The term foreigner refers to any non Korean player. Understood more narrowly, this definition is often used for the best players of the international community.
The Chinese Scene is often left out from the equation, although having players that could easily compete with other foreigners. The language barrier, lag issues and the Chinese policy limited news coverage and built obstacles for players participating in events outside of their home country. However, the Chinese Scene was able to raise structures similar to the one made by KeSPA, but with comparatively little success in terms of popularity and no support from the government.
To learn more about the Korean professional Brood War history and its players, consult the Progaming Portal.
This portal tries to give an overview of the foreign Brood War history, its tournaments, leagues events and players. This analysis will focus on the overall evolution of the international scene. A fully detailed time line that sums up the past objectively is nearly impossible to do. Reasons for that are biased views coming from the authors and their national back ground, favouritism of players and the problem that the advanced understanding of the game causes difficulties to compare past and future generations of players, communities and events. It is recommended to read the articles on the national scenes to fully understand the this evolution, player's influence on the strategical understanding and their skill.
History: The Foreign Scene
In the early days of StarCraft Brood War the technical infrastructure differed from nation to nation. Gaming could be an expensive hobby, depending on what internet providers charged. Broadwith was limited in most countries, especially in rural areas. Furthermore, a stigma against gaming as leisure activity was dominant in many Western countries and used as synonym for potential violent predispositions, laziness and all kinds of possible psychological problems by the press.
South Korea has a negative view of gaming as well, but the pastime is extremely popular. Furthermore, the infrastructure for gaming in Korea enabled their players to improve faster than anyone else. Finally, with the help of KeSPA and PC Bangs a thriving scene developed. The skill gap however was comparatively small in the earliest years of StarCraft between the foreign scene and the Korean professionals. To learn more about the connection between Foreigners and Koreans, see also: Foreigners in Korea
Most nations built highly restricted sub communities that only covered and organized tournaments featuring players connected by language and cultural background. There were very few online tournaments and almost no offline events that guaranteed matches between leading players of these communities, resulting in only low exchange of information. The biggest European portals covered the most notable tournaments on the battle.net servers and the first stages of Korean professional tournaments. The exchange and cross national competition steadily improved over the years, induced by various events, teams and projects.
In 2000 one of the most influential tournaments was organized and hosted for the first time in Seoul: the World Cyber Games. This tournament series tried to immitate the Olympic games with the focus on electronic sports. Until 2010 StarCraft Brood War was one of the main titles. This event guaranteed matches between the high tier foreign players and three of the best Korean professionals. However, the competition was one sided in favour of the Koreans from the start and turned into killing sprees in its later years. Another important aspect were the national satellite qualifiers in the respective countries, that also induced a broader information flow on the major community portals.
In 1999 most of the teams consisted of members speaking at least the same language, a more traditional approach to organisation. The portal iDEF, founded by various members of the German clan [XiC] tried to unite top level foreigners from all over the world under one clan. Despite the project's failure one of the first professionally organized international clans, pro Gaming, was founded. With sponsors in the background the first clan was able to actually pay their members small fees and financial support to travel to foreign offline events.
The community platform World Gaming Tour (WGTour) created one of the biggest foreign ladders on the European Battle.net server. Even casual players had now a place to train and compete. Furthermore, a nation war portal was added, that also increased the sense of competition between the national sub communities, while making organisation of friendly wars a lot easier.
It is hard to judge the impact of tournament series like the Liquibitions in this earlier years, that certainly played a role to connect to break the language barriers between the national sub communities.
After 2003 more and more high class international events were hosted and the borders between the former strongly restricted communities started to fall apart bit by bit. Especially spin offs like WCG Pan America and the European Cyber Games gave bigger platforms for the communities. Since many players of the first generation started to retire after 2003, switched to WarCraft III or started to play World of Warcraft the scene started to recognize the importance of these events.
