More than 170 teams (some of them from Europe and Asia) are competing in Fort Worth this weekend for a slice of a $200,000 prize pool.
The sport? Call of Duty.
Major League Gaming's (MLG) Call of Duty World League Dallas event -- named such even though it takes place at the Fort Worth Convention center -- has attracted some top-notch eSports talent to Texas. Recognizable teams like Cloud9 and OpTic gaming have earned their places in the tournament pool, with an open bracket of more than 150 less-proven teams fighting their way for a chance to compete in the final rounds as underdogs.
When people not familiar with the culture think of competitive video games, sometimes they picture something like a chess tournament or the World Series of Poker -- quiet rooms with thoughtful people and not a large crowd. But eSports tournaments like this one are more like a basketball match, full of energy, a large crowd of engaged fans and plenty of loud applause. Knowledgeable play-by-play commentators keep viewers informed of what's happening on all areas of the playing field before throwing to analysts at a desk between matches.
In short, it's just like the sports you're used to watching on TV. Just more virtual.
This particular tournament is all about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the latest game in the long-running series of first-person shooters from Activision. Yes, there is a lot of shooting other players, but game modes like "Uplink" and "Search and Destroy" keep the game varied and make sure matches amount to more than "who killed who more."
At the periphery of the event arena are a selection of vendors selling energy drinks, controller accessories and Call of Duty merchandise, and nearby are several PlayStation VR demo stations where people can get a taste of virtual reality gaming. But the vast majority of the floor space at the event is dedicated to people playing and watching Call of Duty.
Anyone who can't make it to Fort Worth to see the action in person can watch live online via their web browser, through the Twitch app on compatible devices, or even in-game with a PS4 copy of Infinite Warfare. If you're reading this on Saturday or early Sunday (March 18-19), there's still time to buy a ticket and see it all up close
Check out the gallery below for photos from the the tournament's first day.