So it was back in 2004, two years after the Korea-Japan World Cup. The Starcraft pro league was called the “Sky league” as the main sponsor/organizer of the league was a mobile phone brand called SKY. For some reason the organizer has decided to make a bold move — to throw the final championship outdoor, near by a beach. What’s even bolder is that, despite the fact that all esports activities were happening mainly in Seoul, the organizer has decided to venture out to other venues outside of Seoul. It ended being held in Busan, the 2nd largest city in the south side of South Korea. You could say that Busan is the farthest city from Seoul that you can get to by land transportation, about 5 hours car ride. The beach that was held at is called Gwang-An-Ri beach, one of the famous beaches in Busan.
Let me tell you a bit more about the setup of that day. So the very same day, the all-star pro baseball match was also scheduled to be held in Busan and in Korea baseball is by far the No. 1 popular spectator sports followed by soccer — OK, since it was right after the World Cup, the order could have been the other way around, but I know that it is now. Obviously, the organizer of the Sky league has chosen a wrong date. Pure bad luck, perhaps.
The expected audience for Sky league was a humble 15,000 because the Sajik Stadium, the baseball Mecca where the all-star match was going to be held will surely be packed with max cap 30,000 people.
But it turned out that the all-star match was only filled with half of the max capacity, 15,000 seats that day. This was unprecedented.
On the other hand, the Sky league final championship was packed with a whooping 100,000 people in Gwang-An-Ri beach that nobody really expected to happen. 100,000 people for a first-time esports event for christ sake!! Many of the audience came from non-Busan area, some coming all the way from Seoul.
This “happening” sort of changed everything onwards. Big companies like Samsung and KT took this seriously and found the potential so that they open up their wallet with a fat cash to sponsor pro esports teams, whom are up to this date very active in the scene.
2 thoughts on “[E2] The esports final championship event that changed everything”
Great story! The question is – why were people surprised? What was happening in the esports market in Korea that most people couldn’t see?
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Great point Roy. Thanks!