So Korea LOVES the game Starcraft, did you know? Korea = Kimchi, K-pop, and Starcraft.
Starcraft II valentines? PERFECT.
In Korea we have COUNTLESS pay by the hour PC rooms that are filled with gamers, many playing a version of Starcraft. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about (I am not a player myself, so forgive me for simplifying this so much!) basically Starcraft is an online strategy computer game where you are an “army” set in the 26th century and you are battle another army someplace off in distance space.
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These “armies” come in 3 types~ exiled humans called Terrans, a futuristic humanoid race called Protoss, and an evil bug race called the Zerg… kekekeke.
Starcraft is serious business in Korea
Starcraft is such a big deal here that they have a TV channel you can watch matches… AND its on basic cable. In fact, in the USA we had the Korean satellite package for a few months and one of the 5 channels you got aside from boring Arirang, two religious channels, and a news station was the Korean game channel which airs mostly Starcraft matches.
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People do not just play this game though….Korea has professional Starcraft players that compete in leagues here. If you are very talented and willing to train night and day you can become a Pro-Gamer! Yes, the players even get boss jackets and have fangirls with banners~ told you it was serious business! Although Starcraft is not a Korean game, this is the place it is clearly the most popular so we have LOTS of tournaments.
One of the major events is the Global StarCraft II League~ which I got to see the final match of last week for Season 2- 2012!
Khaldor is crazy buff.
So how did this happen if I do not even play Starcraft? Well I have been taking language class at Ewha University here in Seoul for the last few months, and my awesome friend in class is Tom!
NOTE: I made fail kissy faces in almost every pic for some damn reason this day. SORRY! Too much time in Korea maybe? REGRETS, I assure you.
Tom is really fun and always smiling even though he has to sit next to me with my desk covered in Sanrio school gear, what a good sport. I was very intrigued when when I found out he was not a teacher here… because every foreigner in Korea is pretty much a teacher 90% of the time, you kinda get used to hearing it over and over and over. When he said no I thought maybe he was a personal trainer or athlete of some kind..hummmm~
Well that was an unexpected + pretty awesome surprise~ how cool is that???
★ ★ ★ You can watch Khaldor‘s broadcasts live HERE ★ ★ ★
So even though I do not play Starcraft I am very aware of it and very interested in the whole sort of subculture that has developed around it here in Korea. I remember back in college Nara’s fellow Korean friend would play it night and day, just glued to that desk. I’m aware of tournaments and special matches for games back home like Street Fighter, but not many games have legit competitive leagues with people who live and train in dorms or do this for a living full-time, this is a JOB here for some people.
I had been to one televised Starcraft match maybe 8 years ago and it was really fun, so when Tom said we could go with him to a big match over the weekend I was pretty excited to see what a pro match, let alone a FINAL match would be like!
★ ★ ★ any excuse to dress up ★ ★ ★
The futuristic player type “Protoss” seems to be the favorite with Koreans here and was being played in the match by the first time finalist Squirtle from team Startale~ so I decided to dress festively for the occasion! The color scheme of that race is this cool glowing blue with crystals and metallic things so I grabbed a matching shirt and some shiny stuff! I also found some awesome crystal earrings that kinda reminded me of the game… I was way too excited about those and sent Tom a Kakao for approval because I am annoying.
At first I thought this would be all guys and I would be the only non-Korean female whole event…maybe just a few Foreigners in general would come to this because hey, its Korea so it is kinda far for most people!
NOPE! When we arrived, wow~ the lines were packed with people from everyplace!!
I was completely shocked by how diverse the crowd for this Starcraft II competition was, it felt like an almost even split between Foreigners and Koreans. Tom was trying to explain to me that this event was kind of a big deal since it was the FINAL, so some people flew out to Korea special just to watch this match. Wow!
Peeking out the top level to see some of the people waiting in line to get let in!
Apparently Starcraft II is still not quite as popular as the original Starcraft game in Korea (which has its own leagues and finals) so the venue was a bit smaller, but still packed with people trying to get in! They actually ran out of seating so lots of people had to sit outside the room and watch on big screen TVs!
Thankfully we did not have to wait in line, we got to roll in like bosses with some Staff badges! Energy drinks, those wacky inflatable noise sticks Koreans love, and lotion samples from a cosmetic brand (of course…?) were the free gift goodies of the day~ nothing very starcrafty-tastic though, SO DISAPPOINT.
Whole wall in the main room was filler with player snapshots!
everyone that entered also got these nifty numbered cards to remember the occasion!
Korea sells redbull now, but I kind of like the taste of this better!
Since Hot6 Energy drinks sponsored the event we got plenty of cans to chug on that day. lol I love the fake cans they had smashed into all the glass windows as advertising outside, it looked really cool.
Hour or so before game time…
We made our way to the top level and situated off to the side of the actual seating so we could creep around and snap pictures easily.
Khaldor creeping in the shadows (can you see him? haha)to say hi to the Korean commentators.
