StarCraft 2 eSports: Intro to KeSPA Teams & Players

Written by  Sunday, 26 May 2013 11:17
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StarCraft II, like its predecessor, has been a part of the competitive e-sports scene since its release.

Nearly three years into its tenure, we saw the release of StarCraft II's first major expansion: Heart of the Swarm. Coinciding with this, many of the original pro teams that played StarCraft: Brood War (BW) have switched over to SC2, not having played the game prior in favor of BW. These teams are generally referred to as the KeSPA teams (Korean e-Sports Association), as they all belong to that organization. KeSPA has been around for more than a decade -- making it one of the longest-standing e-sports organizations.

sc2-proleague

When Starcraft II first came out, various teams were created in Korea and have since gained notoriety on their own; these teams haven't joined KeSPA and have since formed eSF (e-Sports Federation) as their own e-sports association.

Given the recent influx of SC2 e-sports viewers and the conversion of KeSPA teams from BW, we're here to explore the KeSPA team rosters, noteworthy players, and look briefly at their history -- effectively, we want to help you get to know KeSPA. With the KeSPA team league (Pro League) in full stride and OGN covering the next seasons of WCS Korea, now's a good time to get to know the eight teams that make up KeSPA.

 

KT Rolster

kt-rolster

KT Rolster is among the oldest teams in KeSPA leagues, having formed in 1999 as Brood War team. They've developed a strong rivalry with fellow KePSA team SKT Telecom T1, resulting in some of the most tense matches we've seen to-date.

KT Rolster has also had several strong players over the years, including NaDa, Nal_rA, and YellOw, but perhaps most notably, they have Flash (or as the community knows him, "God"). Flash is quite possibly the greatest BW player of all time, leaving his mark as the last Bonjwa StarCraft has seen. For the unfamiliar, "Bonjwa" is a name for players that dominated the game for long periods of time (almost dynastic), and include BoxeR, NaDa, iloveoov, savior, and Flash. Though the nickname came from Julyzerg, he is not counted as one.

glicko2Glicko2 ratings show Flash's reign as the last Bonjwa.

Flash's progaming experience is showing in his SC2 play as well, with his current record hovering at around 65/37 (at time of writing), resolving as a ~64% win-rate. KT Rolster wasn't the strongest KeSPA team after the switchover, but their strength is building, especially with Flash and Zest becoming heavy-hitters in ProLeague.

Picking up former SlayerS player Clide as a coach, as well as Puzzle and Miso as players, has gone a long way toward helping the team adjust to Starcraft II.

Current notable players: Flash (T); Crazy [formerly Crazy-Hydra] (Z); Stats (P); Zest [formerly Wooki. & P7GAB] (P).

SKT Telecom T1

skt-telecom

Initially formed in 2002 by BoxeR and named "Union," their name changed when the Korean company SK Telecom started sponsoring them in 2004. They've since boasted some of the game's most terrifying players, including iloveoov (a Bonjwa), Bisu, and Fantasy. Their conversion to Starcraft II has fielded mostly mediocre results, with Bisu failing to produce results and Fantasy not living up to expectations. The exception to this has been Rain, who's shown largely dominant play since switching to SC2, particularly in individual leagues.

The release of Heart of the Swarm has shifted the direction for the rest of the team though, with BoxeR having returned to the team in the position of Head Coach and picking up ex-StarTale player PartinG and ex-SlayerS player Brown.

Recent events have really begun to showcase Fantasy's and Bisu's strengths; couple these promising results with the new pickups and SKT T1 is looking very formidable.

Current notable players: Fantasy (T); PartinG (P); Rain (P); Paralyze (P); soO (Z); Bisu (P); BeSt (P).

Samsung Khan

samsung-khan

Founded in 2000, Samsung Khan doesn't carry the same reputation that SKT T1 and KT Rolster do. Despite that, the team has still had several talented players in their ranks, most notably firebathero (retired to commentating for GOM in 2012), JangBi, and Stork. RoRo in particular has stepped up as one of the best players in ProLeague, backed-up by his title of 2013 GSL Season 1 winner.

Led by RoRo and Reality, the team initially looked strong in SC2, producing solid results with some consistency. Unfortunately for Samsung Khan, the switch to HotS has not been kind -- even with the strong line-up, they've struggled to live up to their potential and have faded in recent events.

With so many capable players on its roster, though, it's entirely possible they turn this streak around.

Current notable players: JangBi (P); RoRo (Z); Reality (T); Shine (Z); Stork (P).

