How South Korea is Dominating the Esports Industry

Esports Industry

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When you think of South Korea, the first things that will come to mind are K-dramas, K-pop, and eSports. The country has made its mark with its glamorous culture and prestigious gaming pedigree.

South Korea has produced some of the most talented players the world has ever seen. From Tekken Gods like Knee, JDCR, and Qudans to League of Legends’ only three-time world champion, Faker.
You are probably asking yourself what South Korea is doing differently to outclass the rest of the world in gaming. How did the country become such an esports powerhouse that has dominated the industry since Starcraft: Brood War?

To answer that, you need to delve deep into the gaming culture in South Korea. Here are some interesting facts about the gaming culture in South Korea.

Gaming is part of their culture

In South Korean society, gaming is an accepted part of life. However, gaming in this context refers to eSports, not classic or casual games like word unscrambling or solitaire.

However, they are adept at professional eSports, and for good reason. Players receive the same social status (if not higher) as famous athletes and pop idols.

Being a gamer in a South Korean high school is the equivalent of being a jock in an American school. Since the explosion of popularity garnered by events like EVO and Worlds, playing video games has become a serious business. They take gaming so seriously that some games require social security numbers to register.

Because gaming is ingrained into their culture, they have a healthy competitive player base. That creates an environment where every player gets constant practice against other players.
Eventually, those players will try to one-up each other every time and get better and better as time passes. This competitive environment’s byproduct is running roughshod over the entire esports industry.

Gaming is a highly respected career

Pro-player teams get coaches, regular salaries, and other sponsorships, which some would argue are better than the average athlete would get. Korean players are famous for APM-intensive games like MOBAs and RTS games.

Here are some brief explanations in case you are unfamiliar with the terminologies.

  • APM – APM refers to the acronym for “actions per minute.” It is a means to rate how many in-game actions a player can perform within a minute. It is a critical skill needed to excel in RTS games like Starcraft and MOBA games like League of Legends.
  • MOBA – MOBA comes from the acronym “multiplayer online battle arena.” The mechanics revolve around 5v5 teams using unique champions with the sole objective of destroying the enemy base.
  • RTS- RTS refers to the acronym “real-time strategy.” It involves commanding and building your armies while strategically gathering and allocating resources.

Koreans are most famous for their outstanding skills in MOBAs, particularly in League of Legends. In the League of Legends World Championships, teams must compete in their respective regions to reach qualifiers.

The most popular regions on the world stage are:

  • The LCK, aka League of Legends Champions Korea
  • The LEC, aka League of Legends European Championship
  • The LCS, aka League of Legends Championship Series of North America
  • The LPL aka Tencent League of Legends Pro League of China

There have been eleven crowned champions in the World Championship so far. The LCK or Korean Region holds six, definitively beating the LPLs record of only three world championships.

Interestingly, seasons 1 and 2 of the World Championships did not include the LCK. Technically, they secured six out of nine championships they competed for in Worlds.

The Koreans have stayed dominant over the last decade because they take gaming seriously. Everything boils down to their pro-players being well-trained, dedicated, and lucratively funded. They have done a phenomenal job taking their love of gaming and turning it into successful careers.

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