One of my favourite documentaries in the English language for the competitive Brood War scene, worth a watch even today
As glorious as it was for NonY, getting to second place in his first ever Courage Tournament, it was SuperHero[sC], a terran player, who managed to begin his arduous journey to becoming a full fledged professional, after defeating NonY in a hard fought two-to-one in the finals of the Saturday bracket.
What lied ahead for these Courage Tournament winners that battled through some of the harshest competition available for amateur Brood War players?
SuperHero[sC] was one of the hundreds of Courage Tournament winners since the last KeSPA Draft took place.
86 of those Courage Tournament champions who believed that they had what it took to go professional, decided to participate in the KeSPA Draft in August 2009. SuperHero[sC] was one of the 86 semi-professionals.
These 86 semi-professionals had to go through another Draftee Tournament between themselves. The winner of that tournament was yCh[z-zOn], a zerg player who won the 38th Courage Tournament. He blazed through the competition with a record of 17-1, and was selected by STX SouL as their first ever pick.
SuperHero[sC] failed to join yCh[z-zOn] as one of the 25 semi-professional players (after a lackluster showing during the Draftee Tournament with an overall record of 6-15) who managed to get selected by one of the eleven professional teams after showing supreme promise during the Draftee Tournament, or having some unquantifiable merit to by-pass the system (Wooki being one of those examples) to be introduced into the professional gaming scene through team recommendation.
This is the full list of the 25 elite semi-professionals who went through incredible odds to literally claw their way into earning their professional gaming liscence.
This the list of professional gamers who actually managed get some screen time (regardless of whether they retired with a 0% win rate), either by making his debut in the ProLeague, or managing to go past the off-line qualifiers for the televised stages of the individual leagues. The rest basically retired without having done anything as professionals, rotting away in the B-team before quietly retiring in total obscurity without having played a single match on television.
Even the seemingly easy threshold of retiring after just one or two defeats on television was something that was only attained by seven players out of hundreds of Courage Tournament champions from that time-frame.
The most successful (not the same as the most talented) Brood War talent to come out of this pool of thousands of high level Brood War amateurs (of which NonY was one), was none other than Dear, who managed to have 9 ProLeague victories over the course of his short lived professional Brood War career, as well as qualifying for the round of 32 for the ABCMart MSL (the last ever MSL), about one and a half years into his professional career.
The lack of success had by the 2009 KeSPA Draftee generation could partly be explained by the introduction of the Starcraft 2 scene, with players such as n.Die_DDONG ditching his professional career early on to alter his career path, and going on to have success in the professional Starcraft 2 scene unless I am mistaken (going by his new alias of ByuN).
However, even the guys who stuck it out to the end saw far less success than some of the older generations of KeSPA draftees from 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, who took less than one and a half years to make their impression on professional Brood War in one way or the other.
Did the professional scene end prematurely before these guys reached their full potential? Did other gaming titles steal away some of the gaming geniuses of that era? Was the talent influx for Brood War on the wane for quite some time regardless? Did the numerous turmoils (match-fixing scandals, lawsuits from Blizzard, and professional teams and broadcasting stations shutting down as a result) that took place from 2010 onwards negatively influence the growth spurt of these up-and-coming talents?
With the recent success CadenZie had as a streamer, I was reminded of the days when top level Brood War players outside of Korea such as IdrA, Ret, and NonY came to Korea to realize their dreams, and what odds they were up against on top of being a foreigner who had zero grasp of the Korean language and culture.
It was an uphill climb, to say the least. For those who came in relatively late to the professional Brood War scene circa 2009, it was a tremendous achievement to say the following:
"I was that bottom-tier professional who retired after losing all my matches on television. I have a 0% win rate for KeSPA officiated matches, but I did progress far enough to play in a couple of those matches."
Out of thousands of Courage Tournament participants from NonY's era, only seven went on to be able to boast the above statement.