KeSPA–GOMTV/e-Sports Federation dispute
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In August 2012, a major dispute occurred between KeSPA on one hand and the e-Sports Federation and GOMTV on the other. Triggered by KeSPA's decision to prevent its players from competing in the 2012 GSL Season 4, the member teams of the e-Sports Federation to threatened to pull their players out of the ongoing 2012 OSL Season 1, because they feared that KeSPA's decision would negatively affect their strength and put GOMTV in jeopardy.[Citation needed] The feud, which could have caused the Korean pro scene to go into schism, was ultimately settled when the KeSPA agreed to allow its players to attend the GSL.
During the Brood War era, the Korea e-Sports Association (better known as KeSPA) oversaw the professional scene in Korea, relying on the two major television channels OnGameNet and MBCGame. Both of these channels had their own individual leagues, the OnGameNet Starleague (OSL) and the MBCGame StarCraft League (MSL). In 2008, a third major individual league came along when GOMTV, a Korean streaming service and a broadcasting channel, launched its GOMTV Classic. Unlike OnGameNet and MBCGame, GOMTV was not affiliated with KeSPA, and provided the only alternative to KeSPA sanctioned tournaments, as well as being the first Korean live event series to feature shoutcasting in English (with Tasteless). The first two seasons of the GOMTV Classic were held without issues, but problems arose in 2009 in the third season, when four teams (SK Telecom T1, MBCGame HERO, eSTRO, and OGN SPARKYZ) withdrew from the league, citing overwork and scheduling issues. [Citation needed] Other teams (KTF MagicNS, STX SouL, and Air Force ACE) withdrew after the season 3 as well, leading GOMTV to shut down the league despite a favorable reception. It is widely believed that the teams acted this way at the request of the KeSPA, which allegedly wanted to retaliate against GOMTV's sponsor (since the third season of the league) Blizzard Entertainment with which it had a legal dispute over Brood War broadcasting rights at the time. By driving Blizzard's only link to competitive StarCraft out of the scene, KeSPA could maintain its monopoly on the Brood War professional scene in Korea.
In early 2010, a few months before StarCraft II's commercial release, Blizzard Entertainment's attempts to promote its upcoming game to the Korean professional teams and to come to an agreement over its intellectual rights with the KeSPA were unsuccessful, which led the American company to cease negotiations with KeSPA and to look for a new partner able to organize major tournaments in Korea. Blizzard eventually signed a partnership agreement with GOMTV in May, granting it exclusive rights to broadcast e-Sports matches of Blizzard games (including Brood War) for the next three years. Therefore, GOMTV became the only legal broadcaster of StarCraft II live events in Korea, with both its Global Starcraft II League (individual league, better known as GSL) and its Global Starcraft II Team League (team league, better known as GSTL), which soon became regarded as the most challenging events of the StarCraft II scene. Meanwhile, KeSPA kept overseeing the Brood War leagues, the OSL and the MSL, in which their affiliated teams competed. Even after the agreement between Blizzard and GOMTV was signed, the relationship between the latter and the KeSPA remained poor, as OnGameNet and MBCGame initially refused to negotiate the right to hold their Brood War leagues with GOMTV as they were assigned to (even though GOMTV didn't broadcast any BW leagues at the time, any channel willing to broadcast such tournaments had to address to GOMTV, Blizzard's exclusive partner in Korea).
However, while StarCraft II kept growing, the Brood War scene suffered a decline in 2011 and 2012, as the MBCGame StarCraft League was discontinued due to the reorientation of MBCGame channel toward music videos, and as three major teams were disbanded (MBCGame HERO, WeMade FOX and Hwaseung Oz). In March 2012, it was reported that KeSPA was in discussion with Blizzard Entertainment to acquire the right to broadcast StarCraft II events.
A week later, on March 30, the e-Sports Federation was unveiled. Originally comprised of nine non-KeSPA teams, StarTale, Incredible Miracle, Prime, MVP, Old Generations, New Star HoSeo, FXOpen e-Sports, Team SCV Life and ZeNEX (SlayerS being the only team competing in the GSTL which had decided against joining the federation), the organisation meant to secure rights for its members that had helped to build the Korean StarCraft II scene prior to KeSPA's involvement. The e-Sports Federation strived to ask KeSPA for an official place for negotiations, and to start talks advocating free participation of non-KeSPA players and teams in the upcoming leagues. On May 2 2012, the KeSPA, Blizzard, OnGameNet and GOMTV held a conference meant to describe the transition process by which the KeSPA teams would switch to StarCraft II. The KeSPA eventually recognized the latter game as an official discipline, and was given the license to hold team level StarCraft II leagues, while OnGameNet were been given the license to hold and broadcast individual level StarCraft II leagues.