Woongjin Stars

woongjin-stars

Created in 2001, Stars was a team that lacked individual league results, but maintained decent (if inconsistent) team league results. Although they didn't have any exceptional players for most of the BW years, they did manage to pick up players Soulkey and ZerO towards the end. Both players proved to be quite strong in BW and Soulkey has managed to transfer some of that skill to SC2, even being the most hyped KeSPA player during the initial switch.

Now, Woongjin Stars been dominating ProLeague in both Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm, maintaining their position at the top of the leaderboards in ProLeague since round one.

With both a strong and deep roster, they've proven to easily be one of the strongest KeSPA teams in SC2 history thus far. This is bolstered by the fact that both Soulkey (Z) and sOs (P, known for his crazy builds) are presently still standing in GSL Code S.

Current notable players: Soulkey (Z); ZerO (Z); Flying (P); sOs (P); Free (P), Light (T).

CJ Entus

cj-entus

Formed in 2001, CJ Entus fielded several strong players, like XellOs, GGplay, and former Bonjwa, sAviOr. sAviOr was the only non-Terran Bonjwa and produced incredible stats (worthy of his own article); this ended when he got wrapped-up in the major Match-Fixing Scandal (it should be noted that sAviOr's skill and records were real, and his participation in the event is considered controversial).

Despite this, CJ Entus has maintained strong results, helped in part by their merger with Hite SPARKYZ in 2010 (after a brief name change, they settled back on CJ Entus). Entus was able to rebuild a strong team in BW that has transitioned powerfully to SC2. Since the switch, they've maintained a decent ranking that has only gotten better.

Current notable players: Bbyong (T); Bong (P); EffOrt (Z); herO [not to be confused with Team Liquid's HerO] (P); Hydra (Z).

STX SouL

stx-soul

Created in 2000, STX has had very consistent results in team leagues, holding high finishes over seven years of BW.

After initially suffering in Starcraft II, STX SouL managed to pull ahead by the release of Heart of the Swarm, and now look like one of ProLeague's better teams. Headed by iNnoVation—who looks to be among the strongest (if not unstoppable) players in the entire game at the moment—their team is quickly pulling ahead of the pack, right along side Woongjin Stars.

In addition to team leagues, players Julyzerg and Calm have posted strong independent league results.

Notable current players: iNnoVation (T); Last (T); Trap (P); hyvaa (Z); Dear (P).

Team 8

team8

The most recently created KeSPA team, made in 2011, is one of the most unique. Founded after the dissolution of KeSPA teams MBCGame_HERO, WeMade FOX, and Hwaseung Oz, Team 8 was assembled by KeSPA with "a desire to serve the greater good by allowing more pro-gamers to continue their activities, and operate the Proleague in a more stable manner."

The team initially contained several heavy-hitters, including the likes of Jaehoon, Sea, Baby, and most notably, The Tyrant, JaeDong. Still, they struggled in team leagues in BW, rectified only by admirable performance in the first SC2 ProLeague. Following this, though, the team saw the departure of both Sea and JaeDong, significantly crippling them for the current season of ProLeague.

Current notable players: TY [formerly Baby] (T); TRUE (Z); Cure (P); Terminator (P); Argo [formerly Jaehoon] (P).

Evil Geniuses - Team Liquid

egtl

The final team competing in ProLeague is the combination of Team Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid -- chances are you've heard of them, so I won't go into their history (find that here and here).

There are four notable individuals who have joined Evil Geniuses since entering ProLeague, and the first three are obvious: JaeDong, aLive, and Oz. The fourth is decidedly less obvious,YongWoonPark(also known under the ID yongun) is working as EG-TL's head coach, and the difference has been obvious. The performance of EG-TL's players living in Korea since Coach Park joined has noticeably increased, and although they started ProLeague at the bottom of the rankings, they have slowly worked their way up.

EG-TL takes part in ProLeague, but is not an official KeSPA team.

Current notable players: JaeDong (Z); Oz (P); JYP (P); HerO (P);  aLive (T).

Air Force Ace

Despite not participating in ProLeague anymore, they are still a KeSPA team, at least until 2014. Air Force Ace was formed in 2006 by enlisted progamers, led by BoxeR (during his mandatory military service), they were allowed to play in both team leagues and individual leagues. Although they never posted results, Ace did contain numerous notable players while they fulfilled their mandatory military service: BoxeR, firebathero, Iris, XellOs, and Canata (several of whom were also listed in above teams).

Current notable players: Most noteworthy players have left the team or no longer play.

 

Let us know if you have any questions about SC2 esports or KeSPA!

- Keegan Gallick.

Last modified on Monday, 27 May 2013 14:06

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