Over the past weekend, Major League Gaming held its first ‘offline’ event of the year. Gamers, fans, and brands flocked to Texas where the company put on a massive three-day gaming expo featuring three tournaments in League of Legends, Starcraft 2, and Call of Duty.

Major League Gaming, a company generally known by its initials ‘MLG,’ is one of the longest-running players in esports, or competitive gaming. MLG hosts year-round tournaments in a number of games, and a regular number of ‘circuit’ events in large cities. People show up, both online and off.

Spectators in the five-figure range drop by the site, packing seats and cheering their favorite teams and players. But the online viewership is why MLG matters. In mid-2011, TNW noted that MLG’s then most recent live event had a full half million online viewers. A year and a half later, MLG’s latest weekend had 2.6 million.

Starcraft 2’s first expansion, Heart of the Swarm, was recently released, driving interest into the popular title upward. Here’s a shot of the Starcraft 2 stage during the festivities:

2013 03 19 18h31 39 730x457 Major League Gamings epic esports weekend: 2.6 million tuned in to its competitive gaming tournaments

Those 2.6 million individuals churned through 6.5 million hours of content during the period. Even more, it appears that MLG’s business is decently aligned at the moment, with an ad completion rate of 95.35% and a click through rate over 2%. MLG partners with the ubiquitous Twitch to deliver its live-streamed content.

MLG is a company that has in the past struggled to find firm footing in the market. However, with its current mix of competitive titles, and the growing profile of esports – due in no small part to its own efforts – MLG has accrued an audience of sufficient size to truly stand on its own.

The next test for MLG will to prove that it can continue the moment of its last 1.5 years; if so, it will have helped create a new media vertical. If you haven’t ever seen a competitive video game broadcast, well, you’re lagging behind. Let me help:

Image Credits: MLG