Players from the e-Sports Federation's teams and their KeSPA counterparts battled against each other (anonymously) for the first time in July in the StarCraft 2 Ready Action: Cross Match, a weekly showmatch broadcasted on GOMTV. A month before, OnGameNet had confirmed that non-KeSPA players were allowed to compete in the OSL Season 1. The players from the rival organisations faced each other as well in the 2012 WCS Korea during the summer. In early August, the e-Sports Federation players who had come on top of the OSL Season 1 non-KeSPA dual tournament prepared themselves to face their KeSPA counterparts in the OSL round of 16, while GOMTV completed its preparation for the upcoming 2012 GSL Season 4.
On August 23, GOMTV announced that the KeSPA decided against allowing its players to attend the 2012 GSL Season 4 preliminaries, which were scheduled to be held on September 5-6, arguing that it was difficult for them to adjust the player's schedules. This decision immediately sparked resentment from the fans, who were eager to see the former Brood War progamers competing in the GSL.[Citation needed] Furthermore, it appeared that the players and teams affiliated to the KeSPA had expressed their will to attend the league as well.[Citation needed] Their good results in the WCS Korea, where they had a 56,25% winning rate against the players usually attending the GSL, had indeed led them to seek other opportunities to measure themselves against them and to gain experience in GSL Code A. RorO, who was the best-ranked KeSPA player in the WCS Korea with the fourth place of the tournament, spoke up against this decision.
The players don't really know the underlying reasons so we just followed orders. Personally, I think it's a real shame.
A few hours after the announcement of KeSPA's decision, Blizzard Entertainment indicated that it was disconcerted as well, and meant to look over the matter and to make an announcement the next day. However, the main response came from the e-Sports Federation, which announced on August 24 that it was pulling its players out of the 2012 OSL Season 1 Round of 16 until the KeSPA agree to allow their players to join the GSL. The federation explained that its decision was prompted by the fear that this situation might recur in the future and result in GOMTV being put in jeopardy (citing the precedent of the GOMTV Classic during the Brood War era), and dismissed KeSPA's argument about the schedule issues (as, according to the e-Sports Federation, GOMTV had been able to accommodate many schedule conflicts without any problem for the past two years and as well as for KeSPA players who participated in WCS and WCG, and had provided them with various accommodations regarding the schedule and application process). Josh "BoSs" Dentrinos, CEO and owner of FXOpen e-Sports (one of the team members of the e-Sports Federation), explained afterwards that if the KeSPA was allowed to forbid its players to attend the GSL, GOMTV would eventually be completely overshadowed by OGN and the value of the eSports Federation teams (as well as SlayerS) would be impacted as well. The outcome of this decision were potentially disastrous for OnGameNet, which had scheduled to hold the OSL Round of 16 four days later, on August 28, and would have to deal with seven and potentially eight players missing (DongRaeGu, MarineKing, NesTea, PartinG, Mvp, MC, San, while Oz's status remained unclear as he was a member of the unaffiliated team Fnatic and was given the choice by his manager to either withdraw as well or play the round of 16).
A few hours after e-Sports Federation had announced its withdrawal from the OSL, the KeSPA took a step toward their counterpart and stated that they had decided to participate in the GSL Season 5 (the season after the one that was about to begin).
We made decision based upon our wish to hold Auction All-Kill Starleague Round of 16 on 28th without trouble. We do not wish for another disruption in our leagues.[Citation needed]
The e-Sports Federation responded on August 25, as it maintained its stance of deferring its participation in the OSL. Won Jong-Wook, StarTale's coach as well as president of the federation explained that, while he thanked its counterpart's quick response and decision to join the GSL Season 5, he could't agree with the fact that the KeSPA had not changed its stance on allowing its players in the GSL in a continuous fashion (the KeSPA said its player would attend GSL Season 5, but didn't mention the seasons afterwards nor the imminent season 4). The federation also made a request to GOMTV to extend the deadline for GSL Season 4 preliminaries applications, which was set to end on August 27.
On August 27, the dispute was finally settled as the KeSPA bowed down and allowed its players to attend the GSL Season 4 preliminaries, which were subsequently postponed from September 5/6 to September 12/13. Additionally, GOMTV announced that it was planning to provide two Code S seeds as well as four Code A seeds for players affiliated to the Korean e-Sports association.
- KeSPA, GOMTV, e-Sports Federation dispute General Thread on TeamLiquid.net
- Summary of the relationship between KeSPA and GOMTV during both the Brood War and the StarCraft II eras on GosuGamers.net
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- "KeSPA told GOMTV: "It was difficult to adjust the player's schedules.". GameChosen.co.kr. August 23 2012. Translation
- " KeSPA players and teams have expressed that they want to take part.". s.163.com. August 23 2012. Translation
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- Shin "RorO" No Yeol (23 August 2012). Interview with 카스토르. "[WCS신노열 “최대한 많은 프로토스를 떨어뜨리는 것이 목표”"] (in Korean). THISISGAME. Archived from the original on 23 August 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- "KeSPA rejected to join GSL Starcraft2 League". ThisIsGame.com. August 23 2012.
- "e-Sports federation players defer OSL participation". ThisIsGame.com. August 24 2012. Translation / TeamLiquid.net thread
- "Sharpen the pitchforks, light the torches. KESPA IS HERE". FXOBoSs's tumblr. August 24 2012.
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