E-Sporting Chance: 2012 Kick Off

Our e-sports correspondent is ESFI World’s Samuel Lingle.

E-sports in 2012 got going quickly as a number of January events opened the year. The Global StarCraft 2 League (GSL) kicked off their new season. The fighting game community knocked off APEX 2012, featuring Super Smash Bros and various other titles. The DotA 2 beta continues to chug along with various tournaments and leagues. The biggest of the past week, though, was the StarCraft 2 tournament at HomeStory Cup IV. Coverage and results right here.

HomeStory Cup pits Europe’s best against a number of top Korean and American players. As the name implies, it’s a “home” style event, the mom and pop joint compared to a MLG or IPL’s big chain Walmart. Dennis “TaKe” Gehlen hosts the event in his studio apartment in Krefeld, Germany, conveniently located above a bar, providing an intimate environment where players can relax between games, interact with fans, and enjoy themselves more than at rigorous events like MLG. The HomeStory Cup often shows the softer side of players, giving them opportunities to commentate games and show off a bit more of their personality than at other tournaments.

The winner wasn’t someone who needed much help showing off. The overly confident and sometimes arrogant fan favorite Min-Chul “MC” Jang let the world know that he’s still a threat in 2012 with a dominant performance reminiscent of his late 2010 and early 2011 play.

[Photo credit: Fragster.de]

MC lost one match, to Korean Terran player Jung-Hoon “MarineKing” Lee, on his way to the championship, decimating the bracket on the final day when he swept top Polish Zerg Artur “Nerchio” Bloch 3-0, took out EG’s newest player, the Korean Protoss Jin-Young “JYP” Park 3-2, and finally closed out the tournament with a ridiculous 4-0 tally against Korean Terran Sang-Hwan “Sound” Bae. The win netted him $7,500, a sizable sum, but only a small chunk compared to the ridiculous goal of $500,000 in winnings for the year MC set for himself after hearing rivals Soo-Hoo “DongRaeGu” Park and Jong-Hyeon “MVP” Jeong were looking for (slightly) more modest totals of $230,000 and $170,000, respectively.

MC was one of the three most successful players in 2011 and is still the only Protoss to ever win the GSL, but most of his greatest accomplishments came in the first half of 2011. Midway through the year, he struggled, dropping out of the GSL and struggling in international tournaments before re-qualifying for Code S. Even so, he hadn’t won a tournament since June, before HomeStory 4.

While it may have been nice to see a new face break out to begin the year, it’s hard to complain about more MC. The man is one of the more entertaining personalities in StarCraft. At MLG Providence, he wore a murloc suit throughout the event, stomping on stage and doing a murloc dance after winning a big match. A murloc suit. He’s one of the few Koreans unafraid to speak their mind and talk a little trash to his opponents. In Brood War, he earned the nickname “suicide toss” after one of his traditional ceremonies – a throat cut towards the opposition – ended up being his own funeral after an embarrassing loss. In StarCraft 2, that cockiness has been a boon, helping him overcome his nerves and become one of the most intimidating players in the game He’s aggressive in game, and his matches are always fun to watch.

[MC celebrates with with murloc suit dance]

Will 2012 be the year of MC? He sure thinks so, and he’s off to a good start. In January of 2011, MC was on top of the Starcraft world, but it didn’t last, and it may not this time, either. But whatever happens, it’ll be fun to watch.

Quick Hits

The Global StarCraft 2 League kicked off the first of four seasons planned in 2012 over the past week, completing three groups of play in Code S, its elite division. The two non-Korean invites struggled; American Zerg Greg “IdrA” Fields made his return to Korea but failed to advance out of his group, while Taiwanese superstar Yang “SEn” Chia Cheng suffered a similar fate. Not that that’s anything to be ashamed about; star Korean players like Ji-Sung “Bomber” Choi got eliminated, too. ESFI World is providing coverage of the GSL throughout Season 1 here.

APEX 2012 kicked off the fighting game scene in 2012 with Super Smash Bros and various other titles (including Pokemon!). You can catch up on results for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter IV, and Mortal Kombat 9 at Shoryuken.com, and find the Smash results on Smashboards.

