An E-Sporting Chance: Championships

This week’s column is by ESFI World‘s John King.

This week, the world of e-sports continued its march into the heart of championship season. Around this time of year, most of the major tournaments have either concluded their latest round of competition or are looking to do so in the next few weeks, and this year the competition has never been tougher. Between a new season of Chinese Dota 2, the cross-pollination of Korean StarCraft 2 tournaments, and the conclusion of North America’s premier e-sports competition, fans of competitive gaming have had little time to rest.

On Saturday, October 27, StarCraft 2 reached a big milestone with the conclusion of the 2012 Auction All-Kill OSL in South Korea. It’s been more than two years since StarCraft 2’s release, but it wasn’t until last weekend that the OSL, previously South Korea’s most important StarCraft: Brood War tournament, made the switch and completed a tournament focused exclusively on StarCraft 2. Finally, fans were able to watch their favorite StarCraft 2 players like Jang “MC” Min-Chul and Jung “MVP” Jong-Hyun compete against Brood War powerhouses like Lee “Flash” Young-Ho and Jung “Fantasy” Myung-Hoon. Would the StarCraft 2 players finally prove that their skills were not to be ignored, or would the old guard reassert themselves in the sequel to the game that they had played for more than a decade?

Rain at the OSL finals. Source:

Ultimately, it was Park “DongRaeGu” Soo-Ho, a StarCraft 2 player from team MVP, against Jung “Rain” Yoon-Jong, a former Brood War player from SKT1. At first glance, DongRaeGu seemed to be the favorite, but Rain was quickly making a name for himself in StarCraft 2 despite limited tournament appearances. Two weeks earlier in the GSL, the most important StarCraft 2 tournament, Rain was only barely stopped by four-time GSL winner MVP in the semi-finals. On the other hand, DongRaeGu was no pushover either—he won numerous tournaments over the course of his StarCraft 2 career, and he’s never been known for being eliminated easily.

Unfortunately, DongRaeGu wasn’t able to put up much of a fight against Rain’s superior army control and surgically precise timing attacks. In a series that wasn’t as close as its 4-1 score might suggest, Rain won not only his first championship, but his first OSL, marking an admirable rise from Brood War mediocrity to StarCraft 2 greatness.

Like many others, however, Rain quickly turned his attention from the OSL and set his sights on another important competition: the MLG Fall Championships in Dallas, Texas. Amid some ominous tweets that MLG’s staff might be stranded in a flooded New York City, MLG Executive Vice President Adam Apicella announced that Rain had forfeited his spot in the upcoming GSL so that he could fly to Texas and compete against some of the best players from around the world. Unfortunately, this announcement will do little to calm the stormy relationship between KeSPA, the players association that manages the former Brood War teams and oversees the OSL, and GomTV, which runs the GSL and works closely with the non-KeSPA StarCraft 2 teams. Both organizations have tried to cooperate to strengthen the StarCraft 2 scene in Korea but have pulled their players from each other’s tournaments when that cooperation has broken down. Rain is one of the few KeSPA players still qualified in the GSL, but it’s hard to say what effect his forfeiture might have on inter-league relations.

Chris “HuK” Loranger at Dallas. Source: Team Liquid

Despite the problems of Korean tournament politics, and thankfully despite one of the most severe weather systems to ever strike the U.S.’s east coast, MLG Dallas is a go. For the StarCraft 2 tournament, this MLG marks the first time that former Brood War players will participate in the regular, open competition. At MLG Anaheim, in June, MLG flew out eight players to compete against one another in an exhibition tournament. Flash ended up winning that tournament, and in Dallas he and a few other qualified Brood War players will hope to test themselves against competition from the rest of the world.

Unfortunately for fans hoping to see a non-Korean emerge victorious, one of the strongest international players won’t be at Dallas. Ilyes “Stephano” Satouri, a player known for giving the best Korean players a run for their money, will be in his home country of France, defending his title in the E-Sports World Championship.

The theme of Korean dominance also extends to MLG’s League of Legends tournament, where the North American and European teams, who have lately been focusing on roster shuffles and general team management, will enter with records against the Korean teams of .500 or worse. In fact, the only European team at MLG Dallas with a winning record against Korean teams will be CLG EU with an unenviable combined record of 8-7. As it stands, teams like Nanjin Sword and Azubu Blaze look like they’ll sit comfortably atop the podium come Sunday’s championship ceremony.

