IGN Entertainment has announced that it will host a professional gaming tournament later this month, featuring Blizzard's highly regarded strategy title Starcraft II, as the online company begins an initiative to support professional gaming in North America.
The tournament will bring together 16 of North America's top-ranked Starcraft II players to battle against each other, and will take place from April 21 to 24, continuing April 28 to May 1.
The entire tournament will be streamed live on the IGN site, and the site hopes it will "enable the best players to become celebrities," according to a statement.
"IGN is always looking for ways to better entertain its audience," David Ting, VP of engineering for IGN Entertainment told Gamasutra. "Since making gaming mainstream is a big mission for us, what’s more relevant than making playing games a respectable profession?"
"This is why we are investing in eSports, and working hard to change people’s perception of gamers," he continued.
When questioned regarding how much money players can expect to make from the tournament, Ting said he "would not be surprised to pay out more than $1 million in prize pool to the top gamers in the next 12 months," provided the site saw sufficient profits from the venture.
IGN is looking to generate revenues using advertising initially, but also has plans for "many other initiatives to help gamers to earn a living through IGN," said Ting. "Think about traditional professional sporting venues. We will look to launch equivalent services when the timing is ripe for eSports."
The media company is calling this the "first step" in its plans to build up support in the North American market for competitive gaming.
"What’s important for IGN for the first few years is to help grow the community, so that professional players, commentators and fans can make a living on the platform," he said.