A few weeks ago I attended the StarCraft II World Championship Series season one finals in Cologne, Germany. For those reading the blog that aren’t familiar (probably everyone), StarCraft is the premier RTS eSport, and national sport of the country of South Korea.
“Wait… what? What’s an eSport? South Korea?”
An eSport is essentially a highly competitive computer game, capable of being played full time at a professional level. ESports are just like traditional sports, in the sense that they require an extremely high level of physical dexterity, as well as the thought and strategy of a game like Chess. Like the game of Chess, eSports can be played for years and years without being “figured out” – there’s no one trick or best strategy that always wins the game.
But what exactly is an eSport? Well, there are different kinds of eSports, just like there are different kinds of traditional sports. One of the most popular eSports is called “StarCraft”, a highly competitive real time strategy (RTS) game. Real time strategy games require players to think many moves ahead of their opponent, similar to Chess, except the entire game operates in real time with limited information. Physically playing the game of StarCraft requires intense multitasking and exceptional coordination to manage all possible moving pieces on the board. On top of it all, neither player can actually see what the opposing player is doing in real time, which adds another level of complexity beyond other competitive games. In other words, StarCraft requires the mind of a grandmaster Chess player, the dexterity of a virtuoso piano player, and the cunning of a professional poker player. There are other eSports in addition to StarCraft, which all have their own intricacies that I won’t delve into for this blog post.
When StarCraft I was released in 1998, it was so popular in South Korea, it created an entirely new industry. The entire culture of Seoul was practically changed overnight; today South Korea boasts the highest internet speeds in the world, and has a high-tech culture to rival Tokyo. Well over 90% of South Korea’s youth play computer games as part of mainstream social culture.
“My Mom told me, before the game, not to come home if I don’t make it…”
So two weeks ago I was in Cologne to attend the American & European World Championship Series Finals. The event was hosted in the Electronic Sports League studio along the river, with people coming from all over the world. I met people from Norway, Sweden, South Korea, China, France, Denmark, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa, Poland, America, and Brazil. The entire time I was at the studio, I kept getting mistaken for a famous Polish player named “Nerchio”; thus, people would come up to me to ask for my autograph and to take a picture. Naturally, I didn’t want to disappoint my fellow StarCraft fans, so I signed as “TL.Nerchio” (since I was wearing my TL shirt), and took a picture with them hahaha 😀
I don’t know…. I guess we look a little similar?
Overall the event was fantastic, and the highest grossing player for prize money earned took the European division of the event. MC (short for Min-Chul), is arguably the most successful pro-gamer of all time, and is well on his way to becoming the first StarCraft multi-millionaire at age 23. I was very happy he won, since the last time he took a tournament was in Texas, of all places! 🙂
If anyone is interested in eSports, more information can be found at:
Until next time!
Note: SC2 pictures @ESL