Oct 13 2016 - 7:06 am

StarCraft star Polt to fulfill mandatory military service in Korea, will miss Blizzcon

One of the most consistent competitors in StarCraft II’s history will be missing Blizzcon next month
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports

One of the most consistent competitors in StarCraft II’s history will be missing Blizzcon next month.

Choi “Polt” Seong Hun is scheduled to undertake his mandatory conscription in South Korea.

Polt has spent the past three years living and competing in the U.S., resulting in at least one major championship victory per year.

This is nothing unusual for the world of Korean esports players. Conscription is a mandatory part of modern South Korean life, something both Polt and his now former team EnVyUs were aware of upon signing the Terran player in May 2016.

“We all knew this day would come, and while Polt is proud and resolute, it still saddens us to have to say goodbye to him as a player, teammate, and daily face at the table,” EnVyUs said in its statement.

Polt made his first big breakthrough in 2011, when he won the $100,000 GSL Super Tournament in a 4-0 sweep against heavily favored Mun "MMA" Seong Won in the grand finals. Afterwards, Polt became a globetrotter and competed across the world for the next five years, ultimately winning over $400,000 in prize money.

"I have been really happy for the past 6 years. Playing StarCraft II and meeting a lot of people in the world gave me plenty of unforgettable memories,” Polt says in his statement. “Unfortunately, the time has come to say goodbye. However, remember that every ending is a new beginning. I am looking forward to seeing you again soon."

While it is possible for South Korean nationals to postpone conscription for a considerable amount of time, as many esports professionals have done, they are at some point expected to spend roughly two years in either the South Korean army, navy, or air force. In fact, in 2006 the South Korean air force founded its’ own esports team known as Air Force ACE and featured players such as Lim “BoxeR” Yo-Hwan and Lee "firebathero" Sung Eun. The project has since been discontinued, however.

Oct 13 2016 - 5:06 pm

StarCraft star Polt to fulfill mandatory military service in Korea, will miss Blizzcon

One of the most consistent competitors in StarCraft II’s history will be missing Blizzcon next month
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports

One of the most consistent competitors in StarCraft II’s history will be missing Blizzcon next month.

Choi “Polt” Seong Hun is scheduled to undertake his mandatory conscription in South Korea.

Polt has spent the past three years living and competing in the U.S., resulting in at least one major championship victory per year.

This is nothing unusual for the world of Korean esports players. Conscription is a mandatory part of modern South Korean life, something both Polt and his now former team EnVyUs were aware of upon signing the Terran player in May 2016.

“We all knew this day would come, and while Polt is proud and resolute, it still saddens us to have to say goodbye to him as a player, teammate, and daily face at the table,” EnVyUs said in its statement.

Polt made his first big breakthrough in 2011, when he won the $100,000 GSL Super Tournament in a 4-0 sweep against heavily favored Mun "MMA" Seong Won in the grand finals. Afterwards, Polt became a globetrotter and competed across the world for the next five years, ultimately winning over $400,000 in prize money.

"I have been really happy for the past 6 years. Playing StarCraft II and meeting a lot of people in the world gave me plenty of unforgettable memories,” Polt says in his statement. “Unfortunately, the time has come to say goodbye. However, remember that every ending is a new beginning. I am looking forward to seeing you again soon."

While it is possible for South Korean nationals to postpone conscription for a considerable amount of time, as many esports professionals have done, they are at some point expected to spend roughly two years in either the South Korean army, navy, or air force. In fact, in 2006 the South Korean air force founded its’ own esports team known as Air Force ACE and featured players such as Lim “BoxeR” Yo-Hwan and Lee "firebathero" Sung Eun. The project has since been discontinued, however.

Oct 18 2016 - 9:38 pm

StarCraft ProLeague closes doors, 5 of 7 participants disband StarCraft teams

For years fans joked that StarCraft was dead
Samuel Lingle
Dot Esports

For years fans joked that StarCraft was dead. And after this week, the doomsayers may finally be close to the truth.

The StarCraft ProLeague (SPL) is no more, the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA) announced yesterday, and five of the teams competing in the league have closed their StarCraft divisions. SK Telecom T1, KT Rolster, Samsung, CJ Entus, and MVP will no longer feature StarCraft pros, and a sixth team, Afreeca, is leaning towards following suit, according to Fomos. Only the ProLeague’s final champion, the Jin Air Green Wings, will continue StarCraft operation, the organization told Naver.

ProLeague quickly became the premier esports competition in Korea since its first season in 2005, using incredible production value to promote StarCraft: Brood War as a professional sporting competition. Aired on two Korean cable channels, MBCGame and OnGameNet, ProLeague showed the world what was possible with esports. The league survived numerous calamities including the financial crisis of 2008, which hit esports sponsorships hard, and a major match fixing scandal in 2010 to become the longest running pro league in esports. More recently, the league shifted to StarCraft 2, but it hasn’t staved off a decline.

“The drop in the number of ProLeague teams and players, difficulty securing league sponsors, and match fixing issues have made it challenging to maintain ProLeague,” KeSPA Chairman Jun Byung-hun said in a statement.

While StarCraft 2 and ProLeague may not have the viewership of more popular games like League of Legends and its League Championship Series these days, it’s still an iconic part of esports history.

ProLeague is what showed the world that esports really can succeed as more than just a hobby. It proved that esports works in a professional sports environment, complete with big contracts, larger than life superstars, bitter rivalries, and adoring fans. It brought incredible production value to a television audience while those trying to do the same elsewhere failed. ProLeague showed that esports could produce the same incredible stories that make pro sports so popular.

While KeSPA will no longer operate ProLeague, it won’t close all StarCraft operations, stating the game is “still a globally competitive esport.” The association will continue to support pros competing in the WCS Global Finals at Blizzcon in Nov. and may expand other local competitions like the KeSPA Cup, which became the first ever Korean StarCraft 2 event won by a foreign player when American Protoss Alex “Neeb” Sunderhaft took the title on Oct. 3.

StarCraft may be one of the progenitors of esports, but it’s struggled to grow an audience in the face of competition from newer titles. Statistics from Gametrics, which tracks game usage in Korean PC bangs, lists StarCraft at a 2.88 percent share for the past week, and that’s Brood War, the 1998 StarCraft expansion which served as the backbone for most of ProLeague’s run. StarCraft 2 doesn’t even break the top ten games. Compared to esports titan League of Legends, ranked second at 26.69 percent, and up-and-coming juggernaut Overwatch at 29.92 percent, StarCraft is a forgotten game even in the nation where it became a massive phenomenon.

Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, League of Legends analyst and now Overwatch commentator for OGN, which broadcast ProLeague from 2005 to 2013, speculates that KeSPA may pivot to Overwatch.

Whether Mykles is right or not, it’s clear that KeSPA, one of the most influential esports organizations on the planet, is finally moving on from the game that really started the esports revolution.