If you’re reading this, you probably follow me on Twitter or some other social media and are well aware of what StarCraft and esports are. If not, welcome to the wonderful world of competitive gaming! StarCraft is a deep game that has 20 years of gameplay attributed to its name—truly a timeless classic in the world of gaming. It is a real-time strategy game that focuses on building bases, collecting resources, and destroying your opponents buildings with your “units”, much like any strategic game of war. The game is balanced asymmetrically with three “races” of aliens that all have different buildings, units, and race traits, allowing for endless combinations of strategies and tactics against different opponents.
What about it?
Well, the AfreecaTV Starleague (ASL for short) is going to be starting up soon with Season 4. This is a HUGE DEAL because StarCraft was just remastered and updated for HD graphics, so now it looks beautiful and modern. In addition, some of the best progamers of all time will be playing in the league. Although the level of play is lower than it was during StarCraft’s peak in 2010, the remaining progamers who have stayed with the game or returned after a hiatus are very high caliber players.
The most well-known set of the bunch is what we like to call “TaekBangLeeSang” or (TBLS), which is a contraction for the best four players of the 2008-2011 era of StarCraft: Bisu, Stork, Jaedong, and Flash. All of them have their separate storylines, from the legacy of silver medals to a revolution in gameplay to becoming “god himself”. These players were more than just average players, they were all-stars in every sense of the word and far beyond their opponents over a span of several years. These are your Greatest of All Time hall of famers, your Lionel Messi’s and Jerry Rice’s and Babe Ruth’s. These are the guys that created the game as we know it today and expanded the competition far beyond what it used to be—and STILL continue to innovate and evolve the game.
But, to be fair, TBLS has been away from the game for quite some time since it’s decline in 2012. In their place, a new brand of supersoldiers emerged. Names like Last, Sea, effOrt, BeSt, Mind, and hero came to the forefront of StarCraft esports. While these players never reached the peaks of their predecessors (and how could they without that same league-oriented structure during the KESPA years from 2004-2011?), they made a name for themselves as players to fear and became the new final bosses in the StarCraft scene. They still pose a serious threat to the crown in the ASL4 and could easily steal some games from TBLS.
There are also a few very old-school players returning and seeking former glory. HiYa and firebathero, two well known and celebrated names, will be returning to the ASL as over-the-hill players (what Koreans like to call “Ajaes”, meaning “old men”). On the opposite end of the spectrum, a few rookies who have had limited success in the post-KESPA era of StarCraft will be making their offline tournament debut. This wide variety of old and new is what makes this tournament rich, and it’s something we may not get to see again as some of the newer players begin to replace the Ajaes.
How can I watch it?
The ASL4 will be broadcast every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at 19:00 KST. If you live in America, that’s ungodly early, around 3-6 am depending on where you live. If you live in Europe, that’s during the middle of the day, around noon! We will be streaming on a service called Afreeca (the host sponsor of the tournament), which is a very popular streaming service in Korean for gaming, social eating, and other daily activities.
Unfortunately, sometimes Afreeca has some buffering issues for users outside of Korea. Luckily, someone came up with a fix for viewing Afreeca through VLC. It looks complicated, but the instructions are simple, and the people in the thread are more than willing to help out and troubleshoot any issues you might have with getting it setup.
I hope very much that you get a chance to tune in and watch! The lineup is so steeped in history, and the quality of the games themselves will be fantastic. I’ll be casting with FlashFTW from home, but we hope to deliver top quality commentary and production, and we might also consider doing a giveaway!