At this point, the debate over whether or not competitive gaming is is a 'real' sport seems irrelevant; last summer’s Dota 2 championships attracted over twenty million viewers and were streamed live on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Top-level Call of Duty players can now pull in up to $700,000 a year, and American colleges are starting to hand out scholarships to competitive game players, while the biggest gaming tournaments sell out 45,000-seat stadiums with ease.
Like them or not, professional video game competitions are here to stay. And that's due, in large part, to Call of Duty. Activision's first-person military shooter has been a crucial part of the professional gaming scene for years. In fact, pro gamers are such a huge part of Call of Duty's audience that they're actually impacting the development of the franchise.
As such, it's not surprising that Activision's holding the Call of Duty Championship, a 32-team tournament with a $1 million prize pool, for the third straight year. The competition, which is co-hosted by Major League Gaming and sponsored by Microsoft, is scheduled for March 27 through March 29, and will be held in Los Angeles. Gamers will compete via the most recent entry in the series, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, while curious observers can watch via MLG.tv and Xbox Live.
Teams interested in competing in the Call of Duty Championship will need qualify at one of Activision's regional tournaments, which can be attended either in person or online in late February and early March. More information on these qualifying bouts will be posted on the official Call of Duty eSports site; presumably, details will emerge closer to the tournaments' start dates. Anyone who's interested in competing should start practicing now, but be warned: the Call of Duty Championship traditionally attracts the best of the best, as gamers from all over the world vie for the $400,000 first-place prize.
Traditionally, Call of Duty has been one of the few console titles to penetrate the eSports scene, which is largely dominated by PC games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and StarCraft. Still, games on other platforms are quickly making their way into competitive circles: fighting titles like Smash Bros. and Street Fighter are increasingly popular among a certain set of professional gamers, while Microsoft and 343 industries recently teamed with the eSports League to launch the Halo Championship Series.
Expect to see more games follow suit in the near future. After all, professional gaming is becoming a major business, and once publishers catch on, they'll undoubtedly want to take as advantage as much as possible.
Source: Call of Duty