Aleady a massive business and pop-culture phenomenon worldwide, eSports -- professional competitive video-gaming -- are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the West. While not nearly as popular everywhere as it is in hot spots like Korea, eSports are gaining notoriety and mainstream acceptance at a faster than expected pace -- which only quickened with Activision/Blizzard's high-profile purchase of Major League Gaming earlier this month. Many have credited this growth to the increasing ubiquity of competitive multiplayer in modern gaming hardware and the cross-cultural impact of services like Twitch and YouTube streaming.
Now, gaming-culture powerhouse Machinima is aiming to take the visibility of eSports to the next level with Mortal Kombat X: Machinima's Chasing the Cup, a digital reality series that will follow professional fighting-gamers on the road to the Mortal Kombat X World Championships and climax with a one hour network TV special.
A third season continuation of one of Machinima's most popular series, Chasing the Cup will now run on CW Seed (the digital-first arm of The CW) and follow the exploits of five of the world's top-ranked Mortal Kombat X players as they compete and train for the game's World Championship at the ESL Mortal Kombat X Pro-League Finals. Viewers are promised a behind-the-scenes look at the daily struggles, passion, and sacrifice required to become a true master in the deceptively stressful field of professional gaming -- a world where psychological and physical toughness are of greater demand than many would expect from simply "playing games." In a groundbreaking move for the eSports community, the season finale will air on The CW as a one-hour special on February 15.
The five competitors are well-known figures in the world of professional Mortal Kombat X, famous in their circles by both their names and gamertags. Ohio's Carl White ("PerfectLegend,) Atlanta's Brant McCaskill ("Pig of The Hut,") Toronto brothers Timothy and Mathew Commandeur ("HoneyBee" and "Biohazard," respectively) and returning World Champion Dominique "SonicFox" Maclean of Delaware will be the stars of this season, giving audiences a fresh look into the often misunderstood lives of an eSports athlete. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which owns the Mortal Kombat brand and invests in Machinima productions, is a primary force behind the series.
While eSports have indeed grown in popularity with Western audiences, the business has faced difficulties gaining a cultural foothold in the United States (where The CW originates); with many speculating that this disparity could be due to several of the majort eSports titles, such as League of Legends and StarCraft not having nearly the mainstream visibility there that they do in other areas. By contrast, Mortal Kombat X is the latest installment of one of the most popular arcade and console gaming series ever created, and has it proved popular enough to merit a recently announced features-packed "XL" Definitive Edition. The game, a combination of martial-arts and horror motifs, has retained a high enough profile to have been previously adapted as two feature films, a syndicated television series, an animated series, and, more recently, a digital-only webseries. A new film, currently seeking a director, has been in development for several years.
Whether or not that level of broad appeal will be the deciding factor in this new season's ability to break through to mainstream audiences remains to be seen, but new fans and veterans alike should have an idea what to expect very soon.
Mortal Kombat X: Machinima's Chasing The Cup launched its first three of five episodes on CW Seed today, with the one-hour season finale scheduled to air on The CW February 15.
Source: CW Seed
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