Major League Gaming's Winter Championship is kicking off this weekend, March 23-25, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. The tournament marks the first major MLG event of the 9th annual Pro Circuit season and will feature over 1,000 of the world's best professional gamers competing for more than $200,000 in prizes in games like StarCraft 2, Halo: Reach, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur 5, The King of Fighters XIII, and Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.
The StarCraft 2 competition is definitely the one that the majority of eSports fans are looking forward to. Gamers from around the world, including places like Korea, Sweden, and Peru, will be facing off for $76,000 in prizes. MLG already held a Winter Arena event earlier this year and the top 16 finishers will all be present at MLG Columbus, including famous players like MarineKingPrime, NesTea, HuK, Oz, and Grubby.
Halo: Reach gamers will be competing for $56,000 in prizes, with $20,000 going to the first place team. The biggest Halo teams in the industry will be there, including the 2011 National Championship winners Instinct, along with Str8 Rippin, Believe the Hype, Status Quo, and Warrior. MLG is also offering a $3,000 free-for-all tournament where hundreds of Halo: Reach players will be able to compete in teams of four over a three-day, double elimination tournament where the winners will walk away with $1,500 in prizes.
As for the fighting games, more than $66,000 in prizes is on the line. Here's a quick breakdown for each game: The Mortal Kombat tournament will offer a $33,400 prize pool, Soul Calibur 5 gamers are competing for $16,700 in prizes, and The King of Fighter XIII gamers are fighting for $16,700 in prizes as well. Top players like Justin Wong, Carl White, Phillip Atkinson, Bill Menoutis, Reo, CDjr, and more will all be in attendance.
The Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception exhibition event boasts a $2,500 prize pool, with $1,500 going to first place.
The event will be live streamed right here on G4TV.com all weekend, with four streams rotating through various StarCraft 2 games and two streams dedicated to Halo and the fighting games. You'll be able to catch it all for free in SD, but if you want to watch the HD version of the streams you can purchase a HD pass, or if you want to watch an ad-free HD version you can buy a MLG Gold Membership.
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All of the streams will feature commentary from some of the most talented casters in the e-Sports scene. Even if you've never played any of these games before, these casters will keep you up-to-date on all of the action, and give you tons of background info as to what's going on. These casters include Nick "Tasteless" Plott, Dan "Artosis" Stemkoski, Marcus "djWHEAT" Graham, Sean "Day 9" Plott, and Blizzard's own Rob Simpson on the StarCraft 2 stream.
On the Halo: Reach stream, the casters include Andy "Bravo" Dudynsky, a former Halo player turned coach, Scott " Gandhi" Lussier, and Dave "Walshy" Walsh, a 3x MLG National Champion who has joined the casting lineup after his recent retirement from playing Halo professionally.
The fighting game stream will be casted by Phil "995Phil" from TestYourMight.com, Ryan "Fubarduck" Harvey, Oscar "The Answer" and Timothy "BrewtusBibulus".
With all of this in store, the MLG Winter Championship is looking to start off the year just right. Make sure you turn in to G4TV.com this weekend for all of the action, and be sure to make your predictions for all of the events in the comments section. If you want to learn more about MLG, check out our interview with Sundance DiGiovanni, the co-founder of the organization.