Summer CPL report: winners, losers, and close calls

Big-name sponsors pile on CPL as gamers throng Dallas event; fatal1ty's reputation builds.

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DALLAS--Every six months or so, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) makes its semiannual stop in Dallas, where the league's championships are held. This year's championships, dubbed The Cyberathlete Extreme Summer Championships 2005, took place this past weekend at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, Texas.

There's a lot of money involved in the competition ($220,000 this year in Dallas alone), and people travel from all over the world to watch and compete with some of the best players in the world. While there's a small fee to get in, the CPL, as a whole, has given away $1 million this year, and that prize money isn't coming from $15 entrance fees.

For several years, Nvidia has been one of the premier sponsors. And this year was no different. Following on the heels of its successful GeForce Series 7 launch, Nvidia's booth was the site of several games, including the highly anticipated Battlefield 2. Figuring out that people probably get sore feet by walking around the place all day, Nvidia once again had a lot of chairs set up for watching the various games being played, as well as the occasional TV show.

Another longtime participant has been Intel, which is the main sponsor of the event. While it's arguably fallen a little bit behind AMD in the push to an easy 64-bit processor transition, it's still the world's largest processor manufacturer. Intel provided a spacious area for the main tournaments, along with several very large screens for the event's larger audiences. There were also a few different processor giveaways that took place throughout the course of the show.

Also present was relative newcomer Hitachi, which is positioning itself as the "gamer's hard drive of choice." While hard drive performance is considered far less important than that of the processor, video card, and even RAM in the gamer's machine, a decent drive can make a difference. The company was also host to some old-school retro games, including Space Invaders, Frogger, and the classic pinball game Comet. For those who don't need their games to be digital, a nice air hockey table was set up as well.

Plenty of smaller sponsors were on hand as well, including Insomnia365, CompUSA, and Razer. Most had plenty of wares on hand, with some even selling directly to the public.

The upcoming game F.E.A.R. was there in full force, holding several impromptu tournaments for pretty much anyone interested in playing. It was a nice little not-so-subtle advertisement for both Monolith's next graphics engine and what publisher Vivendi Universal hopes to be a major new franchise.

The sponsored tournament areas attracted the biggest crowds, especially during the official tournament finals. In the single-player deathmatch department, American professional gamer fatal1ty handily defeated fnatic.VoO, earning him several more thousand dollars this year.

The Counter-Strike 1.6 competition ended with longtime contestants SK.swe team victorious over Team EG in what turned out to be a very close battle. Playing the same essential game--with some better graphics and a few new physics details--Counter-Strike: Source winners PowersGaming took home the gold after defeating Upper. In another Half-Life-based mod tournament, Check 6 defeated Complexity in the official $30,000 Day of Defeat competition.

Finally, the brand-new entrant, Halo 2, earned Team 3D a victory over exi, and 4K.ToD took out nTw-DIDI8 in Warcraft III. While a game like Warcraft III feels out of place at a show dominated by first-person shooters, some gamers commented it was an interesting change of pace.

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