Case's Ladder run hundreds of MyLeague games including Yahoo Pool. Here follows a history of how it all started. In the fall of 1995, Jeremy "Case" Rusnak started playing the real-time strategy game Command and Conquer. This game pit the good forces of the GDI (Global Defense Initiative) against the evil and corrupt brotherhood of NOD. One great part of this game was the multiplayer aspect. Using a program called Kali you could play online against other players from around the world. And who wouldn't want to crush their friend by driving a dozen tanks into their base? 

After discovering a group of regular players on Kali talking about who was the best player, the wheels started turning. There was a league that people were participating in called 'Kerhop's Ladder'. This ladder ranked players based on their winning percentage. As it happened, someone who was 5-0 (wins-losses) was ranked higher than someone who was 50-1. This didn't sit well with many of the players.

Case actually talked to Kerhop about the way the players were ranked and suggested a novel new approach, where players would move up and down on a ladder based on who they beat in games. Kerhop didn't think it would be very popular and didn't change it on his league. As a result Case decided to launch "Case's Ladder" and use the new ladder idea to rank the players. It was, of course, a hobby for Case who was still in college at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

By this time, it was February of 1996. Case's Ladder was launched for the first time and quickly attracted more players than had been expected. Over 100 users joined the league! This was an "insane" amount and was unexpected. At this time, all the game results were entered manually by sending an E-mail to Case. A better system was needed, quickly. Because of all the statistics that were being tracked, Case wrote a program using Fortran to track player data. It seemed a bit weird, but it was the only way that he could program something on his school's mainframe and run it from there. People still emailed their results, but now at least the process of creating the HTML and match logs could be done automatically. It was still tedious to type in all those names! The ladder kept growing, to over 200 users.

Case then took his programming skills to the next level by creating a program using Visual Basic that would allow him to more easily update the rankings and statistics. This program was "smart" in that it looked for the players after the first key was entered. So, if you hit the letter "C" it would bring up the first name with "C" in it as the person you wanted to update. This meant that most player's names could be updated just by typing a couple of letters. The rankings on the site were uploaded to the site at least once a day. Usually it happened shortly after midnight. So users had to wait all day to see what their new ranks would be. There had to be a better way, so Case started doing some research. After a few days he had found a new programming language to develop the site with. But he needed somewhere to PUT it. 

After a little more searching, a company called Net-Link offered to host Case's Ladder on it's own machine for free since it was such a neat idea. We were also such a small site that they didn't expect it would take much resources from them. Case's Ladder set up shop on games.netlink.net and was off and running, with the world's first fully automated gaming league! They also officially donated their Kali game server for Case's Ladder users.

June 1996. Now when you signed up, you were instantly added. When you posted a result, the rankings were instantly updated. It was something that had never been done before, and Case's Ladder started really growing fast. Support was later added for six popular games that were played on Kali. The web address during this period was http://www.theladder.com/. Believe it or not, there weren't even passwords on Ladder accounts at this time. Everyone was just happy to have an automated gaming league. Of course, it didn't take long before someone created 20 fake accounts as a joke. Ladder support was born! 

Case decided he needed help answering the E-mails and questions, so he put an ad on the site and received over 50 applicants. He called the positions the "War Crimes Officer" as they were to investigate people who were trying to cheat. He ended up deciding on a player named Abigail because she was online a lot and was really nice to people in chat. 

Fast forward to January 1997. The first of many "Ladder Crisis." Our generous provider Net-Link decided that they needed to pull the plug on hosting Case's Ladder. We were sucking up almost a whole T-1 line of their bandwidth! Case's Ladder needed to move. This moment is the starting point of Case's Ladder as a business. Case needed a new server, somewhere to host it, and a way to keep the service up and running. He talked to players, who said they would be willing to help the site stay online through financial support. Case then approached his mother, who loaned him $2,000 to buy the equipment and get up and running.

So, Case's Ladder got a new server and a new domain name. http://www.igl.net was born! The idea to change the name from "Case's Ladder" to the "Internet Gaming League" was tossed around, but the players revolted at the idea! Case thought it might make more sense to name it something more generic since it was officially a business now, but people liked the hometown feeling the Case's Ladder name gave them. 

