Aspen Winter X Games adds video-game tournament to its menu | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Winter X Games adds video-game tournament to its menu

ESPN and Major League Gaming linked up at the Summer X Games in Austin, Texas, this year to stage an invitational for the video game Call of Duty: Ghosts. The two will partner again at Jan. 23-25 Winter X Games in Aspen for another gaming invitational, which will be held in a temporary tent spanning 4,500 feet at the base of Buttermilk.

A new event has been added to the upcoming Winter X Games in Aspen, but it won't involve athletes pushing their limits outdoors. Instead, it will feature gamers pushing PC buttons indoors.

X Games title sponsor ESPN, along with Major League Gaming, announced Tuesday that the new offering — MLG X Games Aspen Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Invitational — will be held as part of the Jan. 23 to 25 event.

Just like the athletes who earn medals for their high-flying feats, medals will be awarded to members of the winning teams in "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive," a multiplayer PC video game pitting teams of terrorists and counterterrorists against each other.

Teams will compete inside a tent that will be erected in front of the Inn at Aspen, located at the base of Buttermilk, said Tim Reed, ESPN X Games director of events and content. The tent will be approximately 4,500 square feet with a guest capacity of approximately 100, ESPN said.

While there is no admission fee to the Winter X Games, the video-game tourney will command $100 per person.

The gaming invitational is part of an ongoing effort by the X Games to expand its content for a broadening audience, Reed said.

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"We've always had sports as the main component, and it still remains the backbone," Reed said. "But we want to provide a broader range of content and experience for our fans. Bringing in things like gaming or music are obviously a part of the youth lifestyle."

Aspen will be the second X Games venue for a gaming tournament. At this year's Summer X Games in Austin, Texas, ESPN and MLG partnered to put on an invitational tournament for the game "Call of Duty: Ghosts."

In Aspen, there will be eight teams composed of five members. MLG spokeswoman Katie Goldberg said the event is expected to draw a few hundred people, which includes the gamers, spectators and staff. She noted that "hundreds of thousands more" spectators are expected to watch the competition on MLG.tv.

"Our fan base was really electrified with the idea of having MLG competitions at the X Games and having our pro players earn X Games medals in Austin, where it was a tremendous success," MLG President and co-founder Mike Sepso told ESPN. "We're thrilled to announce that Austin wasn't a one-off."

Reed said it's too early to tell if the gaming event will be a permanent fixture at the Winter X Games.

"It will be good to see how it all plays out," Reed said. "Year in and year out we try to evolve with the content offering. It changes year to year, but we're keeping the X Games name fresh and unique."

Also new to the upcoming Games are high-end tickets.

A four-day pass, called the X Games Gold Experience, goes for $879, giving holders two lift tickets to any one of Aspen Skiing Co.'s four ski areas, along with tickets to the concerts at Buttermilk. Additionally, they'll get access to the "gold lounge" at the Inn at Aspen, along with other perks.

The four-day SuperPipe Platinum Suite Experience costs $1,799, and includes all of the benefits of the Gold Experience Pass, along with guided tours of the SuperPipe course, private indoor bathrooms with accompanying suites, a complimentary bar, catered food and other offerings.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com