MLG Delivers Region-Specific Starcraft 2 Tournaments
I'm not much of a Starcraft II spectator, but I have a feeling that's about to change. Major League Gaming, who originally dropped the title from their event lineup in August of 2013, have announced a six-month string of Starcraft II tournaments and online content running January to June, 2014.
While the content is news in itself, MLG has also stated that the tournaments will be specific to "the Americas." You can read all about the upcoming event at GameOn.gg or MLG's website, but what's important is knowing why I'm excited, and why you should be too.
Historically, professional Starcraft has been dominated by one country: South Korea. If we look only at MLG events for Starcraft II, South Korea has won 50 total medals, whereas the second best country Canada has won 9, with the United States coming in third at 7. Even if you combine Canada and the U.S., that's comparing South Korea's 50 medals to North America's 16. You could say that the competition is a bit one-sided.
I've always had a hard time getting into Starcraft personally. It wasn't so much learning the game as much as it was finding players that were likeable and relatable... without a language barrier. While there's still plenty of reason to get into the game regardless, this announcement opens up a huge opportunity to familiarize yourself with North American talent, as well as a platform for said talent to prove itself. I'm no expert, but it seems that if there was a way to nurture the growth of the game and an international North American presence, this would be it.
Sure, everything sounds good and the course looks clear, but there are a few past misgivings on MLG's part to make Starcraft fans nervous about this new endeavor. Between the awkwardness of on-stream interviews and ceremonies, high pay-per-view costs, and not-so-delicate tweets from MLG co-founder Sundance, there's reason to be skeptical. For example, this is the tweet used to break the news about MLG dropping Starcraft back in August:
Just so folks know - we are currently not planning to run SC2 at Cbus. Should that change we'll let you know via official channels.— Sundance DiGiovanni (@MLGSundance) August 8, 2013
Thankfully for us, their recent announcement also addresses the issues they've had with the community in the past, and promises stronger communications in the future. If this is true, it could mean a smooth start to eSports in 2014, and a solid foundation for MLG and Starcraft to build upon.
...in the spirit of transparency, we want you to know that we are operating this Invitational as a test. We intend to use the feedback that you provide throughout this activity to help us design competition for February through May that will ultimately be used to qualify players into Pool Play at the MLG Championship in Anaheim. - Original MLG Post
The next important factor to take note of is that these upcoming tournaments are a test. MLG is testing the waters to see what gamers want, and what gamers will watch. They're doing their part and putting the content out there--now we have to do ours.
The community has said that it wants North American Starcraft, but now we have to show it. This means watching streams, checking forums, and retweeting Twitter accounts. This is an industry built for and by the very gamers that are passionate about it. The only thing left to do is turn passion into productivity.
With all that said, I have some questions for the Starcraft veterans:
- Will the Americas thrive on closed competition, or will it hurt the region?
- After MLG's past transgressions, can we expect them to deliver on the promised "transparacy" of this test?
- Will MLG be able to grab fans of other eSports like League of Legends and Call of Duty?