Both the Korean commentators and the English language ones had some pre-show recordings to get through before the crowds arrived!
These guys are fun to watch, they get so excited when they broadcast a game and talk SO fast!
Ultra advanced Korean skills *_* bit too advanced for me!
I kinda want to steal those ties haha.
The very popular English commentators Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski and Nicolas “Tasteless” Plott also had a table set up to record some things early~ very handsome and nice guys!♥
TONIGHT WE BATTLE
They had these huge and very glamorous sparkle banners in the room with spotlights on them. If the player lost they shone a red one over the losers banner… it was like some sort of gladiator battle.
Check out how bad-ass Squirtle looks.
The players arrived & went to their respective battle-booths to warm up + get a bit of makeup before the cameras turned on!
The seats begin to fill up!
We like our view up here just fine!
When you entered the building they had a table set up with paper and crayons so that you could make signs to cheer with and flash at the TV cameras. As people sat down they quickly set to work on some projects~ however the SUPER savvy fans busted out ipads with things on them and had them in slideshow mode. SMART!
Nothing says this will be an epic battle quite like OUTER SPACE ON FIRE.
cue the smoke machines!
The finalists this year for GSL Starcraft Season II :
정종현 Jung Jong Hyun AKA “MVP” previous GSL season winner 3 other times~ Playing as Terran
박현우 Park Hyun Woo AKA “Squirtle“~ this was his first GSL final so we rooted for him!! He played as Protoss!
One thing I loved was how over the top they presented the match. Smoke, fire, confetti cannons, full-body spin shots of each player, it was AWESOME! The rolled MVP and Squirtle out on on this platform all intense with sparks shooting everyplace and had them walk down the runway to the center platform~
It was kinda like a WWF match, but just guys that play games in a booth! Loved it. NOBODY SMILE, IT’S GAME TIME.
It was really great to watch the game with a professional commentator right beside me! Khaldor pretty much gave me full on commentary while we watched and let me know when a clever tactic was being used or something sneaky was happening! Thank you so much Tom~
Pretty crazy shit going on~
When MVP gets in the zone he plays with his mouth wide open haha.
I was told this is because he is sucking in the energy around him XD nice
Speaking of open mouths…these two opted to suck face at random moments so they are kinda in poses like this for half of our photos. I love that he is holding on to the English language broadcast earpiece while he makes out though. ROMANTIC.
During the game break we stepped outside to get some air~ Tom stopped to sign some autographs and talk to some fans.
This is NaNiwa~ Pro Starcraft player from Sweden who now lives in Korea!
NaNiwa came out to talk, but quickly a line of Korean fans appeared for autographs~ proudly displayed upside down!
back up on our ledge to watch the next round!
The game we watched was very exciting even though Nara and I could not truly appreciate the gameplay in full detail~ it was a great experience for sure! The winner had to win the best of 7 matches, and quickly the more seasoned player MVP won 3 matches in a row~ BAM BAM BAM! We thought for sure the game would be over with the 4th win in the next round, but Tom told us to wait since the other player Squirtle had nothing to lose so he may try something crazy!
Sure enough, Squirtle came back from nothing and won 2 more matches making it 3-2… that 2nd win he had was really insane because it really kept you on the edge of your seat for a LONG time and the crowd was going nuts! It was just so much fun to be there and witness it playing out first-hand! I can see why people enjoy watching these games live and on TV now after that 5th match.
Yes, I don’t even play starcraft but I was flipping out over game 5 in this match, CRAZY STUFF!!
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Sadly after that win we had to leave before seeing who won because the location this was being held was over an hour outside the city and we had a Buddhist festival to attend… I had been looking forward to it so I was torn about staying or going argh! Tom stayed and we made plans to meet him after the game finished and kept us informed on Kakao that Squirtle won AGAIN, but the last final round was taken by MVP the player that had won the original 3 rounds.
MVP with his first GSL trophy~ now he has 4!
I wish we could have seen that last round to break the tie, I bet the room went insane while it happened because it was Squirtle’s first time in a GSL season final match… so he was going for a “Royal Road” which is when you win the first time you get to the final games. Apparently a Royal Road is super rare or has never been done in Starcraft II~ so lots of people cheered him on hoping he would win that! He put up a hell of a fight O_O Still though, MVP won after an amazing game and I think he is now the first player to win 4 GSL finals ever!
Check out the English-language broadcast of the match (complete with the opening walk-off) in the video above from GOMTV.net! Even if you don’t like watching Starcraft it is fun to see how they present this sort of match in Korea, the opening is seriously something worth viewing~ they go all out hardcore and it is amusing as hell!
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Thanks so much again to Khaldor for taking Nara and I along ~ I had such an amazing time 😀
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also big xoxo to my fiance Nara for taking so many photos at the event for me to use! ♥ He has a fancy camera that Tom and I have NO CLUE how to use correctly, so he was not in any photos~!