Our e-sports correspondent is Jeb Boone.
In an unprecedented bout of cooperation among e-sports companies, three of the world’s largest tournaments organizations have announced a partnership – creating what is effectively the largest global e-sports conglomerate in the history of the industry.
Germany’s Electronic Sports League, Sweden’s Dreamhack and the US’ Major League gaming announced the partnership earlier this week.
Last September, the world’s first e-sports congress was held in Spain during Dreahack’s Valencia Open tournament. Decried by many to be nothing more than a public relations spectacle, the congress was comprised of several panel discussions among industry leaders. The panels themselves yielded little results.
Perhaps in Valencia, over Spanish wine and Paella, these industry leaders decided to make real progress. Overcoming the perils of oversaturation and the decline in viewership it yields, the partnership will work towards a master tournament schedule, being rid of the scheduling conflicts inflicting fatigue on fans.
“DreamHack’s philosophy has always been about inclusion and never exclusion. This joint initiative by MLG, ESL and DreamHack is something that will insure the continued growth of e-sports that we have been seeing during the past 24 months, for the players, the audience and the industry as a whole,” said eccentric Dreamhack President Robert Ohlen – a man known for shooting from the hip and avoiding hyperbole.
Robert Ohlen flanked by Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime and Dustin Browder
Most importantly, the partnership will create a universal ranking system. While consensus is often reached concerning top players, those struggling to make a name for themselves rarely receive any coverage of their achievements. A ranking system may give lesser known players a chance for exposure as they fight through the ranks of their games.
Left out of the tournament, however, is US based IGN Pro League and South Korea’s premier tournament, the Global StarCraft 2 League. The most competitive of all tournaments, the Global StarCraft 2 League showcases the highest level of play from Korea’s greatest and most well-loved professionals. The IGN Pro League and the Global StarCraft 2 league are currently involved in a partnership that was struck shortly after Major League Gaming broke with the top-tier Korean league after a brief period of cooperation.
Shortly after news of the partnership broke, the world’s top StarCraft 2 and World of Warcraft players met in Shanghai for Blizzard’s Battle.net World Championship. The culmination of national and continental qualifiers, the greatest players from North and South America, Europe, Oceania and Asia will compete in China.
Canada’s StarCraft 2 ace and Blizzard World Championship Series North America Champion, Scarlett.
Absent for the tournament roster are names like Mvp, Leenock, MC, NesTea, DongRaeGu and several other top Korean professional StarCraft 2 players. Only six of the 32 players in attendance are Korean.
“Foreigner” is a term used by the entire StarCraft 2 community to denote any non-Korean player – describing not only a physical distance from Korea but a far-reaching gap in skill as well. Indeed, the Battle.net World Champion is a tournament full of foreigners.
While a number top Koreans are in attendance, the very nature of the international tournament format has reduced the usual number of Korean players. A similar phenomenon occurs in Olympic football competition with nations’ greatest players competing in the World Cup instead. There is no doubt that the world’s best from North America, Europe and Oceania are in attendance but the dearth of Korea’s best is palpable.
Blizzard’s ambitions for its World Championship Series and the final Battle.net World Championship is to crown a world champion. Foreigners have an unprecedented chance to prove to the world that the perceived skill gap between Koreans and the rest of the globe is a myth but with some of Korea’s best watching the tournament from home, such a title will have difficulty holding water.
Thus far at the Battle.net World Championship, Foreigners have been defying even the wildest expectations and upsetting Koreans. One has to wonder, however, if the likes of Mvp, a four-time Global StarCraft 2 League champion, are watching from home and chuckling.
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