Riot has implemented something new and pretty cool for the pro scene in season 3. It would seem they've basically hired 16 pro teams to work for them like a pro sports league. All things consider it's something like 4 days a week for 6 months of games between the best of the best in North America and Europe. They've got studios set up (one in each region) and they're bringing in 6 teams per region each week to play a ton of games. Every game is being streamed live, in HD, for free, and videos are going up within hours of the day ending. The website with all the games is available here, and actually has a spoiler protection feature you can turn on so you don't know who won a given game before you start watching it.
This is a huge step towards making 'pro gamer' into a 'real' job. I can't find details about how much they're actually paying these guys but one guy said it was in the 20-30k range. That's not great by any means, but they're paying to fly the teams to the big tournaments like MLG and they're putting the spotlight on the teams which opens up the opportunity to make more money through streaming or sponsorships. And it's a steady income which is pretty clutch. On top of just wanting to watch lots of top tier games I'm excited to see if this sort of thing pans out and becomes a reasonable way for some people to make a living. It feels like if it works for League of Legends then they'll have laid down the infrastructure to allow other games to tag along. They're using the NA studio for 2 of the 7 days in a week, it only seems logical that subcontracting it out a couple of days for a pro Halo circuit or something could be feasible.
They've also announced an all-star game in mid season, and a way for teams to get promoted/relegated at the half-way mark. The top 32 teams on the public 5v5 ladder will get to play in a tournament to potentially get promoted into a salaried position. This feels like the sort of thing that might really keep people at the top of the game interested in pushing hard to get better. It's one thing when you might be able to fly yourself to an MLG event for a slim chance at making money. It's another when there's a guaranteed payoff for doing well without having to play the giants of the sport. The 4 qualifier teams have started off the NA season a combined 0-7, but they're still getting paid, and they're getting a chance to play matches that count against top opposition every week.
I'm a fan.