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Major League Gamers Are Back at the Hilton Anatole, and They Ain't Playing Around

The Major League Gaming Pro Circuit has rolled into Dallas: Yesterday, scores of gamers (and their parents) checked into the Hilton Anatole, where the competition is being held this weekend for the third year in a row. I know this only because I ran into a group of gamers last night at Victory Park Liquor on Ross Ave. -- I was picking up wine; they, beer. One of their lot, a fellow with a Cockney accent, insisted the pre-tourmey warm-up party was a must-see. And so I tagged along.

When I got to the hotel lobby, the guy with the accent turned out to be a dude from Boston who was with MLG. "I can imitate any accent," he said. "You want to hear Italian?" He's not competing this weekend, but is getting paid by MLG to be a commentator for the live video streams set up on the Web site. He was drunk, and for the purpose of this article we'll say he was older than 21.

The hotel's big effin' blow-out party turned out to be a bunch of kids and a few parents in the lobby having soda, except for the commentator, who nursed a Corona. "I don't want to sound cocky, but you're lucky you found me," said "James ClouD," his gaming forum name. "I've been around a long time." A whopping eight years, in fact.

So what's this event all about? Money, he said, and others in the lobby agreed. "Gaming has been moved to the mainstream," he said. "There are people right now who are making a lot of money. There's a lot of them that live on this -- those are the Halo kids. You'd be surprised how many people are doing that."

Yeah, sure, we remember those Halo kids, and one specifically: Zyos. We ran a piece on him in the paper version of Unfair Park back in '05. Pocketed 80 grand in '04 playing video games. So, whatever happened to him, anyway? Says Mr. ClouD, "Zyos is nowhere to be found right now -- he quit."

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Gears of War 2 and World of Warcraft are the other two games on the to-do list at this year's Olympics-for-gamers. Some of ClouD's favorite teams are playing those games, and last night he was giving them a serious pep talk: "What are you doing to make the best out of yourself for this event? The way you're going to be the best is to eliminate what you're weakest at."

He saw me writing this down. "Are you going to write that? Are you going to make me look like a douchebag?"

One thing was clear: Pre-competition jitters killed this party.

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