Gamebattles – The Original Competitive Online Ladder System


For a long time in competitive gaming, Major League Gaming (MLG) was the spot to be for top-level play, prize money and sponsorships. It’s where teams such as Final Boss made their name and how sponsorships came from big names such as Dr. Pepper and Gilbert Arenas.

MLG was also responsible for laying the groundwork for online competition; they introduced leagues and ladder systems for many games across multiple platforms, and brought in prize money for select games to incentivize many people to compete. This MLG affiliated site, Gamebattles, still exists today.

What Is Gamebattles?

Gamebattles is “the largest online destination for competitive console and PC gaming” per their description. Originating in 2001, the site became the hub for competitive gamers to duke it out amongst the best players online, with rulesets catered to competitive play.

The site’s affiliation with MLG gave it a special type of credibility; while offline tournaments officially hosted by MLG were still where the top dogs competed, Gamebattles was a great training ground for strong players, and the influx of talent meant it was the place to either grow as a player, or to push yourself and try to reach that next level. Games that were also featured on the MLG pro circuit would host online qualifiers through Gamebattles.

It wasn’t uncommon for top players of the time, such as Walshy and the OGRE twins, to use the site for occasional practice. The site became the place where you could compete against the best of the best, when offline events weren’t as frequent and traveling for competitive games even less so.

What Games Were Featured?

The basic prerequisites for games to be featured on Gamebattles were online play and popularity

Games that were on the MLG pro circuit were always included on Gamebattles, and were often the most popular; these were games such as Halo 3, Gears of War and Call of Duty 4 to name a few. However, there were many other games across consoles and PC that had popular ladders, such as Tekken and Rainbow Six; games such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Starcraft II initially had online ladders on Gamebattles before becoming pro circuit titles for MLG.

There were even ladders and competitions for handheld games such as Mario Kart DS and Street Fighter X Tekken for the PS Vita. For many years, prior to MLG being acquired by Activision-Blizzard, it was the wild west of online gaming, where countless online games featuring many good players could compete.

It’s worth noting that not all games on Gamebattles had prize money for their tournaments and ladders; these were usually reserved for the most popular games, or any titles that were also featured on the pro circuit.

How Does Gamebattles Work?

Gamebattles has ladder and tournament systems for all their games, and everything is done through their website. For team-based games, you’ll have to assemble a team beforehand, or sign up as a free agent and hope a team messages you. Matchmaking, setting the rules, and match reporting are all done through the site itself.

With many games now introducing ranked modes and leaderboards internally, Gamebattles can seem like a bit of a chore to maneuver. The main benefits to Gamebattles are the ability to use rules and maps that are more in-line with tournament level play, and the concentration of talent; people who use Gamebattles will very likely be familiar with competition, making the baseline skill much higher than random matchmaking.

Gamebattles And Activision-Blizzard

With MLG being acquired by Activision-Blizzard, all the games featured on Gamebattles now are associated with Activision-Blizzard; you won’t find Smash, Gears of War or Halo ladders anymore. Instead, this is the spot to go for high-level Overwatch, Call of Duty, Hearthstone, and all those games under the Activision-Blizzard umbrella. 

Gamebattles has changed over the years, and if you prefer the simplicity of in-game matchmaking or already have a solid crew of players to practice with, it might be too much of a nuisance to use. However, it can still be a great resource for finding many skilled players in these particular games, and the thousands of active users shows that you’ll always be able to find a match.