In 2005 Blizzard returned as organisator and promoter of Brood War events. With its first BlizzCon in Anaheim a new annual series was started. It was one of the few tournaments that featured both Korean professional and foreigners. Another of Blizzard's events was hosted in June 2006, the Sandlot Tournament, which was the only event to include and directly connect the eight biggest Brood War fan pages in the world.
With other newly founded projects like PGTour, WGTour's Clan league and BWCL opening its doors to foreigners around 2005 the international scene was finally not segregated by language issues any more. Top foreigners and casual players both participated in numerous clan leagues, minor tournaments, ladders and events. The East European and American scene entered more and more events formerly only restricted to Europeans.
In between 2006 and 2008 more and more of the older Brood War veterans left the game and retired. With Blizzard announcing StarCraft II a new wave of players came across, compensating for the downward spiral until 2010.
After StarCraft II's release the foreign scene completely fell apart, due to many of the clans disbanding, major pages losing staff members and an overall negativity within the community. Only in December 2010 and January 2011 the community re-organized and started new tournament series and bigger tournaments.
Foreigners in Korea
This paragraph features a list of players that actually went to Korea in order to participate in professional leagues. IDs link to articles.
The 'First Generation' in Korea
- One of the first foreign-born professional StarCraft players to play in Korea. Played in the first OSL, won WCG USA in 2000 and went on to have success in a number of other RTS titles. Worked as a game designer on StarCraft 2 and now plays poker for a living.
- One of the top players in the very beginning of the professional scene. Thor lived in South Korea for a small period of time with Maynard, Pillars, and Grrrr...
- One of the original "masters" of StarCraft, though he played WarCraft 2 and Age of Empires at a high level as well. He popularized the act of transferring workers to newly created expansions and this process (maynarding) now bears his name.
- Retired Norwegian StarCraft progamer. Won the 2nd KBK Masters in 2000 at the age of 16 and was featured in a Norwegian televised documentary. He was offered a progaming contract after his win but decided to return home to continue his studies instead.
- Retired French Canadian StarCraft progamer. Best foreigner of his time and one of the most successful foreigners of all time, winning the 2000 Hanaro OSL. After being a highly respected professional gamer, he retired and now works as a web-designer and professional poker player.
- Formerly one of the top ranked players in the world, now a highly successful poker player. He played on the Hexatron Dream Team and AMD in the early stages of progaming, and stands next to Grrrr... as one of the most successful foreigners, reaching the round of four in the 2002 SKY OSL.
- He participated in several tournaments in Korea in the early days. He was best Norwegian player with Slayer, and he often lost to him in important tournaments.
- Retired Canadian StarCraft progamer. Played for AMD, having a fairly successful career in Korea from 2001-2003.
- The founder of Teamliquid.net, Liquid`Nazgul, arrived at Korea in December 2002, joining the AMD team along with Grrrr..., Elky, Gundam, Jinnam and Jinsu. He managed to beat stars like Jinnam (replay) and XellOs on TV and managed to qualify for the OnGameNet Challenge League 2003. Despite these early successes, he moved back to the Netherlands shortly after to pursue an education. He never stopped competing at the WCG national qualifiers though and attended the grand finals four times, from 2001 to 2004.
- One of the all-time best foreign players who had signed with Hexatron Dream Team in South Korea, behind only Grrr... and ElkY in career wins. Legionnaire performed the first all-kill in a team league. He eventually retired and moved back to Australia, though he showed up at WCG Australia for the first few years after his retirement.
- From the United States, Assem moved to South Korea and joined team Pirates of Space with Legionnaire in the Fall of 2003. Shortly after, he moved to the Hexatron Dream Team and continued to compete until the fall of 2005, when he moved back to the United States to pursue a college education.
- After competing in the World Cyber Games in 2003, Rekrul left college to pursue his dream of becoming a progamer. Rekrul joined Hexatron alongside other foreign players but did not find success, and retired from progaming to become a poker player.
