Our e-sports correspondent is EFSI World's Jeb Boone. This week he looks at the worries around Starcraft 2, and the impact League Of Legends is having on the pro community.
On Wednesday, October 17th, the Fates seemed to be conspiring to kill e-sports. Like their Roman counterparts, the e-sports Parcae spin, measure and cut the USB cord of life, deciding what will live, and who will disband. On that day, beloved StarCraft 2 team SlayerS disbanded in a fury of controversy and vitriol, and with concerns about Heart Of The Swarm, the future of e-sports as a whole. Here's what happened.
The timing of the e-sports fates was apt – just hours before, top SC2 player Destiny wrote a well-sourced and scathing critique of Blizzard Entertainment, arguing that the StarCraft 2 developer had not done enough to retain a large casual player base, Heart of the Swarm, StarCraft 2’s coming expansion, may be destined for failure.
“I'm sorry if I come off as pessimistic, but with the way that RioT and Valve are doing SO MANY THINGS right with their respective games, I can't see SC2 being considered a serious competitive game come 2 years from now,” wrote Destiny.
TeamLiquid.net and r/StarCraft shared a good deal of Destiny’s concern. The next morning, many awoke to the news of SlayerS’ disbandment. Perhaps the most alarming development in the SlayerS scandal was that three of the team’s players had been sneaking out of the SlayerS house to play League of Legends. Upon the disbandment, the StarCraft community learned that Puzzle, Coca and Min had left the world’s most well-loved RTS to play League of Legends professionally.
“It’s true that Puzzle, Coca, and Min will switch to League of Legends. They have been playing League of Legends together for a while and probably left the team house a couple of months ago. The news about them getting sick might have been a lie made up by the team since there was no other way [to announce their absence],” said former SlayerS player Alicia in an interview with ESFI.
In spite of what many pillars of the StarCraft community assert, there still exists a bit of a rivalry between StarCraft players and League of Legends players. Boasting unprecedented numbers of stream viewers for their season two finals, League of Legends is undoubtedly the most watched and most played game in e-sports. Abdicating the throne has not been easy for StarCraft players and fans after enjoying two years of unrivaled sovereignty.
However, in spite of the fatalism and melancholy, StarCraft soldiered on. There was a GSL Code S final on Saturday, damn it.
The most prolific player in GSL history, Jong Hyun “Mvp” Jung, met Seung Hyun “Life” Lee to do battle for $42,600 and the most sought-after championship in StarCraft. Life, just 15 years-old, brought down the four-time GSL Code S champion in a stunning best of five series, making e-sports history as the world’s first StarCraft 2 “Royal Roader”. The Royal Roader title is a rare distinction given to a rookie after winning the GSL (OSL or MSL during the days of Brood War) in their first season of qualification.
Life joins the ranks of players like BoxeR, Jaedong and July and distinguishes himself as one of the youngest player ever to achieve the title, along with Mind, who became an MSL Royal Roader at age 15 at the 2006 GOMTV MSL Season One.
Indeed, the parallels between life and some of StarCraft’s greatest players don’t end with the Royal Road. The young, aggressive Zerg shares a similar play style with July, another young player that rose through the ranks of Brood War.
As the GSL Code S finals came to a close, the initial group stage of Dreamhack Bucharest began featuring some of Europe and Korea’s best talent.
Major League Gaming’s “MLG vs. Proleague” (MvP) invitational is ongoing as well, pitting established StarCraft 2 players against the titans of Brood War having recently made the transition into StarCraft 2. Many speculated that the move from Brood War to StarCraft 2 could be a challenging one with the players themselves even arguing that it could take years for them to become competitive.
It was all codswallop.
The Brood War players from the Korean e-sports Association (KeSPA) have exploded into StarCraft 2 with sizeable force. In their matches against better-seasoned StarCraft 2 players in the MvP invitational (as well as the GSL and OSL for that matter) they have established themselves as capable professionals. SK Telecom’s Rain stands out among his peers as the best KeSPA player, advancing to the Code S round of four, losing only to four-time Champion Mvp. Securing his spot in next season’s Code S tournament, Rain will also play in the OSL finals next week.
With League of Legends taking a bit of a break after the season two finals, Dota 2 is starting up again after the International 2. In the third season of Starladder, the top seven teams have come to Kiev to compete for the championship.
As runners-up at the International 2, team Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) struggled to maintain their status as the best team in Europe. Going 10-5 in the online stages of the StarLadder, Na’Vi faced stiff challengers moving forward. However, bouncing back, they have reasserted themselves and advanced to the finals.
Team Empire was the heavy favorite going into Kiev, earning 14 wins and just one loss in the online portion of StarLadder season three. Losing to the GD B-Team (former mousesports players) they were knocked down to the losers bracket where they will face the GD B-Team again to determine who will face Na’Vi in the finals.
Yes, the Fates may be conspiring to cause controversy,but the forces of good will soldier on.
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