MLG Expanding with X Games Partnership and Chinese eSports Arena
Major League Gaming isn’t taking ESL’s expansion into North America lying down. The first name in American eSports recently announced to major initiatives that show that they’re still focused on growth.
Domestically, MLG has partnered up with ESPN to bring eSports to June’s X Games Austin event. Internationally, MLG will be part of a group building a dedicated eSports arena in China.
For those of you outside the US, the X Games were originally the Xtreme Games and brought such sports as street and vert skateboarding to the American mainstream. What started as an annual summer event added a Winter X Games annual event and later a number of X Games events held domestically in America and internationally. If it wasn’t for the X Games, Tony Hawk wouldn’t be a household name and we wouldn’t have those awesome video games.
For the first time, the X Games will add eSports to their collection of events. MLG will host the MLG X Games Invitational at X Games Austin in June. The event will be a three-day, eight team Call of Duty: Ghosts tournament. The top five teams in MLG Pro Points and the top three teams in MLG’s recent Call of Duty Championship will be invited to Austin to take part in the event.
The press release makes it sound like this event won’t be broadcast live on ESPN or ABC but will be shown as part of a highlight package during the weekend.
I’d kind of question why CoD is the choice for a big event such as this. I know that the CoD name carries a lot of mainstream appeal but League of Legends and Dota 2 have much bigger audiences among eSports crowds. I guess the idea is to sacrifice a potential online crowd for the possibility of a larger live attendance.
The other big announcement out of MLG was that they will be part of a group that are building an eSports arena in China and that said facility will be called the MLG Gaming Arena.
The MLG Gaming Arena will be a part of the “V-Zone,” a “video game destination” that will include “an expo area for game developers to feature new and upcoming games, creative workspaces, gaming-themed restaurants, retail shops and more.” The V-Zone will be a part of the Creative Culture City development on Hengqin Island. This will be a special economic zone similar to Macau.
The MLG Gaming Arena is targeting a 2017 opening with regular competitions being produced there for a live and online audience. No word as to how big that live audience will be.
Given that China is one of the fastest growing eSports markets, MLG’s expansion into China is a smart idea. Considering that foreign investment into China can be tricky, being able to do so is nothing short of a major coup. The big games in China right now are Dota 2 and League of Legends (okay, where aren’t they big? ) but those aren’t a big part of the MLG offering right now. If they can’t come up with games that the Chinese audience will watch, that fancy new arena might be very empty in 2017.