Outside of MLG, other games continue trundling along as well. Dota 2, not to be outdone by MLG Dallas, saw the start of Season 4 of the G-1, one of the major Chinese tournaments. In addition to featuring the largest prize pool in its history, this season is notable for its inclusion of some more international teams. Natural 9, Sequential, and Evil Geniuses all qualified to compete against some of the strongest teams China has to offer, including the winners of The International 2, Invictus Gaming.

All in all, there was no shortage of exciting events this week. With MLG Dallas, this should prove to be one of the more exciting weekends in recent memory.

More at ESFI World.


  1. General Twinkletoes says:

    I personally like these e-sport posts you guys have been doing lately, but I can see them being really confusing for people that are new to it. I understood this post, but I’m sure people who don’t watch/follow starcraft wouldn’t have the slightest idea what this is about. It seems odd for a site that generally posts about general gaming that is easy to understand even if you’re new to it, has some posts that are impenetrable to the average person.

    • Big Murray says:

      I can say, as someone who doesn’t follow it normally, that these posts look like something I want to be interested in and at the same time are completely incomprehensible to me.

      • DeVadder says:

        I would really appreciate if these posts were more adressed towards people who have no idea what all those acronyms mean. In fact i would much more like a series about ‘How does the eSorts world work?’ than one that just sums up the latest events in that world.
        Because i mean, if i knew what all these events were and meant, i could follow them easily on so many other sites. But i do not know of any noob friendly eSportworld-Tutorial.

        • Captchist says:

          As somebody who does follow Starcraft, but still finds these posts rather awkwardly written I went back and had another read though.

          To be fair, when acronyms are used, they are explained. I think the issue is less the use of acronyms, and more the sentence structure. The sentences are long and use a lot of commas which, for people who aren’t familiar with the content, makes them difficult to read I think. Perhaps trying to communicate a little less information might help.
          And for people who aren’t familiar with Starcraft I think it would help to either focus on the player stories, or on the organisation stories (Kespa etc).
          Trying to cover both at the same time makes them somewhat impenetrable.

          • DeVadder says:

            Well, i know now that there is some organisation called kespa that oversees something called OSL of which apparently something called MLG-Dallas is a part of. Some other organisation however has something to do with something called GSL. Oh and there seems to be some sort of beef between them. And the thing called MLG has a staff and some Executive.
            Don’t get me wrong, i sure could look all this up (or know it beforehand) if i was really interested in this stuff already. But in that case i would probably read some of those sites anyways and know most of the stuff in the post.
            Sure, a write-up like this could be interesting for some readers of RPS who know what all this is but do not closely follow the week-to-week happenings and enjoy such a summary.
            I was just mentioning, that i am not one of them and that for me another kind of eSport column would be more interesting, one that introduces me to the topic. I am perfectly fine with not reading or enjoying every article on RPS though, i just had hoped for something else and now that i know that these eSport articles are not for me, will just not open them anymore, just as i do with articles concerning games i am not interested in.

        • Big Murray says:

          I don’t think it’s even so much about acronyms, I haven’t found those too incomprehensible. I think it’s just that, as somebody with no knowledge of competitive gaming, I don’t know who these people are at all. To me, it just reads as “A bloke played another bloke and won quite a bit”.

          A bit of narrative backgrounding on the big name players would probably go a long way. I’m sure there are good stories behind some of these players. Every sport needs characters.

      • Ksempac says:

        As a casual e-sport watcher, I half-understand them. I agree the author could change the content, but I also think he could change the form.

        Theses articles often mix news about several tournaments + speak about controversies or latest organizational stuff, and there is never a clean break between each part of the article. I think adding sub-titles to clearly separate sections would help us understand better.

        Note : my criticism isn’t meant to bash the author, I always read theses articles, but I’m just hoping they can be improved. :)

    • miscz says:

      Actually, compared to previous e-sporting chance articles this one doesn’t really throw bunch of cryptic terms at unsuspecting readers. It’s very dry at the other hand.

