Experiencing and Spectating the Culture of E-sports

This is me playing Starcraft at Geisel Library. What I’m doing below is not illegal; my E-sports UCSD Starcraft club members practice often in Geisel.

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I have officially uninstalled the game (due to addiction in the past) in my laptop, so only place I could play the game was at Geisel. Because I haven’t played the game in a while, it took me around an hour to warm up my hands every time I played. It was only 3-4 years ago that I used to play this game competitively in the scenery of E-sports against pros/rankers. I remember the frustration when I lost a single game – but all that competitiveness and anger were gone as I was playing the game for part of my class project.  The game I’m focusing on is called “Starcraft,” which was the first game that E-sports officially made a “sport” out of, due to exploding number of fan-base and competitiveness that the game brought. There were few things I learned while playing this game for a month and one was that there was a constant change of game play and graphics. Graphics have gotten a lot better since 2-3 years ago and change of gameplay blew my mind. Now, a certain unit could evolve into different units in campaign mode (which I’ve never experienced before in the game of Starcraft) and graphics were enhanced to make the game play more smoothly in weekly updates.

As I was spectating the scenery of E-sports, I was into on competitive matches that “Flash” played. Flash goes by the name of Lee Young Ho and he was known as the “God of Starcraft.” 2-3 years back then, this God had a monstrous record of 80% win-rate and he was fan favorite for many years. But as I was spectating his games recently, I realized that his win rate were barely over 50% and “newcomers” were beating him as if he was an amateur. This somewhat disappointed me, because I was and still am huge fan of him.

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But reality is that now he’s being taken over by these “new” Starcraft competitors.

This bugged me, so I decided to focus on competitive matches of pro-gamers that were considered the best 2-3 years ago. I realized that old time pro-gamers were struggling to keep up with the pace of changes in E-sports and they were constantly losing to newcomers – old time pro-gamers were slowly being forgotten in the league. Perhaps, many of them quit. Below is a picture of Kim Taek Young (goes by the name of Bisu), who was nicknamed the “Revolutionist” of Starcraft and was voted as the greatest Protoss [race of Starcraft] player of all time. He recently announced his retirement, because his way of playing the game could not catch up to evolution and development of Stacraft’s gameplay. Many “Revolutionists” of Starcraft & E-sports were hitting the bottom and their eras were coming to an end. Below is a picture of Bisu.

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Poor Bisu 😦 I was fan of him too.

Also, one of the rules that I saw changes in, was that players were allowed to chat in some tournaments. Back when E-sports originated in Korea, only word you could type in game was “GG” (stands for Good Game). A losing player would type this to show respect to the opponent before he/she left the match.  But I saw in some E-sports Starcraft tournaments that players were chatting back and forth through out the match. It offended me in a way, because this wasn’t the E-sports culture that I grew up with.

Starcraft E-sports is now totally new to me. It’s only been 2-3 years, but there are so many changes that this game has brought. I’m sure there are more than I have listed. I personally don’t like these changes (except the graphics), but what can I do.

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I’m bitter like him!
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One Response to Experiencing and Spectating the Culture of E-sports

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    The changes to Starcraft are fascinating to me. It’s amazing to me that the game has changed so much in such a short time. If this was a game such as basketball, it would be as if the rules or equipment was constantly changing! This make E-sports a very singular sport to me. One could argue that these constant changes give the game a “freshness” and allow new people to always be entering into the upper echelons, thus preventing rule by a few elites. This also requires constant ongoing engagement, which may not necessarily be a healthy thing. I’m glad that you have been able to revisit something that was once a big part of your life in a reflective and healthy way! I hope that you are able to continue learning from these changes and think more about how they redefine what constitutes sports.

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