This guide will prove useful to newcomers and veterans alike, as it covers everything from how to sign up for an event to getting a pro management contract with MLG or finding a company to sponsor you for a tournament. You can consider this to be your all-in-one source of vital MLG information, and be sure to check back periodically because we will be updating this with the latest information (This article can always be found by clicking on the “New Here?” button in the top-left section of the homepage).

Major League Gaming is the first and largest nationally-organized console-only video game league. That may sound complicated, but it’s actually very simple. MLG tours to different cities each season and hosts tournaments for a roster of console games (which varies from season to season), awarding prize money to those who place highly — all the while seeking out the world’s most talented gamers and signing them to pro-management contracts, thus making them the celebrities of pro gaming (more on this later in the article).

Our pro gaming league runs on “seasons” just like any pro sport, which each last roughly a year. MLG is currently about to kick off its 2006 Season with its Season Opener in New York City toward the end of March. At the start of each Season, every competitor has a clean slate and a fresh shot at making their mark on the pro gaming world. This means that right now is the perfect time to be walking in the door, because you haven’t missed a minute of the action yet. Although MLG is a professional league, anyone is welcome and encouraged to compete at our open-registration events. These events can be thought of as a proving grounds, where the best players will earn invitations to play in our Playoff and Championship series, where the biggest prize money is paid out and players earn the right to be counted among the best of the best. Throughout 2006, MLG will be taking its tournaments on the road throughout the United States in search of the best console gamers, and all you have to do to get your shot is come out and show us what you got.

Signing Up For a Tournament

If you have aspirations of becoming a professional gamer, MLG is the definitive place to make it happen, and these tournaments are where you can prove that you have what it takes. So how do you get involved? Well, the first thing you will need to do is register for a tournament. Tournament registration must be done online through the MLG Store. You won’t see any events to sign up for right now because we have not opened registration for the 2006 season yet — but when the season begins, this is where you will go.

The entire tour schedule (cities and dates) for the 2006 Season is listed on the bottom of the homepage, where they will be available to you all year. Clicking on any of those cities will take you to our Events Page, where all of the details for each tournament can be found. It is very important that you read all of the information on the Events Page pertaining to the tournament you plan to attend, because this is where you will find the exact dates/location, hotel accommodations, official rules/gametypes, schedules, prize money and a link to the MLG Store to register. Basically, this page contains everything you need to know about a given tournament.

After you’ve checked out our tour schedule, chosen the tournament you want to go to and read up on the details, it’s time to register for the event. Here are the important things to know about signing up for a tournament:

* There is an admission fee to compete in an MLG tournament. The official game/price lineup for the 2006 Season is as follows:

Halo 2 4v4 Tournament: $40/person

Halo 2 Free-For-All: $10/person

Super Smash Bros. Melee Singles: $20/person

Super Smash Bros. Melee Doubles: $5/person

NOTE: For all team events, a captain must be chosen, and the captain must register/pay for their entire team at one time. This means when a captain registers their entire team for the Halo 2 4v4, they will be charged $160. It is the responsibility of the team members to work out the financial details amongst themselves.

*The League is broken down into three divisions: Pro, Semi-Pro, and Amateur.

Pro Players are the Top 16 ranked players in their respective event.

Semi-Pros are the 17th – 32nd ranked players in their respective events.

Amateurs are any player ranked below 32nd place in their respective event or are otherwise ineligible for pro status.

Check out our Player Ranking Page to see who is included in each division. This page will be updated immediately following each event.

- Pro/Semi Pros are not required to play in the FFA for Halo 2, but may do so if they desire.

- For Amateur teams, at least two of the four team members must play in the Halo 2 FFA.

- Anyone who does not wish to participate in the Halo 2 4v4 event may play in the FFA.

* You are responsible for all of your own travel to and from a tournament. This includes airfare, car rides, taxis, shuttles, trains, buses, or whatever else. Our Events Page will provide you with the exact location of the tournament, the nearest airport, and some good options for the best/fastest/cheapest way to reach the tournament, but we do not and cannot provide any transportation ourselves.

