Competitive gaming is one of the most exciting things going on right now, and it doesn’t get bigger than the Global StarCraft League, where an $89,000 top prize is on the line.
If you’ve ever heard about competitive ‘StarCraft’, you’ve probably heard that Korea is the place to be. You heard right. With the launch of ‘StarCraft II’ came the launch of the Global StarCraft League, also known as the GSL. It’s the biggest ‘StarCraft II’ tournament around and one of the biggest eSports tournaments in the world.
This week, the third and final open season of the GSL begins. It’s the most interesting one yet – especially for non-Koreans. The initial two seasons only had a few foreigners qualifying. Of those, only one stood a chance. This season, things are looking up.
The GSL had a huge influx of foreigners this year. In total, five made it into the round of 64, the first televised part of the tournament. Of those, three (Jinro, Haypro and Ret) play for Team Liquid, which is an incredibly active team and a favorite of many fans. Sen is a Taiwanese player on the team Fnatic and an incredibly good player in his own right.
Only one American, Greg “IdrA” Fields, made it into the GSL this time around, though several tried to get through the preliminary rounds. This comes as little surprise, since he made it to the round of 32 in the first season and the round of 16 in the second. IdrA is up against some tough competition again this time around, but he still looks like he could be the first foreigner to take it all.
There are a few other amazing players in the tournament, such as FruitDealer (who won the first GSL), NesTea (who won the second), and ‘StarCraft’ legends like Slayers_Boxer. It’s going to be the most competitive GSL yet and the most fun to watch.
All of these great players are competing for a top prize of 100,000,00 Korean Won, which comes out to just under $89,000. The second place winner goes home with around $26,000, the semi-finalists take home around $9,000, and it goes down from there. Not bad for a month’s work.
The challenge in watching the GSL is that, since it’s based in Korea, it’s not exactly on a friendly schedule for American viewers. Most of the time, the show starts at 5 AM EST. In the early rounds, when there are more games to go through, things start at 11 PM EST.
The one thing you won’t have to worry about is the language barrier. We get an English stream with Nick “Tasteless” Plott and Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski as commentators, both of whom are very knowledgeable about the game and not too bad in the commentary department either.
You can watch games live for free in standard-definition quality at GOMTV, which I highly recommend if you’re awake for them. Standard-def quality isn’t quite good enough to watch on an HDTV, but it’ll do if you’re watching on a PC or laptop.
If you’re not planning to stay awake until all hours of the morning watching ‘StarCraft’, you can check out the Video on Demand matches, also from GOMTV. The first match of each series is free to watch, but if you want to see the high quality version or watch past the first, you’ll have to pay. Pricing isn’t bad, though. It’s $19.95 for your first season and $14.95 if you’re renewing. That’s not to shabby for a month’s worth of entertainment.
It helps to know a little bit about ‘StarCraft’, just like it helps to know a little bit about football before you sit down to an NFL game. It’s not necessary, though. Even those with a very basic knowledge can get a lot out of the games.
Not sure if you’re ready to watch competitive ‘StarCraft II’ games from Korea? It’s a bit of a leap, isn’t it? Give it 40 minutes.
Go over to GomTV.net and register for the site. Make yourself some dinner and sit down to watch. Start with the very first match featuring last season’s winner NesTea against a relative unknown named Jys.
It starts with a recap of the last tournament by the Korean commentators, so you can skip right through to the four-minute mark to catch the introductions by Tasteless and Artosis. If you don’t feel like sitting through the intro fluff, skip straight to the 20-minute mark for the beginning of the game.
It’s rare that the very first game of the tournament is so exciting, but this one’s fantastic. It’s one of those matches everyone expected to be a blowout, but ended up far closer than anyone could have anticipated.
Give it a try. You may end up loving it. I sure did.