February 16, 2011 / 5:15 AM / 9 years ago

IMG to spread Major League Gaming globally

NEW YORK (Reuters)- Major League Gaming, the largest professional competitive video game league, will be expanding to new markets outside North America thanks to a new partnership with IMG, the global sports and entertainment company.

IMG, which is run by billionaire private equity investor Ted Forstmann, will boost the profile of Major League Gaming, a league where players compete in video games like Microsoft’s “Halo: Reach” and Activision Blizzard’s “StarCraft 2” in tournaments across the U.S. and on the Internet.

Revenue from the partnership will be split 50-50 between IMG and the league, IMG said. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IMG will focus on marketing the league in the UK, Germany, France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil as well as in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, IMG Media President Michel Masquelier told Reuters.

“We are creating a world league where people are going to be able to measure their talent against each other in various disciplines,” he said.

Masquelier said that the partnership will involve hosting regional championship events in different countries and boosting awareness of the league’s brand through merchandise, licenses, prize money and online subscriptions. He said players in the league would gather points to try to improve their worldwide ranking. These rankings will “drive the business,” he added.

In 2011, Major League Gaming will hold six live events in the U.S. where players will compete for more than $1 million in prize money.

To play professionally in the league, players have to first compete on the Internet in the “minor leagues.” The league holds 750,000 matches a month online where players can gauge their ability before going pro, said Sundance DiGiovanni, co-founder of Major League Gaming.

The league signs up around 4,000 new members daily on the Internet to compete and access its content.

He said the league is sponsored by brands such as Dr Pepper, Hot Pockets, Bic and other consumer packaged goods.

In December, Major League Gaming said it raised $10 million in financing, led by private equity firm Legion Enterprises, which brings its total funding to $52.5 million.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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