The regular season wasn’t the only GSL tournament to open the year. The Arena of Legends, GSL’s all-star tournament series, completed “The King of Kongs”, pitting all losing GSL finalists against each other to crown who in fact is the King of Kongs. “Kong” is a Korean term for a regular second place finisher, someone who makes multiple final events only to lose in the ultimate game. Jin-Ho “YellOw” Hong was the original Kong in Brood War, but in StarCraft 2, apparently the King is Soo-Ho “DongRaeGu” Park, as he defeated Kang-Ho “Losira” Hwang to win this version of the Arena of Legends. Or perhaps Losira’s the one who deserves that title? Link.

Last weekend, SpeedDemosArchive.com hosted the Awesome Games Done Quick 2012 marathon, a speed running event for charity featuring nearly five days straight of some of the most amazing video game playing you’ll ever see. The runners brought in over $140,000 in donations for the Prevent Cancer Foundation as they destroyed games like Ocarina of Time, Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, and Final Fantasy 7. While speed runs are not traditionally considered e-sports, the concept is the same: it’s a skill-based video game competition. Where StarCraft 2 relates to tennis or Counter-Strike to football, speed running is track and field. It’s competing against the clock, and yourself, not just against the opponent in front of you. Speed running is the newest fad on streaming services like Twitch.TV, so if games like Super Mario 64 float your fancy more than Street Fighter or StarCraft, check out some of the popular speed runners like Siglemic (http://www.twitch.tv/siglemic). You won’t regret it.

ProGamingTours.net took a look at the best paying e-sports games of 2011. Not surprisingly, StarCraft 2 was the top, but DotA 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took the next two spots, thanks to the million dollar tournaments hosted by their developers.

The IGN Pro League is trying to increase the reach of e-sports by hosting a showmatch at South by Southwest, the massive music, film, and interactive media festival held yearly in Austin, Texas. You can vote on which players you want to play in the match until the midnight PST on the 16th.

Plantronics hosted a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Invitational at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past weekend. Featuring two American CS 1.6 and two CS: Source teams, it was a chance to showcase CS:GO’s potential as an e-sports title. Dynamic, the legendary Source team, took the tourney by beating fellow source players 3DMAX. You can check out the matches here.

And the results.

There’s plenty to look forward to for the rest of January. Next week, the Intel Extreme Masters will host the first Global Challenge of the year in Kiev (or more precisely, the 4th of their 2011-2012 season), featuring StarCraft 2, Counter-Strike 1.6, and League of Legends. The biggest DotA 2 competition to date promises to begin soon as Cyberarena’s Star Ladder website is set to go live this weekend.

As I write this, the SHOUTcraft Invitational, the StarCraft 2 invite tournament hosted by cynical brit John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, just finished its first day of competition. Manuel “Grubby” Schenzuiken, the WarCraft 3 superstar, continued his strong 2012 form in StarCraft 2 by beating Jos “Ret” de Kroon to advance out of his group. Matches begin again today at 10AM GMT.

And those ESFI World links…

More soon!


  1. LlamaNL says:

    No mention of the 10 gazilion DOTA2 team pickups? Everyone is getting sponsored, rosters are beings shuffled, and in the last 2 weeks a bunch of new tournaments were announced.

    • Starky says:

      Everyone always complains that one game isn’t covered whenever one of these is posted, and frankly the dota 2 thing isn’t even news worthy unless you’re a dota 2 fan – which given it’s an unreleased game in beta, that might not succeed (in terms of an esport with enough view numbers to back it up), isn’t a lot of people right now.

      I enjoy a dota as much as the next strategy geek, but lets face it, they’re too complex, too knowledge heavy, and too damn boring for the majority of a game.
      That and it has the same issue as fighting games – to non-proficient gamers SF4 top end match looks very much like a button mashing lower end game (with a few notable exceptions that end up with a lot of youtube hits). Dota clones suffer that even more.

  2. Delusibeta says:

    Correction corner: the ShoutCraft Invitational doesn’t resume until 2pm GMT (i.e. in less than ten minutes).

