$6,500 StarCraft II tournament hits Australia


It’s been more than 12 years since Blizzard Entertainment launched the first game in its extremely popular StarCraft franchise. Version 2 will hit Australia at midnight on Monday night — and the nation’s gamers are ready.

From Monday 9 August, e-Sports community CyberGamer will launch a nationwide StarCraft II competition, with the total prizepool stacking up to $6,500 in total. The competition will run for ten weeks, with gamers participating by playing matches in certain video gaming centres located around Australia — in cities such as Sydney and Canberra, but also smaller locations like Geelong, Shepparton, Dandenong and Ballarat.

CyberGamer spokespeople were not immediately able to comment on the competition, but the details of the competition are on the organisation’s site. The tournament winner will take $1,600 away from the event, with second place picking up $700 and third $350.

But there are also prizes for gamers who are ranked the highest in their geography — $150 each, and smaller prizes for those ranked down to 5th best. And those under 18 years of age who do well will also pick up individual prizes.

One foundation sponsor of the tournament is Guf — which hosts gaming centres in Ballarat and Geelong. In a statement on Cybergamer, the group’s director Mark Carter said the company had a long history of organising eSports events in Australia with “big prize money”.

When the tournament was initially announced back in May, it had a prize pool of $3,000. This has since been more than doubled.

“Gaming related companies have always struggled to identify whether competitive gamers are really buying their products,” said Carter at the time. “I’m lucky that I can look around my shops, see the gamers packing the place out, spending their dollars and having loads of fun. It makes it an easy decision to give back some of those dollars in the form of prize money.”

The actual matches in the tournament will be in a best of three format using the maps which Blizzard released for the StarCraft II beta over the past six months — including favourites such as Lost Temple and Steppes of War.

The news comes as interest in e-sports — the name collectively given to professional video game competitions — continues to grow in Australia.

In late April Dell subsidiary Alienware held one of Australia’s largest e-sports tournaments so far, with a combined prize pool of Alienware PC hardware valued at almost $30,000. That event was focused on the first person shooting game Call of Duty 4, but internationally the first version of StarCraft has also continued to be popular in the more than a decade since it was first released.

For example, US-based YouTube commentators HDStarCraft and HuskyStarCraft have each garnered more than 100,000 subscribers internationally for their efforts commentating matches in the StarCraft II beta over the past six months, including their own tournament with its own substantial prize pool.

Image credit: Screenshot of a StarCraft II beta match between WhiteRa and The Little One, as commented by Husky and HD