[Written by Daily eSports Nam Yoon Sung journalist firstname.lastname@example.org]
*Together in the eSports world with SK Telecom (www.sktelecom.com)
National largest item transaction site Itembay, has sponsored the 8th Sonic Starleague (SSL) hosted by game jockey Sonic. Rather than the numerous leagues with Starcraft 2, we were curious why he chose to sponsor Starcraft: Brood War (SC1). Starcraft 1 is not an item that Itembay could use in trades, and it is not a game where you need to level up or items. Also with Starcraft 2 becoming the official league nationally, Itembay thought it wasn’t too late step in and support Starcraft 1. Daily eSports met up with Itembay CEO Lee Chang Seok on his decision.
◆Starcraft 1's memories still remains.
Itembay says that the reason they sponsored the 8th SSL is because the the number of users are still abundant. Progaming teams may not play SC1 anymore, but SC1 is still recorded within Gametric's top 10 ranking. SC2: Wings of Liberty are in the upper 20th places and is higher than the recently released SC2: Heart of the Swarm. If you're a gamer inside S.Korea or have interest in games, the fact that everyone has memories of SC1 is the reason Itembay has sponsored the Sonic Starleague.
(T/N - www.gametrics.com - need membership to view)
"The person who uses the ID Sonic, Mr. Hwang Hyo Jin sent me a proposal. He asked not just to sponsor our Starleague, but our memories, and the memories we will make in the future. I believe for Itembay in 2013 that our business model can relate to this, and we decided to sponsor."
For Itembay, they increased their 2013 business model's outview. Of course online games, game business, and they mentioned that they will become a site to include those areas. They want to win over the gamers to their side by grabbing the gamers' interests and that the proper medium for this is SC1.
"If you're a person that plays, knows, and enjoys playing games that person must have memories about SC1. Doing teamplay inside PC Cafes, Boxer, Yellow, Reach, and watching Nada's play and being amazed by their skills, and I read an article about Gwanganri gathering 100,000 fans, and I have a variety of other memories. The official league has been closed, but I believe that the memories about the gamers have not ended."
◆The charms of a carefree appearance
Lee Chang Seok CEO mentions he signed the contract before meeting 'Sonic' Hwang Hyo Jin in person. Sponsoring a considerable amount, the reason he agreed without even meeting or speaking with him is that through his broadcasts and watching contents on Sonic TV, he confirmed Sonic's passion for SC1 leagues.
"After receiving the proposal I looked at the VOD of his SSL very carefully. There was no standardized frame for him. He attempted to do singing, become a coach for gamers, and a commentator hosting his own tournaments. He wasn't overly commercial either. The tournament wasn't made to uphold a cause or show formality, but what gamer's like, and I see him try his best to make an enjoyable gaming culture. Our company can learn from that kind of passion."
Lee CEO mentioned he has spectated the SSL personally. After deciding to sponsor, he mentions he watches the broadcasts live and if he short on time that he watches every VOD he missed.
"To be honest I'm not that good at SC1. I'm not a playing gamer. But I can definitely tell who is winning or losing. Because the game is intuitive, it makes you focus. I believe this is one of SC1's qualities that attracts viewers to Starleagues even now. Also I read articles that mentioned it was getting good viewership."
Lee CEO mentions he hopes word spreads and more people watch SSL. Not just thousands, but he wants tens of thousands. Through that more attention would come to Itembay, and he hopes Starleague receives the public's attention and stays as lasting contents instead of being labelled as a league without a future.
◆To grow with the game industry
It was mentioned earlier but SC1 is not a game where you can purchase items. But with an item transaction industry, one relationship exists. In 2008 when Hanbit Stars Progaming team almost broke up, a company called Itemmania offered to take over. Also after with the official leagues for SC1 ending, Itembay offered to sponsor SSL on AfreecaTV.
Lee CEO mentions about the present state, "eSports is the best way to promote games."
It is still a fact that people have stereotypical views about game related businesses and item transaction companies. A portion of game companies mention their discontent about their items being used by outside companies. Not too long ago that inside the game industry that they are the most harmful branch.
"You can't separate Itembay from the game industry. The game industry has to become popular for item transactions to be active and grow. Also for the gaming industry through eSports uses another medium secure a gaming audience and live a long live. Whether it's Itembay of eSports, they're and industry all connected through the medium of a game. For the revival of eSports the reason Itembay is sponsoring is for the entire gaming industry to grow."
◆Grow, and prosper
There's a stereotyped but important question that is asked to every eSports league sponsor, are you going to continue sponsoring the league.
Lee CEO, instead of confirmation he showed his expectations. "I hope the day comes, not just a small company like Itembay to sponsor SSL but major companies nationally and globally sponsors SSL."
Itembay helping out SSL in a tough situation, they can be satisfied taking the role of a catalyst. Hoping this Starleague will become successful, receiving a giant sponsor, and be connected with tens of thousands of fans, one can interpret that they will try to connect them to a brighter future.
"If the beginning of online games was Lineage, the start of eSports was Starcraft leagues. Even if it's a league becoming forgotten, it is still the most familiar contents to the current gamers. With Itembay's sponsorship, I hope their passion for the game rekindles. If we can become a catalyst for improving the game industry through this, I believe our role can be shown in a new light."
CEO Lee Chang Seok ends with, "We received a lot from the game industry and gamers and with the sponsorship of SSL we repaid a small amount. If you all send us interest and affection for SSL and Itembay, through more activities and support we'll do our best to contribute to the game industry."