It’s been about three weeks since Dallas’ Cyberathlete Professional League went under, but the circumstances are no less murky. Started in 1997, the league sought to establish computer and online gaming as professional sports by hosting international competitions. Skilled and amateur gamers filled conference halls around the world, duking it out on screen as they sat side by side at their own computer stations. As the industry exploded in the late '90s, so did the CPL, growing to 600,000 members and giving out a total of $3 million in prize money. CPL founder Angel Munoz was featured in The New York Times and in Wired as the lead man in the field.
But in mid-March, with no warning, the CPL issued a perplexing statement on their Web site, saying that “the current fragmentation of the sport, a crowded field of competing leagues, and the current economic climate have prompted the CPL to suspend its pro-tournament operations.” In recent weeks, Munoz and his staff have not return repeated calls and e-mails for comment. And it looks like Unfair Park isn’t the only one looking for an explanation. There are 112 comments on the CPL Web site, most of them lamenting the company’s closure.
“PC gaming has always been the one thing ive been better at than all my friends, i always dreamed of going to CPL events, and was planning to in the near future. This is a hit to competitive PC gaming. The one thing PC gamers have been able to hold above console lovers is the competition.. wat will happen if we lose that, too?” reads one comment. "This is blasphemy!” reads another.
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But this one sums it up better than any: “Can’t be real , i hate everyone , stupid nightmare someone wake me up.” Unfair Park's also tried to reach out to several advisory board members, some of whom are among the bigger names in online gaming; alas, no luck there either. --Naomi Zeveloff