Call Of The Wild
A capacity crowd watches Seth "Scumpii" Abner, member of Team OpTic, play "Call of Duty" at the Major League Gaming Championship last month in Anaheim, California. More than 18,000 fans watched three days of video game tournaments such as "COD," "Super Smash Brothers" and "StarCraft." Many fans also participated via play-in tournaments. In all, more than 1,000 video game players competed for money and prizes.
Matt "Nadeshot" Haag celebrates with his team after an early-round victory in their "Call of Duty" tournament at MLG Anaheim. Team OpTic swept their way into the finals but eventually lost to the Evil Geniuses.
Nadeshot gives some last-minute advice to Clayster before an early round match at MLG Anaheim.
Sea Of Green
Team OpTic is one of the most popular video game teams around. Its lime green OG logo peppered the crowd as fans clamored to get a glimpse of their favorite team.
Video game fans present many unusual things to sign, such as XBox controllers or Turtle headset shells. But this might be the first time Jordan "Proofy" Cannon has been asked to sign someone's neck.
Many say Scumpii may be the most talented "Call of Duty" player around. On Team OpTic, Scumpii's excellent reflexes often keep the team in matches they may otherwise have lost. Team captain Nadeshot has little to say about how Scumpii plays. "Scump can do what he wants," Nadeshot says.
Front And Center
Three giant televisions form the focal point of the "Call of Duty" arena. The center screen is what the two commentators (below) control as they bounce to the views of various players. The two screens on the sides, divided into four quadrants, represent the views of each competitor.
Loud And Clear
Clay "Clayster" Eubanks shouts a call into his headset for Team OpTic. Each team sits in opposing soundproof boxes so it can't hear the commentators' analysis of its strategy or the other team shouting calls to one another. The headsets add additional soundproofing, so even though the team sits feet apart, it communicates through the microphones.
Stay And Play
One thing that separates an MLG event from, say, a World Cup match, is that anyone has a chance to win a tournament. Many games hosted at MLG Anaheim have spots reserved for play-in gamers who have either joined online tournaments or show up and get lucky. What are your chances at victory if you try and play in? Hint: The pros are pros for a reason.
Game Within A Game
Even though the pro championships are the main draw, the play-in tournament still commands an audience. Just to the left of the "Call of Duty" arena, the play-in area houses more than 50 numbered tables of XBox Ones, modified PCs and even several analog TVs for old-school games. Here, fans watch the main play-in matches, and sometimes the pros warm up on this elevated stage.
Old School Feels New
Even though "Call of Duty" got the most attention, the "Super Smash Brothers" arena may have been the loudest. The man-on-man format means the competitors sit uncomfortably close. Plus, dramatic, come-from-behind wins are common in the Nintendo hit, so the crowd hardly ever looked away and reacted excitedly to every move.
One At A Time
No, MLG Anaheim wasn't late to open. Fans were that excited to get inside. The first to get indoors can start playing video games right away and get the first crack at the most popular merchandise.
A rare vacant merchandise tent. For much of the day, the Team OpTic merchandise tent was a popular place to be. OpTic signature Xbox controllers and green headsets were hot items.