Currently, the StarCraft industrial chain in Korea is very mature. It has a similar structure with the NBA, from annual drafting to championships. With the arrival of StarCraft 2, a question comes to mind – will StarCraft 2 become an e-Sport just like its predecessor?
First, we must know why StarCraft become an e-Sports in the first place, compare to other games.
If it is the game alone, StarCraft has a level of strategic depth. Micro and macro management can change the tides of the game and create a variety of tactics. It is a game that can be played and played over again, each time, with something new.
In order to become a sport, it must have a large audience; and the graphic design of StarCraft is great for televise. Its design is very simple in most cases – the more advanced unit one has, the stronger one currently is.
Let’s look at the extreme popular game Counter-Strike. As an audience, most people would just feel confused when watching it, because the nature of a first person shooter game. Another strategy game made by Blizzard after StarCraft, Warcraft III, didn’t become as popular, because of the same reason – the graphic is too fancy and showy, not simple nor direct enough.
Then why is it South Korea, not any other country in the world?
1. 1997 Asian financial crisis
Due to the financial crisis, South Korea’s GDP decreased by 5.8%, stock market dropped by 70% at the year 1998. Korea was originally focused on exporting oriented industries, and was affected by the crisis heavily. During and after the crisis, the government begin to shift their focus to create a new structure. The new structure must contain industries that are not affected by resource, and other limits. Among them there are e-Sports.
In addition, with the crisis, many people do not have jobs anymore and play games to past time. This created a large amount of initial players at the start.
2. The economy
From the market point of view, as a developed country, the high level economy allows Korea to develop the e-Sports industry. The appearance of the e-Sports industry also fits the need of the new generation of Koreans.
In addition, with the electronic companies like Samsung, Daewoo, LG in Korea, it is nature for them to increase their public influence by investing in games that would attract their customers. Among them, the most famous one is probably the sponsor of WCG(World Cyber Game) – Samsung.
Also, the economy and the demographic of Korea made line game possible. With line game, the players won’t have latencies and it would be fairer. Also the audience can see what other fans and join with the crowd. It is comparable to most other sports.
Why is it not popular in the US or Japan? Because their gaming industry is already occupied by consoles. How about China and Eastern Europe? The cost of line game will be very high and they don’t have the government support.
3. A key figure
No Boxer, no StarCraft e-Sport for South Korea. This statement is not an exaggeration.
What Boxer give StarCraft, is not his unstoppable winnings or great skills, is showing to the players and the audience that “so StarCraft can be played this way”. He is the first player that innovate many fundamental style of the day around year 2000. No need to explain anything, just this one reward “the Korean of the Year”, he received, showed his influence. Normally, the reward is given the famous politicians or scholars.
Without Boxer, there might still be e-Sports, but it will not be StarCraft, and it will not be as popular as it is right now.
To sum up, with the timing, location, people and other conditions, StarCraft became the number one e-Sport of the world.
Will StarCraft 2 duplicate the glory of StarCraft one? It will be difficult.