Korean e-Sports Association
|Purpose||Manage eSports in South Korea|
|11 member corporations|
|Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism|
|Affiliations||Korean Olympic Committee|
The Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA) is a South Korean body established to manage e-sports in South Korea. As of June 2012[update], it was the managing body for 25 e-sports in the country, including Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. KeSPA also hosts the KeSPA Cup, a yearly tournament event for some of their games.
KeSPA was founded in 2000 after the approval of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Its official goal is to make eSports an official sporting event, and to solidify the commercial position of eSports in all sectors. The organization manages the broadcasting of e-Sports, the formation of new events, and the conditions in which progamers work, as well as encourage the playing of video games by the general population. In 2008 SK Telecom was given the leading position on its board, effectively making Seo Jin-woo the organization's president. KeSPA regulates broadcasting by e-sports television channels such as Ongamenet, MBC Game, GOMtv, and Pandora TV, as well as 23 e-sports journalists and over twelve e-sports teams. Additionally, they have created a rankings system.
On May 11, 2012 after a slew of announcements from KeSPA regarding the transition between StarCraft: Brood War and StarCraft II, it was announced that they would be partnering with Major League Gaming, a US-based eSports organization to send KeSPA players to MLG events.
On October 27, 2014 KeSPA, alongside Riot Games and Ongamenet, issued a press release stating new policies directed toward the welfare Korean professional eSports players. Some of the major changes include a minimum salary for professional eSports players that is competitive with popular traditional sports, and setting a 1-year minimum for contracts between players and teams starting in the 2016 season. There were also many League of Legends specific changes that include limiting companies to have a minimum of one team with 10 players per team, and beginning a shift from tournament to league format for Korean Worlds qualifiers.
A 2016 article in ESPN said that KeSPA reported that it would shut down its Starcraft ProLeague. The article said that KeSPA chairman, Jun Byung-hun, said that they were shutting down their Starcraft ProLeague due to fewer ProLeagues and players, problems getting sponsorships and problems with match-fixing.
Loss of sponsorship after Brood War
A 2016 article in PC Gamer said that KeSPA's teams used to have sponsorship from SK Telecom, KT Rolster and Samsung, but the article said that KeSPA shut down its Brood War leagues in 2012, including its Brood War Proleague which the sponsors were interested in, and KeSPA's teams switched from playing Starcraft: Brood War to Starcraft 2. The article said that the Korean audience did not like Starcraft 2 at the level needed to retain the involvement of big sponsors at the same level as for Brood War.
2010 match-fixing controversy
In April 2010, eleven Starcraft players were implicated for match-fixing during the 2009 e-Sports season. The Sanction Subcommittee of KeSPA banned them from playing e-Sports in the future, and those implicated are due to be charged in criminal courts by KeSPA, as well as professional gaming teams. Along with progamers, the owners of over twelve illegal gambling websites, and former players and staff members will be charged. It is alleged that players were bribed to leak information, or lose games, allowing owners of the illegal gambling site to obtain huge profits. There was an outcry in Korea following these developments.
2015 match-fixing controversy
A 2016 article in Kotaku said that two KeSPA players, Lee "Life" Seung and Jung "Bbyong" Woo Yong, were indicted for match-fixing along with seven other people. The article said that Lee "Life" Seung who was one of the most dominant Starcraft 2 players in the world was charged with receiving 70,000 won (about US$62,000) for intentionally losing two KeSPA Cup matches in 2015.
Intellectual Property Dispute with Blizzard
In 2008, a slump in the distribution of e-Sports media was caused in part by the fear that video game developer Blizzard Entertainment would demand royalties from KeSPA, because of their intellectual property rights. In 2010, Blizzard Entertainment announced that negotiations were going poorly, and that they would only allow GomTV to broadcast Blizzard games. KeSPA responded saying that they will challenge Blizzard's intellectual property rights. However, soon after, MBC Game, a gaming television station, announced that they will negotiate with GOMtv, which Newhua news speculated would lessen KeSPA's power.
- Tsang, Simon (4 June 2007). "In a Blizzard of Warfare". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- "KeSPA Rankings". KeSPA. Retrieved 14 June 2010.
- "Media Day: SK Planet Proleague Season 2". Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- "MLG and KeSPA Announce Multi-Year Partnership". Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Van Allen, E. (2016). South Korea's KeSPA discontinues StarCraft ProLeague after 14 years. ESPN. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from link.
- Herrmann, O. (2016). Why Korea’s StarCraft II scene crumbled. PC Gamer. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from link.
- Kim, Hyuk (7 April 2010). "KeSPA, 프로게이머 승부조작 연류 11명 자격 박탈 등 중징계". Today Korea. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- Kim, Hyun-cheol (15 April 2010). "StarCraft Rigging Scandal Hits e-Sports Industry". Korea Times. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- Walker, A. (2016). A StarCraft World Champion Has Been Charged With Match Fixing. Kotaku. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from link.
- Zacny, M. (2016). Match-Fixing Report Shows How Gambling Has Ruined Korean StarCraft. Kotaku. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from link.
- Cho, Jin-seo (19 May 2008). "'StarCraft' Losing in Gaming League". Korea Times. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- "暴雪CEO声明与GomTV合作缘由 KeSPA未表态". Yesky Gaming. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- "MBC Television first to change sides and play with Blizzard". Newhua. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
- "Blizzard - KeSPA license official". Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Official website (Korean)