An E-Sporting Chance: Eventboom

By ESFI World on November 13th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.


Our e-sports correspondent is Jeb Boone.

The e-sports community is in the midst of a mad scramble to organize tournaments. There are such a large number of events this month it’s enough to overwhelm even the most dedicated fans.

While many prominent members of the community argue over tournament oversaturation and eschatological speculations, this November is one of the most important months for the industry in recent memory. And it’s been an important time for that e-sports staple, Starcraft II.

There was MLG in Dallas, Texas last week. Now there is Lone Star Clash in Austin, Dreamhack, the Blizzard StarCraft 2 World Championship Series Finals in Shanghai, the World Cyber Games, the IGN Pro League 5 in Las Vegas, the Intel Extreme Masters tournament in Singapore, the top tier of Korea’s Global StarCraft 2 League and the North American Starleague season three finals in California.

Lone Star Clash is perhaps the event most deserving of attention of these events given its grassroots organization and student-run volunteer staff from the Texas E-sports Association.

A plan hatched by two young brothers from their college dorm room, the Texas E-sports Association is a city on the hill for all e-sports fans. Tyler and Adam Rosen embody the spirit that built e-sports – bust your ass to do what you love and don’t expect to make even 5 pesos, a nickel or 10p.

TeSPA was founded in August of 2010 and in less than two years, A few university students from Texas raised tens of thousands of dollars and brought out some of the most popular professional players. For Lone Star Clash 1, players from Korea, Ukraine, the UK, France and the US came out to Austin to compete.

What followed defied the imaginations of even the most optimistic e-sports fan. The tournament garnered almost 50 thousand concurrent stream viewers and 1.6 million total stream views.

Typically, the term “student run” conjures up images of unkempt and slightly drunken 19 year- olds tacking up party streamers. Without a single hip flask within reach, Student volunteers in Austin not only brought the world’s top League of Legends and StarCraft 2 players to Austin, Texas but they convinced companies like Microsoft and Red Bull that e-sports was worth their marketing dollars.

Now that Blizzard has revealed that the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft 2 will be released in the first half of 2013, the scramble to organize StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty tournaments before the end of the year may have been premature. There won’t be a holiday launch that many speculated would take place.

Blizzard hosted the G-Star invitational tournament in Seoul over the weekend, inviting top StarCraft 2: Wing of Liberty players to compete in a Heart of the Swarm Beta tournament. What many thought was nothing more than a marketing event ended up showcasing what could be the first signs that Koreans may begin latching onto StarCraft 2.

On the live stream, large numbers of people turned up to the event and many seemed to watch the game in awe. While it is difficult to determine what exactly made StarCraft: Brood War a national phenomenon in South Korea – StarCraft 2 doesn’t seem to have it.

In South Korea, StarCraft: Brood War was elevated to the same levels of respect as Go. There was something transcendent to be found in the competition. Korean professional competitors and casual players both agreed that they could be playing the game for hundreds of years.

When StarCraft 2 was launched, it became clear that Koreans didn’t find a similar transcendence in the modern iteration of the game. E-sports being a mostly Korean invention – the industry has suffered as a result.

The G-Star invitational was the first sign that StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm has the ability to attain the same level of popularity as Brood War did over a decade ago. Starcraft II might just be starting to get interesting.

More on ESFI World.

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28 Comments »

  1. kaihu says:

    Love the e-sports coverage! Keep at it, RPS

    • Groove says:

      Yeah, this is the best of these posts so far, by a long way.

      It’s the first one that felt like it had a human connection and also the first one to really explain itself. It’s also the first one to not use accronyms, which helps to such a huge degree.

  2. somberlain says:

    Edit from post 1 : “Love the e-sports -Starcraft 2 centric- coverage”

    Sooo, this year in eSports, Starcraft, starcraft, starcraft, and humm, starcraft.

    I am usually not grunting about articles and all, but thanks for covering aaall the other games on the eSport eco-system. The RPS eSports articles seem to be SO biased and focused on a very little number of games that I am somehow amazed every time.

    Oh well….

    • lordcooper says:

      u mad?

      • somberlain says:

        no just sad thinking that there could be more coverage about more things, nothing more :)

        I don’t like biased journalism in general and that’s how i felt with the eSport coverage with RPS in general.

        • Oasx says:

          Even if we got this column once a day there would just barely be enough space to cover the major happenings in Starcraft 2, let alone eSports as a whole. SC2 and LoL are by far the two biggest games and so it makes sense to concentrate on them.

          • Drazla says:

            Well, the title is Eventboom.
            Something I see lacking from this is the fact that the Tales of the Lane tournament in League went down in Paris, this weekend. What was so special with it? It was crowd funded, 105 000 euro to be more exact.
            And yet it isnt even mentioned in the article; 4 of the best european top teams played there for an example.

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            Eh.. sure, these are the two biggest names in e-sports, but surely RPS isn’t one to cover only the big names. Nor should they, IMHO.

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        Sir, your use of that vulgar bleat is unworthy of this venue. Do you truly wish to be judged by your ability to retype tired taunts? Your education and intellect are now considered questionable.

    • kaihu says:

      They recently had the “history of MOBA” articles and while less extensive, they generally have bits on MOBAs as well. Thing is, while LoL does draw the biggest numbers of viewers these days, it is nonetheless the “new kid on the block” – Starcraft’s scene is more mature, it has more tournaments, the organizations and players are more established and better at communicating, etc.

      Although they’re moving very fast, MOBAs still have a bit of catching up to do on that level.

