The first in a recent wave of Korean StarCraft 2 players who fled their home country to play abroad has found a new home.
Root Gaming has signed Zerg player Shin “Hydra” Dong Won, the team announced today. Shin adds instant credibility to the team’s StarCraft 2 roster, which also includes Mexico’s notable Terran player Juan Carlos “Major” Tena Lopez.
Shin was one of several Korean players who, after their latest contracts had expired, parted ways with their former teams and left the country’s famed professional StarCraft scene.
Reasons for the move varied between players, but it seemed that most wanted to escape the rigidity of the scene in Korea for the freedom of international play—and to experience the more excitable fan bases abroad.
Exciting as those prospects might seem, the move means each player will actually earn less. Korea has long been the place to be for StarCraft players looked to get paid, and while the release of StarCraft 2 created a temporary surge in finances available to foreign players, that seems to have waned over the past two years.
Root’s manager, Paulo “Catz” Vizcarra, made no secret of this when he announced the acquisition on the team’s website.
“When his contract with CJ [Entus] was coming to an end, he reached out to us right away, and despite us not being able to offer as much as I think he deserves, he insisted on joining,” Vizcarra said.
For his part, Shin seemed excited about the opportunity in spite of what is likely a significant drop in pay.
“I wanted to join a foreign team because I feel like I need a new environment and new experiences,” Shin said.
He also confirmed his desire to interact with the esports scene and its fans outside of Korea.
“I am very happy about this announcement and I am very excited to meet my foreign fans at events, I will practice hard and try to perform at my best everywhere I go,” Shin said.
Shin’s peak came about during the days of StarCraft: Brood War, when he was able to win a coveted Starleague title and was, for a time, known as one of the game’s best players. His transition to StarCraft 2 has not been an entirely smooth one, but he has found some success. His move into a new playing environment may help him further that.