The Ninth Circle #23: Playing For Keeps


The World Cyber Games is over again for another year. You may recall that I wrote at some length about this event, and it?s potential, back in Ninth Circle #3. If you haven?t read it you might want to, for a bit of background.

The World Cyber Games remains the premier event for game players wanting to compete against their peers for cash and national glory. It?s not alone in the field, which is also good. Skilled teams from around the world are finding the beginnings of a tournament circuit rising up. It?s still in very early stages, but it is there.

Last year, I wrote that the World Cyber games needed two main things to help it keep going. The first was more events, the second was for it to become a roaming tournament, rather than one held solely in Korea.

It is on this second point that the tournament has advanced. Next year?s World Cyber Games will be held in San Francisco, something which can only enhance its global appeal. This year also saw a nation other than Korea win for the first time in three years. This year top honours went to Germany.

On the first point, more events, we have seen some progress, but the field was still much the same as the year before. Halo was added as an event (Microsoft is a major sponsor), and something called the Survival project also makes the list. I know nothing about this last game, but any addition must be good, I guess. What I really wanted to see was the addition of games such as Battlefield 1942, but for whatever reason, the organisers have chosen the fantastic (Halo) over the historical. This has filtered into other events too, with last year?s Age of Empires 2 being replaced by Age of Mythology. While this move doesn?t cater to my own gaming tastes, I can see the logic behind it.

As noted above, the World Cyber Games is one of a number of events forming a rough “tour” that teams can follow, if their finances allow, much like “real” sports. The Electronic Sports World Cup was held in the middle of this year in France. The top Counterstrike team (Swedish) walked away with US$100,000 for their efforts. Warcraft 3, Unreal Tournament, and Quake 3 were also played, along with a separate female Counterstrike Tournament. ESWC had over 400 competitors and 8,000 spectators.

The Cyberathlete Professional League is another contender fort he pre-eminent gaming event, at least in terms of the prize purse. Next year?s main event will have $300,000 on offer. The CPL offers fewer events than its competitors, but also offers better facilities for the public, in terms for setting up a LAN to house 1500 people mad enough to bring their own computers along to the finals. If they can just expand on the number of events (Counterstrike and Halo are the only two games on offer at the next event, in December) this tournament will go far.

Over the next few years we will see these existing events grow in size and popularity, and probably see a number of smaller events appear alongside them. I?d say we are not far now from having a true “pro tour” for computer games, which is a huge step.

Last year I ended by encouraging gamers to get involved in these events, and others like them. I can only repeat what I said then: get involved! If you want to, that is. These events remain the “hard” side of gaming. Just as some people are quite happy to play tennis at the week-end, or golf on the odd afternoon, doesn?t mean they are doing it wrong as they haven?t joined the pro tour for those sports either. If you?re really good; consider it. Test yourself at some of these events. You might go far.

 

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