Major League Gaming returns to X Games
X Games and Major League Gaming announced Tuesday that X Games Aspen 2015 will feature a three-day "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" invitational eSports tournament, Jan. 23-25, continuing a partnership that began at X Games Austin 2014 with the "Call of Duty: Ghosts" tournament in June.
"We took a big step in creating a broader experience for our fans in Austin, with the new gaming event, the music festival and other interactive activities and content on site, and now we're working to extend that to Aspen," said Tim Reed, vice president of X Games, X Games Events & Content.
"Our fan base was really electrified with the idea of having MLG competitions at the X Games and having our pro players earn X Games medals in Austin, where it was a tremendous success," MLG president and co-founder Mike Sepso told ESPN. "We're thrilled to announce that Austin wasn't a one-off."
Eight teams (five players per team) will compete in Aspen, and Sepso said he's expecting to attract a deep international field. The X Games Aspen event will be the first time MLG has hosted a "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" event, but the PC game series has been a global hit since its first iteration was released in 1999.
Sepso explained that PC games are bigger internationally, while console games are bigger in the U.S. "We're starting to see more and more crossover in each direction, and you can expect to see some of the big-name teams in Aspen," he said.
In addition to the invitational component, Sepso said MLG will be creating opportunities for teams to fight their way in through online qualifiers in the coming months. "The 'CS:GO' competitive space is pretty well-established, so this will be a mix of invitational and qualifiers run through some of our league operating partners, which we'll be announcing shortly."
The eSports tournament is the only medal event at X Games Aspen that is not free for spectators, due to limited space inside the MLG tent. Premium passes are on sale at MLG.tv/store as of Tuesday morning. The tournament will also be broadcast live at MLG.tv, with highlights airing on ESPN and ABC during the X Games Aspen broadcasts.
"This is a dream partnership and we've always thought MLG and X Games would be a really good match," Sepso said. "Austin was a very successful experiment where we learned that these sports play well together and that we can dramatically open up the audience on both sides of the partnership."
Reed agreed. "People enjoyed the MLG event in Austin, they watched it both in the tent and online in huge numbers, and there were a lot of positives around it," he said. "It's definitely something to build on as we embark on adding more content to the X Games experience."