  2. Kieran_ES says:

    MLG Dallas had a few incredible matches yesterday. Naniwa/Flash was the most exciting match I’ve seen in a while.

    Oh and that first Leenock/Rain match.

    • miscz says:

      Too bad there are not enough eurpeans present because of easy money at ESWC. Then again I’m glad Mana “got” 20k USD, I mean, if they pay him at all or in timely manner. Also, why did Stephano got the mention while Mana is probably better player at the moment, EG curse etc etc.

  3. Dril says:

    The NA League of Legends teams are becoming a real joke. As usual when faced with even a smidgen of outside competition (*one* EU team and two Koreans compared with five NA teams) the last three are anything but North American. Not that I’m complaining too loudly; CLG EU are the team I support by a considerable margin (I also have an arbitrary soft spot for Curse NA) but it would be nice to see matches where a real competition is the norm, not “oh look a Korean team, watch them roll over NA teams by simply playing aggressive”. Some of them, for all their gaming houses and the like, look like a bunch of people from solo queue who are just on voice comms, not a team that relentlessly plays together. What they need is a training regime and a coach, not just “play games kthx”.

    But hey, roll on Europe (and Russia) against the might of Asia.

    • DK says:

      Non-Asian teams also seem to rely a lot on gimmicks to win games for them. They’ll go with an underused Champion in a wierd position not because it makes sense, but because they think it’ll win on novelty factor alone.

      On the other hand Asian teams run underused Champs in wierd positions because they genuinely tried them against every kind of normal and wierd matchup and think they *work* (proven by the fact they will continue those tactics multiple times in a series even when the surprise factor is gone).

      And then there’s the EU teams which are starting to go full hog on team synergy. Stuff like Malphite/Orianna/Chogath/Graves/Sona, with it’s unavoidable hard engage, AoE clumping pull and massive AoE disable/damage.

      • Ksempac says:

        Your argument could be reversed : Europeans are more adaptable because they are able to pull off wins with champions they don’t know as well as the usuals ones, whereas Asian can only win by sticking to a set script, with champions they know and tested a lot.

        I’m not saying this interpretation of events is better than yours, but I think you lack some proof for your affirmation.

        • DK says:

          Well I’m not saying US teams don’t train with their novelty strats – but they don’t train in public against a wide variety of opponents (team queue) and they do drop them after one game.

          See Dignitas at the World Championships – who didn’t even bring out their big novelty strat because one of the other US teams they trained against leaked it. They claimed this was the reason they lost. So without their novelty strategy, they had nothing. That’s not a well trained team.

  4. Tschesae says:

    As someone who is really into eSports, I do appreciate these posts greatly and would regret seeing them “dumbed down” in order to appeal to a broader audience.

    • neolith says:

      They wouldn’t have all to be dumbed down, but maybe an “introduction to e-sports” post would be in order.

  5. Irishphnx says:

    Holy shit there’s enough dumbed down articles on the web, are you really fucking complaining that people that have no idea what esports is wouldn’t understand an article on esports. Great work detective. I would have 0 interest in reading articles that spend every paragraph catering to those too lazy to use fucking google. If you want your hand held at all times check out IGN and Riot Games

    • Captchist says:

      Hold up a bit, surely we can agree that there are good writers and bad writers. It’s not just that some people write about dumbed down stuff and some people write about clever stuff. There is more to writing that that. Word choice, sentence structure, good narrative flow etc.
      Just because somebody feels an article is difficult to read doesn’t mean they want simpler content, or smaller words.

    • Douchetoevsky says:

      So why don’t you go read the articles at ESFI World? RPS isn’t an “esports” news site, and these posts are consistently confusing and poorly written. I would love to see some articles about this sort of stuff from an outsider perspective, with neat things like context. Just because something is incomprehensible to outsiders doesn’t make it good. As someone above posted, these articles read a lot like someone beat someone else at starcraft. It’s just not interesting without a touch of background, and you can’t expect everyone who reads RPS to already have all the necessary background info to understand these posts.

