Blizzard WCS Series Poses New Challenges for Starcraft II VODs

The Starcraft II World Championship Series 2013 announcement has created new and exciting challenges for managing the distributed network of Starcraft II videos on demand. While this news may be great for the eSports ecosystem as a whole, the consumer will soon be met with some unmentioned difficulties and stark discrepancies in the way video media content is accessed and disseminated.

To best way to simplify this new global landscape is to take a step back and look at everything as a circle – from there, break the large circle into three smaller, separate pieces and label each individual section with the following: North America, Europe, & Korea.

The makeup of the North American and European scenes is simple:

MLG will assume sole ‘ownership’ of the North American World Championship Series. This means that any and all events under the WCS North America banner will be fully managed by MLG.

ESL will assume sole ‘ownership’ of the European World Championship Series. This means that any and all events under the WCS European banner will be fully managed by ESL.

Considering that both MLG and IEM have both proven to be extremely diligent in their efforts to highlight and upload video content from each of their respective events from this year (MLG Winter Championship & IEM World Championship), this bodes well for fans who are unable to watch the live event as it occurs.

In fact, both events uploaded VODs to youtube or another medium in near real time. Worried about having to cancel that date you had planned later in the day so that you could watch the Mvp vs. MC series live? Debating between taking the kids to teeball and Stephano vs. Grubby? Finish your term paper or enjoy Flash vs. Life? Not only did these events have you covered in all of these situations – both organizations made this video content immediately available for free.

On the other hand, let’s jump across the world and consider the new format of the Korean World Championship Series:

Take the individual section of WCS Korea that we created earlier from our larger circle and divide this further into three separate pieces: GOMtv, Twitch GOMtv, & Twitch OGN.

GOMtv and OGN will share ‘ownership’ of the Korea World Championship Series. This means that GOMtv and OGN will take turns hosting their respective events and that each tournament will carry equal weight in regards to overall qualification towards the Global World Championship Finals (the year end event that determines the best Starcraft II player of the year).

From here, things start to get a little confusing:

Even though GOMtv and OGN will take turns hosting each of their respective events during different ‘stages’ of the year-long tournament season (there are three this year: 2 GSLs, 1 OSL), each organization will still broadcast the other organization’s event as if it were their own. This means that you will see DOA & MonteCristo casting the GSL at the same time as Tastosis and you will see Tastosis casting the OSL at the same time as DOA & MonteCristo.

Each event will feature a high quality live stream, but considering that both GOMtv and OGN put their video media content behind a paid firewall, the availability of VODs from WCS Korea is radically different than the respective arrangements of the WCS NA & EU.

To even further complicate the situation, this video content will be hosted in three different locations and separate subscriptions are required in order to access each individual media library:

GOMtv will continue to maintain and index subscriber VODs on their website (as always, the first VOD in the series is free, but you will have to pay for access to any VODs after that).

GOMtv will also maintain a VOD library on their Twitch.tv page (These videos are not highlited and come in ‘bulk’).

OGN will maintain a VOD library on their Twitch.tv page (We think – as of today no VODs appear to be available).

In favor of OGN’s quality, but not a fan of DOA and MonteCristo? Tired of Tastosis but can’t get enough of Legend’s observing? Do you only speak Korean?

In all of these situations, you are pigeonholed into one purchase option. With the exception of VODs hosted on GOMtv.net, you can only sample each flavor if you catch the VODs live (which for a large amount of US consumers is way earlier than they’d ever like to be awake in their lives) – simply, put: Twitch videos will not play unless you pay.

What does this mean for you?

Well for one, unless you catch the various live streams from Korea or you pay a monthly/yearly subscription fee, the chances of seeing your favorite Korean Starcraft II players will reduce drastically (unless they are the next zerg, terran, or protoss bonjwa!). While GOMtv’s model has always been this way, the major difference in this new format revolves around the fact that professional players are now region locked. No more Flash at MLG. No more Mvp at ESL events. No more BossToss global domination.

Then again, if your favorite players reside in NA or EU – you have nothing to worry about. And if your favorite players from Korea are the type to always appear in tournament finals, you’re probably in luck – this format will allow the cream to rise to the top and we are in for the best Starcraft II games ever to be played.

But this is generally all based on assumption – no one has indicated yet whether or not the season finals events will be free or paid. Even further, we don’t know where these season finals events will be hosted or if Blizzard or one of the aforementioned organizations will be the main controller. And don’t forget that MLG and IEM have yet to confirm or deny that will maintain their historic business models. I’m sure these questions have answers but I’m not sure why they weren’t brought up when the WCS series was announced – so my only questions is why must we, the consumers, be the ones to seek clarification?

Whatever ends up happening, you can rest assured that SC2Links will link you directly to these organizations video media libraries, no matter how distributed or unorganized they may be – we make sense of all this so that the burden of finding VODs from your favorite tournaments, shows, and players never falls on your shoulders. We’re committed to maintaining the world’s largest public library of Starcraft II Videos on Demand, and the only thing we want to see in 2013 is DreamHack highlight & upload VODs to YouTube – is that so much to ask? :D

Feel free to let me know what sense you make of all this on twitter @DOOMeSports!

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