The whole GSL/MLG partnership was hailed as a major milestone when it was announced by MLG, and most of the scene took the party line and dutifully parroted it. ‘SC2/esports/MLG fighting’ and all that nonsense. In practice, however, it seems to be a mixed bag.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some clear winners. The MLG audiences have been treated to far more competitive matches to watch at just about every stage of the competitions than they would have seen if only featuring American and Canadian players. That translates directly to larger viewerships; I think it can be easily argued, even anecdotally, that the star power of having big-label Korean players show up for MLG events has had a positive effect on viewership – a win for MLG. Most directly – it’s a win for the Korean players invited, the better of which land in the States with a guaranteed paycheck, for all intents and purposes; they’ve been absolutely dominant, as evidenced by Slasher’s flowing locks.
But the clear loser in this arrangement are the natives, the home team, the red-and-white-and-(sometimes)-blue, who have had dismal luck against the Koreans, labeled ‘foreigners’ in their own country.
I’ve said in the past that the only thing that matters is the audience; and I stand behind that statement. But it does depend on the application: is a move that’s designed to generate larger audiences in the short term, possibly at the expense of the homegrown scene over the long term, a move that’s actually justified?
So here’s the question: if the collective of MLG’s Starcraft players prior to the GSL deal had been involved with the decision-making process for that deal, do you think it would have gone through? Same for the NASL’s decision that inviting Koreans was a-ok – if American players had any leverage whatsoever on the leagues that are determining the course of the scene in this hemisphere, would we be seeing an bulk of Western players gearing up to challenge the East in short order, instead of simply serving as a welcome mat?