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Maly's Corner: Where did all the Euros go?

By Lawrence Benedict 'Malystryx' Phillips
Aug 7, 2008 00:12

ImageWith only a handful of Europeans left at the top Lawrence "Malystryx" Phillips explains the obstacles and the reasons which are impeding a new generation of Europeans from taking centre-stage.

With only two Europeans in the top 10 of the player rankings and three in the top 20, times are proving hard for them.

Although the accuracy of the rankings is sometimes debatable, it points towards an undeniable truth, there are less European players at the top of the food chain than there were.

Is it simply a process of natural selection? Have only the strongest survived? Where did all Euros go? With the like of ESL dropping Warcraft3 are their paths to glory slowly being closed off?

Times have changed from the days of Europeans and Americans such as Matthew "Wizard" Anderson, Alborz "Heman" Haidarian and Fredrik "MaDFroG" Johansson being at the centre stage of the Warcraft 3 scene.

"Your eyes will go red, you’ll become anti-social and acquire more spots than a dalmation, OBVIOUSLY."
The globalisation of the WC3 has seen more and more Asian teams and players enter the fray of European-based leagues such as the WC3L, NGL and even the WPL. The Europeans’ struggle for equality with their Asian counterparts has become a daily one, and the days of one-off show matches of yester year are long gone.

"In the old days you had the top 3 from Korea present and it was a big question mark how they would perform,” says Jos "Zerter" Bueyvoets of Serious Gaming, "Nowadays you have 5-6 Koreans or Chinese present and all of them with this type of major tournament experience".

The unknown Asian factor in tournaments such as WCG and ESWC has now become an ever-present and ever-threatening one. One reason for the slow dissapearance of Europeans from the top of the game is exactly this, Korea and now more specifically China, have become the perfect breeding grounds for gamers.

Europe, however, is seemingly not; the first obstacle is a clear difference in culture. With the help of the Chinese government China like Korea now has a more positive and supportive background for its new generation of gamers.

ImageIn Europe however, education remains first on the menu in the eyes of the aspiring player’s family, in particular as gaming is painted with such a negative image by the media in the West. Your eyes will go red, you’ll become anti-social and acquire more spots than a dalmation, OBVIOUSLY.The idea of wanting to become a pro-gamer? Laughable.

Olav "Creolophus" Undheim is probably the only recent European talent to blossom into a top-class player and that came at a price, the sacrifice of education, be it only for a year.

The gamble paid off and Creolophus bowed out in his prime. However, he was fortunate enough to have the support of a large organisation, namely Four Kings,something that is becoming a rare commodity.

"In Europe there are many good new players who play a lot and do their best," says Mykhaylo "HoT" Novopashyn of Gravitas Gaming, "but just do not get well enough supported, and that's the problem."

"Why would teams support players who have other commitments when they can pick Random Asian player X who has none?"
With the number of Asian gamers increasing exponentially, the chances for Europeans in top clans are becoming slimmer and slimmer. Why?

Think about it why would teams support players who have other commitments when they can pick Random Asian player X who has none? In order to keep on top of the game it requires a huge portion of a player’s daily life in order to excel.

"At the top level of gaming there's little time for anything else than practice" said Creolophus in a recent interview, “and that certainly takes its toll."

Many European players juggle education and gaming and their first step on the ladder towards a career in gaming is much harder than for an Asian.

"Making a living with 300 Euro is not possible in Germany but it is in China for example," Explains MYM's WC3 Manager Matthias "Losemann" Beyer, “Which means the start of a player being a pro is "easier" there, since he does not have to focus on other things such as part time jobs.”

So not only do Asians have more time, they also cost less to support and nurture through their development making them less of a risk and with most events now being held in Asia, particularly in China, their travel costs are much cheaper as well.

ImageTo make matters worse ESL, one of the only pro-European tournament organisers left decided to drop of Warcraft 3 from the Extreme Masters, just further illustrating the point that even ESL believe there is no audience for Warcraft 3 in Europe.

With a lack of audience comes a lack of support and sponsorship thus affecting the number of tournaments for European players to practise and suceed.

Tournaments have seen an evolution with the invite tournament pioneered by the WEG has become a standard leaving very little room for new players to reach the guest list.

With tournaments such as Stars War and soon the AWL using European/World qualifiers, there is a chance for a new player to get a shot but they are rare as it normally involves defeating a whole host of well-established and experienced players.

For Europeans the tournaments where they can catch someone’s eye are mostly online ones such as ZOTAC Cup, but these are awash with the top-flight European and Asian players so to make a mark requires time and dedication. In order to stand a chance they need good regular practise ”which has always been a problem” according to Sebastian "Fury" Pesic.

"Making a living with 300 Euro is not possible in Germany but it is in China for example"
Europeans are simply not as mechanical and methodical as Asians players, playing the same match-up and map eight times in a row is simply not as appealing as it is for an Asian player who will do whatever it takes to improve.

"It is rather hard at high level to train well because of a lack of practise partners," explains HoT. "You can get enough practise versus Orc and possibly Undead but versus Elf or Human you can’t."

Korea and now China however, are overwhelmed with practice partners as well as a better infrastructure for practice with many more domestic tournaments and leagues.

"They have a lot of people there and a lot of talents," explains Losemann, "so it is easy to play against each other and be in top shape at a tournament." The reason for a lack of new top-flight Europeans is simply a shift in the environment more than a decline in their skill level.

"In the past it was easier, China was not a major nation, Koreans focused primarily on the national scene," explains Zerter. "It is mostly down the rise of China coupled with Koreans looking over their own borders."

Europeans simply have it much harder, their road to success is now littered with obstacles and it requires a truly motivated individual such as the likes of Creolophus to wave the European flag in major tournaments. Asians are cheaper to support, have a better environment to develop, wider selection of practice partners and they can more easily blind themselves of other distractions.

The Euros did not go anywhere, they are just stuck in transit, a mass of hopefuls trying to squeeze through a bottle-neck which is gradually becoming slimmer and slimmer.

Previous Maly's Corners

18/7/08 Maly's Corner: Women with Balls
10/7/08 Maly's Corner: Tale of an ESWC Masters
19/6/08 Maly's Corner: Interview with a VBadGirl



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