The $100,000 North American Star League

By Jim Rossignol on February 22nd, 2011 at 8:22 am.


Starcraft II’s competitive side is really beginning to catch fire, with the North American Star League announcing that their first season will have $100,000 of prize money available. Three seasons have reportedly secured funding, with the last one bringing in $200,000 in prizes. That first season is taking place from April 5th for thirteen weeks. It’ll be viewable five nights a week at 5pm PST, culminating in 16-man finals.

As a side note, I’ve been watching some of the competitive games taking place in SC2, and the top level beginning to seem supernatural. The game is RTS kung-fu. Anyway, it should be interesting to see how this latest bout of e-sports enthusiasm pans out.

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42 Comments »

  1. Irishjohn says:

    So who will be competing? All the best players are located in Korea. I imagine the idea behind the prize money is to lure them over, but it’s a pretty expensive move.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      No, I think the idea is to encourage American talent, and recreate the Korean scene, rather than get the Koreans in to NA.

    • Bloodloss says:

      Well there’s still plenty of awesome players in the west, and it’s only getting better – Idra recently announced that he’s returning to the US, for instance. And yeah, I’m sure plenty of Koreans will end up coming over.
      Overall, this is really fantastic. It’s great to see western e-sport starting to shine.

    • Zaphid says:

      Idra went back to USA because of it and there is no reason why some people from Europe couldn’t come over.Whether you get 50 top people to not make half of the matches noob bashing is another question, but I expect the top 16 to be the best the rest of the world can offer. Korea is successful for 32 people in code S, if you look at code A and GSTL, there are more people than that with enough skill. The bigger hurdle is that most koreans don’t really speak English, but nothing is stopping USA from becoming THE esport country, as long as they have enough money to throw at it.

    • WeFlySpitfires says:

      It’s aimed at the Yanks although I don’t think if the West is ready to embrace professional gaming on the same level as the Koreans yet.

    • Bhazor says:

      You don’t want to know where I’ll go or what I’d do to get $100,000,

    • Starky says:

      More and more top players are realizing that they can earn WAY more money in the States/Europe than they ever could in Korea – Good players that are doing well in Korea even. Such as Idra (mentioned above) who got close to winning the GSL.

      Korea is very much an all in, you win big or you get nothing – where a top 10 player in Europe could enter maybe 5, $2000-$5000 tournaments, of which there are many, instead of playing in the Korean GSL. And could win maybe 1 of those get top 4 in 2 others and earn a decent living.

      That and sponsors are starting to care more about, and pay more for events in the west.

    • OpT1mUs says:

      Idra never got close to winning GSL. Jinro on the other hand did, twice.

    • Starky says:

      Idra got to the round of 8, that is pretty fucking close – sure Jinro got closer, but that doesn’t take away from Idra’s achievement.

      I don’t think either of them had a chance of winning it though. Jinro is an amazing player, with amazing macro and unbelievably crisp builds – but his micro lets him down and he struggles against early pressure and near (or actual) all-ins – I also think he lacks the confidence and experience to handle the pressure, I mean both GSL’s he looked unbeatable, utterly unstoppable, and then just folded utterly.
      While Idra is playing a race that is slightly disadvantaged by the current map pools, but he also tends to rage at that and give up/blame it – which I think puts him in a negative frame of mind and gives him an excuse to lose.

  2. Thesper says:

    Yeah, the skill gap between ‘foreigners’ and Koreans is much, much less pronounced than in Starcraft 1. Although most of the best foreign players are ex-SC players too. It’s just the game has been out for so much shorter a time and the technical requirements to play well are significantly lower.

    • Hatsworth says:

      Outside of Korea WC3 players have been doing just as well or better really.
      I think this trend will continue really because they definitely had more to learn at the start, and some of the very top players like Tod, Sase and Grubby just recently started playing. This is not even considering China of course, where SC2 will be released soon.

  3. CrazyBaldhead says:

    Nerds.

  4. Dominic White says:

    As amazing as pro-SC2 players RTS-fu is, my main gripe is that they’re SO good that it’s lucky if a match goes over ten minutes. There’s no back-and-forth, just a skirmish or two until someone plays Rock against the other guys Scissors and it’s straight to GG’s within five seconds.

    Just wish matches were a little longer. A 5-7 minute enclosed building period where they can’t even send out scouts might address that, but that’ll never happen in competitive play.

    • Zaphid says:

      Most of the tournaments are starting to use bigger maps exactly to prevent that issue, no steppes of war, blistering sands, delta quadrant and others.

    • Headache says:

      That has more to do with the maps played on than the skill levels of the players. Blizzard seem focused on creating small, intense maps that will of course produce short games, check out the battle.net forums discussing the new beta maps they’ve produced which they might bring out on the ladder. A lot of people are unhappy with these small maps because of the short games they produce and the benefit this provides to Protoss and Terran (Zerg need time at the beginning of a game to macro up, time they just don’t get on small maps.)

      The Korean map designers for the GSL have been making larger maps which we are now seeing in the latest tournament. You can check out Husky commentating on one of the new maps . He gives a very good explanation of why larger maps are important.

    • randomnine says:

      That’s a horrible idea. Scouting is the only reason Starcraft isn’t a blind game of rock, paper, scissors.

    • Choca says:

      Rock, paper, scissors and MARINES :o

    • Starky says:

      The no scouting rule is indeed a bad idea, as it will turn SC2 into a skill/timing/execution based game into a luck based one as mentioned.

