KeSPA sunsets ProLeague

Korean esports cornerstone KeSPA announced today that it is suspending the StarCraft 2 ProLeague effective immediately.

KeSPA chairman Jun ByungHun dropped the mic in an eloquent statement. His reason for ending the 14-year-old league may not be surprising but it’s still gut wrenching to read.

[…] the drop in the number of ProLeague teams and players, difficulty securing league sponsors, and match fixing issues have made it challenging to maintain ProLeague. As such, KeSPA has come to announce the discontinuation of ProLeague and its operations of the five out of total seven StarCraft professional teams that participated in ProLeague 2016.

You can read the rest of this post over at lowercase esports.

Another day, another esports scheduling crisis averted.

A short message posted to Twitter this past Tuesday could have turned the middle of next June into an interesting threesome for competitive gaming.

The announcement was regarding Major League Gaming’s Spring 2014 finale, traditionally hosted in Anaheim, CA, informally referred to as MLG Anaheim 2014. In the past, this event is one of the biggest live spectator events in esports and an event that I’ve personally attended in 2012 supporting ESFI’s on-scene coverage of the event. It was awesome.

And then, one of their European counterparts looked at their calendar.

The Dreamhack representative went on to reference this press release published in May 2012, two years in advance and also mentioned that the date was included in last year’s post-event release for Dreamhack Summer 2013.

Slasher, reporting for Gamespot, was the first to publish the story in a relatively proper context. Most notably, he made the mention that the date also conflicted with another favorite video game industry pastime—the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

With hints from Twitter posts following Adam’s informal announcement, one could conclude that there would have been some backchannel discussions taking place between MLG and the Anaheim Convention Center crew, and, presumably, the publisher/partners who would be lending their games to the show to find an alternative date.

Today, only two days after the initial announcement, a revised announcement was made via the MLG executive’s Twitter account:

Not a bad turnaround for an organization that seemed to be losing favor with parts of its audience because of the company’s switching games based on business decisions. Personally, I don’t have a problem with MLG playing favorites when it comes to making money and keeping their business afloat so long as they don’t start fixing tournaments or begin catering to a younger audience for the sake of advertising dollars. It’s a business decision and they want to create some cool entertainment that a wide-sepctrum audience can watch and enjoy, and maybe even pay for.

All of this is more impressive when you consider the following, as SirScoots points out:

I don’t think that MLG simply called up the folks responsible for scheduling the Anaheim Convention Center out and politely asked for the dates they previously arranged to have changed without a legally compelling reason, unless Blizzard or another publisher was at the table with them. I could be wrong about that, but my read on the situation is MLG had to work pretty hard to change the dates for the convention center deal they made for this next summer and the public was clued in by MLG’s SVP out of a need to appeal to their potential audience that they no longer have to decide between one of the best produced events in the business and one that isn’t. It comes down to business.

Though I also would have thought that Twitter isn’t exactly the best way to publicly announce something as big of a deal as MLG Anaheim 2014. I could be wrong about that, too.

A prelude to a few investigations.

The larger idea that prompted the above tweet is the following: is the viewership to players ratio for any given game a factor in esports marketing ventures?

I’d like to take a look at the numbers game, so to speak, behind esports events and broadcasts. What is coveted ‘critical mass’ behind the explosive growth and inevitable decline of a game’s viewership?

I want to try to understand this particular train of thought because I’m not sure there are many marketing perspectives from the video game industry’s side of esports. Perhaps that’s why Valve hid Dota 2 behind the beta invite wall for so long? Maybe that’s why Activision could throw a million dollars at Call of Duty one year and not do the same the next year? What gave Blizzard the idea that its much smaller scene could support the reformation of its World Championship Series events against its competitor’s League Championship Series? Why did Shootmania never ascend to replace Quake?

As with anything esports-related, the scope of the initial questions that has prompted me to look into things as simple as numbers has outgrown its initial goals over time. Of course, this also means taking the time to actually sit down and watch these events, something that I really haven’t done lately. Which series of events for each game should I start with? This is the crazy question I’ll have to answer first, really.

Maybe it’ll get me excited about esports again.

We’ll see.