A little over 7 months ago, on the 17th of October 2016, SC2 Proleague was discontinued. Immediately following the news, SKT, KT, CJ and Samsung disbanded their teams. A little after HSC XIV, Afreeca freecs disbanded on the 21st of November. A little over two weeks later, MVP disbanded their SC2 team. To this day, JinAir GreenWings is the only remaining korean based Starcraft 2 team still operational.
With 5 of the 6 korean teams closing their doors, 39 players were now homeless in difficult times. Many people were bringing up the “ded gaem” meme, others were hopeful for new sponsors stepping in.
So far, 15 players found new teams and 2 players retired. We will go through the old teams rosters and explain where each player is now.
SKT Telecom 1:
With a roster of 6 players, only one was able to find a new team. Impact joined Team Dead Pixels, the Switzerland based team, February 5th 2017. The rest of the powerhouse team; soO, INnoVatioN, Dream, Dark and Classic are still teamless
soO – Teamless
INnoVation – Teamless
Impact – Team Dead Pixels
Dream – Teamless
Dark – Teamless
Classic – Teamless
— Dead Pixels (@TeamDeadPixels) February 5, 2017
With a roster of 7 players, two of them were able to find new teams. Armani joined IsIMBA, a Romanian based team, on December 12 2016. In a suprising move to many, the NA based team Splyce, known for its EU League of Legends team and NA based CS:GO Squad, signed Solar a day after his contract officially expired on December 1st 2016. The remaining members, Bravo, Dear, Hurricane, Journey and Reality remain teamless.
Armani – Joined IsIMBA
Bravo – Teamless
Dear – Teamless
Hurricane – Teamless
Journey – Teamless
Reality – Teamless
Solar – Joined Splyce
For the Swarm! pic.twitter.com/uM3LWnytd1
— Splyce (@Splyce) December 1, 2016
With a roster of 7 players including big names like jjakji, Zest, Stats and foreign favorites like Losira and Leenock. Only 2 of their players were able to find new homes. The Terran player jjakji, having been on mYi in 2015, was able to find a new home in another foreign team; Team RevolutioN the 27th of December 2016. Stats was also able to find a new team with Splyce the 25th of December 2016. The other 5 players, Leenock, Losira, Trust, TY and Zest remain teamless.
jjakji – Joined Team RevolutioN
Leenock – Teamless
Losira – Teamless
Stats – Joined Splyce
Trust – Teamless
TY – Teamless
Zest – Teamless
Our newest addition to join our StarCraft II roster from KR, check the video out;https://t.co/MJHuBPPGjm
— Team RevolutioN (@TeamRevoGG) January 27, 2017
With a small roster of 5 players, 2 of their players were able to find new teams, albeit one of them is a short term-test contract. The smiling assassin herO joined ROOT Gaming, the long-established NA team, the 14th January 2017. Meanwhile, Byul has a short-term test contract with BaseTradeTV, the community caster organisation, the 15th March 2017. Hush and Bunny both joined DuSt Gaming, the NA based organisation, the 2nd December 2016 (Bunny is released the 21st of April). The Zerg player RagnaroK remains teamless.
ByuL – Personal sponsorship by BaseTradeTV
herO – Joined ROOT Gaming
RagnaroK – Teamless
Hush – DuSt Gaming
DuSt Gaming Bunny released by DuSt Gaming
Our new player https://t.co/WmcDpl0tRJ
— OSC-ROOT (@ROOT4ROOT) January 15, 2017
Featuring a roster of 8 players, Afreeca Freecs had the most players before the disbanding. One player, the famed Terran Bomber ended up retiring to do his military service, leaving 7 free agents. The first to find a new team was Patience, returning to Dead Pixels, having played under their banner for a little over a year, from December 2014 till March 2016. He joined them December 13 2016. The only other player to find a new team was aLive. The Terran player joined mYinsanity the 2nd April 2017. The 5 other players, Billowy, Curious, DRGLing, Super and Symbol, remain without teams.
aLive – Joined mYinsanity
Billowy – Teamless
Bomber – Retired
Curious – Teamless
DRGLing – Teamless
Patience – Joined Dead Pixels
Super – Teamless
Symbol – Retired
— mYinsanity (@mYinsanityEU) April 2, 2017
The last team of 5 teams who disbanded, MVP’s players have had the most luck in finding new teams, with 4 of their 6 players sponsored by organisations. The Terran, Ryung rejoined True eSport on the 10th December 2016, having been on their roster back in October 2014-January 2016. Forte, on his side, joined IsIMBA the 2nd January 2017, meeting up with Armani. Gumiho, also known as the Towel Terran, joined PSISTORM Gaming on the 3rd February 2017. Finally, the Zerg player Pet joined Team RevolutioN the 8th February 2017. This leaves only Blaze and NaTuRal without teams.
Ryung – Joined True eSport
Forte – Joined IsIMBA
Blaze – Teamless
GuMiho – Joined PSISTORM Gaming
NaTuRal – Teamless
Pet – Joined Team RevolutioN
— KJ ƑℝΞΞΞƊ☢Ɱ G ♒ (@KarlJayG) February 3, 2017
But what about the players without a team. How have they been doing?
Well the big names have been having the same results as before with a few players finally getting the results they wanted.
TY had his best year ever, winning WESG and bringing back $200k, he also won IEM Katowice taking home $100k. His performance in GSL, SSL and Afreeca GSL Super Tournament and have been the same as before, top 8’s and top 16’s with no issue.
INnoVation has had the same results as before, won IEM Gyeonggi, finished in the top 8’s at all GSL’s, SSL’s and Afreeca GSL Super Tournament and even top 8 at IEM Katowice.
Dark with top 4 at IEM Katowice and Gyeonggi, top 16 in GSL S1, top 8 in Afreeca GSL Super Tournament. It’s pretty much the minimum you would expect from such a strong player.
Meanwhile, even without SKT T1 to back him up, soO is still unable to win a GSL making it his fifth try. With a top 8 at IEM Katowice and top 16 in the Super Tournament. He’s doing about the same as before.
The Chin-Toss Classic has been continued being solid yet not outstanding. Top 12 at Gyeonggi, top 12 GSL and in the top 10 of the Super Tournament. Consistent, yet still missing an edge.
Zest slumped just a little, top 16 Gyeonggi, top 24 GSL, top 12 Katowice. Not bad results by any means, but he has played better in the past and produced better results.
Finally we have Dear left in the “big names”. He was unable to qualify to GSL S1, didn’t even try to qualify for Gyeonggi, nor Katowice. Some even said he was going to retire, but he came back. Finishing top 16 at the GSL Super Tournament and is now in round of 32 of GSL S2 and top 10 of SSL Challenger.
All in all, with the big names, despite not having teams are having about the same results as before. The strong players continue to be strong while the average pro korean continue to linger in the shadows.
When Blizzard announced the format for WCS in 2017, they also announced that the system used will likely be the same for 2018. This is good news for the Korean scene who will still have at least 8 tournaments to play in next year.
In addition, more and more players have been streaming now that they don’t have loaded schedules. A full comprehensive list can be found here made by lilsusie.
So all in all, the korean starcraft 2 scene hasn’t been doing that bad. The top of the top have been doing great in tournaments, some have found teams while others support themselves with tournament winnings. More and more players have been streaming and interacting with their fans. Korean Starcraft is doing pretty okay.
Frostbite is the social media manager and writer for PSISTORM Gaming, give him a follow Twitter