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History of esports: The legacy of StarCraft

StarCraft is one of the biggest milestones of esports, thanks to being the first game that reached thousands of people and also became the national sport for a whole nation, which made the players so famous that they were on TV everyday.

Even though it doesn’t have the same glory like the first years that it was released, the old man is still remembered with respect and keeps its worth thanks to the South Korean people, who included this game to their cultures and became famous worldwide.

Let’s take a look at how StarCraft got its title and went that much viral while also becoming the first big steps for the esports industry.

Fame around South Korea

After several years of the release date, professional gamers of StarCraft started to connect with each other, which led them to create their own teams. Their skills on the potential that they saw for StarCraft and esports, big South Korean companies such as SK Telecom, Samsung or KT became sponsors for these pro-player based teams.

StarCraft: Brood War was the official expansion pack for the game and it had been announced as the most successful esports game thanks to its own system about ranking and story that talks about the national history of South Korea.

Credit: ESL

After the fame around South Korea, Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) and professional team league StarCraft Proleague was formed to show how StarCraft made it that big.

Even television channels such as OGN or MBC Game, having their own Starleague concept, were showing this game on their screens to the whole of South Korea. The players became famous all around South Korea and even found a place on ads.

A famous player Lim Yo-Hwan or SlayerS `BoxeR` had television contracts, sponsorships and special prizes which led to having a fanclub that got over a half million people. Other than that, another professional gamer Lee Yun-Yeol or [Red]NaDa’s $200,000 earning was reported in 2005.

Thanks to the tournaments that were organized in South Korea, there was over $4,000,000 that was awarded to the teams and players.

After nearly 10 years of the same game without any new upgrade or patch, people were about to get bored from it since it was so easy to understand or guess all movements. At that point, a new game of the series StarCraft II was released.

StarCraft II rising

The second game of StarCraft series was able to also be known and played professionally around the world but of course mostly being in South Korea.

After a couple months of release, the very first professional event for StarCraft II was organized by Major League Gaming and Intel Extreme Masters. While these events held international recognition, the game’s first professional league GSL was formed in South Korea by GOMTV.

An early popularity of StarCraft II even led to the creation of Team Liquid’s own league called TSL and also North American Star League (NASL). In late 2011 and 2012, StarCraft II was accepted as the largest esport in the world.

Last Era of Starcraft

The different tournaments of StarCraft 2 such as Blizzard’s own, eFS which was created by Korean professional teams or KeSPA’s resulted with the rivalry between different organizations.

Even though it brought a new life to the game, it was inevitable since there were new games with a large fan group such as League of Legends, Dota 2 or Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

In 2017, StarCraft made a last movement with Warchest that brought cosmetical productions to the game. That system brought $200,000 to the game and IEM World Championship 2018 got a prize pool that targeted $150,000 in the first and $200,000 in the second stage.

Credit: ESL

After 2020, Blizzard’s partnership with ESL and DreamHack, global finals would no longer be held at BlizzCon or Intel Extreme Masters. These two sponsors brought a new system called ESL Pro Tour.

Having knowledge about how a game can become that much popular in a short time period and also can have a great part for a whole country or even more, makes all esports fans stay hype about this industry and wonder about the future of the following esports organizations.

StarCraft II is still holding a large place in the esports tournaments thanks to its brilliant unique strategic structure. You can follow and watch upcoming Starcraft II tournaments and bet on your favourite players on Luckbox.

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