IGN Announces a Professional ‘StarCraft’ League

The eSports world is taking off in a big way. Bigger sponsors are entering the fray, production values are ramping up, and prize pools are getting bigger. The recent announcement of the IGN Pro League is the latest to hit the scene, and it goes far to cement competitive gaming as legitimate in the States.

Competitive gaming, known as eSports to fans, has had a great deal of success overseas, but has yet to catch on with mainstream America. This latest push could be the thing that really gets it there.

I’ve posted about ‘StarCraft’ tournaments in the past, but most of the really big ones have taken place overseas. Last weekend’s Major League Gaming event was a solid effort in the U.S., but streaming issues and other technical glitches made for a lackluster start that turned a lot of fans off.

Major League Gaming (MLG) has a lot of money behind it, but it’s still a smaller operation – one that from the beginning has been dedicated to eSports. It has big sponsors, but the MLG itself isn’t large. The latest entry to the eSports world, however, is.

IGN Entertainment is an incredibly large business owned by News Corp, an even larger business. It’s about as legitimate as you can get in terms of established businesses that aren’t going away any time soon.

“IGN’s involvement in eSports is extremely exciting and a boon for eSports,” explains Derrick “FearGorm” Asiedu, CEO of WellPlayed – a ‘StarCraft II’ community and production company that’s working with IGN on this project. “They are one of the biggest names in gaming and the team putting on the IPL has a genuine love of eSports.”

The IGN Pro League (IPL) is the company’s big launching point to get involved in the eSports community, with a focus on ‘StarCraft II’. Its first tournament starts later this month, leading into a much bigger second season.

Things kick off with a 16-man invitational that includes a strong lineup of players including Greg “IdrA” Fields, Danny “ViBE” Scherlong, Jonathan “KiWiKaKi” Garneau, Geoff “INcontroL” Robinson, and my favorite to win it all, Kyung Hyun “SeleCT” Ryoo.

The prize pool for the first season is $5,000, and the top four finishers get automatic qualification for the second season, which boasts a much more substantial prize of $50,000.

The official IPL website has more information on the league itself and an incredibly cool video to go along with it. You can find news on the IPL and other big ‘StarCraft II’ tournaments as well as streaming shows, forums and interviews with players at WellPlayed.


  1. It’s really exciting to see large companies dip their toes into eSports. The business model for these events is definitely there and I’m going to watch closely to see what such a successful gaming company does once it’s fully submerged.

  2. IGN’s entry into the esports world is fantastic! And you wouldn’t believe the lengths some people go to to get a good A/V setup for watching starcraft. =)

  3. IGN knows a good thing when they see it. I have never followed basketball or football much, but I find myself catching every game i can for sc2.

    I look forward to the eSports revolution!

  4. As a WP team member I’m genuinely very excited about season one of the IGN Pro League. It’s small to start out, granted, but if it works out there’ll be even bigger and better things to come!

  5. JoeRo

    I’ve heard that the life of pro-gamers in the states is, by-and-large, shitty … to put it bluntly. I’m basing this judgement entirely on the documentary “Frag”, which paints the industry in the states as more of an exploitative opportunity for shady promoters and sponsors. Hopefully the IPL takes things in a better direction.

    ***Tried to find info on Frag and apparently it’s not all that well known. Here’s an IMDB link anyway http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1266566/

    • Yeah, I saw Frag. Not exactly the best representation in my view. It didn’t explain to the casual audience that players compete in a variety of leagues – not just the now defunct CPL. It also featured the negatives exclusively, without focusing on the positives.

      While I don’t have any specifics, I do know for sure that the huge amount of online leagues combined with increased advertiser interest means a much better life for players.

      • JoeRo

        I agree that Frag definitely isn’t the definitive guide to professional gaming as it exists today, or at the time of its release for that matter, but there’s a dearth of documentation on the subject as a whole. As to the negative aspects highlighted in the film, I think it actually does a decent job of calling attention to some of the big names in the community, but overall it does paint a fairly bleak outlook for pro gaming competitors.

        That said, I think there’s still a huge difference between so called e-sports and more traditional sports. Most professional gamers don’t earn salaries, which makes winning big cash prizes necessary for participants to continue to pursue their careers. I realize that there are a few individuals and teams who receive enough money from various endorsements to make a living, but they remain a very small minority. I can’t imagine other professional sporting leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA … take your pick) operating under this same busines model and being successful.

        I sincerely hope that the formation of the IPL brings some much needed stability and integrity to professional gaming, but I’m honestly not that optimistic. As long as leagues are run like game shows with cash prizes for the top finishers I see esports being little more than a novelty in the states. If the IPL helps set standards for how players are treated, trained, and compensated for their performance on the other hand, we might very well see something special.

        Fingers crossed.

  6. Seems to me that all these leagues face the same fundamental problem, which is that watching another person play a video game that you can’t play is kind of boring. 🙂

  7. Newborn

    @Josh Zyber

    Speak for yourself 🙂

    I’d rather watch SC2 than traditional sports any day.