Korea e-Sports Association
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 and, since May 2012, StarCraft II.
KeSPA in the Brood War era
For more than ten years, the KeSPA had overseen the Brood War professional scene. It has broadcast the games from two major channels, OnGameNet and MBCGame. Both of these channels had their own leagues, the OnGameNet Starleague (OSL) and the MBCGame StarCraft League (MSL). Players seeking to compete in a 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.
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 invitees and the event was cancelled. This was perceived as the sign of a power struggle between Blizzard and the KeSPA. 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. The KeSPA put the blame on its American counterpart, and the two organisations seemed to be unable to work together. 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.
Subsequently, the KeSPA continued overseeing Brood War events in South Korea, while GOMTV organised and broadcasted 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).
Transition to StarCraft II
On May 2nd 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 scheduled its next Proleague to feature both Brood War and SC2. The partnership between the four entities gave KeSPA 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.
In August 2012, the KeSPA reached an agreement with the e-Sports Federation to set a 13 month trade lock period. Until October 2013, the teams overseen by KeSPA and the members of the eSports Federation would not be able to transfer players to each other, in order to protect both the players and the league. In this way, KeSPA players switching to StarCraft II had a better chance to become competitive in the long run.
KeSPA/eSports Federation Dispute
On August 23 2012, GOMTV announced that the KeSPA had decided against allowing its players to compete in the 2012 GSL Season 4 preliminaries, arguing that it was difficult for them to adjust the player's schedules (the players affiliated to KeSPA were previously prevented from entering the GSL Season 3 preliminaries as well). The next day, the e-Sports Federation stated that its members were pulling their players from the 2012 OSL Season 1, explaining that it feared that KeSPA's decision may harm GOMTV as well as the global StarCraft II scene, and subsequently urged its counterpart to allow its players to attend the GSL. Later the same day, KeSPA released a statement that they will participate in the GSL Season 5.
After a period of time during which they were speculated to join KeSPA, Incredible Miracle, Prime, and MVP officially joined KeSPA, along with NaJin e-mFire a League of Legends team, on November 16th 2013.
- "StarCraft II eSports Transition Conference". TeamLiquid.net, 2 May 2012.
- "Pro-game teams snub Blizzard?". TeamLiquid.net, 3 March 2010.
- "Blizzard to cease negotiations with KeSPA". TeamLiquid.net, 25 April 2010.
- "KeSPA Speaks Out On Intellectual Property Rights". TeamLiquid.net, 4 May 2010.
- "GOM TV/Blizzard Sign Exclusive Broadcast Agreement". TeamLiquid.net, 27 May 2010
- "KeSPA, eSports Fed. agree on trade lock until Oct 2013". Fomos.kr via ESFIWorld.com, 8 August 2012. TeamLiquid.net thread
- "Regarding KeSPA players at GSL Season 4 Code A Qualifiers". GOMTV.net, 23 August 2012. TeamLiquid.net thread.
- "e-Sports federation players defer OSL participation". ThisIsGame.com, 24 August 2012. Translation / TeamLiquid.net thread
- "After ESF's threat of boycotting OSL, KeSPA decided to participate GSL Season 5". Daily eSports via ESFIWorld.com, 24 August 2012. TeamLiquid.net thread
- IM, MVP, Prime, Najin joins KeSPA