An E-Sporting Chance: Hacked Dreams

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 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 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 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 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.

More on ESFI World.


  1. subedii says:

    What exactly does this partnership mean for e-sports in general?

    I mean is it something that’s supposed to eventually lead to larger general audiences and bigger prize pools, or what?

    • DerNebel says:

      The idea is to create something similar to Riot’s Challenger Circuit, but afaik without the regional and global finals. A unified ranking system to go along with cooperative scheduling, so the tournaments don’t conflict with each other. In the past, we have often seen players flying from Korea to North America to Europe and back to Korea in a single week, and dedicated fans watching games an entire weekend just to catch the most important ones since two tournaments were going on at the same time. On top of that, if tournament schedules keep conflicting, the overall level of the competition drops since obviously the best players can’t be at both LANs. This kind of scheduling has been seen to exhaust viewer and player alike, resulting in less viewers and worse games. The alliance we are seeing is an attempt at rectifying this problem, again with inspiration from LoL where the premier tournaments are few and far between and really stand out for themselves in retrospect.

      For instance, I can still remember IEM Kiev with M5 storming in and absolutely stomping all over the competition in the most convincing manner possible. It was memorable. It was a beatdown of proportions, made all the bigger that a big Challenger Circuit tournament doesn’t happen everyday.

  2. theleif says:

    ” A similar phenomenon occurs in Olympic football competition with nations’ greatest players competing in the World Cup instead.”

    Not really. The reason many top players are not playing in the olympics is because you are not allowed to field more than 3 players over 23 in an olympic football team.

  3. Mr. Mister says:

    You sure it’s okay to call this “industry”?

    • FreudianTrip says:

      “Industry: A particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity: “the tourist industry”.”

      Evil Geniuses have multiple sponsorships (Monster and Raidcall) that are worth $1,000,000 or more. MLG has raised over 53 million in Venture Capital. The list goes on, pretty sure it counts as an industry.

  4. DodgyG33za says:

    So collectively the populations of those three countries make up, what, around 450 million people?

    So not that much more global than the so called “World Series” then. At least include South Korea FFS.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Reading comprehension fail. Ignore me.

      Mutter, mutter, grumble, blasted clouds.

    • MasterDex says:

      ESL is Europe-wide, not just Germany and last I checked, MLG includes Canada also. So you’ve got Europe and North America there, I’d say that’s a pretty good start towards global cooperation.

  5. Radiant says:

    Esports is not just starcraft and lol.
    Jesus fucking christ.

    • kaihu says:

      But LoL and Starcraft have by far the biggest and most successful esports scenes.

      • Snarfeh says:

        True, but even a smaller mention about smaller games wouldn’t go miss. Smaller games get a large presence on RPS, so they should get at least some presence on the E-Sports columns.
        I’d like a mention about HoNs HonTour, where there is a prize purse available for all skill levels, from top tier teams to teams made up of mates from down the pub.

      • MasterDex says:

        Starcraft maybe but LoL? I’d say Street Fighter and other fighting games have a bigger E-sports presense thanks to EVO.

  6. Radiant says:

    It’s worth pointing out that all of these organisations lose an incredible amount of money and are only interested in proving attractive enough to get bought by some mug. [see cpl and every single ‘esports’ entity in living memory].

    They couldn’t care less about the players or the games they show.

    Infact they exploit the living hell out of these ‘pro gamers’

    • Oasx says:

      Most of what you wrote is completely false. MLG does seem to work like that, but Dreamhack is a large computer gathering that gets money from the Swedish government and relies on a large group of volunteers, IPL last time i checked has actually started to make money, i am not sure how ESL or NASL work, but i can say with 99% that being bought up is not part of their plans.

      That they don’t care about their players and are exploiting them, is omething you just made up, at least when it comes to the serious events mentioned in the article.

      • Radiant says:

        Yes. You’re correct, I was mainly aiming my ire at mlg and a couple of other of the big money players not so much the community based organisations like dreamhack.

        But in light of that; my other point about the players is correct. They are being exploited.

        If the players were not there they’d be no viewers, no tournament and no reason for these leagues to exist.

        Yet none of the teams get a share of any money generated by these tournaments out side of the prize pot [which as a percentage of the total number of players and time invested by the players is ridiculous].

        The players do the work and draw in the crowd yet all money generated goes to the league.
        How is that not exploitation?

        • Moraven says:

          The prize pool does need to be spread out more like in golf to sustain more players from winnings. Rewards the consistent players.

          MLG does pay for travel/hotel/food for their Arenas, I think the people seeded in the Championships are paid travel costs. We don’t know their financials to really say if they are being exploited or not. Hopefully in 2013 we will see more prize pools with the gain of viewership and hopefully more sponsor money. Riot and Valve sponsored tournies have a ton of money, but part of that is they are investing into their own game and hoping to grow it, get more people to spend money.

          • Radiant says:

            Are you sure mlg pays for travel and a hotel?

            As far as I know it’s the players sponsors who have to pay for travel and the hotel.

  7. Zankmam says:

    Such BS.

    I don’t give a damn about boring Starcraft – where is some LoL, DotA, CS and fighting games stuff?

    • DazedByTheHaze says:

      It’s Riot’s “fault” that LoL is so isolated. On the other hand, Blizzard does the same. Streamlining, insourcing.

      “Ohhh there is potential revenue! Go grab it now!”

      And my estimates of avarege player age in LoL is like 16? Starcraft2 around 20? Easier to find people to write news for it. That is no judgment of character of the playerbase, just the ability/motivation to write stuff.

      • Mr Chug says:

        Riot’s own infographic (link to puts 85% of LoL players between 16 and 30, so I don’t think it’s an age issue; more that Starcraft has been around longer, giving dedicated community sites such as Team Liquid and ESFI to cement around them. League’s problem is that no one site has emerged with a focus on pro coverage, and because the eSports aspect, while being the largest relative to other games, is smaller compared to the overall playerbase.