The 'Second Generation' in Korea
- Pj was invited to play for SK Telecom T1 in 2005 based on name recognition. Upon joining SKT T1 Pj became a Protoss player after race picking for many years. However Pj did not make Proleague or individual leagues and returned to China after a year and a half in order to play in Chinese and international tournaments. He went on to greater success that year, taking second at WCG 2007, and had continued success in IEF and WCG until his retirement.
- Lx travelled to Korea with Pj to play for SK Telecom T1 in 2005. Lx was a relative unknown at the time outside of China, and was invited after performing well against several top progamers. Lx played in one televised Proleague match, losing to HoOny. Not having qualified for a standard league, he returned home to join a Chinese pro team after over a year in Korea.
- Draco had packed his things and moved to South Korea in an attempt to win a courage tournament and get into a pro team. Draco was invited to live with an amateur Nal team house. Draco was eventually invited to the OGN SparkyZ pro team. While in SparkyZ, Draco was given one of SparkyZ's two annual automatic pro licenses, and was officially a pro gamer. Despite making great progress and preforming very well in the inner team leagues, and becoming close to be on the A-team, a multitude of various things persuaded Draco to move back to Poland.
The 'Third Generation' in Korea
- After placing first in the SuperStars tournament, Greg "Idra" Fields was invited to join the eSTRO team. He later moved to CJ Entus and was granted his progamer license upon departure. While his impact on the Korean leagues was minimal, he went on to dominate a number of foreigner tournaments in 2009. He was the first foreigner to appear in a televised match since 2006, losing 1-2 to Trap.
- In order to recruit another foreigner into the eSTRO team, the website scforall.com held a tournament called the "Spirit" tournament. While they left open, who to choose from the finalists, they settled for the winner Tyler "Nony" Wasieleski, who had taken down the Italian Protoss ClouD 3-2 in the finals. Shortly before departure, Nony was awarded membership of the prestigious Liquid` clan. Nony then started training with the eSTRO team. During his first courage tournament, he managed to place 2nd in his group, losing the finals 1-2. Soon after he chose to withdraw and move back to the United States for personal reasons.
- In October 2009, Jos "ret" de Kroon was revealed as the new foreign eSTRO recruit, after the eSTRO manager Hwanni had confirmed "looking at foreign players". ret himself had hinted at that move shortly before, switching from TvZ to ZvZ since Korean rules would force him to play a single race anyway. Ret played in three Courage tournaments but was unable to attain a progamer license, finding the most success in his last, in which he was eliminated in the quarterfinals.
Other notable players
- Frederik "FiSheYe" Keitel was one of the first generation StarCraft: Brood War players. He was one of the strongest foreigners and dominated many of the earliest foreign tournaments. His career peaked in 2003, when he won a silver medal in WCG. After 2004 FiSheYe started to play poker and consequently lost skill. When he wasn't able to qualify for WCG 2006 he retired and now plays poker full-time.
- Christopher "Mondragon" Semke was one of the strongest foreign Zerg players in the history of Brood War. His career peaked during 2004-2006, an era in which only the Russian Androide could really challenge the German in major events. The Zerg had a very good understanding of the match up Zerg vs. Protoss, which enabled him to take games off Korean professionals.
- Andrey "Androide" Kukhianidze was one of the strongest foreign Terran players. He was feared for his incredibly good mechanical skill, which was often compared to Korean professional players. His biggest achievement was to place second in WCG 2005, where beat the Korean Silent Control in the semifinals. The Terran was Russia's only player to qualify seven times for the WCG main events.
- Nick "Testie" Parentesis was the most successful Random player of the foreign scene. He scored high in numerous events and was one of Templars of Twilight's strongest players.
- Yang Chia "SEn" Cheng was one of the strongest foreign Zerg players. SEn eventually replaced Mondragon as strongest ZvP player and won several titles in prestigious tournaments.
- Oleksii "White-Ra" Krupnyk was one of the strongest players from Eastern Europe. He qualified for the WCG main events more often than any other player from Ukraine and placed in the top ranks of several tournaments from 2004 to 2010.