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Easton to host new video gaming arena

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An MLG arena in Austin, Texas, similar to the one set to open in Easton. Credit: Courtesy of Katie Goldberg

An MLG arena in Austin, Texas, similar to the one set to open in Easton.
Credit: Courtesy of Katie Goldberg

Video game enthusiasts at Ohio State are set have a new outlet to enjoy their hobby starting at the end of the month. 

Major League Gaming is slated to open an arena in Columbus, bringing an even greater presence to the states with expanding competitive gaming.

“Columbus has hosted some of our most successful events to date,” said Adam Apicella, executive vice president for MLG, in a press release announcing the arena. “With 62 colleges in the Columbus region, hundreds of thousands of university and high school students in the 11-county area and close proximity to our audience on the East Coast, Columbus is a great location for our MLG.tv Arena.” 

Columbus most recently hosted the MLG championship at the Greater Columbus Convention Center last November. Katie Goldberg, senior vice president of communications for MLG, said more than 15,000 spectators attended.

The arena will open with the MLG “Call of Duty: Ghosts Pro League Season 3” playoffs Oct. 24-26. The arena will be located at the Easton Town Center and is a 14,000-square-foot venue, slightly larger than a CVS store.

The arena is set to feature bleacher seating for hundreds of spectators, soundproof booths for players and teams, a broadcast platform for live commentating, video screens broadcasting the competition and warm-up areas for players, the release stated.

“The playoffs will consist of the best eight ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ teams in the world to compete for $75,000 in prizes,” Goldberg said. “Fans can purchase spectator passes to attend for just $25 and that gets you in for the whole weekend. As well, fans can always watch online at MLG.tv.”

Tickets for the event at the new arena went on sale Sept. 26, and as of Sunday, no more were available for purchase from MLG.tv.

The playoffs in Columbus are the culmination of nearly three months of online play that will end at the new arena. Following the debut event, MLG will continue to host a wide range of events at the arena, and while none have been announced yet, Goldberg said information about these events will be posted in the coming weeks on MLG.tv’s homepage.

Two gaming organizations on campus, BuckeyeLAN and the E-Sports Initiative, have already worked with MLG and are looking forward to participating or spectating in future live events. 

“Several of us attended MLG Columbus last year, and we would definitely attend it again or something similar,” said Tyler Whitlock, a fourth-year in psychology and president of BuckeyeLAN. “In fact, most of us are really hoping we get another event featuring ‘Dota 2’ or ‘League of Legends.’”

BuckeyeLAN is a student organization dedicated to organizing gaming events and fostering both the competitive and casual gaming community at OSU as well as Columbus, Whitlock said. BuckeyeLAN holds one 12-hour event each semester that features tournaments for the most popular games at the time.

“I think some people who are not familiar with … events like this may not understand the level of energy and excitement involved,” Whitlock said. “It’s very similar to current sports in the United States. People have their favorite teams and support those teams by bringing signs, banners and chanting their names after winning a match or an important fight in the game.”

BuckeyeLAN is not the only student organization looking forward to MLG’s growing presence. Members of the E-Sports Initiative have worked with MLG in the past and have even had their own events sponsored by MLG. 

“ESI has been supported by MLG several times, namely our Shuffle V event,” said Brett Hutton, a fourth-year in economics and president of OSU’s E-Sports Initiative which used the “Super Smash Bros.” tournament as a qualifying event for an MLG competition in Anaheim, Calif.

ESI is a student-run nonprofit that uses gaming as its outreach. The organization is already in talks with MLG to hold some of their own tournaments within the new arena. 

Hutton said students at OSU are likely to see ESI events integrated into the MLG pro-circuit in the future. 

MLG.tv is one of the fastest-growing broadcast networks worldwide reaching 20 million fans across the web, mobile, gaming consoles and social media, Goldberg said.

“We look forward to hosting the best players in the world and continuing to collaborate with the passionate community at OSU and their many student organizations, those throughout Ohio and beyond,” she said.

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