Gretech E-Sports Department Director Oh Joo Yang: "GSL is an Open League"
On the 5th, Gretech revelaed its plans for a huge StarCraft II league with a total of 600,000,000 Won in prizes for 2010, and a total of 1,200,000,000 Won in prizes for 2011. GSL is a league that anyone over 12 years old can freely participate. The three open tournaments in 2010 have the grand prize of 100,000,000 Won, and the league is attracting a lot of attention as the biggest league in the history of e-sports. Gretech e-sports department director Oh Joo Yang said, "GSL is a league created by Blizzard's and our desire for e-sports. It will run as an open league in which anyone can participate."
▶ This is GSL!
GSL is a huge league with 600,000,000 Won in prizes in 2010. Gretech revealed that in 2011, 12 tournaments will be played with total prize pool of over 1,200,000,000 Won. This is amazing for a game that had been just released only about a week ago. Director Oh said that the reason for running GSL was "the desire for the globalization of e-sports and its contents."
- I'm curious about the intention behind GSL
▲ Global broadcasting fits the league since it is based on an online game, and we're at a better spot for overseas broadcasting compared to cable TV. A lot of Korean culture is spreading to the world, and I think our e-sports culture can be shared with the world. That's why GomTV tried so hard to get into the world of e-sports, but we had many difficulties. We got kicked out and ignored... We had to stop GomTV Classic because the teams wouldn't send their players. That's when StarCraft II was released and we got the exclusive contract. We didn't give in to any outrageous demands or anything. I think we were able to become their partner because we valued Blizzard's intellectual rights and we were able to discuss without problems. If we weren't interested in the globalization of e-sports, we would have only traded broadcasting rights like IEG, but we decided to lauch GSL because we were interested. Korean e-sports is like "Galapagos". It's separated from the rest of the world. I think it worked out well since Blizzard was also interested in making StarCraft II a global e-sport.
- Why are you starting off with such a big tournament?
▲ We discussed this a lot. Some people said that small tournaments would be reasonable since the tournaments this year are just for the rights to participate in the main league next year. However, while we prepared for the year-long GSL, we concentrated on having as many tournaments as possible so that the players can take home a lot of money. We wanted to make sure the passionate and good gamers were able to earn a lot of money and continue being a gamer. A large sum of money encourages more players to participate and gathers more interest.
- How different do you think the size of the main league next year will be?
▲ The pre-season will comprise of 3 main tournaments and 1 invite-only tournament. Next year, there will be 12 tournaments. The size of the tournament is important, but stability is the most important. The prize pool may decrease in size, but it won't be by much. The fans will be very angry if it decreases too much (laughs). Our goal is to make the league bigger and bigger over time. In gold, there are a lot of tournaments, but only a few major leagues with large prizes. We will make the league bigger and bigger while running both big and small tournaments.
- Are you thinking of models similar to golf or tennis?
▲ It's not just gold and tennis that we looked at. We took ideas from many different sports. Even though e-sports comprises of games where a lot of players participate, like FPS games, I think RTS games are individual games. Even though there are teams in proleague, each match is individual. It's not like baseball or soccer(football) where you get a specific position and work with your team. If you cheat on an individual game, you lose, but in a team game, you still have a chance, if your teammates play well. That's why we made GSL an individual league. Also, there are political reasons. We could make team leagues too if the gaming teams all participate, but we're still in negotiation with the association, and this may take a long time. Although it is an individual league right now, we have the intentions to change the format to incorporate the teams somehow.
▶ GSL is a Korean league under the name of "Global league"!
GSL is supposed to be a "Global StarCraft II League", but it's strictly a Korean league. All the games are offline, and foreign gamers have to come to Korea from the preliminaries. Director Oh said, "Gretech has the rights for Korea, so we can only hold a league in Korea. We're planning on focusing on Korean gamers for the pre-season."
- I'm curious about the league format.
▲ All the games are offline. TeamLiquid asked us if we could have the preliminaries online, but then we would need more preparation, so we decided to make the pre-season offline from the preliminaries. Those who want to participate would have to come to Korea. During the main league there is a possibility of inviting foreign gamers, but I think we'll have to focus on the Korean gamers for the pre-season. Players will have to spend their own money to come to Korea if they wish to participate. I don't know if this is a good analogy, but like how soccer players have to go to England if they want to participate in the Premier League, the players will have to come to Korea if they want to participate in a Korean league. There's no artificial way to incorporate foreign gamers for the main league. GomTV only has the rights for Korea. It is out of our ability to run a league outside of Korea.
- Isn't it possible to run a online league?