* MLG events will last between two and three days (depending on whether you are a pro/semi-pro or an amateur), so it will be necessary for you to find some form of lodging during the tournament if you do not live in or near that city. MLG offers a discounted room rate at a designated hotel for each event (often the hotel in which the event is held, for your convenience), and all of the information regarding that hotel can be found on the Events Page. The rates vary depending on the hotel and city, but on average the rooms go for about $100 – $130 per night. For that price you will normally get two double beds, and many people split the cost of the rooms with friends, teammates, or people they find through our MLG Forums to reduce their individual costs. You are not required to stay in the MLG hotel (or any hotel), but it is often the cheapest option, and will virtually always be the closest place to the venue.

* You absolutely must bring your own controller to the tournament. All other equipment (TVs, consoles, games, etc.) will be provided.

Illegal Controllers:

1. Any Mad Catz or Wireless Controller

2. Keyboard & Mouse

* Pay very careful attention to the tournament schedule listed on the Events Page. It will give you valuable information about when your event starts and ends. We are very strict with our schedules and do not hesitate to disqualify those who are late, as we cannot hold the entire tournament up for a few people. Please bear this in mind, as it would be a terrible shame for you to travel to an event only to be disqualified for tardiness. Do not be late!

What does it mean to be “signed” with MLG?

The very best players at their respective games will sometimes be signed to pro management contracts with MLG. This is an agreement that the player enters into with MLG that allows them to be represented by the company, who acts as an agent/manager to them. MLG will actively seek media exposure, sponsorships, endorsement deals, celebrity appearances and more for their signed players. We are already seeing many of MLG’s signed players breaking into the mainstream media and garnering a lot of attention (Tsquared, Team 3D, Zyos and Lil Poison, to name a few), and as pro console gaming continues to grow, so will the level of their celebrity, which is all part of being a signed player with MLG.

Out of the thousands and thousands of members in our community, only a very select few are signed with MLG (roughly 30 as of right now). These players have shown themselves to have exceptional qualities — both in their play and in their character — that made them excellent additions to the MLG pro roster. So what exactly does it take to get signed with MLG? Well, being a top player at your game is a huge part of getting signed, but it’s not the only part — we are also looking for those top players out there that have outstanding personalities. Do not expect to show up at a tournament, play really well, and then get signed immediately after. We carefully watch all of the players at our events, and the best way to get signed is to have repeat great performances, showing that you are both consistent and dedicated to your sport. If you do well enough at several events, MLG may approach you about becoming a signed player, which is the definitive sign that you are truly one of the elite players in pro gaming.

NOTE: Understand that MLG does not sponsor players to its events. MLG will seek out sponsors for its signed players, but does not directly sponsor any player.

Find out everything you need to know to get in on the pro gaming revolution

Player Sponsors

Some players are able to find a company to sponsor their trip to an MLG event, helping them to cover the cost of the tournament. Sponsorships come in many shapes and sizes, and can cover a variety of things; it all depends on the agreement that the player makes with their particular sponsor. Some sponsors will send their players to the tournaments with all-expenses paid (all travel costs, registration, food, etc.), and some will offer to help reduce the cost through a partial-sponsorship (perhaps just registration or hotel costs, for example).

The first thing you need to understand is that this is not free money. The company that sponsors you is essentially paying your expenses in exchange for advertising, which can be done in many ways. Typically, getting sponsored by a company will mean changing your team name to the name of the company. For example, if you are sponsored by TubbyChuck’s Taco Stand (and you should be so lucky), your team will most likely be called “TubbyChuck’s Taco Stand.” You may also be asked to wear a T-shirt with the Taco Stand’s logo on it, so that everyone who watches you play knows where you like to go when you get the munchies. Again, the extent to which you are representing the company at the event will vary greatly, and will often be tied to how much money you’re getting from them. A quick but important tip: Be sure to get everything in writing and signed, to assure that both parties hold up their end of the deal. Also, MLG does not allow fliers or freebies to be handed out at its tournaments, and does not allow any outside merchandise to be sold, so make sure your sponsor understands that before they try to get you to do anything of that nature.

