The first edition of the Legacy Series covered one outstanding duel in international Brood War history, Mondragon vs. FiSheYe, the following was a small collection of memorable games between foreign stars and South Korean professionals. It is time to add a few words to combine both story lines – with the seventh World Cyber Games, the first ones to be played in Europe.
The German Qualifiers for the tournament in Monza marked the end of FiSheYe’s video gaming career and added to Mondragons reputation as new king of germany and the international community. However, there were new challengers rising and more than just one new rivalry about to start. Mondragon’s story wasn’t the only clash, two titans of Brood War history made their way to Italy as well.
Inofficial World Championships
In 2006 the World Cyber Games (WCG) was already more than just an established tournament series. It was hosted the first time under the name World Cyber Games Challenge in Seoul and featured names even the oldest veterans hardly remember. In the following years the WCG became the – more or less – inofficial World Championships for Brood War.
Everything about the series was gigantic. It offered a larger prize pool, due to the sponsorship of companies like Samsung or Microsoft, listed the international top class and was one of the few events which was covered positively in Western media reports. This small paragraph already sums up the reasons, that made the annual event legendary, yet it still leaves out the atmosphere, the tension and the excitement.
In the earliest days the community was anything but united. As long as the big nations like Germany, Poland, USA, Russia, China and so on, had enough players to host leagues reserved for their own national circle, there wasn’t much need to exchange or to compete with outsiders on a regular basis. However, there had been national teams and nation wars, international tournaments and clan leagues, even prestigeous ones – they were just not as popular for the ordinary user than they are today. The World Cyber Games was a class of its own and easily topped any other comparable event. All alternatives either lacked to provide reputation, monetary incentives or failed to attract every potential all high class players at once. Instead, some of the best signed up and if more than a small collection participated, it wasn’t sure if they would prepare and play to their best ability.
The infamous song – also released in 2006
Futhermore, before 2005 there were little to no chances for the best foreigners to meet with the South Korean professionals. The few tournaments organized by Blizzard changed this bit by bit, but the Koreans still didn’t need to train hard or give their best, all they had as motivations were gimmicks. Only a handful of foreign stars made it to South Korea, even less were able to join their ranks – Korea remained isolated for years, a myth, a dream. Consequently, fans wondered if their own could maybe have the chance to take the professionals down in a serious, imaginary best of series. This is one of the reasons why everyone was waiting for the WCGs, as it guaranteed that at least some games between foreigners and Koreans were bound to happen. In the case of FiSheYe and Androide in 2003 and 2005 respectively showed that there was hope, even though it got harder with every edition. The gap grew larger.
Moreover, the WCG used National Preliminaries to filter out the ‘lesser’ players. These Qualifiers were huge and served another purpose: generating national rankings. Obviously, there were no real rankings like ladders, nor did WCG care enough to generate them, yet the national results mattered a lot. A player could perform well in leagues and tournaments, but all of that was nothing compared with winning the Preliminaries in a big country like Russia, China or Poland. Consequently, even months before the yearly Grand Finals, the hype started with an inofficial National Championship; a Preliminary winner would be the current master of his nation. Tons and tons of interviews were conducted, replays were uploaded, map and strategy analysis were posted and the forums were overflowing with heated debates about everything and nothing, as long as it was losely related to the upcoming WCG. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere in hindsight, the expectations, the drama, the emotions and the passion.