Over 10 years ago, Starcraft: Brood War spawned a following in North America and an even bigger following in South Korea. Esports at this time was small in comparison to today. However, in South Korea, Brood War established and helped grow the esports scene to what it is today. Thousands of people attended MSL and OSL to watch the likes of Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, and Stork play. The aura of these players not only reached throughout South Korea but reached stateside in North America. The popularity of Starcraft was increasing throughout the world on the heels of Starcraft 2’s release in 2010.
After Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty’s release, Brood War was still a beloved game in South Korea. It was still the top game in PC bangs, before the rise in popularity of League of Legends. SC2 was rising in popularity with the majority of support from its community. In 2012, Blizzard announced KeSPA and OnGameNet are allowed to broadcast SC2 tournaments. SC2 was officially recognized as a KeSPA game. Proleague was going to transition to SC2 only, leaving Brood War behind. In turn, the OSL and MSL folded in 2012 and all the Brood War pros transitioned to SC2 also. Some players found success in SC2 such as Flash, Jaedong, Soulkey, and InNoVation. Others were forced to retire from the professional scene as Brood War was near extinct, although it was still popular in PC bangs. Blizzard was banking on SC2 being the next Brood War, not only being huge in popularity in South Korea, but also worldwide. However, their dreams were destructed and SC2 took a backseat to games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. SC2 does not have the following that it once had 5 years ago. However, the game lives on through the GSL, WCS, and IEM.
With the popularity of League of Legends going for over 5 years, Blizzard tried to ride on its success with titles such as Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and recently, Overwatch. While Overwatch is still in its infancy, the other games did not reach the popularity that Starcraft once had. Recently, Brood War had a resurgence in its professional scene with the ASL airing on Afreeca or on the GSL channel on Twitch. In Season 1 of the ASL, Shuttle (formerly of STX SouL) earned the championship taking down Sharp. In Season 2, we saw the return of Flash, Jaedong, Bisu, Stork, and Soulkey to name a few. At the end of the Season 2, Flash (formerly of KT Rolster) was hailed champion once again defeating Sea. During the championship finals, the ASL drew over 20,000 viewers, a viewer number that Starcraft has not seen since Blizzcon. Since then, the ASL held a Proleague-type season called ASL Team Battle which crowned Team GuemChi (GuemChi, Soulkey, PianO) as champions defeating the titans known as Team Flash (Flash, Last, Rain).
The rejuvenation of Brood War sparked a bulb within Blizzard. Last weekend during the I <3 Starcraft event, Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime announced Starcraft: Remastered, a modernized version of the classic game. Features include:
- Widescreen 4K Ultra HD Resolution
- Classic StarCraft Gameplay Remains Untouched
- New Illustrations Enhance Original Story
- More than 50 Single-Player Missions
- Plugged into Blizzard’s Gaming Network
- Cloud Saves for Campaign, Custom Maps, Replays, and Keybinds
- Localized in 13 languages
To prepare for the release, Brood War will be patched for bug fixes and improvements like Observer Mode, anti-cheat measures, and compatibility with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10. Additionally, Yahoo Esports sat with Pete Stilwell, Senior Producer of Classic Games at Blizzard to discuss Starcraft: Remastered. Stilwell revealed that they started production about a year ago. He also mentioned that a number of people who worked on the original Starcraft are still employed with Blizzard, including Lead Artist Brian Sousa, and helped with art for Starcraft: Remastered.
While I do not think Blizzard is trying to find their place in esports, they are trying to solidify a game that would be able to compete with Dota 2, League of Legends, and CS:GO in the next 5 to 10 years. Brood War will take a year or two to re-cement its professional scene, due to the mishandling of SC2 and WCS. However, the rate at which it should grow should be fast because of nostalgia and support from Blizzard. If Brood War can reach heights that it once had, I believe that ceiling can be broken and other Blizzard esports will be able to build on that success. In the meantime, Starcraft: Remastered is building on a lot of hype since the announcement. Blizzard needs to capitalize on its hype and show their support for the game and players once the game is released.