  3. Lord Byte says:

    Very curious as to what the writer’s beef is with League of Legends. After Starcraft 2 it’s one of the most watched games, and the amount of players is nothing to sneeze at either. I think he only mentioned it once by name in an article, though he does namedrop Dota 2 at least once or twice.
    Either he doesn’t know the community / game and is not interested in covering it (a shame), or he’s got an agenda which would be bad.

    • Imperialles says:

      Probably because combining the words “LoL” and “competitive” in any sentence is a horrible joke.

    • SiplNico says:


      Whether you like it or not, LoL is quickly developing a strong competitive scene, and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      Maybe there just haven’t been a lot of significant LoL tournaments yet this year?

      @Imperialles What? Really? I mean, people seem to take it pretty seriously. Why isn’t it competitive?

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      I can’t remember where I read it, probably here… but apparently Starcraft 2 is something that anyone can quickly grasp, there’s a climactic build up with a few minutes of base building, dramatic armies. whereas in LOL and DOTA, by comparison to the two or three skills that will be used in a typical starcraft 2 match (e.g. blink), there are vast swathes of skills, characters, cooldown times, which makes it a bit harder to watch and talk about.

      Also, maybe it’s just not in this author’s interests? It’s not like anyone on RPS would ever be obliged to write about something that didn’t interest them. In which case – if it interests you so much – why not start writing about it somewhere yourself?

    • mickygor says:

      It would be easier to swallow, HexagonalBolts, were the author, when mentioning the progress that the eSports scene made last year, to mention the $5million prize pot for LoL alongside the $2million prize pot for Dota 2. Not a word uttered, and no specialist knowledge or interest required. It lends itself to an agenda.

    • theleif says:

      They did covered LoL last season and got flak for covering that game and not HoN.
      Damned if you do, eh?

  4. pakoito says:

    No HoN coverage still :(

  5. clockworkz says:

    Anyone else that would love for there to be a single website where you could choose a game and see all of its upcoming exports events? Sort of like a tvguide. If there is one, I apologise for my incredible silliness

    • Matindo says:

      link to gosugamers.net is a good place to get all the info. It shows upcoming matches and has a good list of uploaded replays and news as well.

    • Zaphid says:

      teamliquid.net is pretty much that for Starcraft, nothing really happens without being at least mentioned there. If you are looking for something in general, then I’m afraid I can’t help you.

    • clockworkz says:

      Thanks both of you, definitely use these in future as I always seem to hear about events after they’ve finished lol

    • nepenthes says:

      Esfiworld.com is pretty good.

    • okuRaku says:

      Unfortunately no, as far as I can tell there aren’t any sites which list all competitive gaming events. There are several good ones for SC / DotA (esports) but I don’t think any of them include fighting game events. So if you’re a fan of all of those your only choice is to check multiple sites. When it comes to viewing though, Teevox is pretty good and includes all types of competitive stuff (I think they’re even adding speedruns).

  6. DigitalSignalX says:

    The shoutcraft invitational link to twitch.tv is on-going, and replays of the stream will be posted there as well. Brilliant games, and commentary by TB and Apollo.

  7. okuRaku says:

    I might be in a minority here, but besides all the other reasons I’m excited about Guild Wars 2, I think it has a strong potential to be big in MMO e-sports. djWHEAT is already a proponent I think.

    • Crainey says:

      That’s what I’m hoping as I’ve rallied my friends to the cause and we’re going to play hard when it’s released with that intent. We were big on the PvP in the original Guild Wars and were in some of the best guilds around. I have great hopes for Guild Wars 2 and hope it delivers, if it can make it in the competitive scene is yet to be seen but I have great faith in it.
      Been watching the Shout Craft Invitational #4 last 2 days and the finals is about to begin whilst I type this, been very good. Very professional casting by Total Biscuit and Apollo whilst keeping things entertaining with some jokes and laughs, great blend. Total Biscuit sure can be arrogant at times but he knows what he’s doing, his heart is always in the right place and knows how to entertain, Apollo has huge amounts of knowledge to share and is pretty funny. 2012 is going to be a great year for eSports and I can’t wait, 2011 was a blast and I had so much fun, hoping this year I can get involved at a deeper level.

