South Korea's Influence on the Global Esports Stage - The Leamington Observer

South Korea's Influence on the Global Esports Stage

Leamington Editorial 14th Dec, 2023   0

The rapid changes in media technology throughout the years have changed how people play sports. Esports have been around since the 1960s, and South Korea was one of the pioneers that introduced the sport to a broader audience.

Esports has boosted Korea’s global reputation in technology and communication. The country hosts many tournaments and leagues, supported by top organizers like ESL, Riot Games, and Ubisoft. South Korea has invested in various esports arenas, including the Busan Esports Arena, the first outside Seoul.

Why is esports popular?

Following the Asia financial crisis during the late 1990s, South Korea was keen to encourage its citizens to work and be more creative. Online gaming and LAN cafes saw a surge in popularity after the government constructed a nationwide broadband network in the late 1990s resulting in a new era of esports.

When Starcraft debuted in the Korean market, its players were referred to as geim maeniak, a transliteration of the English terms “game” and “maniac.” The community’s rapid growth is why the Korea Professional Gamers’ League (KPGL) was established in December 1998. StarCraft and esports as a whole became prominent cultural phenomena after cable television channels started airing regular match broadcasts in 1999.

An additional layer of legitimacy was added to the esports industry in Korea in 2000 when “pro-gaming” was accepted as an official job category. The Korean public welcomed this new athletic competition with open arms, which can be seen from how 100,000 people watched the professional StarCraft League finals in 2004.

Korea’s Ministry of Culture was among the first to support esports by sponsoring the World Cyber Game Challenge in October 2000. This event was the forerunner to the world’s first international esports competition. The first edition features a prize of $300,000, equivalent to £229,938 around that time.

People of all ages view esports as a recreational activity, which is why the sports and their teams are highly regarded in South Korea. Due to the popularity and widespread viewing of esports, people regard the players as celebrities. Some experts viewed video games as a modern version of mind games that require quick thinking that fits with Korean behavioural tendencies.

League of Legends as the top game

Like Starcraft, Koreans regard League of Legends (LoL) as the top game. As the developer, Riot Games has massively expanded throughout the country, resulting in the game’s spectacular growth. As the nation continues to produce young talents, Korea’s international reputation remains strong, with the average age of League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) players around under 21 years old.

As part of the international promotion, LCK plans to increase the fandom outside of South Korea and starting broadcasts in new languages. The higher number of international viewers than local viewers can lead to an increase in the LCK’s number of teams in the upcoming years if they start to profit.

One of the top teams in South Korea is called T1, which competes Fortnite, PUBG, StarCraft, and League of Legends. The team comprises over 80 professional gamers, with Faker as the top player. Additionally, the team received a sponsorship deal from Hana Bank under Hana Financial Group.

Nowadays, esports fans have numerous options of betting sites to choose from. People can wager money on their preferred esports events, one of which is League of Legends World. Through the LoL betting odds, punters can learn the payout gained from successful bets.

This is a submitted article

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