Deep within the cavernous Georgia World Congress Center the Major League Gaming Call of Duty World League Atlanta Open brought together the top 16 international professional teams to play for a piece of the $200,000 prize pool.
The highly-stylized main set stretches more than a hundred feet across, where teams of four compete in front of a couple thousand spectators. The top teams opened the event in Pool Play, while an open spot is available in each of the four pools from the Open Bracket division.
The convention room floor is divided between the main stage with seating a few thousand, a secondary stage where two different matches take place on opposite sides of the stage. MLG ran dual Twitch streams of the Pool Play action.
It’s a smart audience – a giant screen displays the action for the seated crowd and they applaud with impressive shots or heated runs. The opening match featured Faze Clan against Enigma6. The crowd went nuts for Faze Clan’s Tommy “Zoomaa” Paparatto while he compiled one of the best rounds in competition – 49 kills to eight deaths.
The walls are flanked with vendors selling everything from premium game controllers to unnaturally colored caffeine drinks on sale by the “tub.” Sony is a main sponsor of the event and had a booth for gamers to try the PSVR experience.
The real action is in the Open Bracket area, where dozens of four-on-four stations stretch across the room. Any team can enter and play their way into the pool play with ranked teams. Teams ranging from pros wearing sponsored jerseys to a team that took a Sharpie to plain white tees.
Many have a Team Manager to live stream their matches from their phones. The Open Bracket area is where all the action is – pained yells, shouting instructions to teammates and four letter expletives fill the air.
Essentially, its’ the satellite section of the room – where the desperate hope to join the stars. Atlanta drew 170 teams of hopefuls and they have long march road ahead of them. A team needs to win six matches in a row to advance to another round where if they win three more they are in Pool Play.
An official in the Open Bracket area said, “These are the proving grounds, this how the players get on the Main Stage. They’re hungry.”