  8. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Watching the Street Fighter footage I realised just how important decent-sounding casters are. I mean, I’m sure they know their stuff, but listening to them was pretty cringe-worthy for me at times.

    • Starky says:

      It’s hard for SF4/fighting casters – some of them are decent, but fighting games are over so quick it’s hard to do anything but describe what you see on screen, and it’s bloody dull half the time (poke, poke, poke, bit of chip damage and the odd hit landing – then 15 seconds later someone makes a mistake and bam, it’s over).

      Honestly the only fighting tournament format worth a damn story-wise is team games such as the Canada cup, and I really think the fighting scene should move to a best of 5 for every match, not the default 3 (so up to 5 games, each with up to 3 rounds) – maybe even 7 for later games. Hell I’d not be opposed to seeing 11, or 13. taking a 1v1 to around the 15 mins, and offering maybe 20+ individual rounds.
      Longer formats allow a caster time to breathe, give some back story, build a bit of excitement and basically weave a narrative.
      Something badly lacking in fighting games.

      That is the reason SC2 is the dominant and by far the best eSport, it’s matches last long enough and move at a decent enough pace for casters to build a narrative. They can tell a joke mid-match, they can pause to explain some of the finer points of tactics or abilities – no other eSport has that room to manoeuvre.

      Fighting games are over too fast, and dota clones are too damn complex.
      While in comparison SC2 is pretty simple, just with a massive skill ceiling.

    • The Army of None says:

      Yea, honestly, it was pretty atrocious casting. Seth Killian is about the only caster for fighting games that I’ve seen that wasn’t just utterly terrible.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      There’re some seriously awesome streams with some really good commentators. As an example I would check out this stream of what has to be one of the most hype matches of all time. This is after ten years of competitive Marvel vs Capcom 2 play, just before Marvel vs Capcom 3 came out. A first to fifteen money match between two of the greatest players of all time with fifteen grand on the line. With expert commentary by Justin Wong who probably knows the game as well as anyone else in the world.

      I mean, if you’re not a fighting game fan you wont be able to follow a thing. But it’s a classic to watch and includes some INCREDIBLY high level play. I’m getting hype just talkin’ about it.

    • cosmicolor says:

      I think a best of 7 would be way too long for fighting games, at that level of play they’re intense enough as it is. Plus fighting game tournaments tend to run several games all in one go, one after the other, so there’s a time issue to think of. It’s not often they have several major finals running at the same time on different streams.

      ….Is it? Despite being into fighting games I don’t often watch their streams, but I never really hear about an event running several main events at once.

  9. Kent says:

    I don’t get e-sporting at all. How huge of dweeb do you have to be to watch people play even a good game? Imagine how huge a dweeb you gotta be to watch someone play Starcraft 2 for an hour and a half… like black hole proportions.

    • Sweedums says:

      Sarcasm? I can’t tell….

      Anyways, how is it any different from watching a normal sport? It’s the sense of competition that’s important, watching people who are the best in the world at what they do competing makes it worth watching for a lot of people, as is the case with all sports.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      200-300 MILLION people tuned in to ESPN2 in 2003 to watch Garry Kasparov play the final World Championship match against Deep Junior.

      A single chess game.

      Open your mind, non-traditional sports is the future.

    • tenseiga says:

      You ever stood and watched a juggler or other performer? a Soccer game? a chess match between 2 friends? Its similar.

    • Althilor says:

      I always find it amusing when one PC gamer calls other PC Gamers nerds. Its like being back in school again…”Oh you like esports, that means you’re much more of a nerd than I am…” Yeah, okay, whatever….simpleton.

    • Rhin says:

      About the same amount of dweeb as watching a bunch of men pass a ball back and forth for an hour, I reckon. Grow up.

  10. tenseiga says:

    This is where I get my collective Esports news from, keep it coming (mostly dota 2 and if there are any impressive sc2 games i’d watch those too)