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Korea e-Sports Association
General Information
Parent Company: Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Founded: 2000
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Key people: Seo Jin-woo of SK Telecom (Chief Executive)

The Korea e-Sports Association, often abbreviated KeSPA, is a South Korean body established to manage e-Sports in South Korea. This organisation oversees more than twenty e-sports, including StarCraft: Brood War. It aimed to increase the e-Sports brand, so as to elevate the status of e-Sports as an official sporting event, commercializing it in the process. The organization manages the broadcasting of e-Sports and the formation of new events.[1]


KeSPA was founded in 2000 after the approval of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. For more than ten years, the KeSPA oversaw the Korean Starcraft: Brood War professional scene. It was formed largely to represent the interests of the various professional Korean teams, with KeSPA largely composed of representatives from the corporate sponsors of all of the pro-teams (e.g. SK Telecom T1, KTF, etc.). For example, the SK Telecom representative led the board of directors in 2008. Beyond these representatives, who were part of KeSPA's board of directors, KeSPA operated with a variety of managerial staff to handle day-to-day operations.[2]

KeSPA regulates e-Sports broadcasting by channels, such as the two major StarCraft channels, OnGameNet and MBCGame, and later, the online streaming service, GOMtv. Both OnGameNet and MBCGame had their own professional leagues, the OnGameNet Starleague (OSL) and the MBCGame StarCraft League (MSL). Players seeking to compete in either league had to acquire a Progaming License. This was either obtained by competing in the Courage tournament, a tournament held multiple times in a year, or was given by a professional StarCraft team.

KeSPA also published a ranking of progamers based on their results in KeSPA-sanctioned leagues, called the KeSPA Ranking. KeSPA was instrumental in urging OnGameNet and MBCGame to cooperate for the Proleague team event, including supporting a team of custom map makers specifically for team competition.[3]

Transition to StarCraft II[edit]

At the beginning of the StarCraft II beta phase, Blizzard Entertainment tried to promote its new game directly to the teams and players of the Brood War pro scene, but the invitation was turned down by most of the invites and the event was cancelled. This was perceived as the sign of a power struggle between Blizzard and the KeSPA.[4] In April, Blizzard stated that, after three years of fruitless negotiations with the KeSPA, it was going to cease the talks and begin looking for a new partner in South Korea.[5] The KeSPA put the blame on its American counterpart, and the two organisations seemed to be unable of working together.[6] It then appeared that the KeSPA wouldn't take any role in the upcoming StarCraft II professional scene, as, on May 26th 2010, Blizzard and GOMtv signed a partnership agreement giving to this channel exclusive rights to broadcast e-Sports matches of Blizzard games for the next three years.[7]

Subsequently, the KeSPA kept overseeing the Brood War events in South Korea, while GOMtv organised and broadcast the main Korean StarCraft II individual and team leagues. However, the Brood War scene suffered a series of losses in 2011 and 2012, with the end of the MSL and the reorientation of MBCGame channel toward music videos, as well as of the disbanding of three major teams (MBCGame HERO, WeMade FOX and Hwaseung Oz).

In May 2012, KeSPA announced plans to integrate Brood War and StarCraft II competitions with help from the two major broadcasters, OnGameNet and GOMTV, and Blizzard[8] Many of the most recognized KeSPA players had started playing, if not entirely migrating to, StarCraft II by July 2012.[9]

KeSPA's transition continued in September 2012, with its monthly rankings incorporating StarCraft II activity.[10] The 2012 Proleague and OSL, both sanctioned by KeSPA, marked the first year StarCraft II was included in the premier team and individual tournaments in Brood War history, before Brood War was removed completely in the next iteration of the leagues.

Match Fixing Scandal of 2010[edit]

KeSPA was instrumental in banning players involved in the Match Fixing Scandal in May 2010.[11][12]

Sponsorship of Team 8[edit]

In late 2011, with some sponsors having turned away from existing team sponsorship, due to waning fan interest, concerns about corporate affiliation with Brood War after the aforementioned match fixing scandal, or other reasons, KeSPA announced it had secured sponsorship and the organization itself would be forming the professional Brood War team Team 8, a so-called featuring the likes of Jaedong, Sea, and Mind.[13]


Over time KeSPA has stirred up controversy among fans, players, and coaches over its practice in its judgment on rules. The most controversial type of disqualifications have been over sending chat messages; some of the notable players who have been disqualified are Leta and GoRush. Many people on the Internet have displayed their discontent regarding these disciplinary actions against the players.[14][15][16]

External Links[edit]


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