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Vol. 2, Issue 12
February 17, 2000
Game, Set, Match!

King of the CPL

by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman

At just about this time last year, Vangie Beal and myself were working on putting together the Female Frag Fest ’99. We had a gaming service to help with match organization, but hit a major stumbling block when working out how to do live finals. End of it, we realized we needed a credible organization, with experience doing live events to help. Angel Munoz, CEO of the Cyberathlete Professional League was an answer to our prayers. Thanks to Angel, the FFF’99 finals were held at Ground ZERO, the CPL Event held in NYC in September, and were a huge success. In order to understand the world of professional gaming, you need to know the people and organizations behind it. So, starting with the one I know best, I caught up with Angel to ask about the CPL, and the future of professional gaming.

What is the CPL?

The Cyberathlete Professional League, or CPL, is the first LAN-based computer gamers league in the world and has elevated advanced computer gaming to a professional sport. We hold several large location based events a year and this year we will have two large events in Dallas, Texas, one event in California, an event in Singapore and one in Stockholm, Sweden. We are the only organization doing professional events internationally and we have the largest cash prizes of any well-known gamers league.

Why was the CPL created? How has it's mission/objective changed?

The CPL was created to bring well-deserved attention and sponsorships to advanced gamers and to establish standards for live events that would match the standards upheld by all professional sports. When we launched the league in 1997, these ideas were considered to be on the border of ridiculous but gamers have become much more comfortable with these concepts, thanks in part to the proliferation of our concepts and the wide exposure we now receive in the media. Our mission has remained unchanged and we believe that the CPL competitions will continue to grow and expand into a widely accepted sport.

What do you think about the increasing number of organizations, such as yours, existing to run these events for gamers? Do you think there is room for more than one?

I am not very familiar with many other organizations, we know that we created the concept of professional gaming, we know that our events are the most popular and followed in the world and we know that there is enough room for several leagues with different specialties. On the other hand, it does seem that everyone is launching a league these days and that may have a positive outcome, as it may help pro-gamers get more attention, prizes and sponsorships.

Do you think the CPL and other groups are effecting the gaming industry? If so, is it a good or bad influence.

It is quite obvious that the CPL has had an impact in the type of games that are being released. The gaming industry can no longer ignore cash purses of $100,000 per event or the fact that people are travelling from all over the world to participate in our tournaments. They can see that the CPL has established itself as the clear leader of competitive gaming and want to some are trying to incorporate their games into our events. When I meet with developers they all extol the virtues of their multiplayer implementation and I have to smile, because when we launched our league multiplayer was only an afterthought add-on for single player games.

Are they any plans to work with developers to create better tournament support within the games?

That really is beyond the scope of the CPL. On the other hand we are excited about the fact that many of the top CPL gamers are being invited to beta test not only games but a myriad of computer peripherals. The pro-gamers are the ones that should be consulted on these issues as they have a heightened awareness of the minute details that make the difference between a mediocre product and one that could excel in a professional environment.

What do you think the future of competitive gaming is?

Larger, better events and bigger prizes. And of course the international recognition of competitive gaming as a sport.

Is the CPL planning any international events for this year?

The CPL is finalizing the arrangements on its two newest divisions: CPL Asia and CPL Europe. Both divisions have events planned for this year with a Singapore event planned for June and a Stockholm, Sweden event planned for July. Next year we are planning to launch two additional divisions: CPL Australia and CPL Canada, if we identify the perfect partners to manage these operations.

How do you feel about a universal ranking system for gamers?

When organizations talk about a universal ranking system they seem to believe that the CPL will agree with their methodology and in some way use their system or promote it, this is clearly not going to happen. The only way for a gamer to be ranked high in our league is by playing in our tournaments. Each year we crown a CPL Champion and the point system we use, only accounts for performance data generated at our events.

In order to accumulate points for the CPL a player must physically attend a CPL event, if I remember right. Are there any plans change this to allow for more players to be eligible?

No. All major sports require a commitment from the players to leave the comfort of their house and physically go to a park, court, stadium, etc. The CPL follows the same principles, but through our growing number of CPL Qualifying Centers we want to make the league more accessible to the gamers that may find our events a bit remote. We envision having an official qualifying center in every major city of the US within the next two years.

Where would you like to see the CPL in 10 years?

In 10 years I want the CPL to be a multi-billion dollar franchise with operations in every major city of the world, holding large international events with millions of spectators worldwide. I also want the top professional gamers to be generating millions in sponsorship and prize winnings.

How realistic do you think that is? (Genuinely curious, I have no idea myself)

When I launched the CPL I could have listened to the hundreds of "realistic" people that told me it was a preposterous idea. Now, people worldwide hail the CPL as the standard for all LAN tournaments. I extrapolate from that experience that an average reasonable person would predict that the chances of professional game tournaments becoming a multi-billion dollar business are close to zero but then again the CPL team is neither average or reasonable :)

Therefore, my prediction is that we have a great chance of building a new sport and solid business around that new sport that could in fact create a new billion dollar industry.

Take "professional" wrestling as an example, if someone told you that if you dress up two people in sometimes ridiculous costumes, put them up in a ring and have them pretend to fight each other, you could build a billion dollar business, would you have been skeptical let's say ten years ago? ...But Vincent McMahon did it and today that franchise is worth about a billion dollars.

Next month is your next event...what do you expect to see there? How many participants, any workshops, etc.

What we are going to see at the Razer/CPL event in Dallas is the highest attendance from international gamers in the history of competitive gaming. Here's a current breakdown:

- 7 gamers from United Kingdom
-10 gamers from Sweden
- 4 gamers from South Africa
- 1 gamer from Poland
- 2 gamers from Norway
- 1 gamer from New Zealand
- 3 gamers from Netherlands
- 8 gamers from Germany
- 7 gamers from France
- 1 gamer from Denmark
- 22 gamers from Canada

We also expect gamers from Russia, Greece and other countries to sign up when we re-open our tournament registration.

WOW...why do you think you're seeing such a large international turnout?

I think for two main reasons:

1. Our cash purses for our large events are now pushing six figures

2. The CPL tournaments have an international reputation of being fair and well run.

Do you think events like QuakeCon raise the standard for what is expected at LAN Parties? How will you compete?

I am happy to see that QuakeCon has incorporated some of our standards into their events. Let's not forget that many event standards, like having all of the tournament computers exactly the same, were created by the CPL. I have only the highest respect for the organizers of QuakeCon and I also admire the fact that they have maintained that operation non-profit for the benefit of id's customers.


- Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman needs to come up with better taglines.


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