      Scouting is the fundamental reason why this game is so tactical and strategic at top levels.
      Because when your opponent knows EXACTLY what you are doing, and you still manage to beat him anyway – that is good strategy, well executed tactics and builds.
      When it is luck based “I hope he doesn’t notice my X” it is bad.

      Big maps with easily defensible natural expansions and a reasonably easy to take 3rd base is what will make games longer and more balanced towards the midgame army clashes that are the more entertaining matches.

  5. MrEvilGuy says:

    my cousin will kikc your asses

  6. tricky2050 says:

    I can’t stop watching pro games. Its become extremely entertaining to watch some of these guys skills. Just wish some of their skill rubbed off on me, forever bronze QQ

    • Hatsworth says:

      You will literally reach diamond if you simply never stop building workers, and then spend the money you get from one or at the max two bases as terran or protoss. Zerg is slightly more complicated of course, mostly knowledge based stuff like knowing how many drones you can get away with though.

    • Dolphan says:

      I doubt it, seeing as almost everyone in Gold and plenty of Silver players do that already …

    • tricky2050 says:

      Pretty much everyone in Bronze that I play at least seems to be doing this with a few exceptions. Macro seems to be my biggest issue but I suppose that will come with practice. Damn you banelings!

    • Zaphid says:

      Odds are you are NOT doing it well enough. People say they never stop macroing, but then you see their replays and they get stuck on 30 workers or they are supply blocked at 50 food, etc.

    • OpT1mUs says:

      Hah, this reminds me of endless posts on SCReddit “I am bronze, my macro is perfect, what am I doing wrong?”

      No, it’s not perfect, it is actually horrible.

  7. Ertard says:

    Most excellent, will be exciting to see how an american league will turn out. Just started watching GSL a bit more seriously, and it’s just a fantastic spectator sport. I myself haven’t played SC2 in six months or so, but it’s still very fun to watch the pros play.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      Very much dependent on the individual spectating I think.

  8. Moni says:

    The prize pool is $400,000, winner takes $100,000.
    The prize pool for the current GSL is about $130,000, the top prize is $45,000.
    These NASAL guys aren’t kidding around.

    edit: Oops, it’s $400k over three seasons. So that’s actually quite similar to GSL, although the prize pool is larger in the third season, and the winner’s takes a bigger cut.

  9. luckystriker says:

    Although it’s great to see such a large prize pool for the North American proscene, I can’t help but feel a little sad at the segregation of talent that will inevitably take place. North Americans and Europeans would probably want to play in North America while the Koreans will most likely stay home. With the GSL, the most exciting moments were always when a foreigner steps up to battle a korean in a clash of personality and playing style.

    I wonder what will happen to Tasteless and Artosis?

  10. rocketman71 says:

    Bah

  11. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    Hax!

  12. Yor Fizzlebeef says:

    Bah, hax, humbug! He said in contribution.

  13. pakoito says:

    If only HoN comp coverage got this attention :( They have had 40k$ tournaments already, and several seasons of others.

    • Starky says:

      HoN never will, for the same reason any game like it won’t – because HoN is dull as hell for someone who doesn’t know HoN well to spectate. To understand what you are seeing, for you to understand the top players skill and talent you need to have a decent working knowledge of the game.

      The beauty of Starcraft 2 is that you don’t need to be player to get it, you don’t even need to have ever played Starcraft or a RTS in your life.
      Starcraft can be followed by almost anyone, and with a good commentator can be very entertaining even if you have no idea what a 10-pool is.

      Then the more knowledge you have, from basic RTS knowledge “I played the single player one time” right through too “I play 2 hours a day in platinum league” and beyond – the better and more interesting SC2 gets.

    • pakoito says:

      Excelent point indeed.

  14. MonkeyMonster says:

    Like others, its quite easy to watch the 5 minute games of the high end players. Seems such a shame they go so quickly and you never see end game units…
    Rage quitting ahoy :D

  15. kyrieee says:

    Personally I will still be more interested in the GSL. My guess is that most of the players participating in this NASL wouldn’t be able to qualify for Code-A, let alone Code-S. The level of play is so much higher, I’d rather watch that.

  16. vodkarn says:

    I think I’ll skip a couple seasons of watching this until the balance is a lot better sorted out. You can tell Blizzard lost a lot of the people who worked on SC1 because they made the exact same mistakes on SC2 – zerg rush too fast, so nerf them, ok a little more, ok a little more… oh crap now you can’t rush at all and need to macro as zerg, and the maps are too small and.. oops.

    So, yes, anyway, I’ll be waiting awhile on this.

    Come to think of it, man I dropped SC2 fast. Made it to silver or something in 1v1 and just stopped.

    • kyrieee says:

      This is not even remotely true

    • Starky says:

      Seconded, this is about as wrong as you can be, zerg rush speed hasn’t been nerfed at all really – a 6 pool is still a 6 pool. Hell if anything it is improved with the 5 roach rush and such and the general small map size. You still see a lot of 6/10 pools even at top level play.

      Terran and Protoss rush speed HAS been nerfed though (sup before rax, reaper build time and zealot build time) – but those were needed.

      The Balance(tm) in SC2 is shockingly good for a newish game (SC1 took years) and by far the most balanced RTS of the past decade right out of the gate.