Blizzard stops Starcraft Pro-Scene support

Blizzard stops Starcraft Pro-Scene support

27. February 2023 by Andrew Williams

Starcraft II has taken quite a hit. The Tournament Circuit for 2023/24 has been announced and there was plenty of bad news that shocked the community. While many were happy that there will be a circuit at all for this year, the prize pools were extremely reduced at the same time. In fact, the Korean scene has so few prize pools that it probably spells the end for high level Korean Starcraft II Esports.

There will be two main seasons (summer and winter) in the circuit, which will take place from May to June in Sweden and October to December in Atlanta, USA. However, this year the funding (including the prize pools) will not be borne by Activision Blizzard as in previous years, but soley by ESL. Many people have praised ESL for taking on Starcraft and filling Blizzard’s spot, however the ESL does not have the same funding as Activision Blizzard. This means that the prize pools are much smaller. It could be that AB is not allowed to renew contracts at the moment, in the midst of the planned Microsoft takeover, and is therefore pulling out of Starcraft, but the exact reasons are unknown.

Prize pools extremely reduced

The prize pool per season (summer in Sweden and winter in the US) will be $200,000 each. That’s quite a cut of over a third, as last year the amount was $335,000. While that still sounds like a lot of money at first, Dutch ex-pro Marc “uThermal” Schlappi has explained on his YouTube channel uThermal that this doesn’t leave much for the players, though.

uThermal was one of the top 5 players in all of Europe, yet in his prime he could only bring home around €4,000 per month. When he later ‘only’ reached the top 10, it was even only €2,000. For a player at the top level, that’s precious little money, especially since expenses can be very high in some cases. With that, it could well be that many players will have to retire from the game because they simply don’t have another chance and will have to look for another job instead.

End for the Korean Starcraft 2 scene?

The Korean scene will be hit even harder, as their prize pool has been reduced by 80%. Before, a GSL Season had around $125,000 prize pool, now they only have $77,000 throughout the year (roughly $26,000 per season). That means even if you won all the tournaments, you’d earn just $21,000 – on top of which you’d pay taxes. There’s hardly anything left over. Basically, this announcement means the end of the Korean scene and with high probability, various players will soon retire, teams will be disbanded and careers will be ended. In addition, hardly any games will be played live and on-site, but only online. This will definitely change and impoverish the entire scene.