Major League Video Games Added to the X Games

Gone are the days of sky surfing, street luge, modified shovel racing, downhill mountain biking, rollerblading and all sorts of other extinct extreme sports. This year though, X Games is finally rocgnizing the most popular of all “extreme sports” and introducing a video game competition to the Austin event. No, seriously. Here’s the press release.


To capitalize on a rapidly growing competitive league right in the heart of its demographic, X Games, together with Major League Gaming, announced Monday that there will be a “Call of Duty” tournament as part of X Games Austin in June.
The “MLG Call of Duty: Ghosts” tournament will feature the top five “Call of Duty” teams based on MLG Pro Points plus the top three teams from the “Call of Duty” championship held in Winter Park, Fla., last month. The eight teams will compete in a double-elimination group format, with four teams advancing to a single-elimination bracket. X Games medals will be awarded to the winning teams.

“It’s going to be [MLG] bringing our high-level production into a really full weekend,” MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni said. “We’re looking to build something here that hopefully becomes a tradition at both the summer and the winter X Games over time.”
MLG is one of several professional video game leagues worldwide and the largest in North America, hosting tournaments in such games as “League of Legends,” “Call of Duty” and “Starcraft” and sports games like “NBA 2K14.” Teams of gamers make up MLG rosters and will compete in online preliminary tournaments broadcast on Then major tournaments are held in venues like the Anaheim Convention Center in Southern California, where thousands have watched tournaments in-person.

“We are for the first time in a position where we have the league structure, the broadcast piece, the direct access to media and brands who are interested in advertising and marketing to this audience, and it’s built in such a way where there’s this tremendous scale in front of us,” DiGiovanni said.

No stranger to ESPN — he was the video gaming expert on “Cold Pizza” — DiGiovanni said the partnership with X Games was an extension of a longtime relationship he has had with the network.
The partnership with X Games was about a year in the making, according to Tim Reed, senior director of content strategy for the X Games. X Games Austin expands this year into a three-day festival with top-tier musical acts and events surrounding the competition.

“As X Games looks to grow and launch into the festival event we’re producing, this is great added content to the overall plan,” Reed said. “I’m definitely excited to see how it translates [to X Games].”

Joe “Merk” Deluca, a member of Team EnVyUs, will be at X Games Austin because his team finished second in last month’s COD championship. He said the partnership between MLG and X Games makes a lot of sense. Deluca played in front of as many as 20,000 people over the course of a weekend at the MLG Championships in Anaheim last year, but he says the ability to compete for an X Games medal is what sets this MLG competition apart from the rest.

“I want to win an X Games medal,” Deluca said. “That would be a dream in itself.”

Bringing gaming to the X Games was a good match because people interested in professional gaming are likely to be fans of the X Games and other action sports, Reed said. Couple that with the surging popularity of the new genre of e-sports and X Games has what it hopes will be a popular attraction inside the festival grounds at the Circuit of the Americas.
“It made sense from X Games’ perspective,” Reed said. “The audiences are similar: youth, fun to play with, and they like music, sports and gaming. So it all kind of lines up with [the X Games] audience.”
A three-day ticket to X Games Austin will cost $89 and allow holders access to the MLG tent and other attractions at the festival. There also will be an upgraded ticket option for reserved seating inside the MLG tent, a gift bag and other perks. Ticket information can be found here.
The “Call of Duty” franchise is one of the best-selling series in gaming history, but first-person shooters like COD feature realistic violence. “Call of Duty” games can’t be bought by anyone under 17, and ESRB rules will be followed at X Games. No one under 17 can enter the tent at X Games without a parent or guardian.
“The subject matter is mature and it’s not something that is going to be right for everybody, but there’s a huge section of the audience that plays these games,” DiGiovanni said. “You’ll see when these games are released — one of the main places they are advertised is on the ESPN networks.”

New York-based MLG claims better than a 1,500 percent growth in online video consumption over the past four years and 600 percent growth in total audience over the past three. Much of the interest in e-sports comes from South Korea, Japan and China, but video game tournaments and leagues are rapidly growing in the American market.

There is also money to be made by the competitors. Some of the top professional video gamers can earn over six figures, and many have become celebrities within the gaming community. Having a league that can provide a living wage for many of its professionals was one of the early goals of MLG. Now that it has achieved sustainability, the league is looking to grow in areas where its audience already is, like the X Games.

If the Austin event is successful, MLG and X Games may look to expand their relationship, possibly making on-site gaming a regular attraction at X Games.

“Ideally, we get the [X Games] brand to travel in the gaming space and drive some engagement with an X Games audience,” Reed said. “If the tent is full and people are enjoying it, then it’s a success.”

21 replies
      • michael85
        michael85 says:

        That’s debatable Patrick, because I held the #2 position. If you had the highest score you would be at the bottom of the leader boards because you would go negative.

  1. ms Blanco
    ms Blanco says:

    fuck sake.. even inline or snakeboard are more relevant to X Games. But ESPN – go get that dough from the gaming industry so you can pay ms Blanco more $$$$$$$.

    • Big Zeach
      Big Zeach says:

      Since when do you have to be an athlete to snowboard, yah bean bag?
      Snowboarding isn’t a sport unless you have a coach and if you have a coach you ain’t snowboarding.

  2. oh my god
    oh my god says:

    “because people interested in professional gaming are likely to be fans of the X Games and other action sports”
    Yea obviously those playing virtual games would rather watch others do crazy shit rather than go out and do it, and they have the access. you could say people who like snow are obviously into snowboarding.

  3. your gay
    your gay says:

    “I want to win an X Games medal,” Deluca said. “That would be a dream in itself.” Get the fuck off your couch and do a real sport and maybe you can get one then

    • my gay?
      my gay? says:

      if people want to play video games then more power to em but it really doesnt fit into the ‘action sport’ vibe. ya dig?

  4. HaterMcBaiter
    HaterMcBaiter says:

    This won’t last. ESPN is gonna have its hands full when the have to sensor 10 year old kids saying things like “I fucked your mom last night” and consistent use of the word “Nigga”.

  5. The Royal Flush
    The Royal Flush says:

    Full Sail University is the Harvard of Florida. Ask its number one graduate, JD from The Howard Stern Show.

  6. Dag
    Dag says:

    Bring back the luge, rock climbing, and rollerblading. Who the fuck doesn’t want to see asians do triple back flips in the pipe?

  7. Fartbreathe
    Fartbreathe says:

    This is getting much hate because — the Xgames is just as much of a joke as this video game shit.

  8. cassino
    cassino says:

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