Korean Esports Association announces shutdown after 14 years
South Korean eSports fans are bemoaning the demise this week of 14-year veteran eSports league Starcraft ProLeague.
Announcing the end of the road for the League, once pre-eminent in Asian eSports gaming, the Korean Esports Association blamed ethical scandals and competition for its decline in popularity.
In a rather long-winded statement, KeSPA chairman Jun Byung-hun praised the League as the world's first team-based and longest-running eSports league.
"ProLeague paved the way for many top-tier StarCraft players and served as the bedrock behind Korean pro players becoming the world's greatest. The league was loved not only by Korean StarCraft fans, but had fans that followed it from all over the world," he claimed.
"However, behind the excitement, it also had its share of hurdles that we as its organizers had to overcome. We had faced challenges that hindered ProLeague's operations including the acute drop in global eSports sponsorships in 2008 caused by the global financial crisis; the first case of eSports match-fixing; and declining number of teams.
"Despite those challenges, KeSPA made countless efforts to maintain ProLeague. Such efforts include the commissioned management of the eight professional teams to meet the minimum team requirement for ProLeague operations, participation in the EG-TL foreign alliance team, supporting ProLeague participation for teams not owned by companies, selling overseas broadcast rights, and strengthening partnerships with overseas eSports competitions."
The chairman went on to detail the initiatives undertaken to make Starcraft ProLeague viable and competitive, noting that this had enabled the ailing league to stagger through to 2016, when it was overtaken by "…the drop in the number of ProLeague teams and players, difficulty securing league sponsors, and match fixing issues".
The announcement notes that the shutdown includes the discontinuation of the five out of total seven StarCraft professional teams that participated in ProLeague 2016.
Jun Byung-hun closed by assuring fans that although the ProLeague has ended, StarCraft will continue to be available as a competitive eSport.
"StarCraft is one of the world's best RTS games and is an immersive and exciting eSport to watch as well as play," he said. "With its partners, KeSPA will look for ways to support pro-gamers who will be competing in the WCS Global Finals this November as well as continue to seek competition opportunities for Korean pro-gamers through measures such as expanding the StarCraft KeSPA Cup."
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