      I always see people talking about how they want “esports” to be a big thing, but then I see stuff like your comment where you whine about people wanting accessible articles because they aren’t already into esports but think it might be interesting. Sure they could google all this stuff for a topic they may be interested in, but it would be far more beneficial for the esports community to make it more accessible to newcomers, right?

      I would love to see this topic covered, but these posts feel really out of place.

      • Low Life says:

        Indeed. There are other sites to go to for this kind of coverage, a more RPS approach would be nice. The great thing about RPS is that even if the subject matter of an article isn’t all too interesting, the writing is good so you might end up reading it anyway and actually get into it. I don’t see that happening wiith these articles.

        I mean, I somewhat understand this stuff (I’m writing this as I watch the MLG Starcraft 2 semifinals) and I still don’t want to read it.

      • Irishphnx says:

        I found, as someone well versed in this topic, that the only reason this article is difficult to read is that the writer goes into way too much detail about KESPA/OSL and typing out every players real name. How much more context do you need? Age?DOB?Phone number?blood type?Shoe size?Favourite food?

        Hah, ” RPS isn’t an “esports” news site”. Ah yes i forgot, RPS is what you want to be, dont bother clicking the “About us” and reading “RPS is about PC gaming – all of PC gaming”, thats just those filthy crooked journos lying to you. This column is about the championships taking place right now and the quality of the article already suffers because of how it caters to those that arent fully clued in. eSports growth is good thing, though it wouldnt bother me one bit if people that come to an article discussing the championships on at the moment and then rather than typing into google whatever they don’t understand or want to know more about, scroll down and bitch in the comments about not understanding whats going on, couldnt find it accessible. Do you expect newspapers during the premiership to explain the offside rule, talk about the 4-4-2 formation’s pros and cons and every single players background in excruciating detail?

        Ask John, Alec or Jim why thy feel they need to outsource esports articles or dont do articles to introduce new people to the scene. Dont come to the one article/report of whats going on in the scene they cry about not understanding something.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          If you really want more interest in esports you will need to introduce people to the concept and how it works in the various games played competitively. Introduce people to the scene of each game, commentators, oft-used websites for streaming, information, etc.

          Not this. This is a fairly dry list of things that happened in esports. I understand the SC2 section as I’ve followed it for quite a while, but for me it does little than ‘Oh I might check on MLG footage’. And that’s for someone who knows the SC2 scene.

          Also consider the various other comments here. Most are from people who are potentially interested in esports. That should excite you, not make you shout at them for having a fledgeling interest. If most RPS readers don’t know a lot about esports, why not help them understand all about esports.

          Of course it doesn’t need to be one or the other (in depth information and an introduction to esports). We could easily have both.

  6. ninjapirate says:

    How about one of the (e-sports-unsavvy) RPS staff tries to wrap his head around all this e-sports stuff? He could tell us about his journey via continuing “diary” articles.

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  8. obagelista says:

    I’m also enjoying these articles, but I would also like to see things explained a little better to those of us who aren’t as familiar with the e-sports scene. I’ve recently started playing Starcraft 2 pretty regularly and recognize a couple of the names in the article, but I still don’t know them very well, and googling player names gives me information overload. e-Sports is a daunting field, and some hand-holding from the familiar writers at RPS would be very refreshing.

  9. captain lust says:

    I think this post was better written than the previous one, with a lot more care given to explaining the terms and the background. So props for taking on feedback and improving with it. As others have said, this is perhaps a little dry still. Talk more about the players and their stories. Why was it REALLY interesting to see Rain vs DRG in the OSL final, given their backgrounds? Why did DRG break down in tears after being defeated? Why is it interesting that Rain dropped out of the GSL to play in MLG?

    Talk about (for instance) NaNiWa and his team troubles. Talk about EG and their lacking performances of late. There’s no reason to say you have to be an ambassador or advertiser for esports but I think it would be great if more people were exposed to the excitement that exists within the esports scene.

    P.S. I like the starcraft 2 focus though :D

  10. catska says:

    It’d be great if games other than SC2 and the MOBAs could stop being ignored. E-sports existed before SC2 you know.

    This weekend’s CSGO tournament at ESWC was awesome (barring the streaming problems).

  11. shostakovich says:

    I love ESFI. But the article focuses too much on Starcraft 2, :(