The lights are on
When many of us think of eSports (or Competitive Gaming, depending on which term you prefer), we picture sponsored players in slick-looking team shirts using high-end gaming accessories. The play is usually mindboggling to watch, and many wonder how they can ever get the experience to have a shot at the big time (and big prizes). Thankfully, both Major League Gaming (MLG) and Ubisoft are offering their own ways in.
Ubisoft's The Next Level is a platform for more casual competition that will lead to prizes and trips for the best players. As an example, the publisher is currently accepting registrations for a Rayman Legends tournament that will begin on September 4.
After a month of open competition, players will be segmented into four skill tiers for a semi-final round in early October. The top eight in each group will compete for prizes, and the proceedings will be streamed on Twitch.
Ubisoft's senior director of player engagement Josh Milligan tells us that the plan is to open The Next Level to games from other publishers. Players can choose to compete in one event, or create a uPlay account to streamline registration and tracking. You can learn more about The Next Level on the official site.
This new initiative joins something MLG has been doing for quite a while, but gets less attention for than its major events. Anyone interested in competing can go to MLG's site, click on the "Play" button on the top of the page, find a game, and get started.
The breadth of titles available to choose from is expansive, including classic Call of Duty, sports titles, Mortal Kombat, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and even more obscure entries like Resistance: Burning Skies on Vita.
Joining a ladder is easy once you find a game and pick a platform. Players will either need to create or join a team to compete, and there is no cost to do that or enter a ladder.
An MLG representative told me that these public competitions are important to the organization. The best players rise to the top, and there have been a number of examples of gamers getting tapped for higher level play after performing well in the ladders.
As streaming and eSports become bigger parts of the landscape, especially as adoption of next-generation consoles ramps up, these opportunities are going to become more visible and more important. There is a way to get in at the ground level, and it doesn't require much more than playing the games you already have and love.