sink under the weight of it’s own delusion and bloodlust?

    I dare say, does this not detract from the experiance? Shall we invite the lower masses to witness foxing and falconry now? Do we reduce our great sports and past times to mere entertainment for every porter and newsboy that wanders by to gander on the street? Whats next? Will they be paying the Cricket players?
    -
    Friar John. P. Pepperwillow

    • gorgol says:

      Indeed dear fellow. In fact the general decline in our society has me greatly worried all round! Even our beloved newsletter of The Steady Rock, The Learned Paper, and The Vengeful Shotgun, traditionally a pillar of good journalism has suffered a sharp downturn in its lexicographical quality in only the past few articles! Has the young Alexander Granville opened a veritable Pandora’s box with that quasi-demoniacal contraption he was experimenting on earlier?

  6. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Hooray! DJ Wheat and Day9 are always a great casting combo. TSL3 has delivered some great matches. Hopefully MLG Dallas will as well.

  7. TheTourist314 says:

    I’m there at MLG RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111111111

  8. jameskond says:

    Mhh.. Starcraft 2, yes please! Day9<3<3

    I should really get back in to GSL..

  9. TheTourist314 says:

    Well, technically not yet. I’ll be there at 5. I was also there for the Pro-Circuit in November. It’s pretty extraordinary to be around such a large group of Starcraft nerds, more exciting than you think.

  10. edwardoka says:

    Dear esteemed Messrs,

    With regards to your erstwhile epistle, quaintly titled “Major League Gameing Kicks Off”, I was most appalled and outraged to read about this newfangled concept of young scallywags being paid to partake in such idleness. Piffle I say! Piffle, and tosh! A good sound thrashing to all involved would be a more seemly course of action!

    Further, this “Star Craft” you spake of in the aforementioned article seems me to be a load of fanciful nonsense, best suited for French scoundrels and outlandish Oriental types. Messrs B. Lizzard and A. Vision must surely be chortling in their snuff boxes at those foolish enough to pay for the “privilege” of utilising their wares!

    I fear that if you do not return forthwith to your ordinary subject matter of “In Which A Mine Is Crafted, Craftily”, I will have to notify the local authorities.

    Yours concernedly,
    Crawford Farquhar-Smythe.

    • ceriphim says:

      I really like this for some reason. Maybe it’s because I’m American and I imagine that’s what Brits sound like when they’re in their flat watching the telly, sipping some tea or gin… Saying words like pollywozzle and such.

      Either that, or TV has led me astray at some point.

      In any case, I’m gonna kick up my cowboy boots, hang my ten-gallon hat and six-shooters by the door, and bitch about those damn immigrants stealing jobs from real ‘Mericans.

  11. Torgen says:

    I believe the closest I’ve come to “video game spectator” is some 20 years ago when I worked at an Electronics Boutique and would set the football game on the overhead TV to whomever was playing Tampa Bay that weekend. I enjoyed watching it more than playing it.

    That said, I never pined for a “spectator” mode that would not unbalance teams more than when I discovered Natural Selection. Should NS2 come with an extra “spectator” slot, I believe it would be better than what’s on network TV. Just make it where you connect to a random game so that you wouldn’t have spies for one side in a match, perhaps a central video channel on the game website where people could watch the “featured” game together.

  12. Brumisator says:

    Wait, people actually play console shooters competitively?

    That’s like chopping off your own legs to get to run in the paralympics.

    Anyway… hooray for SC2 and day9.

    • mda says:

      I know it might sound far fetched but they do so with amazing accuracy. After watching some professional console FPS vods I was surprised to see that there was no hint of their talent being in any way handicapped by using a gamepad. In fact I would have guessed they were playing with a mouse if I didn’t already know otherwise! Console pro’s, I salute you!

  13. kyrieee says:

    I like that you’re making people aware of MLG, but then you should also mention GOM =)

    Right now they’re running the GOM World Championship and this event is free! HQ stream is free, the VODs are free and it has provided some of the most memorable games in SC2 so far.

    • tomeoftom says:

      It was so good! Just finished watching the final between IM and SlayerS with a group of friends and bubble tea (MAXIMUM KOREAN). No, stop – it’s okay! We went to a very normal club last night. We are normal people. No, honestly.

  14. Tokamak says:

    MLG seem to be having major problems with their server. I hope that’s not their idea of a First of April Ignoramus joke. Because it isn’t really funny. At all.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Apparantly RPS’ servers are playing up too because they’ve just devoured a 700 word post.

      :(

    • WombatDeath says:

      Yeah. To those considering stumping up the $10 for a decent stream, be warned: I’m getting nothing but a loading screen.

      Edit: to those who stumped up the $10 for a decent stream, turn off adblock to get past the loading screen.

