Competitive gaming seems to be hitting its stride. The release of games like Starcraft II, League of Legends and the new Counter Strike, all of which were designed with a focus on competitive play, has re-invigorated the community. There are a number of strong tournaments focusing on these and other games.
Finding out where to watch professionals compete can still be a problem, however. For all their effort, a lot of the sites dedicated to pro gaming are tragically confusing, poorly updated or simply abandoned. Discovering decent sources can take a little time with Google if you’re not familiar, so I’ve done the legwork for you.
American based league MLG was founded in 2002, which makes it one of the older gaming leagues in existence today. The organization focuses on Starcraft 2 and League of Legends for the PC but also provides limited coverage of fighters like Mortal Kombat.
The MLG site includes a video section with a good selection of videos from recent tournaments. It’s not the latest match-ups, but there’s plenty of selection. If you want to watch the games live you can purchase a session pass or sign up for a membership that provides access to multiple game streams. Strangely, you can only buy certain bundles at your local Gamestop or Toys-R-Us.
This site focuses on Starcraft 2 competitive play from the Korean prospective. It’s goal was to bring Korean play to the world via the Global Starcraft 2 League, or GSL, which is now among the most popular and respected leagues in that game’s community. Korea had long been the hub of Starcraft competitive play, but the tournaments held there were rarely brought to viewers outside the country.
GOMTV.net is one of the easier competitive gaming sites to navigate. It provides excellent coverage and does a great job of explaining its schedule and highlighting the players. A good deal of content is available for free both on the GOMTV.net site and on the YouTube channel. Those wanting the full, as-it-happens experience can buy a season pass starting at $14.99.
Twitch.TV is an excellent live-stream site that covers a variety of games. You’ll find not just Starcraft II and League of Legends but also new games like Guild Wars 2 and DOTA2.
Competitive gaming is not the exclusive focus of this site, so you’ll find a number of streams on the site which are simply play-through, commentary or entertainment. However, there are plenty of channels that cover competitive games. There are also many channels operated by pro gamers themselves, giving fanatics a chance to follow their latest moves or learn some insider secrets.
Of all the sites on this list, this is my personal favorite. It has a great game selection, plenty of active streams and coverage of games that aren’t even released, which is impressive. You can watch standard definition content for free. High-definition is free on some streams, while others ask you to pay a small fee.
While subscribing to GOMTV or a Twitch.TV channel can help you keep up-to-date on the latest in pro gaming, being first isn’t everything. Not every match is exciting. In fact, some can be downright boring.
This is why I usually end up turning to Husky, a well-known Starcraft 2 commentator, when I want to watch a match during my lunch break or just to kill some time. His YouTube channel highlights some of the best recent matchups. You’ll watch game after game of nail-biting upsets, close calls and old-fashioned slugfests between veteran players.
And, since this is a YouTube channel, you can watch whenever you want for free. You can also watch in 1080p, which some sites don’t offer even if you pay.
This site fills the role of quick, easily accessible gameplay videos for the League of Legends community. A new Top 5 Plays video is published on a weekly basis and is spiced up with various Lucky Play and Players Choice videos, among others.
Most of the videos are only five minutes long, which doesn’t sound like much. League of Legends replays can drag on a bit in my opinion, however, so it’s not at all a bad idea to focus on the highlights. Protato Monster does a good job of commenting with a frantic but clear voice.
All of the videos are posted through YouTube, which means they can be accessed for free. Most of the videos can be viewed at 1080p.
There are many other places to watch competitive gaming, but some did not make the cut because I find them to be entirely baffling. ESL TV is a good example of such a site. Uh, why won’t this video work? Why is that one working? Such confusion is all too common on this site and others.
Do you know of a great place to watch competitive gaming that isn’t listed here? Let me know in the comments. I’d be particularly interested in hearing about sites that cover first-person shooters.