Our e-sports correspondent is ESFI World's Samuel Lingle.
E-sports in 2012 got going quickly as a number of January events opened the year. The Global StarCraft 2 League (GSL) kicked off their new season. The fighting game community knocked off APEX 2012, featuring Super Smash Bros and various other titles. The DotA 2 beta continues to chug along with various tournaments and leagues. The biggest of the past week, though, was the StarCraft 2 tournament at HomeStory Cup IV. Coverage and results right here.
HomeStory Cup pits Europe’s best against a number of top Korean and American players. As the name implies, it’s a “home” style event, the mom and pop joint compared to a MLG or IPL’s big chain Walmart. Dennis "TaKe" Gehlen hosts the event in his studio apartment in Krefeld, Germany, conveniently located above a bar, providing an intimate environment where players can relax between games, interact with fans, and enjoy themselves more than at rigorous events like MLG. The HomeStory Cup often shows the softer side of players, giving them opportunities to commentate games and show off a bit more of their personality than at other tournaments.
The winner wasn’t someone who needed much help showing off. The overly confident and sometimes arrogant fan favorite Min-Chul “MC” Jang let the world know that he’s still a threat in 2012 with a dominant performance reminiscent of his late 2010 and early 2011 play.
[Photo credit: Fragster.de]
MC lost one match, to Korean Terran player Jung-Hoon “MarineKing” Lee, on his way to the championship, decimating the bracket on the final day when he swept top Polish Zerg Artur “Nerchio” Bloch 3-0, took out EG’s newest player, the Korean Protoss Jin-Young “JYP” Park 3-2, and finally closed out the tournament with a ridiculous 4-0 tally against Korean Terran Sang-Hwan “Sound” Bae. The win netted him $7,500, a sizable sum, but only a small chunk compared to the ridiculous goal of $500,000 in winnings for the year MC set for himself after hearing rivals Soo-Hoo “DongRaeGu” Park and Jong-Hyeon “MVP” Jeong were looking for (slightly) more modest totals of $230,000 and $170,000, respectively.
MC was one of the three most successful players in 2011 and is still the only Protoss to ever win the GSL, but most of his greatest accomplishments came in the first half of 2011. Midway through the year, he struggled, dropping out of the GSL and struggling in international tournaments before re-qualifying for Code S. Even so, he hadn’t won a tournament since June, before HomeStory 4.
While it may have been nice to see a new face break out to begin the year, it’s hard to complain about more MC. The man is one of the more entertaining personalities in StarCraft. At MLG Providence, he wore a murloc suit throughout the event, stomping on stage and doing a murloc dance after winning a big match. A murloc suit. He’s one of the few Koreans unafraid to speak their mind and talk a little trash to his opponents. In Brood War, he earned the nickname “suicide toss” after one of his traditional ceremonies - a throat cut towards the opposition - ended up being his own funeral after an embarrassing loss. In StarCraft 2, that cockiness has been a boon, helping him overcome his nerves and become one of the most intimidating players in the game He’s aggressive in game, and his matches are always fun to watch.
[MC celebrates with with murloc suit dance]
Will 2012 be the year of MC? He sure thinks so, and he’s off to a good start. In January of 2011, MC was on top of the Starcraft world, but it didn’t last, and it may not this time, either. But whatever happens, it’ll be fun to watch.
The Global StarCraft 2 League kicked off the first of four seasons planned in 2012 over the past week, completing three groups of play in Code S, its elite division. The two non-Korean invites struggled; American Zerg Greg “IdrA” Fields made his return to Korea but failed to advance out of his group, while Taiwanese superstar Yang “SEn” Chia Cheng suffered a similar fate. Not that that’s anything to be ashamed about; star Korean players like Ji-Sung “Bomber” Choi got eliminated, too. ESFI World is providing coverage of the GSL throughout Season 1 here.
APEX 2012 kicked off the fighting game scene in 2012 with Super Smash Bros and various other titles (including Pokemon!). You can catch up on results for Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter IV, and Mortal Kombat 9 at Shoryuken.com, and find the Smash results on Smashboards.
The regular season wasn’t the only GSL tournament to open the year. The Arena of Legends, GSL’s all-star tournament series, completed “The King of Kongs”, pitting all losing GSL finalists against each other to crown who in fact is the King of Kongs. “Kong” is a Korean term for a regular second place finisher, someone who makes multiple final events only to lose in the ultimate game. Jin-Ho “YellOw” Hong was the original Kong in Brood War, but in StarCraft 2, apparently the King is Soo-Ho “DongRaeGu” Park, as he defeated Kang-Ho “Losira” Hwang to win this version of the Arena of Legends. Or perhaps Losira’s the one who deserves that title? Link.
Last weekend, SpeedDemosArchive.com hosted the Awesome Games Done Quick 2012 marathon, a speed running event for charity featuring nearly five days straight of some of the most amazing video game playing you’ll ever see. The runners brought in over $140,000 in donations for the Prevent Cancer Foundation as they destroyed games like Ocarina of Time, Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, and Final Fantasy 7. While speed runs are not traditionally considered e-sports, the concept is the same: it’s a skill-based video game competition. Where StarCraft 2 relates to tennis or Counter-Strike to football, speed running is track and field. It’s competing against the clock, and yourself, not just against the opponent in front of you. Speed running is the newest fad on streaming services like Twitch.TV, so if games like Super Mario 64 float your fancy more than Street Fighter or StarCraft, check out some of the popular speed runners like Siglemic (http://www.twitch.tv/siglemic). You won’t regret it.
ProGamingTours.net took a look at the best paying e-sports games of 2011. Not surprisingly, StarCraft 2 was the top, but DotA 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 took the next two spots, thanks to the million dollar tournaments hosted by their developers.
The IGN Pro League is trying to increase the reach of e-sports by hosting a showmatch at South by Southwest, the massive music, film, and interactive media festival held yearly in Austin, Texas. You can vote on which players you want to play in the match until the midnight PST on the 16th.
Plantronics hosted a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Invitational at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past weekend. Featuring two American CS 1.6 and two CS: Source teams, it was a chance to showcase CS:GO’s potential as an e-sports title. Dynamic, the legendary Source team, took the tourney by beating fellow source players 3DMAX. You can check out the matches here.
There’s plenty to look forward to for the rest of January. Next week, the Intel Extreme Masters will host the first Global Challenge of the year in Kiev (or more precisely, the 4th of their 2011-2012 season), featuring StarCraft 2, Counter-Strike 1.6, and League of Legends. The biggest DotA 2 competition to date promises to begin soon as Cyberarena’s Star Ladder website is set to go live this weekend.
As I write this, the SHOUTcraft Invitational, the StarCraft 2 invite tournament hosted by cynical brit John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, just finished its first day of competition. Manuel “Grubby” Schenzuiken, the WarCraft 3 superstar, continued his strong 2012 form in StarCraft 2 by beating Jos “Ret” de Kroon to advance out of his group. Matches begin again today at 10AM GMT.