  15. Branthog says:

    I really like watching gaming. I like watching gamers compete. I like analysis. I like all those details and I could watch endless hours of coverage. Hell, I’d like a 24×7 channel for every game out there where I could watch someone (and some awesome players) going through the game.

    Unfortunately, these things always seem to get the SyFy “Ultimate Gamer” treatment where it’s broken down into 20 minutes of bullshit and the focus is on shitty hosts and all sorts of glitz and flash, like they’re trying to pedal it to the NFL crowd.

  16. godkingemperor says:

    When does the Major League Jet Set Willy tournament begin?

  17. mR.Waffles says:

    MLG is up now if anyone wants to watch. http://pro.majorleaguegaming.com/live/starcraft_2 . Lots of good stuff so far.

  18. Daryl says:

    The stream is garbage and doesn’t work worth a damn for me. Constantly freezing, and now the site has gone down completely again. I understand they’re probably inundated with traffic, but they should have been prepared.

    But the ads work fine.

  19. Anarki says:

    I’d been looking forward to this but they only managed to show 2 games before the sites gone offline. 1 of the matches cut out half way through. Basically coverage has been bad, I am dissapoint and going to bed.

  20. Nameless1 says:

    Stream totally unwatchable, total disorganization: started with almost 2 hours delay, going down continuously, awful quality. Even for those paying. (I’m talking about starcraft2)
    I’ll never lose my time again with this joke.

    • Daryl says:

      I feel especially bad for those who did pay for this. I was actually considering putting down the $10 for the HD stream, but I’m glad I didn’t waste my money. I was even considering going to the MLG in Raleigh this fall, but I may not even bother now after this display.

  21. dysphemism says:

    I must protest, sirs, that this does not appear to be chronicling the Pacific Coast Ladies’ Amateur Hoop and Stick League. God’s wounds, but I paid 10 ha’penny to witness such a poor display!

  22. Dawngreeter says:

    I want to see The Path played on these things.

  23. busfahrer says:

    Their tables seem to be done in TeX. Interesting :-)

  24. Om says:

    You don’t like football but “Major League Gaming” gets a mention?

  25. Chalky says:

    Are there no VODs for this yet?

  26. Unaco says:

    Ha Ha Ha… Professional Gaming?!?!? LOL. Best April Fool ever! Well done Jim… had me laughing.

  27. Stijn says:

    I don’t think they expected RPS (and possibly other sites) to actually embed two of their streams inside a frontpage post. That does bring a lot of unexpected traffic.

    Edit: In response to the posts complaining about the stream being broken at the start of the event.

    • Lacunaa says:

      RPS is pretty small, even if it is a general gaming website. MLG has this problem every time, seems like they still can’t stream decently even after years of experience.

  28. Steven Hutton says:

    Since the server seems to have eaten my original post I’ll trying breaking it up into bite size whatevers.

    It always infuriates me, for reasons I can’t fully articulate, that MLG adapts the rules of the games in their events. They rebalance or restrict weapons and options and for some reason that drives me up the wall.
    I think the broad strokes are:

    1) Who the fuck are THEY to second guess the designer? I mean really their rules are an improvement for competitive play? In who’s judgement? That’s odd.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      2) The rule changes they make always seem to benefit the best players in terms of technical execution in the games. So a typical example would be the removal of critical hits in competitive Team Fortress 2. This change specifically benefits those players with dead on accuracy at the mouse. It doesn’t mean that better players win and worse players lose. That already happens. What this change does is ensure that better players win hugely and worse players get very few or no kills.

      It alters the balance in weird ways (medics are better when a there’s no chance of a crit-rocket suddenly blowing through the health reserve).

    • Steven Hutton says:

      2) b) It also makes a strange judgement on what constitutes a “better” player. The removal of crits (more specifically random crits) means that being a better player is about technical skill (aiming well and quickly) and less about strategic play. A player who executes a clever ambush against another player might now lose to a player with better aim where previously they might have won. This isn’t to say all the time but it just shifts the game’s balance in a certain direction and I think it’s weird that “competitive” play just takes it upon itself to do this.

      2) b) i) Going back to my first point its remarkable that the changes made in these tournaments always favour technical skill and move away from accessibility. When designers spend so much time trying to make their games accessible.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      3) This is the biggy, the main point, the most important criticism. Changing the rules makes the game fundamentally different from the game played by your fans. If someone is watching a game of football they know that the game they play in their sunday league is the same. The same rules, they can imagine themselves performing the feats that the stars on TV perform (even if they never could). But if they know that the players are following a different ruleset, they’re literally playing a different game and leads to a fundamental disconnect between the fans and the game.