In February of 1997, the Gold Membership program was launched. For a one time fee of $10 you got a lifetime membership to the ladder you were a member on. In exchange for this you received a log of your games and some extra perks, like a special symbol next to your name. Surprisingly, many people sent in more money than they had to - up to $200 for the $10 membership. People just wanted to make sure their favorite gaming site survived. Case's Ladder kept adding support for new games and more features. Things kept growing until a decision had to be made regarding it's future. The costs were starting to rise and it wasn't possible to support the site just working on things part time. Case's Ladder needed to make the next step and hire full time employees. 

Case partnered up with a company from California who acquired the rights to Case's Ladder in the Winter of 1997. In January of 1998 Case's Ladder officially had full time people working on it. Case quit school, others quit their day jobs, and volunteers further added a helping hand.  In the spring of 1998 Case's Ladder moved into our present Internet hosting facility, Exodus. Exodus hosts such high profile names as Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, PeopleSoft, Price Waterhouse Coopers, US News and World Report, Franklin Templeton, MSNBC, and many more. This puts Case's Ladder on the map as a serious gaming company. 

In the summary of 1998, Case's Ladder acquired the World Gaming Federation (WGF) and their founder and lead programmer. This brought to Case's Ladder the ability to run automated tournaments and take players beyond just the standard ladder competition. Case's Ladder was the first company to think of tournaments as something you needed to tie to an ongoing competition. Also during the summer, the first Case's Ladder games started to be played on the Internet Gaming Zone. Games were spread over a wide range including card games, which was something new for Case's Ladder. Before this point most players were playing more "new" games like Quake and Warcraft 2. 

In the spring of 1999, we launched the LadderBux program. LadderBux allow our players to earn prizes for participating in various areas of Case's Ladder. It was immediately a very popular feature of the site. Case's was the first gaming site to implement a prize point program. Many companies have since followed down this path. Next the Platinum membership program was launched. The users really wanted more ways to help support the site, so a new program was created with better features and a cooler graphic. This tradition continues today, with Platinum memberships helping to keep the site up and running. 

Later that spring, Case's Ladder launched gaming leagues on the new Yahoo Games. This created a huge surge in traffic (and summarily brought servers to their knees). Servers were upgraded after a short time and even more features were added. More than a million registered users had joined Case's Ladder since it was started. Case's Ladder managed one of the largest online gaming tournaments ever conducted in the summer of 1999. This was the Descent 3 $50,000 tournament. It was held in Las Vegas Neveda after players made it through several online rounds of competition. Thet was managed through our tournament software and it was a very good success for everyone involved. Case's Ladder also managed the Heavy Gear 2 tournament for Activision during this time period. 

In June of 1999, Case's Ladder was acquired by eUniverse. eUniverse is a network of entertainment related Websites. Case's Ladder joined eUniverse and was able to get wider exposure and greater resources to grow the site through the relationship. Case's Ladder launched a new site called MyLeague.com in the fall of 1999. This site took the technology that was developed for Case's Ladder and put it in the hands of the end users. This meant that anyone in the world could create a fully automated gaming league and have complete control. 

In the spring of 2000, Case's Ladder opened a new office north of Seattle, Washington. New staff and some of our existing staff are now working from this office on a daily basis. Previously staff members worked from home offices. Putting everyone in one place has made the creative process easier and enabled us to roll out new features at a faster rate. Later that summer, a program was launched to automate Case's Ladder. A development kit was put together and we worked with a number of partners to integrate real-time reporting (RTR) into other gaming products. Some of our premier partners are GameColony.com and Hardwood Hearts. With the RTR integration, players no longer have to manually report match results to Case's Ladder. They are automatically posted when players complete games. 

The summer also brought the first homepage hosting at Case's. Users could now host their homepages on Case's Ladder as well as participate in gaming leagues and tournaments. This has created a deeper sense of community among the players. In December of 2000 MyTourney.com was launched. This site follows in the tradition of it's older sibling MyLeague.com. The technology for our online tournament system is put in the hands of the end users, enabling anyone to create a fully automated tournament in minutes. 

Shortly after the new year began, Case's Ladder passed the two million registered users mark.

MYLEAGUE ROOM LISTINGS: http://www.ladop.net/roomlisting/

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