From April 5 to April 7, Activision, Microsoft, and the major eSports leagues will host an event in Hollywood, California appropriately dubbed the “Call of Duty Championship.” As you’d expect, the companies involved want the event to attract only the best players and as a result have decided to include “32 of the world’s most skilled multiplayer teams” in the tournament. These players will be going head-to-head against one another on the Xbox 360 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops II for a shot at the event’s grand prize: A cool $1 million.
That’s a surprisingly large purse for what is ostensibly an tournament for pro gamers. The top gamers in the world can pull down upwards of $200K per year, so the $1 million pot is likely to bring the best of the best. It will be an all-star tournament of pro gaming, and could help the growth of eSports.
“More people play Call of Duty multiplayer every day than watch the average regular season game of the NBA. The scale and passion of the Call of Duty fan base is simply humbling, and yet there is no formal way to find out who amongst those millions of players is the best of the best, until now,” explains Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg.
This won’t be the first time Activision and Microsoft have opened their collective coffers and showered the monetary love on gamers. In 2011 during the Call of Duty XP event, the two companies held a similar competition, also with $1 million on the line.
Those of a cynical mindset are welcome to view this as a PR stunt designed to generate more interest for Activision’s flagship game and Microsoft’s most valuable partner thanks to the timed exclusive DLCs that have made the Xbox 360 the chosen platform for Call of Duty fans. And that’s probably fair. But the flipside is that the competition stands to give pro gaming a shot of legitimacy. The eSports field isn’t likley to compete directly with athletic competitions, but the still young industry could one day rival competitions like professional poker.
You’re likely now wondering if you might qualify for a chance to take part in the tournament. The good news is that yes, technically you can qualify. The bad news is that you’ll have to defeat some of the best Call of Duty players on the planet to do so.
If you’re still interested, you’ll need to gather up a group of pals (the tourney is for teams of four) and pay a visit to the official Call of Duty Elite site. Once there you’ll find access to a simple registration form. After you’ve completed the paperwork, the only thing standing between you and the tournament itself is the next month of Call of Duty Elite League Play. The best teams will have to prove themselves throughout the month of February, and once March arrives the top eight squads will be entered into April’s big $1 million tournament. The remaining 24 spots in the tournament will be split between the top eight teams to emerge from the upcoming Major League Gaming Winter Championship and the eight best squads from the eSports League’s European Finals. The remaining eight spots are earmarked for the best teams from Asia, Brazil, and Australia.
“It’s an absolute honor to have players and fans celebrate the thrill of competition on such a grand stage,” said Mark Lamia, head of Black Ops II developer Treyarch. “From the very beginning of development for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, we committed to making eSports an integral part of the game, and it’s going to be awesome to watch the best teams in the world battle it out for everyone to see.”