▲ I don't think online leagues are good. Sports need to be offline to be fair. The leagues so far were online because they lacked the funding or the situation didn't allow for an offline league. However, you can't stop someone else playing for a player that way. We would have to trust the gamers' conscience. That's why we decided to run everything offline for GSL.
- I heard the whole league will be played in a tournament style.
▲ I think the best way to find the best player is Best of X tournaments in a single league. The players with the best condition and skill won the GomTV Classic Leagues. Pre-season will be played in the same format. We made 3 open tournaments so that the players can used to the format of the league. We will use the three tournaments to decide the rankings for the players participating in the main league.
- Where will be the games played?
▲ We prepared everything in Mokdong for HD broadcasting. We already received positive feedback of the HD broadcasting in Star2Gather. We'll play there for now, and if the league goes well, we'll move to a place that's more easily accessible for the viewers.
▶ GSL will be able to be viewed on Cable TV as well as online!
Gretech said that they were planning on broadcasting GSL on a cable channel as well as online to bring the league closer to the Korean fans. Director Oh revealed that "many cable channels contacted us with interest, and we're preparing it so we can start broadcasting on cable starting September."
- Are you preparing to broadcast on cable as well?
▲ We don't think we should be the only ones broadcasting it. Since we're the only ones with broadcasting rights, it's better for us if more parties wish to negotiate with us. There are a lot of cable TV channels that want to broadcast our league. We asked them to wait since we think it's better for us to negotiate with channels that already have experiences with broadcasting games. We're still negotiating with MBCGame and OGN. We're talking about starleagues right now, so I think we need to reach an agreement on that first. Also as a side note, one of the two channels is negotiating more actively than the other. If we don't get to negotiate with the two stations regarding StarCraft II, we'll have to negotiate with a different channel.
- How's the search for sponsors going?
▲ We've talked with many corporations. There have been a lot of them contacting us and blizzard after GSL was announced. We'll give more details when things are decided.
▶ There will only be one league in StarCraft II!
Gretech set the definition as a progamer as "a gamer that earns money in a league."
Players that are ranked 1st through 32nd will be set as Code S and players that are ranked 33rd through 96th will be set as code A. After a league, the lower ranks of Code S players and the upper ranks of Code A players will play a match to decide their position for the next league. Also, the bottom 32 Come A players will have to play against top 32 Battle.net players to decide the Code A players for the next season.
- Have you thought about the requirement to be a progamer?
▲ There is no difference between amateur and progamer in GSL. The fact that a player passed the preliminaries and is playing in a tournament makes him a progamer. We won't regulate or give licenses or anything like that. Some people said that there should be a way to protect the famous gamers, but what's the point of being a progamer if the gamer lacks skill to make it into the tournaments?
- I heard now there are tax breaks for amateur leagues as well.
▲ Until now, only progamers had the 3.3% special tax rate. However, since the law changed in 2009, if a lot of players compete in a league, only 20% of the earnings are able to be taxed at 22% rate. That means you'll only have to pay 4.4% as tax. This is already being applied to all of the amateur leagues in Korea. So the players participating won't have to worry about losing a lot of money to tax.
Gretech revealed that "there will only be one league for StarCraft II. We decided that after talking with Blizzard, it will be best if there is only one league for StarCraft II in Korea. Unless something big happens, GSL will represent StarCraft II in Korea."
- Will StarCraft only have one major league?
▲ Blizzard and we decided that there will only be one league. If both stations want to broadcast it, we could make some changes, but as of now our goal is to have one major league. The reason the fans were so sad after Brazil got knocked out of World Cup was that they have to wait 4 years for the next chance, but right now, a player that gets eliminated on Wednesday may appear again on Thursday, and even if they get eliminated again, comes up on Proleague on Saturday. That's why the games seem less important, and the players have hard time focusing on the individual leagues. The fans are arguing about whether it's a good thing that they can see so many games or a bad thing since the progamers are being overworked. I think that can be solved if there is only one league, but more games are played in that league. Also, in terms of business, sponsors like it that there is only one league, since the league that they are sponsoring will be only league going on.
- Cooperating with Blizzard will also be very important.
▲ We already negotiated with Blizzard. We run a tournament every month, and a ladder tournament ran by Blizzard is included. Blizzard plans on running a ladder tournament about four times a year, and that's included in GSL. The King of Kings Tournament in December is also named "Blizzard Cup." Blizzard also thinks that StarCraft II needs to become an e-sport in order for the game to succeed, so they are cooperating very well. The tournaments throughout the year assign points to each of the players, and those points determine who gets to play in the Blizzard Cup. The ladder tournaments give points the same way as GSL tournaments. For example, even if you never play in GSL, you may be able to play in the Blizzard Cup if you consistently place in the top of the ladder tournaments.