The idea of console gamers getting sponsored for tournaments is relatively new, but as the 2005 MLG Season progressed, we began to see sponsored teams/players at our events more and more frequently. There are probably more sponsors out there right now for console gamers than ever before, and it should only continue to get better from here on out. This does not, however, mean that it’s easy to get one, but since this is obviously something that many players would love to have, we’ve compiled a bit of helpful information for you about how it all works.

Where to look for a sponsor:

* Many gamers look to local businesses in their area, such as LAN centers and game stores. However, do not limit your search field to just those types of businesses. Try to think of any company that would be interested in advertising to the type of demographic that loves videogames (teenagers and young adults). Consider this: Mountain Dew sponsors NASCAR drivers, but the company itself has nothing to do with cars or racing. They simply want to market to the people who watch NASCAR. Try to think of it in that way and you’ll find that there are very few companies that don’t want to market to our demographic.

* Many major sponsors from the PC pro gaming world are now branching out and sponsoring console gamers, as they are beginning to see how big pro console gaming has become. Do a little Internet research to find out about various companies that are sponsoring PC teams.

*Don’t just look for a sponsor in your city; look for one in the city of the event. In most cases, they will not care that you don’t live there. The fact is that a high percentage of the people at each of our events are from the surrounding area, so if you got a company in Atlanta to sponsor you for MLG Atlanta, they can be assured that a good bit of that audience will live in the vicinity of their business, which gives you one more way to entice them.

* Keep in mind that many companies don’t know anything about pro gaming and tournaments, so often times a potential sponsor will be out there, just waiting to be told about the possibilities of advertising their products in front of hundreds of people in their key demographic. Your goal is to find those companies and tell them about what they’re missing. Be creative! This is a very new occurrence in the pro console gaming world, and there are still many untapped possibilities out there.

When trying to convince a company to sponsor you:

* One of the biggest things is to help them understand what the event is all about, and most importantly, why it’s a great opportunity for the company to get their name out. Tell them about the number of people and the demographic that will be there. Tell them about the major media coverage and potential television exposure.

* Show them that you are a good player with a lot of promise. Summarize for them your accomplishments in gaming and why you want so badly to get out to the event. Obviously, a company would want to sponsor a team that they thought had a good shot of placing highly, because having the company’s sponsored team win the tournament means getting a lot more name exposure and media coverage. If you are going after a LAN center or game store, show up to their local tournaments and destroy the competition — this is the way in which many players first got their sponsorships.

* Be sure to appear and behave in a professional manner. If you’re serious about going pro and getting a sponsorship, you’ve got to be able to show them that. Essentially, you are trying to convince someone to enter into a business relationship with you, so present yourself in a business-like fashion.

Once you find a sponsor:

* If your sponsor is covering your registration for MLG, make sure that they do so in plenty of time. MLG has registration deadlines for all of the events that we cannot break, so make sure that you and your sponsor are aware of those deadlines and get everything in order before they expire. Like everything else, registration deadlines can be found on the Events Page.

* Be careful about the agreements you enter into. For one thing, you want to protect yourself from getting scammed, but you should also make sure you’re really willing to hold up your end of the agreement. Part of being a pro is making good on your word in business situations, so don’t agree to anything that you don’t truly intend to follow through with.

* Take plenty of pictures at the event. This way you will be able to show the sponsor what they got out of their money. Get pictures that show you getting the company name out to the crowd and giving them good exposure. Doing so could help you to have a continuing relationship with them for future events.

* Practice hard and place as highly as possible (easy for me to say, I know…). Being able to go back and tell the company that you represented them well will go a long way toward a future relationship with the company.

* Tell the sponsor that they can follow their team on www.MLGpro.com throughout the tournament via our complete event coverage. They can even watch as you progress through the bracket!

As previously mentioned, check back here for updated information from time to time. When applicable, we will inform you that this guide has been updated through the news section of the homepage.