Five problems of StarCraft II

Oversaturation in StarCraft II does exist.  Everyone’s favourite RTS game has a great ecosystem built around it, but it has a way to go until it’s perfect.  What are the current problems and what can we do about them?


One week there’s Intel Extreme Masters, the week after there’s MLG, the week after there’s DreamHack and all the while GSL pumps out great content almost every day.  There’s no chance to keep up with all of that unless all you do is eat, sleep and watch StarCraft.

Fans are made to pick and choose based on the tournament brands they like, commentators they enjoy watching, favourable event time zones and maybe their favourite players attending.   Players need to carefully pick events to attend as well. What doesn’t help?  The following:


Most tournament brands have their own qualifiers, their own event series, their own championship and their own ranking.  It’s tough enough to follow one circuit, let alone see all seven or so of those threads intertwined and mixed up.

Simple infographic explaining the esports model behind professional SC2.

There are seven CEOs and each one wants to say his event is the ultimate.  It’s confusing to people inside esports and even more so for the mainstream press and outsiders.  The press are sold stories about half a dozen ultimate champions each year.


Tournaments can be played out in group play, single elimination, quadruple elimination, best of 3, best of 5, best of 7.  No one can make sense of that in the big picture.  Leagues feel insecure and do what they can to bring in as many player celebrities as possible.  They invite big names, backdoor them into their competitions and create systems where they are shown in as many games as possible.

As a result, we get to watch a limited set of player names over and over and over up to the point of being tired of it.  Not only does it get harder for someone new to break through, but the viewers begin to be narrow-minded about new players and see them as uninteresting rather than exciting (except in the GSL).


Professional StarCraft II is too top-heavy in its rewards and the StarCraft II middle class is dying.  Being a top player lets you earn $100,000 a year in prizes, but placing six spots below him on a regular basis won’t pay for your rent.

Players that aren’t good enough to win major titles but are able to challenge the NesTeas of this world and finish top four sometimes…  We see them quit with beautiful announcements, or quietly.  They can’t afford to play full time, but the middle class are the most important group of players.

Select and several other players have announced their retirement recently.

Stephano won’t play any better than he does already if you pay him twenty times more than he earns.  He will play many times better if the number of players that challenge him on an every day basis (in tournaments and in training) gets multiplied.


It is very difficult to break through for new talents for some of the above reasons.  Also, they rarely get a chance to play on the big stage without pulling major cash out of their pockets first.  Secondly, when they finally do, they get beaten by better players and denied high enough tournament placings to get noticed by teams and sponsors.

It’s on the backs of better players that young ones eventually climb to the top.  But they can’t reach the top if the most skilled player in the region is 16th or so at a big tournament.

You don’t magically arrive at the top. You only get there in small steps.

Korean players (somehow not always ones that have sponsors) show up to major events by the dozen, take all the prize money and go back to Korea.  Money’s drained out of local ecosystems by outsiders.  Money that needs to stay in the ecosystem to provide a living for local pros and semi pros, ones upcoming players can learn from to get better.

All of this, and more, are the challenges ahead.  Gloomy?

We are young.  We will fix it.

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