▶ We'll try hard to ensure the rights of the viewers
Gretech emphasized that they are not monopolizing broadcasting rights. They're only trying to make the StarCraft II League bigger through connections with other corporations.
- If you had to honestly guess how successful StarCraft II will be?
▲ Since StarCraft developed in a special situation, it will be hard to compare to StarCraft II, but I'm sure there will be no problems in establishing StarCraft II as an e-sport. I think the reason StarCraft was so popular in Korea was due to the quickly decided matches and speedy gameplay. I think it was appealing to the impatient Koreans. StarCraft was also not perfect in balance or game play. It was due to constant patching and the efforts of the gamers that completed the game. StarCraft II will also continue to develop through Blizzard and the gamers. Since it's like a 2010 version of the 12 year old game, I trust that it will go well.
- I'm curious about the e-sports Gretech is picturing.
▲ We're concentrating the most on the players. The B-team progamers are earning little and living in dorms without going to school. We don't want to criticize the current structure of e-sports, but we just want to say that the current e-sports structure is a little twisted since it wasn't planned out from the beginning. We don't want progamers to have to give up working or going to school. You shouldn't be denied participation just because you don't belong to a larger group. That's why we decided to not regulate progaming status. Some people say this will cause a problem, but I think if there are a lot of leagues and many ways to qualify, this will get better. Right now, the world of e-sports is hard to get into. We want to change this. Viewers have been watching e-sports for 10 years and have been watching new games every week. We don't want fans to be left with nothing to watch. If GSL goes as planned, viewers will be able to watch more matches then they do now.
- Anything else you'd like to say to the fans?
▲ The community seems to have a lot of doubts since we didn't reveal a lot of the details. I thank the fans that support our position. I want to tell everyone they don't need to worry about us monopolizing the rights. We wouldn't have even started a league like this if we just wanted to make profit. I hope that the fans can trust us and wait.
Old version, Translated by Milkis
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"GSL will be an open contest based on skill"
An Interview with the Director's Gretech's eSports Department, Oh Joo Yang
An Interview with the Director's Gretech's eSports Department, Oh Joo Yang
This past 5th, Gretech announced the "Global Starcraft 2 League". It is a league that anyone over twelve all over the world can enter. It is a "Massive eSports league" that
will have 600,000,000 won worth of prizes just in 2010, and 1,200,000,000 won in prizes in 2011.
The response was hot. Many normal users, to even reserve progamers who were preparing for leagues have shown interest in participating. There are now a lot more people asking about how the league runs and the rules.
On the other hand, there were people who questioned how far a Starcraft 2 League could get without the participation of KeSPA and the Progaming teams. There were even people who expressed that they felt that Gretech has thrown a force bid for victory to dominate the Starcraft 2 eSports scene.
The director of Gretech's eSports Department Oh Joo Yang (OJY) kicked aside all worries with the word "Open Door Policy". He wants to create a "Starcraft 2 Festival" for everyone, rather than a league that was limited to specialized gamers and channels. He wants to change the participation from "Gaming Teams" to "Every User", and Broadcasts not only in Cable TV but on "various mediums".
■ <Starcraft 2> will go in the route of "open" Progamers.
Director OJY thinks that the basic definition of a Progamer is "Someone who enters a contest to win prize money".
The basis of the Starcraft leagues were concentrated heavily on the Progame teams. Whether you are skilled or not, if you want to play in the leagues, you needed to belong to a Progame team. The B Team players or the Battle.net gosus who lacked the skill or fame had difficulty playing in matches.
Meanwhile, there is no differentiation between a pro and an amateur in the GSL. As long as you have a battle.net account and you are over 12 years old, you are able to participate, and if you perform well in the open contests that will take place three times this year, they will be able to directly play in the official leagues in 2011.
Participation is only possible through "individual's request", and there are no special considerations based on seeds, based on whether or not you're in a progaming team or not, or based on popularity. The current Starcraft Progamers are free to participate, but even in this case, they need to request individually and they need to climb up through Offline preliminaries.
The selection is only based on skill. This is the "open dorr policy" that Director OJY speaks of. He wants to create a large door of entry that anyone with skill can come through.
The skill testing continues even after the official leagues are open.
The GSL, depending on the results from the open contests, will be divided into two leagues. 1st place to 36th place is divided into 8 groups in the Code S league, and 33th place to 96th place participates in the Code A league, which is a round of 64 tournament. [T/N: the original article says 1st to 36th place divided into 8 groups, but 1st to 32nd place would make more sense]
Once one league ends, then the worst eight players in the 8 Code S groups and the top 8 players in Code A gather together for a "Promotion Decision Match". The players who win climb into Code S, and the players who lose are demoted into Code A.