      Part of the thrill of watching competitive games at a high level is thinking “if I just had the time I could do that too” (even if it’s not true). But it’s much harder to hold that belief when you’re watching them play a game to which you actually don’t have access or for which it’s difficult to find opponents. Even if the rules are voluntary and easily followed (such as weapon rules in blOps) and don’t require downloading some weird variant maps or mods. There still remains the problem that your competition is not actually the same the game that people are playing in their homes. And I think that narrows the appeal of the game as a sport.

      Not that many people would follow a televised chess tournament anymore but even if they did would they be likely to watch games of chess960?

    • tomeoftom says:

      @Steven Hutton

      The critical hits are removed to ensure that the game is in fact competetive. Crits incur randomness that you can’t place meaningful gambles on – compare this to gambles like poker hands, in which case the strategy lies in estimating the real odds of success against opposing hands via psychology. You can’t deduce or perceive when an opponent will crit, and they are constant, instantaneous rolls of the dice. It means that when you watch replays, the value of a strategy can’t be found, because (for instance) a crit rocket burst apart two critical players out of the blue. And without strategy, there’s no competition but muscle memory. Predictable mechanics are absolutely /essential/ to a game like TF2 or the Starcrafts. A good competition establishes who played with more skill, (be it physical or mental), and that’s obfuscated by randomness. It’s not a matter of elitism or arbitrary whim, and most players that would be tempted to play competively already seek out the most fair game modes and mods anyway, so it doesn’t really exclude anyone. Sorry for the block of text.

    • ceriphim says:

      @tomeoftom For some reason your post brought to mind competitive paintball/speedball matches. Maybe it’s the FPS resemblance. In any case, why should crits and random elements be removed from competitive play? I’m not a big competitive gamer, but I have a few issues with your explanation-

      You seem to say that random elements reduce the competition down to reflexes and make strategy redundant. How so? In my team-based Speedball experience we had our strategy and tactics identified before/during every game. There is a huge muscle-memory & athletic component but you HAVE to improvise and incorporate random elements into play. Half your team getting hit right off the break from lucky shots (crits?) is part of the competition and challenge. Some of my favorite memories come from overcoming long odds or freak setbacks.

      I would argue that the random elements are actually a bigger test of skill than playing the “competition” ruleset. Over the long-run any “chance happenings” will balance out and clear strategies will emerge. I think it is a truer test of strategic and tactical acumen to be forced to improvise and adapt to unexpected events than to scrub them out in favor of a more “pure” game.

      Standard disclaimer, of course, YMMV…

    • Friend says:

      The problem with randomness in competitive play, generally, is that it imparts an advantage to a player, through no skill of their own, in a setting which strictly emphasizes a level playing field. That’s not to say all randomness is bad; getting rid of it all isn’t what competitive rulesets are meant to “fix”, or even want to. It’s more an issue with random number generators than real randomness, you see.

      Take the example of a FPS where there are three hallways, and an enemy player with a rocket launcher is down one of them. If you run down that one, get jumped, and die, that’s that. You made a choice, and even if you didn’t have the information to know whether or not it was a good choice, the results are fair. It may seem random, but it was directly caused by actions from both players involved, even though the result was unpredictable. That kind of randomness is fine, and is not an issue.

      On the other hand, let’s take a different situation. Let’s say two players are engaged in a gunfight, they have 4 health, each has the same type of rifle which deals 1 damage normally, and 2 on a crit. The first player hits his opponent twice, is hit with a crit, hits his opponent a third time, is crit a second time, and dies. The first player scored a total of three hits, and the second player scored a total of two, yet the second player won. So although both players were on essentially even footing, the player who apparently did objectively worse came out the victor. It’s akin to flipping a coin when a goal is scored in football, and if the coin comes out tails, the goal is only worth half a point. Does that really add meaningful content to the game in a competitive setting?

    • Steven Hutton says:

      @Friend

      I think that it can add something to the game. In the specific case you mention the random element has the purpose of weakening the skill of having good aim. The player with the better aim loses because damage is slightly randomised. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If a game is going to be interesting it needs to require a balance of skills from its players. If having good aim this the only skill that matters or is the most important skill then that changes the way the game plays.

      Some other skills that can come in handy in first person shooters:

      Spacial Awareness: The ability to judge distances and know where you are, where your allies are and where your enemies are in relation to you.

      Tactical thinking: The ability to know where your enemies and friends are likely to be without explicit knowledge. Or to make a good guess at where they are. Will there be a sniper in that tower? This also includes the ability to make good decisions about how you should act based on the information available.

      Strategic thinking: The ability to make larger scale decisions about your strategy for the game. And the ability to judge the value of strategies. Is this a good map to rush? Do I want to snipe at range or fight up close? Your opponents are playing very defensive do you go all out attack with soldiers (less attractive when you can’t use crits to bust turrets) or try for a heavy-medic push? Or do you switch to spy and try to disrupt the enemy?

      Teamwork: The ability to work with and in support of your allies.

