Young gamers will take to the big screen this weekend to battle for the right to represent Denver at qualifiers for the first-ever Minecraft City Champs tournament.
Organized by Santa Monica-based Super League Gaming, Minecraft City Champs is a season-long competition that pits teams from twelve cities against each other across seven different Minecraft game modes. (A thirteenth team, the Virtual Storm, is made up of players that don't live in an area with its own squad.) To earn a place on Colorado's team, the Denver Drakes, players will have to qualify at a series of four weekly events.
For those not familiar with the phenomenon, Minecraft is a sandbox-style game that has players gather resources, create structures and attempt to survive in a blocky, pixellated landscape. The title has established itself as a favorite both of parents, who value it for its pseudo-educational, Lego-esque gameplay, and older players, who have used the platform to build everything from a working Game Boy to a model of Kings Landing from Game of Thrones.
This isn't Super League Gaming's first foray into this type of tournament. Last year, the company tested the model with a similar tournament for the popular eSports game League of Legends. In the fall, SLG held competitive Minecraft events in more than fifty cities across the U.S., with the best players entering into a nationwide tournament with a college scholarship as the prize.
Unlike the Minecraft tournament, SLG's League of Legends competition allows players over seventeen.
While Minecraft doesn't have the same reputation as a competitive game as popular eSports titles like League of Legends, DOTA 2, or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive — whose tournaments tempt pros with prize pools that can reach well into eight figures — SLG said in an e-mail that it aims to offer "a positive place for Minecraft fans to come together and experience the spotlight on the big screen."
"Following the success of the League of Legends City Champs tournament we ran at the end of last year, we realized that our Minecraft [players] wanted to experience the same competitive atmosphere and local pride." said Super League Gaming CEO Anne Hand in an emailed statement.
Tickets to compete in the qualifiers are $20 per event. All players receive a free City Champs t-shirt; the highest-ranked will go on to compete against Seattle and Chicago in the City vs. City phase.
The first qualifications will take place today, Saturday, March 11, at 10:30 a.m. at Boulder's Century 16 theater; participants must be seventeen or younger.