The bottom 32 players in Code A are also required to take place in the Offline preliminaries, and they'll have to play with the top 32 users in Battle.net for the right to play in Code A next season. You need to keep winning to stay in the League.
On the other hand, those who wants to be a Progamer can increase their Battle.net records to participate in Code A. The Battle.net ranking becomes a kind of a "Waiting Ticket" to enter the league. Director OJY believes that every user on Battle.net is a "potential Progamer" as long as they are willing.
■ "There are no plans to create an organization, or to manage the players"
If that's the case, who manages the Progamers? Director OJY revealed that "There are no plans to create an organization or to manage the progamers". KeSPA thinks the same. Starcraft 2 progamers are not associated with KeSPA.
There are two big reasons for Progamers to join KeSPA. The first is that you need to be registered as a Progamer to be able to play in a Progame Team, and the second reason is because as a registered Progamer, you can have the prize money considered as an "earned income" and have your taxes reduces.
However, the rules related to the taxes changed. Before, if an individual not belonging in an association enter a contest and win, 22% of the winnings were taken away through taxes. On the other hand, a person registered as a Progamer only paid 3.3% taxes as the prize money was considered earned income.
This rule was recently changed so that, in contests where people gather and compete through skill, 80% of the prize money can be considered contest expenses. Therefore, if a normal person wins in a contest, they only pay 4.4% as taxes. That's only a 1.1% difference from a Progamer.
The same thing applies to specialized education for Progamers. OJY answers the question "But don't you at least need specialized education?" by asking "Have you ever participated in a progamer specialized education?". He doesn't believe that there will be much benefits in such a crammed method of teaching, and he points out that there aren't many progamers who take the program seriously.
He used a soccer player as an example. "A skilled soccer player is still somewhat recognized even if his attitude is problematic. However, he is expelled the second he reaches a level the fans can no longer tolerate". He is implying that this "purge" mechanism by the fans and the sponsors will be enough.
However, GSL included a minimal defense mechanism, so that if the sponsors and organizers believe that the player is lacking refinement, they can revoke the player's right to play. While in the future, with respect to teams that need skilled players or sponsors, or with respect to salaries in benefits, they could cover "the most essential things" through education, the Director is saying that they will not start by managing anything.
Keep in mind, that players who have fixed matches in Starcraft League will not be able to participate in Starcraft 2 leagues, following decisions made by the GSL organizers. While the law may not punish them greatly, because they have fixed what was the core of sports, the match results, it becomes a completely different story.
■ Rater than the broadcasts, GSL's goal is for the success of Starcraft 2.
"We are simply Starcraft 2's exclusive entrepreneurs. We are not a monopolistic entrepreneur."
Gretech's representative Bae In Shik has a habit of saying this, according to Director OJY. He says that Gretech will never monopolize broadcasts just for their profits. Gretech's purpose is to sell sub-licenses and make Starcraft 2 and its contests popular. Their goal is not to monopolize Starcraft 2.
For this purpose, Gretech is currently talking with Cable broadcasters to broadcast GSL, and currently looking for partners on the internet, Gretech's main(?) stage.
GomTV also has capabilities for HD broadcasts. Because of practical reasons, the service is currently limited to 720p, but it can make broadcasts that has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means that there won't be a problem with HD broadcasts. Director OJY have also revealed his ambition that "I would like it if we can even have one cable channel broadcasting with us".
Will there be any problems for operations? GSL's 2010 prize money is nearly 600,000,000 won, and starting with 2011, they are planning on putting up 1,200,000,000 won up on the line every year. From an outside perspective, this is a level that can be seen as reckless.
Director OJY responded. "We are currently in touch with Sponsors, and we have also considered various methods where Gretech and Blizzard contribute a fixed amount". It has been revealed that, amongst the Sponsor candidates, there were sponsors who contacted Gretech first before Gretech began talking about the possibility.
To have operations go smoothly, a "Contest Operation Team" was also created. Commentator Chae Jeong Won took the position as the team lead, and they are also currently recruiting commentators and casters. The operation team will also be temporarily acting as referees.
There are currently no plans for team leagues, but if there are many teams who reveal that they would like to play, a team level league could be created. Director OJY wants a flexible philosophy and open as many contests as possible to create a wide range of opportunities and prize money.
"We want to open a contest that everyone can admit is on the scale of Blizzard". This is the first goal set by Director OJY for the GSL.
Source: ThisIsGame, http://www.thisisgame.com/board/view.php?id=456731&board=&category=13401