Major League Gaming (or MLG) is a staple of North American esports. Founded way back in 2002 by Sundance DiGiovanni and Mike Sepso, this organization specializes in arranging video game tournaments in the United States and Canada. MLG started out with small Halo and Super Smash Bros Melee competitions and modest prizes. However, it didn’t take long for it to expand to other esports like StarCraft II, Call of Duty, and Overwatch and offer six-figure prize pools for its events.
In January 2016, MLG was acquired by Activision Blizzard with the goal of creating an esports-focused television network. And while this might seem like a drastic shift in direction, the company continues to host premier Major League Gaming tournaments to this day.
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Major League Gaming MLG esports
Major League Gaming prides itself for bringing a wide selection of esports tournaments to gaming fans from all over the world. In fact, your viewing experience may vary depending on which games you choose to follow, as different titles come with different prize pools and levels of competitions. Here are some games you might run into at MLG events:
Most of MLG’s efforts go into producing the Call of Duty World League (aka CWL Pro League), so you can always expect to see the top CoD teams fighting against each other at Major League Gaming tournaments. That’s not to say that other esports get the short end of the stick. The only games that are underrepresented at MLG are battle royale titles like Major League Gaming Fortnite or Apex Legends, but if you’re a StarCraft II fan or a Hearthstone enthusiast, you will certainly find something to your liking.
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Historically, MLG events have always been conducted all over the United States and Canada. The most prominent locations include Anaheim, Columbus, Orlando, and Raleigh. The tournaments themselves took on many different shapes and forms. For example, MLG Open events featured established pros and talented up-and-comers fighting through a massive open bracket. Meanwhile, MLG Invitationals set the stage for all-out brawls between renowned esports legends. Combine that with the fact that the company made sure to organize several high-profile tournaments a year, so esports fans always had something to look forward to.
Another thing to note about Major League Gaming MLG is its contribution to the growth of esports. In 2006, the company signed a partnership agreement with USA Network, becoming the first organization in North America to produce a televised gaming league—namely, the Boost Mobile MLG Pro Circuit. The league only lasted a single year, but it was nonetheless an important milestone for competitive gaming.
These days, MLG events can still be seen all over North America. And while the focus shifted towards the CWL Pro League with its own different format and payout structure, the spirit of Major League Gaming remains largely the same.
Betting on MLG
Major League Gaming events have long since established itself as the go-to esports competitions in North America. With that in mind, it’s not exactly surprising that there’s a strong demand for MLG betting. Of course, gambling on esports tournaments isn’t as simple as finding good esports odds on your favorite bookmaker, and you need to know the teams, stakes, and formats if you want to develop a successful betting strategy.
Tournament structure & prize distribution
The MLG format is constantly evolving. With that, it’s common to see various games shift in and out of the Major League Gaming pro circuit. Things have been significantly more stable since the company was acquired by Activision Blizzard, but more changes might very well come in the future.
That said, it could take a while before we see Major League Gaming Fortnite or PUBG events. And if you’re planning to gamble on MLG matches, you’ll almost certainly want to bet on the Call of Duty World League. The CWL Pro League is by far the most popular competition in the current pro circuit, so it’s a good idea to get familiar with its structure.
The league is split into 2 divisions of 8 teams each. Each team plays through a double round-robin against teams in its own division and a single round-robin against teams in the other division. CWL matches take the shape of best-of-five series, so all participating lineups have plenty of room to show off their strengths and cover their weaknesses. Winning a match grants a one-time cash bonus of $2,500 per team, so there’s always something to fight for in the regular season. The total amount of regular season bonuses and prizes is $710,000.
Then, there’s the knockout stage. The top-4 teams in each division advance to the playoffs where they fight for fame, glory, and a chunk of the $1,250,000 prize pool. Meanwhile, the bottom-4 teams in each division have to fight through the Playoffs Play-Ins to decide which two lineups will join the top 8 in the playoffs.
Top MLG teams
Many teams built entire Major League Gaming careers at these tournaments. Legendary organizations like MVP, Team Liquid, and Counter Logic Gaming have all made a splash in different esports. Yet, ever since MLG was acquired by Activation Blizzard, its events have been dominated by Call of Duty lineups. Here are some teams you should be aware of:
- Gen.G esports
- OpTic Gaming
- Midnight Esports
- FaZe Clan
- Luminosity Gaming
- Team Reciprocity
- Evil Geniuses
- 100 Thieves
- Team Heretics
- Team Envy
- Enigma6 Group
- Denial Esports
All of these organizations have already engrained themselves in MLG history. However, if we had to highlight the most notable teams on this list, we’d have to turn to the likes of Gen.G, OpTic Gaming, FaZe Clan, 100 Thieves, and Splyce, as they have a great track record across several major esports.
MLG betting tips and tricks
MLG events feature a lot of different esports, so you will likely have to adjust your gambling strategy depending on which game you want to bet on. For instance, if Major League Gaming Fortnite tournaments ever become a thing, you will definitely want to account for the volatility of the battle royale genre. Nevertheless, there are several universal betting tips and tricks that will improve your results regardless of what esports you wager on.
1. Do your research. It’s hard to succeed in gambling if you can’t tell the underdogs from the favorites. With that, you need to be able to recognize player strengths, analyze team identities and compare existing meta strategies. Of course, you don’t have to do it on your own. All popular esports have analytical platforms like CoDStats.gg or Call of Duty Esports Wiki with detailed statistics on professional teams and players. And knowing this information will give you a huge edge when placing your esports wagers.
2. Read expert opinions. Every veteran gambler knows the importance of trusting their gut and making their own decisions. However, that doesn’t mean you should dismiss any outside opinions. On the contrary, most esports scenes are filled with players and personalities eager to share their knowledge with the masses. And while you don’t want to follow everything they say blindly, you can definitely benefit from learning what they have to say on Reddit and Twitter.
3. Hone your skills. There’s no such thing as a perfect gambling strategy. Even some of the most accomplished bettors can fumble because they make a bet on their favorite team or buy into a popular narrative. At times like these, it’s important to recognize the flaws in your decision-making. Ask yourself whether you remained rational when placing your previous wager, and if the answer is no, work on identifying and eliminating the reasons behind your errors.
Few competitions have the history and the prestige of MLG tournaments. For almost two decades, entire Major League Gaming careers have been built at these events. And there’s a very good chance that this trend will continue in the future.