An era of StarCraft 2, and esports as a whole, is over as KeSPA’s StarCraft ProLeague ceases operations after nearly 14 years of competition.
KeSPA, South Korea’s official esports organization, announced the discontinuation of StarCraft ProLeague on Tuesday. With it, five top teams will be disbanding their SC2 rosters, according to League of Legends analyst MonteCristo.
Afreeca and Jin Air appear to be the only teams that will be maintaining rosters moving forward in Starcraft.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) October 18, 2016
The teams disbanding are KT Rolster, SK Telecom T1, Samsung Galaxy, MVP and CJ Entus.
StarCraft used to dominate the esports scene, but has been on the decline for years. ProLeague matches have been broadcast across multiple South Korean cable channels over its years of operation, starting with StarCraft: Brood Wars in 2003 up to the current StarCraft 2. South Korea has shifted its esports focus toward League of Legends and Overwatch, both of which have dominating numbers at internet cafes in the country.
KeSPA Chairman Jun Byung-hun said in a statement that the organization had multiple difficulties keeping SC ProLeague going, from securing sponsorships to scandals.
“[ProLeague] had its share of hurdles that we as its organizers had to overcome,” Byung-hun said. “We had faced challenges that hindered ProLeague’s operations including the acute drop in global eSports sponsorships in 2008 caused by the global financial crisis, the first case of eSports match-fixing, and declining number of teams.”
Throughout ProLeague’s lifespan, nearly two dozen people have been arrested and charged for fixing matches, starting with 11 players in 2010, 12 more individuals in 2015 and most recently the arrest of 2014 champion Life in January this year.
KeSPA doesn’t plan on totally leaving pros hanging, Byung-hun said.
“With its partners, KeSPA will look for ways to support pro-gamers who will be competing in the WCS Global Finals this November as well as continue to seek competition opportunities for local pro-gamers through measures such as expanding the StarCraft KeSPA Cup,” has said.