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.
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