Korea Day: The StarCraft professionals
Remember those TV shows that tell you to not try this at home because the people you see on the screen are professionals? Yeah, that same rule applies to pretty much everything in this post. When a country is as passionate about StarCraft as Korea is, you better believe that their top players are going to have money thrown at them and hot Korean ladies fainting in their wake. These guys are total videogame-playing badasses and they know it.
In which any cocky readers not yet convinced that these Korean pros are infinitely better than they are, are utterly shamed and forced to read on through bitter tears.
Serious activities demand serious measurements of skill. That's why SC pros (the Korean eSports Association tracks the ranking of over 200 professional players) measure their twitch and micro abilities in Actions Per Minute (APM). Most pros have over 300 APM and you're considered slow if you can only complete 200 actions in 60 seconds. Check out this video below and while you're waiting for it to load, I dare you to even think of 200 actions in 60 seconds.
In the time it took your lazy eyes to watch that video, Nada took 793 actions in a StarCraft match. I bet that's more than you've made in your entire last game. But don't feel too bad, some of the pros' matches don't even last 3 minutes, so they have to be fast!
In which you're shown a series of impressive numbers that demonstrate how serious business StarCraft is there.
There were 9.5 million copies of StarCraft sold worldwide. 4.9 millions of those (that's over half) were sold in the small little East Asian country of South Korea. There's only 50 million people in South Korea, that's one copy of StarCraft for one out of every ten man, woman, and child in the country--most players there use internet cafes to enjoy the game, meaning they don't need to purchase a copy!
100,000 people gather annually on a beach to watch the StarLeague finals, where 12 pro teams with a combined 300 corporate-sponsored gamers battle in head-to-head matches for the ultimate SC glory. The top pros are earning upwards of $200,000 a year and even after they retire, they can get a job teaching StarCraft tactics are universities, where classes have been offered on the subject since 2009.
[source for most data is EDGE Magazine's "Battle Stars" article, July 2010]
In which you uncover that, despite all indications otherwise, these pros are still humans and have weaknesses.
Their main weakness being money, of course. Just a few months ago, the professional StarCraft leagues in Korea lost a lot of face when a scandal erupted that revealed that a lot of top players, coaches, and even some league officials were involved in gambling rings and were throwing matches for money. Kotaku reported at the time that the bribes were between one and five thousand dollars for each game and that at least eleven pros were suspected to have taken the bait. Investigations are still undergoing, but a lot of the league's coordinators are concerned that this will dampen excitement for StarCraft II's launch. But then again that's like saying it'll only be a medium-sized avalanche wiping out your entire town.