      Yomi: The ability to second guess your opponent. You see a medic-heavy pair run into a tunnel out of the corner of your screen. There are two paths they can take, your ability to judge with path they’re more likely to follow will let you get the drop on them or prepare an ambush.

      By weakening the skill of aiming the other skills become more important to winning the game. What the exact balance of skills will be varies from game to game but I tend to think that what that balance is should be up to the designers and the players then adapt to that balance. It always irks me when I see tournament players complaining that something causes a game to require “less skill”. Because I get the sense that what they really mean is less of the particular skill that they have in abundance.

      I think that the changes made in tournaments tend to favour the skills that the most dedicated/hardcore gamers have. Such as perfect aim, perfect execution or very good micro-management.

      I often wonder if blOps organisers ever consider turning on Headshots only. This would clearly be a change that would require “more skill” – shooting people in the head is hard. But it would also fundamentally change the balance of the game. Shooting people in the head is so difficult and so lethal that there’s little incentive to learn skills like spacial awareness/tactics that let you get the drop on your opponent when you can focus on just getting better accuracy. (Not to mention how it changes the weapon balance). It makes the flavour of the game a little different, not worse but it’s not the same blOps. I imagine most organisers would leave this alone as it would change the game too much. And yet they’re quite happy to play with killstreaks off. My mind, she is boggling.

      If someone wants to make a game that heavily biases one skill (I think Starcraft requires too much micro and too little of other skills – just IMO) that’s fine and some people will enjoy that. But to alter an existing game to favour a skill that the existing hardcore community (read – the tournament organiser and his friends) already have strikes me as weird.

    • Friend says:

      @Steven Hutton

      I certainly get what you’re saying about a wider swath of skills being interesting. However, I think randomness is, at best, an inelegant solution to that particular issue, when it even works at all. While randomness can take the focus off aiming (or other micro-intensive processes), it can take the focus off any other aspect equally well. As an illustration, consider a story from a tournament game I played in League of Legends last year:

      It was a 3v3 match, and one of the characters on our team was built around a percent chance to dodge– around 20% or so per attack. All three members of the enemy team jumped on him at one point when he had retreated to the protection of one of our towers and was waiting for us to meet him, thinking it was safe to stand there at low health. They had taken an alternate route to get to him, however, and dived into range of the tower to attack him, only needing to hit him maybe twice to kill him. With a 20% chance to dodge, he proceeded to dodge the next nine attacks in a row, kite them in circles around the tower, and kill two of them before me and his other teammate arrived, picking off the last one in the process. I’m not exaggerating; there were 6 people watching him evade every attack. Because it happened at a crucial moment in the course of the match, it effectively won us the game in an otherwise very close competition.

      While I’m certainly happy in some ways that it worked out so favorably for my teammate, it does go to show that randomness is often indiscriminate in the way it impacts the game. In that instance, it overshadowed the superior teamwork of the enemy team (by grouping up and getting to him sooner than he expected), and canceled their otherwise sound tactical decision (to use ample resources in order to secure what seemed an easy kill with minimal chance of negative consequences). It’s an extreme example, but it happens, and it happened then in a tournament game just before the semifinals.

      I agree with you that a wider set of required skills makes for more interesting watching, and more interesting playing. I don’t think that random number generator-style randomness accomplishes that effectively, however, and nor do I think that it is a sophisticated way to lift the focus from certain areas only. There are ample design alternatives to randomness that can accomplish that in a bevy of more satisfying ways– shields and evasive abilities to counteract a focus on precision aiming; environmental effects, good level design, and other secondary mechanics to encourage teamwork and tactical thinking; and on.

      The trade-off for designers tends to be that, on the one hand, randomness can be an attractive and fun concept at the level of mass appeal; it blurs skill differentiation between players, and can lead to exciting events that the players themselves don’t necessarily need to orchestrate. If they want a game that has broader base appeal, it’s an easy mechanic to integrate. If they want a game with sharp skill differentiation (preferable at a competitive level, but probably less so at a party level), then they have to be prepared for their game to be labeled as “unforgiving”. With that in mind, it’s pretty easy to see why a lot of developers tend towards the former position, even if it comes at the cost of competitive interest. After all, a thriving competitive scene is far from the number one desired result for a lot of games. Can’t blame them for picking the path that leads to the freer supply of new players.

  29. Friend says:

    Oh hey, MLG. One of my friends is competing in SC2 there. Have a video interview with him:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DviT2LB5F2g&feature=player_embedded

    …Perhaps that’s not the best introduction.

  30. Yage says:

    Question:
    Could RPS do a compilation blog post of the best youtube game fraps videos to watch? plx
    I dont care what games i would just like to see pro gamers in action interlaced with a few fail comedy one etc

    There must be so many Starcraft, Wow, fps vids we would all love to see.

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