By Jonathan Vanian
January 18, 2018

Get ready to watch people on Facebook play the role of commandos who defuse bombs and kill terrorists.

The social network and e-sports company ESL said Thursday that two of its biggest live video game tournaments, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Pro League and ESL One, would now be exclusively streamed live on Facebook (fb).

The agreement highlights the growing popularity of e-sports, which was once considered a niche hobby, but has since turned into a huge spectator sport. Big tech companies are increasingly trying to get in on the action by streaming competitions that involve professional leagues worldwide.

ESL and Facebook declined to comment on the financial terms of the deal.

Under the agreement, Facebook will stream upcoming “seasons” of the CS:GO Pro League, which is focused on the popular first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The first tournament in the series will start Feb. 13.

Additionally, the separate ESL One tournament series, which also features the Counter-Strike game as well as the fantasy strategy game Dota 2, is scheduled to kick off Jan 23. ESL said it would also broadcast a five-minute weekly show dedicated to Dota 2 on Facebook’s Watch video-streaming service.

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Although Facebook will stream two ESL e-sports tournaments, ESL will continue to host other gaming competitions through Facebook rivals like Amazon’s Twitch and Google’s YouTube.

Patrick Chapman, Facebook’s manager of esports partnerships, said that among the benefits of hosting e-sports tournaments on Facebook is that people must use their real-life Facebook accounts to comment during the live broadcasts. It makes it more difficult to engage in harassment and profanity, which can be a common problem during e-sports broadcasts.

“If you’re on the record for yourself, it reduces a bit of the toxicity,” Chapman said.

World eSports Association (WESA), which was founded by ESL and some e-sports teams, is also part of the partnership and represents some of the participating e-sports teams.

The deal announced on Thursday is an expansion of a previous agreement in May between ESL and Facebook. In that partnership, Facebook said it would broadcast over 5,500 hours of gaming tournaments, which is already underway.

Story Updated Thursday 1:30 PM PST to correct Chapman’s title.

 

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