      As far as other games go, they’re quite niche / underdeveloped compared to Starcraft / MOBAs

  3. Dinger says:

    Very nice. Whether it’s eschatological or scatological depends on what end you’re looking at.

    Good to see Jeb’s settling into the ESFI mansion in the house of RPS.

  4. ChampionHyena says:

    Oh, man. Day[9] and TotalBiscuit on the same cast. Can’t BELIEVE I missed out on this. Someone tell me that VoDs are up somewhere!

  5. DrazharLn says:

    Best article in this series so far. I was able to follow the article despite not being an e-sports fan and the writing style was a lot better than previous articles.

    The article was a little light on content, but served as a decent overview. I’d be very interested in any analysis of why Brood Wars and now perhaps Heart of the Swarm are embraced by South Korea while SC2 was not. Gameplay, social, timing or marketing reasons?

    • kaihu says:

      Wings of Liberty wasn’t embraced because the established esports organization in Korea (Kespa) was in conflict with Blizzard and did not switch from Brood War to WoL. Without access to the mainstream channels, and with the established (star) players sticking to Brood War, WoL stayed a bit “underground”. However, recently Kespa made the switch the SC2, effectively spelling the end of Brood War professional play, hence the renewed interest in Starcraft 2 (be it WoL or HotS).

  6. innociv says:

    Most I’ve heard from seem to be pessimistic of SC2′s future.

    Many pro’s are leaving it for LoL, and a few for dota2.

    Legendary BW pros are losing in SC2′s to pretty much nobodies because their mechanical skills of BW are relevant in the build-order-victory focused SC2.

    In BW, strategies were discovered to counter a strategy, but then that one was countered, then someone would figure out that the original strategy with some tweaking counters the newest one.
    There were also these timings that were an auto win, but there was a lot you could do to delay someones advance to delay that timing. In SC2 things clump up and stream across the map so quickly that you can’t do that.
    And instead of players finding ways to counter these strategies, often with mechanical skill, SC2 gets patched to change the metagame instead of the players changing it.

    The difference between BW and SC2 is pretty much the difference between Dota and LoL.
    In LoL a metagame is enforced by Riotgames. In dota, there are so many strategies, and so much information, that people just forget things and do what’s popular, and someone either remembers or learns that some forgotten hero works to break that metagame. The metagame constantly shifts because of players, not enforcement by the developer.
    And the reason these metagames can shift by the players, is that there is so much depth, and mechanical skill reigns above build orders or picks.

    • kaihu says:

      That’s so inaccurate it’s not even funny. A few (very few) pros from SC2 switched to Dota, mostly players that haven’t had much success lately. However, with the influx of talent from Kespa, players who were borderline good before would’ve had even more trouble now. No actual top level pro made the switch.

      Builds hard countering each other is plain wrong. If there’s anything people complain about lately, is zerg being pretty damn strong with mass infestor. Problem? Possibly, but not something that’s necessarily that extreme, plus if it really turns out to be a consistent imbalance (rather than just a metagame trend that someone will figure a solution for) I’m sure it will be fixed.

      The big “starcraft is dying” thing started from Destiny and his silly thread, which people pay way too much attention to. Destiny was never a good (pro level) player, and it makes sense that people would stop watching his stream at some point, especially considering the ever-growing amount of high-quality Starcraft content coming out all the time. And while LoL is probably bigger in terms of both players and viewer numbers than Starcraft, that does not mean Starcraft is dying. There’s enough room in the market for more than one game, and eSports in general is growing across the board. So yes, LoL is getting big. So are Starcraft and Dota2 and so forth.

      • innociv says:

        I think Destiny is an idiot just the same, but most of Teamliquid, which is the biggest SC fansite, has been really pessimestic about SC2 and HotS.

  7. jon_hill987 says:

    On the subject of eSports this is worth as look. Early next month (most qualifiers have already taken place) Capcom are running a series of tournaments of all their best games and Street Fighter X Tekken. All to celebrate 25years of Street Fighter.

    http://www.streetfighter25.com/en/tournaments/

  8. Zankmam says:

    I really don\t care about Starcraft, so eh.

    But wtf? Why the hell don’t the Koreans want to play Starcraft 2? Why are they stubborn with Brood War?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I suspect there are two reasons:

      1) Starcraft was (is) huge in South Korea. Makes it less obvious to just switch over to a new game, even if that’s Blizzard’s intended successor.

      2) Certain South Korean e-sports organisations (or maybe just one very important one) refused to switch over because of disagreements with Blizzard among other reasons. Players bound to these were simply not allowed to play SC2 (on a competitive level).

  9. captain lust says:

    I agree the title could be changed but frankly, I couldn’t give a rat’s vagina about LoL or Dota. Nice work on this article as well. It’s improving on a weekly basis.

    • Zankmam says:

      Some of us don’t care about SC at all, so yeah.

      They should just do specific posts or, if they are doing general E-Sports posts, actually cover all/most E-sports.

  10. Butler says:

    Wtf does Total Biscuit know about eSports?

  11. mistery says:

    Anyone care to tell me if there is anything else in e-sports than SC2, LoL, SC2, Dota2, SC2, and SC2, brood wars and SC2 and SC2?? I’m a total noob when it comes to e-sports but it seems interesting. That said, the lack of variety in games played is a complete turnoff for me.

    • innociv says:

      Fighting games. Some of the big fighting game tournaments gets more viewers on Twitch than SC2, and often LoL, does.

      KoF13 is amazing.